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!


  1. Great update Heather! I wish I could have made it up there. But it sounds like you'll be doing it again.

  2. The calf cramping sounds evil!! Way to be stubborn and get through it all the way to the finish! Congrats!

  3. so stoked we gotta hang out with you and mike... on of the highlights of the trip! beth and i need to get back east for one of your parties.

    we need to plan another race trip that involves good beers and food!

  4. Amazing!!!! Congrats for toughing it out through the run with the cramps... you had a fabulous day!

    I love my Recovery Pumps... sit in them every night! They are heavenly, aren't they?

  5. Congratulations again, you are amazing for toughing out that run! (You can tell Mike that I refer to my fiancee as "Sherpa Mark" on race weekends :)

    Ironman 2013?

  6. Wow, first--congrats on an awesome race!! I love that your race medal display partially inspired you, hahaha:). Also, I didn't realize you were in Sonoma for a HIM! (The pieces are all falling together now;). That's awesome! I guess they also had the wine country half marathon last weekend, too? Our B&B said they had a bunch of 'marathoners' staying there last weekend (and were talking about how sweaty everyone was, lol!). You didn't stay at An Inn 2 Remember, too, did you??

  7. congrats! sounds like a fun trip and fun race to do :) i think you did pretty solid considering the obstacles....each race is a learning experience! hope all is well.. let me know when you are headed back to nola!

  8. MAN ALIVE what a tough race. nice job pulling it out, but whew, you poor thing. i also did a 70.3 after only 2 weeks of running (being off for an injury as well) and it was miserable. let's not do that again, shall we?

  9. Congratulations! The medal will look GREAT on your new medal holder :) Nice job pushing through the run portion, that had to be really tough. How sore were you the next day??

    I've never seen a compression chair, but it sounds awesome. I could use one of those after skiing, my calves always get so tight!

  10. Awesome race report. I am doing this race in a couple of weeks. Any words of wisdom you can share for the bike course?


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