||Vineman Ironman 70.3 7/2007
||Half - Ironman
Hello fellow Clubbers!
We are back from Vineman. It was hot at Vineman again this year, think Hawaii without the humidity with temps in the upper 80s.
Also, unlike at Hawaii there was plenty of shade on the bike and the run course which did not make it as tough. But a very competitive Half Ironman distance race as usual with the best in the sport showing up. I saw Samantha McGlone and Michellie Jones again fighting it out for the win on the run. Then the male pros who apparently ran a 5 min./mile the first couple of miles on the run course: Craig Alexander and Luke Bell. Now that is crazy fast!
Here is my short race report that might inspire some to do a Half and give others the info they need to pick this race from the race calendar next season:
Ever since they changed the location of the Expo this race became logistically so much easier for us athletes. I flew up to Oakland and took a rental car up to Windsor. Total time from my house to Windsor High: 5 hours. The flight was quick, there was some traffic north of San Francisco plus I opted to have lunch with friends in downtown San Francisco. I guess you can do this trip in 3.5-4 hours if you opt to fly. Otherwise driving time might result in sitting in the car for 10 hours . Some divide the drive and make it a 2-day trip.
I could tell that it was hot when I drove from San Francisco north to Marin County and then Sonoma County. Temps changed from 70 to 95 degrees in the car. It was also windy in the afternoon. The Expo was well stocked with the most popular Triathlon stores showing up and selling gear on sale. I made friends with a bike mechanic from the local Bike Shop as I needed to have my bike looked at after it sat in a friend's car for a couple of days.
After a quick ride and gear check it was time for the Pre-Race Meeting. I knew the course as I raced Vineman before but I knew it was important and mandatory to show up and listen to last minute changes. Biggest announcement: wetsuits allowed as the water was below 78 degrees. I used to care and be outright frightened in swims that allowed no wetsuits. But after a great experience in Hawaii and also with the knowledge of the shallow water in the Russian River I was not in the least worried. My biggest question was: should I or shouldn't I wear a wetsuit?
After the Expo and meeting a quick trip to T2 next door to drop off my run stuff. Interesting how much or little some bring to T2. I kept it simple: running shoes, running shorts, visor. No nutrition as I like the on-course nutrition provided and use it during training and races: Endurance Gatorade and PowerGels and PowerBars (our club sponsor!).
Getting a good dinner the night before the race is easy in the Santa Rosa area. We opted for Sushi...but with so many vineyards in the area there are excellent restaurants everywhere and it makes sense to make a reservation...but again, no shortage of Italian food for those who like their pre-race pasta meal.
The race start is in Guerneville at the Russian River. It's easy to get there, even from as far as Santa Rosa. We took Guerneville Road and ended up being at the race start in less than 30 min. It gave me time to get my prerace breakfast and hydrate in the car and run through all gear needed in my head. I had an experience two years ago where my shoes were accidentally taken back to the car by a friend and I ended up not having shoes coming out of the water!
Finding parking is not always easy....but with the knowledge from previous years we opted to park up the street from the race start at Armstrong Woods Road and walked about 10 min. back to the race start and T1.
T1 is huge at this event. There are over 2,000 athletes racing Vineman every year. My age group alone has over 160 women registered. So finding a spot at T1 is not easy if you come late. But it's doable.
Swim waves are 8 minutes apart and that is the only time that one can warm-up in the swim. I opted for a short run instead to get my heart rate up temporarily. It also helps me to calm down and with focus. But one moment: there is my wave, they are in the water, I hear a faint race official's voice: "women 35-39....here they go (or s.th
. like it)!"....oh no, there they are....all purple swim caps...they started...and I am stuck in T1....look at my watch: it's 6:34am. My Suunto is precise. There is no way....oh well, I guess I gave them a head start.
Now seriously, my swim wave was scheduled to start at 6:38am. I was and should have been at the swim start at 6:34am but fact is I was not...so I needed to run through the crowds in T1 to the race start where I screamed at the guys 25-29 that I REALLY needed to get through as my swim wave just started....ok....in the water...looking...oh boy, there are about 100-150 yards ahead of me...ok, start a swim with a sprint, not ideal....I actually managed to catch up by the time we turned around...and felt better about the mishap at the start by the moment. I passed a number of women near the end....maybe I should start every swim with a sprint from now on!
After the race I was told that a number of athletes in separate waves did not make it to their swim start in time as the officials started swim waves early. I talked to the race director about it. It does not matter. I had a great race anyway. Let it go, I will be back next year to have another PR and do really well in this race is my thought!
My actual swim time: 44:30 min. Now, that for me (a non-swimmer with fear of the water after a horrible surfing accident years ago!) is the best swim time on a half and gives me confidence that I am on the right track to become a mediocre swimmer with a very good bike and run split as usual.
Back to T1 where everyone packs their swim gear in a bag and leaves it for volunteers to be picked up (later to be picked up at the finish). Then off on the bike and this beautiful 56 mile ride through the Santa Rosa area, Guerneville, Healdsburg, and back to Windsor High School.
The bike is considered challenging as there is almost no flat section, hills, lots of turns, and Chalk Hill at mile 45. For some reason the hill did not seem as enormous to me as in the past few years. I felt strong and it took me only minutes to get to the top of the hill. Safety on this course and aid stations at mile 13, 29, and 40 were excellent.
There were also plenty of referees on motorcycles giving out penalties for drafting. I did not see the penalty tents they had last year...I must have been really focused on the course....they had those dreaded penalty tents at the Hawaii Ironman 70.3 last month....
I saw many clubbers on the bike. We all cheered each other on: Go L.A.!!! I also got cheered on by others who wore no club uniforms. Made me wonder, former clubber, moved and now had no club to race for? :) Or maybe just likes L.A.?
Bike time: 2:53 NICE! I discussed it with my new coach afterward and unlike on the run where I have the gears to switch it on and off on race day on the bike I think I only know one long endurance speed. I usually give it too little on the bike....that must change and I need to get faster to be on the top in this distance...but for this day it left me with more than I needed for the run.
Run is through the rolling hills in an out-and-back course near Windsor High School. I like to divide a Half-marathon in two 10ks. An out-and-back course makes that easy. Off to a 7:30 min.mile for the first half of the run course with the intention to maybe have enough left in me to run a negative split. it did not happen today as I was dreaming of a 1:40 run split which I know I can do.
Instead I enjoyed the course and cheered on clubbers. Also notable at the turn-around after mile 6 there is a stretch where we run through a vineyard on a trail. Just beautiful.
Aid stations are at every mile. I took water and Gatorade at every mile marker...they also served Cola....gave out gels...plenty of course support.
I felt tired and the long work days for the past few weeks after mile 9 on a rolling hill. I wish I could have said long training days :) But it latest just for a few minutes and I switched gears wisely to avoid cramping and other problems.
A nice run and strong finish: Looking good 245! Nice pace! The run time of 1:48 is just slightly over the 8 min. mile pace I projected for this season. It felt easy and I enjoyed the last couple of hundred yards and the cheering crowds.
Finish time: actual time: 5:34 or with the official swim wave start time a 5:38. Happy with a PR on the course, a strong finish, and the knowledge that I dramatically keep improving in all disciplines in this sport....and the desire to train and race harder with every race!
This is a very good first Half Ironman for those who consider this distance for the first time. It's super competitive for the more advanced who like to challenge themselves. The biggest challenge for us is the heat and the challenging bike course maybe along with the world-class competition in some age groups.
There was plenty of food again at the expo at the finish line. Eating lots of fruit in the heat felt really good. Hydrating was most important for me plus having my recovery drink. Then off to T2 to pick up my swim gear from T1 and my bike. It was fun seeing lots of clubbers as usual after the finish. We all seemed to have a good race. Hey, just finishing a Half-Ironman distance event is an accomplishment. For some of us it's about time and PR's and placing and qualifying...it's always fun though to see first-timers and their big grin on their face after finishing their first half. I remember how happy I felt.
The awards were presented on time....not many clubbers here this year, but I saw the usual clubbers trying to claim their spots for Kona and/or the 70.3 Worlds. It turned out I was one shy of making it to the 70.3 Worlds in this race. Only one woman ahead of me was present. Well, here I come Cancun! I write another race report as I love this distance and events in this distance all over the world now.