WHOA... THAT was intense.
Vineman 70.3 2011. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.
Race weekend began Friday with an Athletes Welcome reception and a "meet some of the pros" interview and Q & A. The pros in this distance, and the full ironman distance are freaking animals. They are racing at incredible speeds and training incredible distances, and doing races with only a few weeks between. ANIMALS. And incredibly inspiring. Beki and Daniel joined me at the reception, Daniel won some items from a few of the sponsors in the door drawing. :) It was a good start to race weekend.
Saturday was expo day. Here's the thing.. Before I could pick up my race packet I had to attend a pre-race meeting. Pre-race meeting happened every hour on the half hour... and I got to the expo at 1:35.... dammit! Now I'll admit that I'm kinda of wound up tight, so I didn't want to get involved in the shopping expo part of the afternoon until after I had my race packet in hand. Problem is by the time I waited around for the hour, and then sat through the video that basically gave only information that was in our race program, and then waited in line to get my race packet I was no longer really interested in cruising around the vendors checking out what could be had. I made a lap around and then was ready to leave. :-/ Saturday evening Beki, Daniel, Rich, and Hudson came and joined Troy and I with his sister and brother-in-law, kids and my parents for dinner. It was great to have so many people around to keep my mind off the upcoming race. There were lots of laughs and by the time everyone went their own ways it was bed time with an early morning ahead.
WORST NIGHTS SLEEP EVER. There is so many factors that contributed to my lack of sleep Saturday, but when the alarm went off at 4 am, all of those things needed to be left behind because this race is not about the physical, there is not a single person who got through all 70.3 miles without being mentally tough.
The hardest part of the swim was actually getting in the water in time for my swim start. Vineman does in-water, age-group starts in waves separated by 8 minutes. We were a little late leaving the trailers, and then it was a total MADHOUSE at the start, by the time I racked my bike, went back to find Troy and my parents, used to potty one last time, then went back to get body marked (thanks Beki!) and put on my wetsuit I was RUNNING for the water, weaving through the mass of Mens 50-54 that we set to start after my wave. The announcer came over the loud speakers speakers "There is a young lady in a red cap trying to get through the crowd to make her swim start, please give her some room gentlemen.." Gee thanks... I ran and dove into the water making it out to the rest of the girls in time to hear the 20 SECOND warning for my swim start... awesome. :)
Later, after I was back at the trailer talking to my parents and Troy about the race they mentioned that they couldn't pick me out of the group of girls waiting for our swim wave to start...
"You know that girl that was running into the water and nearly missed the start? Yeah, that was me."
There were 2 sections of the swim that were shallow enough to walk in, and I'm not ashamed to say I walked. Getting to the swim start late left me out of breath from the get-go, so it was nice to be able to calm my breathing down before continuing on the swim. Luckily the water was fairly calm and not too cold so I got into a nice rhythm 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe... 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe... Every once in awhile the rhythm would be broken because I'd be on the verge of swimming over someone or someone was on the verge of swimming over me, but I was able to settle back into it easily. Getting out of the water I felt better than I did at my sprit tri (of only 700 yards instead of 2100 yards) back in April, proving to myself that all the time I've spent in the pool has paid off.
Swim time: 42:45 (55/81 in my age group) - I am super happy with this time.
Damn wetsuit, I couldn't get the damn thing off!! I nearly ate dirt twice trying to get the stupid thing off my feet. All slippery and I was in a hurry. After getting all the swim gear off and getting my bike gear on I had to pack it all up into a bag so that they could transport it to the finish line for me. The unusual thing about Vineman is that T1 (from swim to bike) and T2 are not in the same place but instead separated by about 15 miles. Logistically its honestly kind of a nightmare, I had to drop off my run gear in T2 Saturday while I was at the expo. Anyways, I spent just over 6 minutes in T1, not a great showing, but I was off on the bike.
The Vineman bike course is beautiful, seriously It weaves past endless vineyards and through quaint little wine country towns. I didn't take the time to enjoy any of it. Initially I was too concerned with taking it easy (there was still a long way to go) and then later I was concerned all the people that were passing me. So. Many. People. Sometimes I felt like I was slogging along on a beach cruiser, while everyone else was was zooming past me on these amazing tri bikes. Wow. Now I wouldn't begin to say that I am in as good of shape as any of these people, because I don't know, but I do know that riding a tri bike is far more efficient than riding road bike.. and I want one. I want one BAD. But that is a detail for down the road. Anyways, back to the bike ride... I am going to freely admit that I was not properly prepared for the bike. Maybe the cold I got about 2 weeks ago that is still lingering and caused me to cough most of the bike ride played a part in my less than stellar bike performance, but mostly I think I just didn't train right. When I live in Sacramento I can't help but train with hills, they are a part of the locale, but down by Troy's its easy to avoid hills, and riding hills is tough so its easy to justify avoiding them.
So I over did it on the bike. There is a saying, there is no such thing as a good bike and a bad run in triathlon. If you have a good bike and it leads to a bad run it means you over did it on the bike. Bad planning. So I had a mediocre bike and a rough run.
Bike time: 3:43:04 (66/81 in my age group)
Problem with T2 is that I haven't invested in tri shorts yet, or any tri clothing gear really, so my cycling shorts have too much padding for me to run in them. When I was done with the bike I had to go into T2, rack my bike, grab my running shorts and run to the changing tent, change, then run back to my bike to drop my cycling shorts and set out on the run. T2 time was over 8 minutes (in comparison, I have a friend who does T2 in less than 2 minutes). Tri gear is now on the "must-get" list before I do another one. It will just make my life so much easier.
A huge "newbie" mistake I made was I didn't stick to my eating plan on the bike, which meant that while I did an ok job keeping hydrated I didn't eat any of the mini Clif bars I had with me. This means that from the time I left on the swim until after the run I had a total of 7 pretzels in the solid food department. SEVEN. In an event where I burned 5000-8000 calories this was just a dumb mistake... it also meant that when I set out on the run I have very little left in the energy tank to expend. I also freely admit to only doing an "ok" job of hydrating on the bike, another thing I need to work on, so I was probably a little (or a lot) dehydrated going into the run.
My quads where destroyed from the minute I stepped off the bike.
And by destroyed I mean cramping, terribly. And only small sections of my quads were cramping, not the entire thing (thank god!), but it was really tough to set out running when parts of your quads are simply not functioning properly. Between mile 2-3 I finally had to stop and stretch them out, I was just in too much pain. There was an aid station about every mile, and I stopped at almost every one of them for water and gatorade and soda, or some combo of the three. I walked probably 1/3 of the run portion. I hurt. I was tired. I was just surviving the event at this point. There was no way I was going to DNF, but it wasn't going to be pretty.
Leading up to mile marker 12 I mentally prepared myself for my final 1.1 mile. I was going to run it. The. Whole. Damn. Thing. Had I remembered to stop my watch when I crossed the finish line I'll bet it would have been my fastest mile, or close to it, I was that determined. I passed one woman walking about .5 mile from the finish and waved her in with me.. "Come on, lets finish this together" she picked her pace and ran with me for a few hundred yards but she had even less left then I did and told me to keep going, she'd seem me at the finish. I didn't see her again, but I know she couldn't have been far behind. My parents were waiting about 500 feet from the finish, when I saw my mom and dad I began to tear up... They are so freaking supportive of me in everything I do, and this was no exception. I saw them at my swim start, T1, T2 and the finish. They. Are. Simply. Awesome. I headed down the finishing chute and kicked it up... I was going to leave it all out on that race course. I passed 2 guys on my way in, old guys, like old enough to my my father, but it doesn't matter. I left it all out there.
Run time: 2:35:44 (69/81 in my age group)
At the finish line I also saw Beki, Daniel, and Rich, and then Troy, his sister Kimmy, brother-in-law CJ with their two kids. I"m not sure if it showed but I was in disbelief. Was I actually done? Had I actually made it? Hugs around, I am so, so, so, thankful for Beki coming out and stalking me around the course taking pictures and her and Daniel cheering me on. Awesome friends. Love you guys!
Total time: 7:16:17 (69/81 in my age group)
Currently I will admit to struggling with being two minds about my performance yesterday. On one hand (and of reasonable mind) I am just so happy to have finished, and today I'm suffering from only some sore muscles, but not major aches or pains. On the other hand (and of the crazy mind) I tell myself that I could have done better, gone faster, whatever. This attitude is of absolutely no help when it comes to celebrating my achievement of finishing. I mean, lets be serious, I moved my body over 70.3 miles, across 3 different sports, in the same day. Just finishing is a HUGE accomplishment.
So I'm going to use that little voice that says I could have been faster, better, stronger to drive me to be better, faster, stronger next year. I am doing Vineman 2012. I am giving myself some time to recover, but then I'm going to start becoming better, faster, stronger.
So I am a (half) Ironman. And next year, I will be a better, faster, stronger, and smarter Ironman. :)
I'm hoping to gather together all the pictures from race day ASAP and I'll post up some of them in a later post. Thank you to everyone who provided support, encouragement, well-wishes, and congrats. I can't tell you how much it has all meant. Really.