Ironman 70.3 Vineman - Triathlon

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Windsor, California
United States
Vineman, Inc.
93F / 34C
Total Time = 6h 20m 44s
Overall Rank = 1139/2174
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 170/269
Pre-race routine:

I went by the expo to set up T2 on Saturday afternoon... The video was good, but watching it was unnecessary since I had read the athlete guide. After setting up T2, I bought a couple shirts and a cap - this being my first Vineman and first 70.3 I wanted the swag!! Everything was well organized.

We had dinner on Saturday night at the Russian River Brewing Company for great beer (highly recommended) and a decent pizza - hooray for carb-loading :-)

I got up before 6am at the hotel in Santa Rosa, to see that other triathlete guests were also stirring. I dropped by Peets in downtown to get a coffee for the drive. During the drive over to Guerneville, I also ate my usual Vegemite bagel, banana and Cytomax. At some point I decided that the crawling traffic was not worth enduring so simply parked and rode the rest of the way (with the Pros already coming out on their bikes in the other direction) to transition. I set up transition in a well-labeled rack for age 42 men... set up my stuff, applied some newskin, a blister plaster and duct tape over a blister on my heel and got ready in my new longjohn wetsuit (first time swimming in it). I watched a couple of waves of swimmers go off before hitting the water.

Event warmup:

Not much of a warm-up. I had some light stretching before going into the water, then a few strokes once I was in the water during the minutes prior to the start at 8am.
  • 43m 5s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 02s / 100 yards

The Russian River was quite warm - although the longjohn was new to me, I think it was the right choice to keep my temperature down. The course was nice and straightforward... although a couple of times I veered to the center and was redirected by kind volunteers in kayaks. Thanks to the volunteers!

The swim was easy, with no real current that I could perceive. In spots the water was shallow, so my hands were hitting the pebbles on the riverbed. I resisted the urge to stand up more than 1-2 times, although I saw some people walking.

Along the way, my duct tape was slowly coming loose from my heel so at some point I just pulled it all off to avoid the distraction of it flapping on my foot...

The Swim Exit was great, with an arch of wine barrels - really fun!

What would you do differently?:

Overall my swim pace was lower than I can manage - as I was deliberately not exerting myself... In retrospect I could perhaps have pushed harder, but not sure it would have achieved much. Certainly I can benefit from more training.
Transition 1
  • 04m 30s

T1 was fine. I had to stop to properly dry my foot and reapply blister bandage and duct tape, which cost me a minute or maybe more - I was OK with this - better to take the time and avoid a race-ending injury. Other than that, T1 was fairly straightforward and not TOO slow (149/269 in my AG).

It was interesting to see how the assigned racks by wave were allowing them to progressively disassemble T1 during the swim - about 1/2 of it was gone already as i exited the water...

What would you do differently?:

Not much - maybe avoid running (stupidly) with no socks the week prior to the race to prevent blisters.
  • 2h 58m 29s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.83 mile/hr

The ride was great. This was my best leg. I felt good and pushed modestly - maybe a little too much. However overall I was happy with my performance.

At one point, my race nearly ended, however. On the downhill following Chalk Hill, I dropped into the aero bars to go fast. The road could have accommodated this, but as I came up to pass another rider on a left bend, that rider moved towards the center-line, leaving me no room to maneuver. To the right (the outside), the hillside fell away from the road to some tree stumps and a fence. Imagining a ride home in an ambulance, I said something like "F*** - this is going to be bad!", as I quickly changed posture to reach the brakes. I threw both anchors out the back and slowed as fast as I could, even locking and skidding a bit. As I left the road surface , I came off the brakes and *somehow* managed to steer through the plant debris and gravel back onto the road - I was within a bee's dick of going over the side. With the crisis quickly and miraculously averted, I got to deal with a system full of adrenaline and a left shoulder that tensed up so painfully that I still have major knots 9 days later. So other than that one small episode (my fault - I should have been riding more conservatively here), the bike was great fun!

A couple of comments on support that could be improved:
1. The course needed more toilets throughout - especially here in the bike (and early run) aid stations. Having to stop and wait during an event like this seemed like very poor planning.
2. The PowerBar Perform bottles were TERRIBLE. Each of the three bottles I took leaked at the top because the lids were not or could not be properly screwed down - either due to poor bottle design or due to poor volunteer training/practices. This meant I got sticky performance drink all over myself, my bike and my tube repair supplies. Really a pain!

Apart from these issues, the ride was excellent.

What would you do differently?:

Ride more conservatively on descent. It is not worth the risk for the small number of seconds gained by riding too aggressively. Certainly more time on the bike is always helpful, and perhaps lose a few more pounds!
Transition 2
  • 04m 2s

T2 was straightforward. Well organized and well-marked to make it easy to find your run gear. I took the trouble to put on my running cap with long rear flap - I knew I would need the sun protection.

I felt like I went fast (78/269 in my AG), but overall T2 times were long - mostly due to the long circuitous route into and around the school.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 30m 38s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 30s  min/mile

The run was really tough for me. I felt good early on, keeping a sub-9 min pace, however I realized that I was a very drained from the bike and the heat was going to be a real issue - since I do not train enough in the midday heat. So by the first solid incline I realized I needed to walk the uphills to avoid blowing up.

By about the 5th mile I was walking more frequently, especially in the shade. And the going got tougher and tougher as it warmed up even more. My v800 told me the temp was in the mid-90s. So I took it somewhat easy and alternated running and walking until the last 3/4 mile, when I ran it in to the finish.

It was really great to see my wife Deb and the kids there in the finish chute as I finished my first Ironman 70.3!!

What would you do differently?:

Not a lot. In retrospect, although I felt like my run was dragging (it was certainly slow) I did relatively well vs my AG. Perhaps I could ease up a little on the bike, although I'm not sure it would have made a lot of difference. More training in the midday sunshine could help me to acclimate more.
Post race
Warm down:

My warm-down was non-existent. I quickly exited the athlete area to greet Deb and the kids - my son (3) was having a meltdown and we needed to leave fairly quickly. They had all been very gracious in coming to see me finish and I couldn't impose on them for any time more than it took to grab a can of cola. So my warm-down was as simple as packing up T2 and grabbing my T1 bag. And my post-race nutrition was a can of cola and maybe a bonk breaker bar or two - and the hard earned ice-cream we stopped for on the way home. Truly bad I know - as I discovered after dinner when I needed 4 endurolyte capsules to kill the headache and muscle aches from my obvious (in retrospect) electrolyte imbalance.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The heat. And always can train more :-)

Overall my time was a little slower than what I expected. However given the heat and where I placed relative to my AG, I am very happy with my performance. Definitely proud of this effort for my first 70.3.

Event comments:

Despite the dearth of on-course toilets and poor hydration packaging on the bike course, this race was great! I can see why it is so popular - the beautiful location and variable course make this really special - truly an iconic race. Thanks to Ironman and the Vineman crew for putting on an excellent event. I feel like I could not have picked a better option for my first Ironman 70.3 experience!!

Last updated: 2014-03-17 12:00 AM
00:43:05 | 2112 yards | 02m 02s / 100yards
Age Group: 213/269
Overall: 1487/2174
Performance: Average
Average HR of 150, Max HR of 158. Spent the whole time in zone 4.
Suit: Xterra Vortex Longjohn
Course: The course is a nice, well-marked out-and-back along the Russian River. The dam below the start keeps the river at a good level... although a coupe of points are decidedly shallow, with hands hitting the riverbed mid-stroke.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Average
Time: 04:30
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:58:29 | 56 miles | 18.83 mile/hr
Age Group: 146/269
Overall: 882/2174
Performance: Good
Average HR of 151, Max HR of 168. 1% of time in zone 2 (waiting for toilet), 7% in zone 3, 86% in zone 4 and 6% in zone 5.
Wind: Little
Course: The course is a beautiful, point-to-point course through Sonoma County wine country. Lots of vineyards. Lots of rolling hills with a couple of decent little climbs in there, but nothing too crazy or unmanageable. The decline after Chalk Hill was more technical than I gave it credit for, almost to my peril. Pavement quality varies widely - some patches are pristine and new, and some are gnarled and old, with a range in between. Nothing you can't manage by simply staying alert.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:02
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:30:38 | 13.1 miles | 11m 30s  min/mile
Age Group: 184/269
Overall: 1398/2174
Performance: Below average
Average HR of 156, Max HR of 167. 5% of time in zone 3, 61% in zone 2 and 34% in zone 1.
Course: The run course is generally a loop course on country roads south of Windsor, with a common start/finish stretch of ~1/2 mi, an out-and-back tail between mi 4 and 10, and a 1.5 mi side loop through the vineyards of La Crema winery. Overall ~300ft of climbing over some rolling hills and a couple of short steep pitches also. The first half of the course is more sheltered, but second half of course is exposed which is tough in the midday heat (over 90 deg F)
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %1.5
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5