||Half - Ironman
I began composing this race report by reading my previous entry for Wildflower. I found amusement at how pathetic I was at the end of the report and recollected how I felt at the end of that race. I certainly didnít have the same experiences at Vineman, but I wasnít thrilled about my performance until after checking my splits. I did better than I thought. Vineman was planned as my last ďAĒ race of the season, and I had an overly ambitious goal of going under 5 hours and a secondary goal of 5:10. My goal splits were 37 min swim, 2:43 bike, and 1:35 run. Though I did not reach my goal, I had a wonderful race and an incredible experience.
It was a chilly, overcast morning in Guerneville, ideal for fast racing. Like Lake San Antonio at Wildflower, the Russian River is another pleasant freshwater swim. One would think a river swim is difficult going upstream, but with the dam in place the water levels rose to 6ft and the current is negligible. Be aware, some parts of the river remain very shallow, around 3ft. Be watchful of your swim stroke as I hit bottom several times. Smashing your hands on rocks during a swim is not a pleasant experience. It was bizarre to see racers actually stand up and walk portions of the swim. Iím guessing they thought it was an aqua-walk!
As I exited the water I noticed my watch stopped around 2 minutes into the swim, so much for using my new Timex Ironman HRM watch. I accidentally hit the stop button at some point on the swim. With the HRM still functioning, I switched back to clock mode and did a little math to estimate my split times, but I used the watch mainly as a heart rate monitor anyway.
This was my first experience with separate transition zones; I took extra care in ensuring all my stuff was in the plastic bag provided. Other than logistics, I like the idea of having two separate transition zones; it adds another element to the sport.
The Vineman bike course is my favorite by far. Oceanside and Wildflower have their charms, but this bike course was absolutely spectacular. Guerneville is nestled between forested ridges with a river running through it. The course follows the river through fields of evergreens, ferns, and underbrush. Past the ridges and into the foothills, the course opens up into the heart of vine country; acres of vineyards with grapevines neatly in rows covering hilltops and valleys. The grape leaves are in full bloom, lush and dark green in color. This must be a great season for wines. Passing by several chateaus, I could smell the sweet scent of grapes fermenting in the cellars. The tree lined roads is cause for concern in area for creating mini speed bumps with their underlying roots. Being fourth to the last wave to start, I witness many groupings of lost water bottles and some of them with cages still attached! I was able to maintain a low and steady heart rate through the course. Climbing chalk hill was a cinch and by maintaining a good pace, I was able to conquer most of the rollers using the big chain ring.
I finished my last meal before entering T2. I had a power gel, a power bar, and seaweed with rice during the bike course. It was a good mix of sugar and salt. The rice with seaweed is an effective edition to my on course nutrition. I found my setup easily and everything was how I left it the day before.
The run course is very similar to Oceanside by starting out flat then getting hilly mid way through. I started out fantastic with a steady heart rate, good pace, and feeling great. All systems go until mile 6 when I noticed my legs start to feel a little heavier and stiffer. At the half way point, the entrance to La Crema Winery, I had to stop and walk; my legs felt stiff as logs. The lactate buildup in my legs was to the max. Oddly enough I felt great and my heart rate was still low. May be I needed a little more salt in my nutrition. Something to consider for my next race.
Total Time 5:16:22.9
I finished the course with my best performance in a half distance thus far. I was hoping for a better performance, but Iíll take small improvements versus no improvement at all. The biggest difference between Vineman and my previous performances is how I felt at the end. Although I bonked, I didnít feel like I did. Only my legs bonked this time and not my entire system. I am looking forward to my next attempt at sub 5 hour next year at Oceanside.