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Full Vineman Triathlon - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Guerneville, California
United States
72F / 22C
Total Time = 14h 35m 56s
Overall Rank = 129/210
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 22/38
Pre-race routine:

We started off this adventure by spending a week driving up the coast of California, starting in San Diego and ending up in Guerneville for the race. Mom and I had some great beach time, rode rollercoasters (and stood in line) at Magic Mountain, and cruised around in our bright orange convertible. We got to Guerneville on Thursday evening after spending the morning at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The following morning we got up to meet Jon and his parents for breakfast and after some wonderful Swedish pancakes, we headed over to the packet pick-up in Windsor. Since the pre-race meeting was mandatory, we piled into the gym with several hundred other people for the video. After 45 minutes or so of course information, they piled us out the door into the expo. I loaded up on race swag and browsed the expo for some arm warmers since I left mine at home. I ended up with some really awesome, yet completely obnoxious arm warmers that could probably be seen from space. I wanted Mom to be able to find me on the course!

The pick-up process was honestly a complete disaster. Pick-up was in one of the small gyms at the high school (the size of a basketball court) and there was likely several hundred people and their families (and dogs) trying to navigate through the sea of tapering, moody, nervous athletes. First, you had to stand in line to get your packet; a process that took an hour and twenty minutes. The volunteers were dumping out the packets and explaining to each individual person the contents and what to do with them (this information was exhaustively explained in the video we were required to watch just an hour previous. The volunteers were actually quite wonderful and they were obviously doing what they had been told). Then you had to stand in another line to weigh-in, which was required of all full distance athletes for medical reasons. In order to get out of the gym, another line was required so that your chip was checked. And finally another line to pick up the relatively ugly race t-shirt. The entire pick-up process took us just over 3 hours.

After the packet pick-up fiasco, Jon, Mom and I piled into the convertible and drove the course. We noticed right away the bumpy, rutted roads as it made even the drive uncomfortable but the scenery was spectacular. Miles and miles of grape vines and countless wineries. It was awfully tempting to stop in for a quick tasting, but getting hammered 24 hours before an Ironman is probably not the best idea. Instead, we made a few doodles with sidewalk chalk along the way, but since it was so late in the day we didn’t really do much. We drove back to Guerneville to do a quick swim course preview and meet Jon’s parents for our pre-race sushi dinner. I finally got back to the hotel and put the final touches together for the race. Lights out around 10.

The alarm went off at 4:00am which gave me plenty of time to get up, wake up and get some food down before transition was scheduled to open at 5:30. Since our hotel was less than a quarter mile from the swim start, Jon and his parents met us at our hotel to get ready for the race. Jon and I were going to walk down to the beach to set up T1 then walk back to finish breakfast and relax before the start. We walked over to transition with our bikes and T1 stuff, only to stand in another line to get into transition. It took us nearly 20 minutes just to get in to T1, leaving only 40 minutes to set up and get back to the hotel to get our swim stuff then back to the beach. Looking back on it, one hour is just not enough time for nearly 1,200 people to get themselves ready for a 12-14 hour day. It was a bad call on our part but also another example of poor organization by the race staff. People were really frantic and upset.

I had plans, like many others, to change at T1 into bike shorts. I looked around expecting to see the large changing tent usually seen at Iron distances races. Seeing nothing of the sort, I asked a fellow athlete if they knew where the changing tents were. She pointed at the tiny 10’x10’ picnic canopy surrounded by tarps in the far corner of transition. “That’s it. Both men and women.”
I began to panic a bit, as I didn’t see how there was any possible way that a tent that tiny could accommodate all of the athletes that were expecting to be able to change. I envisioned another line waiting in T1 to use the changing tent.

Jon and I got a nice little warm-up jogging back to the hotel to pick up the rest of our stuff. I grabbed my Infinit bottles out of the fridge, my wetsuit and goggles and cruised back over to the start. I got my bottles into the cages on my bike just as the first wave went off. With 3 minutes between waves, I knew I had a bit of time to get my wetsuit on but time was ticking down. I couldn’t find Mom again to give her my flip-flops so I had to leave them by the fence (they ended up being one of my casualties for the day since they weren’t there when I went back). I loved those things L L

I got my wetsuit pulled up and situated, cap and goggles on with a few seconds to relax a bit before our wave went off.
Event warmup:

Pfffft... its Ironman. The swim is the warm up. ;)
  • 1h 24m 22s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m / 100 yards

The swim start was a crowded mess, but that’s Ironman. The wave start is completely necessary for this race since the river is very narrow and shallow. It simply would not accommodate a mass start. The first few minutes were full of kicking, clawing and fighting to get into open space clear enough to swim. I got kicked in the face which caused me to bite my tongue pretty hard. My mouth exploded with blood and it bugged me for the next few minutes. I must have been on an adrenaline rush since I forgot about it pretty soon after that.

I cruised through the first lap pretty effortlessly, minus the start and bloody mouth. I promised myself I wouldn’t walk any of the swim but was forced to stand up when the water became so shallow I could no longer pull without scraping my fingers on the bottom of the river. Standing was not fun because the bottom was full of jagged rocks, so walking was really not fun. Luckily, there wasn’t too much walking necessary (maybe 300 ft throughout the course, 2 shallow spots). I am certain I lost some time here. I didn’t sight as well on the second lap as I did on the first, and my wonky shoulder decided it didn’t want to play anymore and started giving me trouble on the way back in from the second lap. I just stayed relaxed and concentrated on not doing anything goofy with my arm since I would need it later.

I felt perfectly fresh coming out of the water.
What would you do differently?:

Swim more, and stay to the outside to avoid the crowd.
Transition 1
  • 12m 23s

Now it was time to attack this changing tent. I found my spot easily, grabbed my stuff and tried to make my way through all of the craziness to get back to the changing tent. I managed to squeeze my way in finding a bit of space at the back but had to walk over 8-10 people and their stuff. I dried off best I could and tried to wiggle my way into my tri top. Only then did I notice the blanket used as a divider between the women’s side and men’s side of this “tent” didn’t really divide anything. I guess I could have used it to dry off better as that would have made it at least a little useful. So I don’t know how many fellas out there got to see me naked on Saturday but you’re welcome. Oh well. Its Ironman and I am not ever going to see any of those people again. Maybe I made someone’s day… who knows.
What would you do differently?:

Hmmm.... not sure here.
  • 7h 07m 56s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.70 mile/hr

The bike started out misty (from fog) and a bit cold. Luckily I had on my obnoxious arm warmers! Overall, the bike was relatively uneventful. I hated my life around mile 80 and would have traded my bike for a beer by mile 95 if someone offered me one. I ticked off the miles, one by one, until it was done. I executed my nutrition plan flawlessly and felt pretty good (stomach-wise) the whole time.

The course is very rutted, bumpy and generally uncomfortable to ride. The hills are welcome as they give you a chance to get up out of your seat for a stretch and a nice downhill to rest. There are 7 aid stations on the course which doesn’t seem like enough, but since I bring my own nutrition, I was fine with it. I stopped at 3 of them to fill up my water bottle and stretch. The dreaded ‘Chalk Hill’ really wasn’t that bad but I did feel it a bit at mile 100. The headwind starting at mile 85 really dropped my average by quite a bit. I didn’t see anything too crazy out on the course but heard lots of reports of people, both athletes and locals, doing some crazy and stupid things. I heard the ambulance a few times. I got the general impression from the local vibe that the race is not a very welcome invasion of these little towns (for good reason… a lot of people decided that rules didn’t apply to them and allowed their entourage to follow them on the course which backed up traffic or they would drop their water bottles/nutrition all over the course). There was even a sign posted on the road that asked the athletes not to litter, yet there was ~15 ejected water bottles, CO2 cartridges, etc all over the ground. Sadly, I only saw the official race vehicle once.
What would you do differently?:

Try to make stops quicker.
Transition 2
  • 10m 16s

I changed out of my bike shorts and into tri shorts for the run. I grabbed my roll of Tums as a hopeful plan to keep my stomach under control. In and out.
What would you do differently?:

Go faster. Duh.
  • 5h 41m 5s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 01s  min/mile

I like that the run course was 3 loops. There were lots of people out there and everyone seemed to be having a good day. The weather was warm, but not dreadfully hot like I anticipated. I wore my Cool Wings (which are awesome, btw) and wet them down at every aid station, which kept me from overheating. My hot pink shoes were a major hit… all of the little girls on the course loved them! The first lap was a breeze and I averaged sub-10 minute miles. I popped a Tums every time I felt my stomach get a little queasy and that worked like a charm. The second lap started to hurt and by the half way point, my feet were pretty beat up. The hills were getting harder and longer and it was harder and harder to find stuff to eat that didn’t make me want to vomit my guts out. By the end of lap 2 my shorts were starting to bug me, so I stopped by special needs to get my running shorts. Since there was no place to change there, I carried them with me to the first aid station where I changed in the porta-potty. I didn’t think anyone would possibly take my shorts that had 18+ miles of Ironman run on them, so I left them on the railroad tie behind the aid station so that I could pick them up on my way back through. They weren’t there when I went back, making them the second casualty for the day. Oh well. I finally saw Mom on the beginning of the third lap and told her that I was hurting pretty badly. I forgot the last race my mom witnessed was Deuces Wild where I got sun poisoning and vomited for 2 days afterwards, so needless to say she was worried. Matt kept her calm and talked her through the race, keeping her updated with splits from the online results (he’s wonderful J). I managed to balance food intake well enough that I held up ok, but by the third lap I had to walk to keep it all down. I started hitting the Coke on the 3rd lap and managed to come back to life. My feet still hurt something fierce, but I felt well enough to run the last half of the third lap.

The run course is hilly, but fun. There are 2 major hills that aren’t really runnable (no one ran them) but the rest are completely manageable. It’s a 3 loop course so the aid stations become very familiar, which I found oddly comforting. They had hoses out there to keep everyone wet and cool and the aid stations were well stocked. The volunteers were eager, friendly and cheerful. The only complaint I have is not about the race itself, per se, but rather the folks I saw receiving outside assistance. I will withhold my opinion of Team in Training, but many, many, many of those folks had people running and/or biking with them. They had a lot of support on the course, which is really great, but it was very unfortunate to see how many Team members didn’t want to play by the rules. I ran behind a girl that had a bike pacer for roughly 6 miles. I wasn’t the only one that noticed this.
What would you do differently?:

Not much I could have done.
Post race
Warm down:

I found Mom, Jon (who finished about an hour and a half before me) and his parents at the finish line. I sat down for a bit to give my feet some relief then hobbled around trying to figure out where to go. Mom had taken care of my bike, so I gathered up my stuff to head back to the hotel. Food did not sound good, so I skipped the finish line feast and sipped on some chicken noodle soup instead. I got all of my stuff together and piled into the car. On the way back, I talked Mom into taking me to In-N-Out for a cheeseburger and chocolate shake. Best. Cheeseburger. Ever.

Event comments:

It was a good day, even though I didn’t hit any of my goals. I was just a bit shy of all of them but I PR’ed by over an hour. I gave it the best I could and had a good time doing it, which is all that really matters. I had a fantastic week with my mom and I am so glad she was there. She is the best mom in the world. J I also owe a huge thank you to Matt for not only talking Mom through the race, but also putting up with me and my early Saturday and Sunday mornings, making me food when I come back from a long ride and generally being supportive of this very dumb thing I decided to do. J Thanks to Jon for letting me call him Skippy… and for riding with me, even though he is a complete disaster (I mean that in the nicest way possible.. he has a thing for flatting on the long rides). And to all of my pals for cheering me on (Matt G, Derek L, Iron Donkai Phil, Ben H, Jen S, Chase B, Dan A, Alaina, Ryan and Cody Bear, Holly and Dogbone and Spencer and Kelsey, Acadia, Ray D, Steve M, Susan, Kirk, Kathleen and Kimm, Ocky, Tanner, Ranger Dave, Whizzzz, and I could go on and on and on……..

Time to recover…

Last updated: 2011-03-09 12:00 AM
01:24:22 | 4224 yards | 01m / 100yards
Age Group: 0/38
Overall: 0/210
Performance: Average
Suit: Xterra vortex sleeveless
Course: 2 loops, out-and-back in the Russian River.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 12:23
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:07:56 | 112 miles | 15.70 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/38
Overall: 0/210
Performance: Average
Wind: Headwind
Course: 2 laps through the Sonoma Wine Country
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 10:16
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:41:05 | 26.2 miles | 13m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/38
Overall: 0/210
Performance: Average
Course: Non-stop rolling hills
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2011-08-01 11:09 PM

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Subject: Full Vineman Triathlon

2011-08-02 8:55 AM
in reply to: #3624844

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Great RR Robyn.  Congratulations on taking an hour off your IM PR!  Sounds like you had great support and how nice spending the week with you mom!  Oh, and I'm sure you made a few guys happy there in T1!
2011-08-02 1:14 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Got Wahoo?
San Antonio
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
"The run course is hilly, but fun." -This makes absolutely no sense to me. You must still be suffering ill effects from the race.

Good job!
2011-08-02 1:46 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Woodland, California
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
What a great race report.  That run was pretty hilly, I don't know about fun though!

Congrats on your PR!!
2011-08-02 5:22 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Congrats on your race. It was a wonderful day.
2011-08-03 10:38 AM
in reply to: #3624844

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Los Angeles
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Great job! Can you te ll me a bit about your nutrition. I had major problems about 80 miles into the bike and couldn't take anything in after that except a peach slice. Didn't turn out great but I finished.

2011-08-03 1:33 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Sure... To preface this post, I have some issues with my stomach that cause severe acid reflux when I run. I am also extremely sensitive to heat, and the combination of the two have caused me to get violently sick (both during and after the race) in longer distances races. Since my IM last year, I've managed to figure all of this out and learn how to control it a little bit. So... That said... GU (the brand) makes me noxious so I've stopped using them and have switched to Honey Stingers and Power Gel. For the bike portion, I use a custom Infinit blend and also took 1 Pepto Bismol caplet at mile 95. I tried to keep solid food in my stomach since it tends to act up when I'm hungry. I ate a few Nutter Butters and a almond honey bar. The run is where it gets tricky since its the jostling that triggers the downfall. I carried a small roll of Tums with me and popped one if I started to feel funny. This actually worked like magic. It wasn't until mile 18 or so when I knew gels wouldn't stay down anymore. At that point I switched over to Coke and it worked beautifully. I definitely wouldn't advise taking Pepto before a race since its a salicylate (bad for organs during dehydration)... Do as I say, not as I do in that regard.
2011-08-03 4:43 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Berkley, MI
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
As always.... great job my dear!
2011-08-04 7:28 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Nice job out there : ) Congrats
2011-08-05 10:48 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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Placitas, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Great race!  Sorry to miss meeting up with you and your Mom during the expo and/or race. 
2011-08-06 7:55 PM
in reply to: #3624844

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New user
Bay Area
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Good job on your new PR!

2011-08-07 12:38 AM
in reply to: #3632215

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Extreme Veteran
Sacramento, California
Subject: RE: Full Vineman Triathlon
Good job out there!
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