Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vineman 70.3 - The Beer Report

The race was only part of the great experience I had a week and a half ago.  I decided to dedicate an entire post on the beer and wine in Sonoma County.  However, I don't want to bore you so I am doing this in a two parts - BEER report and then the WINE report.

Many call Sonoma county wine country, however, in my opinion, it is safe to say it is also beer country.  Don't get me wrong I don't want to take anything away from the phenomenal Zins and Pinots I tasted in the area.  I love my wine too, but my husband and I have a love for "fine craft beer."

Below is a picture of the Sonoma wine regions and I have placed locators to some of the craft beer distributors in the area as well:  Bear Republic, Russian River, Third Street Aleworks and Lagunitas.

 I learned a few things as I was trying to figure out WHY there were so many pale ales in this area.  Through some wikipedia research and googling, I found that Sonoma County was a major producer of hops in the US.  There are still hop kilns (buildings they used to dry the hops) standing in Sonoma County.  Check out Hop Kiln Winery to look at one.  We passed by it a few times, and now we both wished we stopped.  Anyway, in my non-expert opinion, I believe that this is why there are so many pale ales in Sonoma County.

Russian River Brewery
One of the first nights, we were there we decided to check out Russian River which would later be our post-race party location.  Mike is a big fan but you can only get it in PA and not NJ and it isn't that common to have the Pliny on tap.  Russian River Brewery has not only excellent beers but makes awesome pizzas.  If you go, check out the Mama Mia (pepperoni, pineapple and jalepenos) pie, it is great!  This also went great with my Pliny the Elder...

which I found was not overly hoppy, had some orange and peach notes, and if you go to beer advocate there is a reason they give this an A+.  Really a good IPA and perfect with the pizza.of which we later took home a growler...

Other beers on the menu...
One of the beers we were hoping to try became my new favorites Consecration and Supplication (later of which I developed a mantra using "Pliny, Consecration, Supplication and Pizza" to get me through the 70.3 race...).  Now both of these beers are sour, so if you don't like sour beers you may not like them.  Consecration is brewed in Cabernet barrels and Supplication is brewed in Pinot Noir.  What I found to be interesting is with both of the beers, you smelled the wine (oak, tannins, dark cherry fruit).  It combined my two loves beer and wine....Can you tell I was in love with this!!  I'll tell you what, if I can ever get this at home, I would love to make a nice flank steak and roasted rosemary potatoes with a consecreation....heaven, I think it would be...

Anyhow, moving along, we had an excellent post-race party with some new friends enjoying the post-race euphoria and our excitement for beer.  

They also do great music and have really cool t-shirts made from Organic cotton...
I went to Sonoma county and all I got was this awesome t-shirt
Bear Republic Brewery
Very cool brewery in the cute town of Headlsburg.  It is right off the main square, and there was someone cooking pesto garlic oysters on the BBQ at the brewery....Phenomenal....and went amazing with their Hop Rod Rye IPA.  Another very good IPA - I would say you could taste a little spice from the rye and just a little sweetness while a nice hoppy flavor...

Lagunitas Brewery
 This brewery we were hoping to go to but unfortunately is closed on Monday and Tuesday - BOOOO!  HISS!  However, we had some just because, even though we can get their IPA anywhere....I really don't have a whole lot to say here, except it is on my to-do list for next time...

Third Street Aleworks
Mike tried the Oatmeal Stout.  I think the beers were okay, especially given that it is right around the corner from RR, which is no comparison....Anyway, the food was very good - fish tacos and Mike had the burger.  Would definitely recommend for a nice night of eating outside and chill atmosphere.

That concludes my beer report....Cheers!!

Next up....Wine Report of Sonoma

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

I have one word to describe this race - "Phenomenal"
I originally thought because of the running injury, that I would only be doing the aqua-bike.  However, before I left a couple things happened:
  1. I received the medal holder that I won from untilyoutri blog, that is totally bad ass and says MissFancyPantsTris.  I thought, "Well Heather [yes I sometimes talk about myself in the third person], if you just do the aqua-bike you don't receive a medal...therefore no Vineman 70.3 medal to hang on the medal holder."
  2. I ran 9 miles at the canal....I know I know, 9 miles (flat 9 miles) after a long bike day hardly constitutes doing the last third on a half-ironman, but I figured I could rely on "muscle memory. 
Sooo, as normal things would go, I was working my ass off with actual work during "taper week" and working up to the mere second with proposals, reports before leaving...nothing earth shattering here, it only happens for every big race I do.

Since my running injury left me with 5 weeks off of running, I deleted my goal of less than 6 hours and I left NJ with no real expectations but do the following:
1.  Have fun on the course.
2.  Enjoy the experience of traveling to my first half-ironman.
3.  Relax a bit with some GOOD beer and wine.

I am happy to report...(i.e. my facebook post from July 17)
I accomplished all of this with a huge smile on my face....

So back to the story....As Mike and I were on the train on the way to the airport I realized I forgot my wetsuit.  I called around and Echelon Multi-Sports said they had extra if I wanted to rent.  In the meantime, I get a "tweet" from my virtual buddy that she has an extra and will throw it in the car when she drives up!  This was killer and if anyone does not believe in the power of social media - you are ridiculous.

We went to the Russian River a couple days prior, picked up the wetsuit, I got in a practice swim and Mike was happy...

 he also took a pic of the locals probably talking about how they were being taken over by these "active people" as Mike overheard.

We had a nice night at Russian River hanging with some more twitter friends...(i.e. tweet up's) - @beerrunner and @heyjo1 and @teamchallengewi that were doing the Napa Sonoma 1/2 marathon challenge for a great cause.

Sat was filled with getting things ready and picking up my packet and yes, hanging out on a compression chair...If I only had a grand to throw away....

Pure heaven...

We got the bike ready and went to dinner at our hotel's restaurant...John Ash and Co...awesome!

While she sat in the room ready to race....

Swim (49:47, 2:35 pace)

I was one of the last waves, which I knew meant meaning again, loss of motivation on the bike when you are a slow swimmer and have a lot of catching up to do.  However, I was really happy with my swim.  Part of it was that for the first time EVER, I was not scared and to me this was an accomplishment from a non-swimmer.  I sat myself in the back before the start line, so I knew that would add some time but in the big scheme since I wasn't there to race, I just wanted to do this without nerves.  Part of the non-anxiety was that I swam in the river a couple days prior to test out the wetsuit and just get a lay of the land.  This swim is so shallow and very clear.  I took my time on the way up, and the 35-39 year old males were coming up and trampled me so that kind of made me slow down a little to try to figure out where to go as I was trying to swim on the left side.  At the turnaround, I looked up to see 50 Andre the Giants WALKING around the buoy!!  It kind of freaked me out, then I looked at my watch and it said 30 minutes and I knew I had to get moving so I decided to toughen up a little and hold my own space and swim home.  I swam back in 19 min!!  Now, I know there is a slight current but it shouldn't have made me that much faster.  I didn't take any breaks and just swam as hard as I could.  I think this was the highlight of my day!!

T1 (6:59)
I know, I know, this is a little ridiculous but I couldn't get my wetsuit off. It was so tight around my wrists and my legs and I fell to try to get this thing off.  (I guess I should have practiced this part....since it wasn't my own).  Then I wanted to put on my compression socks from now to prevent having to do it in T2 (although when you see that T time I don't know how much this helped...).

Bike (3:23:08, 16.5mph)
I really wanted to pull a 3 hour split on this, but since I didn't know the course I didn't know how feasible and how hilly other than the elevation map.  My garmin also got messed up during T1 and I couldn't get it to work and wasted a few min playing with that so I didn't know my speed at all which really hurt me because I think I work a lot harder when I know.  Anyway, I took my time up to the first aid station figuring I would work hard later.  There is one turn around mile 5 that was technical but I prepped myself and survived (I saw a ambulance with 2 men in a gurny).

The bike was beautiful with views of vineyards and I was just really enjoying the whole experience, maybe too much sight-seeing and not much I was like la la la fa la la frolicking on my bike through vineyards.  I reached the third aid station only taking a couple minutes at each to refill bottles since I don't have the full coordination on my bike to do this while riding.  I knew Chalk Hill was coming up and honestly, I didn't think it was that hard.  I mean I took my time and it was a long slow climb but it wasn't any worse than Black Bear Triathlon at the Poconos.  I really tried to work the hill, respect the hill, and tried my hardest to not stand because I was afraid that could hurt the calves for the run (running injury).

T2  (5:03)
Okay ridiculous....I know, rack, sneaks, visor, gels,how difficult...I really need to work on this!!!

Run (2:23:59, 12:03 min/mile)

I was HOPING for this miraculous thing to happen, when I saw my garmin (I just reset at that point) say 9:20-9:23....for mile 1....I walked through the first aid station and saw a hill, I had planned on walking every aid then after about a 1/2 mile I realized this was all up and down and very few flat sections...I found someone that was run/walking and I chatted for a bit...I was starting to feel the cramp in my left calve at mile 1.5-2.  I walked a hill, and started running, and then it would hurt...from miles 2-5 it was in and out with the calve cramp until I hit La Crema winery which is the only flat part.  At that point I made a couple friends Tish and Roy from Team in Training in LA.  They were awesome and a huge help in motivation!  I knew there was a photographer coming up and told Tish we needed to run and smile...(you know I can't miss a photo-op and I was NOT going to look miserable in any picture which was what I was feeling at that point.)

At mile 6 I was downright pissed and trying to employ yoga breathing in the hope that I would breathe and work through this uncomfortable situations (It wasn't working).  By this point, it was both calves and they were in a ball and not breaking, I was stopping every two minutes to stretch.  I was walking at a 12:20 pace at some points (with the expertise of my former power-walking days with my mom) and was walking faster than some runners...I tried a salt tab from some other run/walkers I found and didn't really do anything, but at that point I figured it was too late.  I kept saying I was okay with this but I wasn't, I was mad that it was happening, mad that Mike had to wait so long, and mad about how much sunburn I was getting.  I just wanted to be done and get to the end.

I stopped feeling sorry for myself around mile 10 and tried to say "anyone can do a 5K" but that didn't last long and the last mile was the worst. It hurt so bad but I refused to give up.  I did NOT travel 3000 miles to give up on something.  I am stubborn and there were all these people yelling that it kept me going.  I saw a friend of mine from Santa Rosa that drove over and I told her I wish I was running and doing better.

I think I was delirious and had no clue why I was apologizing.  I saw the finish line and sprinted and saw Mike and smiled - I had to look happy coming in!

So even though this was a full hour over my initial goal, sans injury, this experience still leaves me wanting more and maybe an Ironman, but right now just another 70.3, I love this distance!

This woman was awesome and this is who I want to be at 76 years old!

I am so lucky that I have the best husband or sherpa (which he just found out he was and not sure if he was too pleased with his name in all this) in the world to travel with me (even when I tell him it is a vacation and we spent more time prepping and spending the day racing), support me for an entire day, carry my shit, walk a mile or two to the car, drive 17 miles to the second transition area and be my paparazzi and just be so awesome!!  Love you Mike!

We ended the day at Russian River Brewery drinking some Pliny's and Consecration brews at Russian River  and hanging with some blogging/tweeting friends who also happened to be some fast cats with some age group wins, including the husband and wife Team Walsh - California Training and BloodSweat&Beers - very cool peeps !!

I decided to dedicate an entire post to beer and wine tasting in Sonoma because it just deserves it!  Cheers and thanks for reading to those that didn't check out of the boring long winded post!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who Doesn't Celebrate Christmas in July?

Been having a productive week training in my last real week before I taper next week for Vineman 70.3!  I sort of tapered unintentionally last week since I had to travel for work to Mexico and got a "little" sick because I had something to drink with ice....ugh...when I tried to do my swim/bike/runs when I got back it was not good, I was highly dehydrated.  I am happy to report that by Tuesday I was good to go from some Cipro, lots of probiotics and electrolyte drinks...
So when I got home we had big plans for Saturday that my little sickness or training would not get in the way of....Christmas in July Shindig.

Mike (husband) and I have two favorite things:  Christmas and Beer.  This past Christmas, we scored a keg of Scaldis Noel but we also got a keg of Troeg's Mad Elf that came in and unfortunately, could not be kept at the beer store till next year.
Troegg's Mad Elf tastes like cherries, honey and chocolate--delish

So Mike brought the keg home put it upside down and figured we would wait till next year.  UNTIL...the smarty pants bassist from Beyond Dishonor (have to give them a plug), Nick Petti said "why don't you have a Christmas in July party."  And we replied..." could we not!"

4th of July weekend was the only weekend we could do it.  So Mike and I LOVE having parties, but being that this was going to be a crazy busy with work travel for both us, my training, Mike's band gigs/practices/writing, we decided to NOT go overboard for this.  Especially since we have the 5th Yr Beerathlon Party coming up on Labor Day.

So here is a quick photo trip of the festivities and just how we roll....

we played Xmas music and grilled all day

we had fireworks complements of Bill

Christine made her and I Elf hats and Brad and Mike Santa hats
Even Axl got a hat

Meg and I looked like we were going out for the Christmas track team....

The tree was decorated with canned beer
The infamous Nick Petti to the left...

No comment - his "nose" fell off...

Chrismas Pjs
Bobby looked like he was celebraing Xmas with the Irish Soccer team

the parentals and Chris and Brad
Merry Christmas!

My sister and I
Drunk watermelon...Enough said

To prove that I did train - we had a relay of beer
Noel de Calabaza is by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan - Great beer - sour almost a wine taste - little bit of granny smith apple taste
La Rulles Tripple is a really nice beer - it tasted lightly malty and somewhat grassy and hoppy.
Southern Tier Krampus - great lager with brown sugar and caramel on the front
An amazing lambic brewed with strawberries, tart beer but crisp for summer
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
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