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Vineman - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Santa Rosa, California
United States
98F / 37C
Total Time = 13h 17m 2s
Overall Rank = 105/379
Age Group = M20-24
Age Group Rank = 7/16
Pre-race routine:

I call it couch to Vineman in seven months. Setting a goal any less drastic just wouldn't be my style.

Sometime around Christmas I was visiting family in Florida and we went into a Barnes and Noble. I was on a health kick at the time so I go to the fitness section and see a book called 'Iron Fit' by Don Fink. I wind up buying it and reading the entire thing over the next two days. The night I bought it and the next after that I stayed up until 1AM reading this book and just being so intrigued by the idea of an ironman. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. I then told my mom that I was going to do an ironman and got a response that included a bit of skepeticism. When I came home it was around New Years and I have been accustom to making New Years resolutions. I told my friend Aaron that my New Years resolution was to do the Vineman ironman that I read about in Don Fink's book. I recieved another skeptic response. After all I didn't have a bike, never really rode a bike more than 3 miles, and only started running recently with the longest run of my life of 4 miles up to that point.
I made my own training place that lastest from Jan 1 to Aug 2. HA! I wish I saved that original copy. Between injuries, work, school, etc.. I revised that plan probably over 100 times. I bought every book there is written on triathlon especially the ultra-distance tri's. One of my personal favorites was called 'Becoming an Ironman' which had about 20 different stories of first time competitors in ironman races. Every story was inspriational and moving and it made me wonder what it felt like to do what they did. One lady called the day she became and ironman the best day of her life and another guy said crossing the finish line was as emotional of an experience for him as when his first child was born. Those stories really gave me an extra spark inside to ramp up my training...

To the race:

My dad and I got up around 4:30AM. Ate a clif bar and banana and drank about half a gatorade. When we got to the race site I spent a bit of time setting up my bike transition. I was also putting on tons of body glide and sunscreen. After this I got in line for the port-o-potty but my dad came over and told me my wave was going to start in three minutes so I hustled down to the swim start and jumped in with abut one minute to spare.
I usually like to listen to music and stay to myself before races but didn't do that at all.
I wasn't nervous at all. I was rather emotionless to start the day. I had less nerves or excitement about this race than any race I had previously done. This changed as the race started,
Event warmup:

No warm up at all. Didn't even stretch. Think I wasn't ready for the start and that shows in my slow swim time.
  • 1h 04m 36s
  • 2000 yards
  • / 100 yards

This swim was the worst swim performance I have done in any race thus far. I was being passed by people left and right. I was well out of the top 10% where I always find myself on the swim. Was expecting a 58 minute swim and missed that by a long shot. I just set a cruise control which I thought was just under a 15 min/1000 pace and judged it completely wrong. My strength turned into a weakness. I placed much better on the bike than on the swim which is very odd.
It didn't feel like I was in the water for over an hour. I was just thinking about keeping a slow and steady stroke because I had a long day ahead of me. Then I was thinking why is everyone passing me?, shouldn't I be one of the first out of the water?, is that a swim cap of the wave after me passing me????
Besides performance stuff.... the river was nice and warm. We swam under two bridges which was real cool. It was a beautiful spot along the river where we swam and you couldn't pick a better spot to start an ironman race. Although my swimming wasn't where it should be that AM I was still in the water and competing in a race that just making it to the starting line is half the battle.
What would you do differently?:

Try not to think about setting a slow pace and just swim the pace I usually swim. There is no reason why I shouldn't have been out of the water 6 minutes faster than I was besides too conservative of pacing. Maybe a wetsuit does help swim times that much?
Transition 1
  • 02m 15s

I was the fastest out of T1 in my age group and 8th overall in the race. So I was doing something right or wrong.....
Wasn't wearing a wetsuit, which made a big difference.
  • 5h 43m 48s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.55 mile/hr

So I get on my bike after the swim and start immediately thinking, 'Ok, you have 112 miles and you need to be fresh when you finish so ya um ok'. I drove the course the previous day so I had a good idea what I was in for. The first 5 miles or so are easy and flat on a fairly busy road. This is the only time you are on a road well traveled. After this first 5 miles you get onto a challenging road and are officially in the foothills. Seemed like it was up/down, up/down for quite some time. I have decided by this point to race the entire bike course in my bikes small chain ring and keep cadence on the high side. So that is exactly what I am doing. And I am flying by everyone. This was a new feeling for me to be passing so many people on the bike course. And I was thinking to myself how easy I was taking it. Guilty easy. At about mile 25 or so it starts to sink in that I am actually out on this bike course at the Vineman. I start to get choked up on the bike from emotions and really try to calm my nerves and just keep moving the pedals
The course was so beautiful. The majority was in the foothills on roads less traveled. It must have passed 25 wineries and countless vineyards. There were tons of trees lining the streets and where there weren't trees you could look out for miles over vineyards. People who live in that area are very fortunate to be surrounded by such great places to ride.
Back to the race...a mile 35 or so you it a talwind section that is completely flat. I was cruising 25 MPH here on the small chain ring. Still flying by people. I knew the infamous Chalk Hill was near so I made sure cadence was high and effort was easy.
At mile 45 Chalk Hill came. It wasn't as bad as I expected. I have been doing a bit of hill work recently though so that helped a TON. Hill went up for quite some time and then towards the last 1/2 mile it just pitches up real mean. I was up out of the saddle cranking and moving only 9 MPH. But it passed quickly enough and at mile 51 I calculated I had been keeping a 21 MPH pace. So I said to myself 'slow down' and then remembered I was on the small chain ring the entire time and then said 'I am going slow'.
After we passed Windsor high school and got out on the second lap I was still feeling like I was 100% fresh. I was thinking 'bring on the marathon, I'm going to run all 26.2 of it'. HA!
At mile 65 or so it was getting hot, really, really, really hot. 103 degrees in Geyserville hot. It was also getting very very windy with winds recorded 20 MPH+. To top this off from about mile 65 to 90 it is all straight into this wind. It felt like there was a massive blowdryer blowing right on the nose of my bike. All of a sudden my speed drops from 24 MPH to 16 MPH and I'm two gears away from the granny gear. My nutrition drink is now HOT and isn't quite satisfying. I am still holding steady and passing lots of people who are now swerving all over and looking real bad. This 25 miles is the most vague of the entire race. I went from feeling 100% to not feeling 100%. I wasn't feeling bad, but was more in a trance and just moving the pedals until I got back into that tailwind that will lead me back to Chalk Hill.
Atlas the tailwind came and I was able to mentally break out of the trance and get re-focused. I knew I could spin on the flats and keep steady and once I got over Chalk Hill it was all downhill. So that is what I did. Chalk Hill was much bigger though the second time around. Towards the top it was a real struggle. I was letting out grunt and groans climbing the last 1/2 mile which was really steep. At this point the temperature was out of control and I was feeling that drain. At mile 105 I said 'Ok, spin on home nice and easy'. It was flat section for the last 7 miles with tailwind/crosswind. I was cruising around 21-22 and 100+RPM. At mile 108 when I go for a pedal stroke my leg freezes on me and I am unable to push the pedal forward. My calf/hamstring completely cramped up and as I push forward I let out a shriek and the cramp dissapears. The reality then hits that although I feel good, I am now cramping and still have a marathon...and it is HOT!!
What would you do differently?:

Wear socks. Got blisters at mle 7 or so on the run. Wasn't from the run....was from the bike.
I also should have been taking salt tablets on the bike as will as eating a banana at the aid stations. I hydrated well but on a day like this one I needed extra stuff. Especially salt tablets. Because I have no previous experience or long endurance races in the heat I was not prepared for it. Didn't tak the necessary steps to prevent muscle cramping. I thought my liquid nutrition was enough. It was to allow me not to bonk...but not enough to prevent cramping.
Transition 2
  • 04m 36s

Came into T2 with cardio and mental freshness. But my legs were cramped and my body was hot. Took my time racking my bike and putting on shoes. I remember when I sat on the pavement to put on my shoes my butt felt like it was getting burned. That's when I knew I was in for trouble.
  • 6h 21m 44s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 34s  min/mile

Challenge doesn't build character, it reveals it.
Before my legs completely cramped up I was doing 11 minute miles trying to take it slow to start off the run. I had full intentions to pick up this speed. However, my legs had a different idea. At about mile 6 my legs started firing. Each step either my calf or hamstring would fire up into a full blown cramp.I was also gettin huge blisters on both my feet (should have worn socks on the bike). At the ais stations I am dumping ice down my jersey. Within two minutes the ice is hot water and I'm overheated again.
At the end of each loop my dad was waiting for me. He would walk with me for 1/4 mile while around the transition area before I headed back out on the course. He would ask me how I'm feeling and talk me up and kept telling me that I'm going to finish he's sure of it.
The thing is everytime I talked to someone more than saying 'Keep it up' or 'Looking strong' or just cracking a joke I would feel like vomiting. So when I was chatting with my dad I kept feeling the urge to vomit. However I looked forward soooo much to getting back into the area he was and would immediately try to spot him so I could walk with him. Each time was the highlight of my run and would look forward to it well before getting the the point. It really helped keep me moving.
At mile 3 I stopped for a pee break. When I stepped into the port-o-potty it was so hot. I looked down to pee and almost passed out. I knew if I had to go pee again or worst yet #2 which would require sitting down I would be a DNF for doubt.
I kept chanting to myself 'just stay vertical'. All over the course people were going down and screaming in pain and I didn't want to be one of them. After about an hour I was 100% done. The next 5 or so hours are a painful blur. An unbearable, unexplainable pain than I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The pain I felt the last 4 miles in my Boise 70.3 isn't even comparable to the pain I felt this entire 5 hours. I held back tears on numerous occasions it hurt so bad. On loop #2 a 54 year old guys came up alongside me walking and said he was going to DNF when he got back into transition. I started telling him that DNF wasn't an option. That the humility and humbling experience of what we were going through was good for us and finishing an ironman race on a day like this is a great accomplishment no matter what our time goals were. About 3 miles later he gave me a pat on the back and said thanks. He said what I told him out there gave him the motivation to go ahead and walk that last loop and finish.
Out on the course I was very vocal with quick 1 liners of encouragement or jokes. It gave lots of people smiles and helped me a lot too. The other competitors were huge in keeping me moving.
When I had 1 mile left out of the 140.6 miles of the race I started to get emotional again. People were giving my high fives and yelling at me that I'm about to become an ironman. I was just reflecting on all the time and sacrifices I had spent to get to that point. I looked up at the sky and held back tears of joy for what was about to happen. Then the last 300 yards came and I started running. I saw my dad and the finish chute and chugged my way across the finishing line. All the emotions went away and pain took back over. But who cares anymore.

Post race
Warm down:

Um, warm down? Fever, nausea, GI problems, cramping continued through the night.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Muscle cramps. Elements.

Event comments:

Thanks to Amy at Vineman as well as Vineman as a whole for putting on such an amazing event. Only God knows how they were able to keep up with H20 and ice at the aid stations in that heat. Tons of thanks to my dad for being there and being my support on a day where without support I wouldn't be an ironman. Especially post-race I was not much fun. But he did everything in his power to help me recover. I also just got an email from him showing his registration for Ironman Florida 70.3 May 17, 2009. Hell yes dad! Gunna be a fun day! So I hope you enjoyed the longest race report known to man. Has taken me 1.5 hours to write.
Now that my goal for the year is accomplished I need a new one.... Clearwater '09 or BUST!
I'm going to do another full ironman in 2010.

Last updated: 2008-01-04 12:00 AM
01:04:36 | 2000 yards | / 100yards
Age Group: 7/16
Overall: 79/379
Performance: Bad
Even split on my first and second lap
Suit: My wetsuit
Course: Two loop swim course in the Russian River.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Below average
Time: 02:15
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:43:48 | 112 miles | 19.55 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/16
Overall: 35/379
Performance: Good
HR AVG 157
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Two loop course.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 95
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 04:36
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:21:44 | 26.2 miles | 14m 34s  min/mile
Age Group: 12/16
Overall: 261/379
Performance: Bad
Course: Three loops. Three hills on each loop. Hot!
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? No
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-08-06 1:47 AM

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Huntington Beach
Subject: Vineman

2008-08-06 8:53 AM
in reply to: #1584415

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San Francisco
Subject: RE: Vineman

Matt, major congrats to you.  Everyone's first IM is a journey and you managed to get to yours in such a short time with some focus and dedication.  Awesome.

I loved your quote about how "Challenge doesn't build character, it reveals it." and you obviously revelaned yours by sticking it through.  Sometimes races can just be about survival and even with your body not willing, you willed it to do so.

It never gets easy, but it can get easier as you build your base.  Congrats and hopefully this is just the first of many more successes for you.

2008-08-06 9:56 AM
in reply to: #1584415

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Subject: RE: Vineman
awesome race report, awesome accomplishment.
2008-08-06 12:29 PM
in reply to: #1584415

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Vineman

CONGRATULATIONS, Iron Man! What an epic race. I also got intrigued by Don's book and now I am starting the journey ...

Fantastic job, especially with the heat, winds, blisters, and awful pain on the run. You are truly IRON CORE.

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