Since Boise 70.3 last month, I have been very focused on my swim speed and cycing endurance. I was very frustrated about the bike at Boise, as I pushed too hard in the constant head and side winds and didn’t have much left for the run. I was able to get some great training in up in Tahoe a couple of weeks back. That included a great ride of 74mi with 5k in climbing averaging 17.4. That helped build my cycling confidence coming into Vineman.
Last years Vineman 70.3 was my first half Ironman race after 9 years of olympic and sprint racing. Last year, I did very well in the swim and run, but had a strained calf and just survived the hot run. This year I hired a coach to help me become for efficient in my training and to stay injury free with smart training. I was excited about this years Vineman race and had high hopes and expectations. It wasalso exciting to have my wife and oldest two girls come cheer me on!
We arrived just as T1 was opening at 5:30am, as I was in the third wave of the day at 6:46. Only the pro men & women, women 40-44 were in front of me. I was able to get all set up in T1 and even get in some swim sprints to get my heart race up. It was great that it was overcast and the fog was lingering over the river. My wife captured a couple great pics of the swim start line and initial surge.
The water was a warm 72′ and it was a non-wetsuit race for the pro’s. The rest of us could choose, but most kept them on for at least the buoyancy factor. I have a farmer john suit, so it was perfect for the water. The russian river here didn’t have the majesty of the Boise 70.3 reservoir, but it sure beats that cold 59′ water! The swim is an out and back and some parts are so shallow that your hand hits the rocks mid-stroke. I once again trailed right off the main lead pack for a bit. I’ve found that if you are a good swimmer, you need to go out hard to miss the scrum. There was this one guy that I felt like tackling after battling after a few minutes. It’s one thing to fight for position if you’re sighting correctly, but this idiot kept trying to swim across me to no avail. Luckily is became shallow after a bit and I just stood up, ran and dove ahead to get away from that jv guy!
Overall, I felt strong on the swim and felt that I maintained a good cadence and speed. I was surprised at how quick the overhead bridges came back into view, so I think I left some speed in the water. My goal time was 36, which would have been almost a minute faster than Boise. I came out of the water at 34:47 and was psyched with that time, so my day started off right!
T1 was uneventfull for me @ 3:27. I was surprised that they didn’t have volunteers with sunblock, as they did on Boise. I was excited to be ahead of my targets and ready to tackle the bike!
I really enjoy this bike course, as it has constant small rolling hills and you can be in the aero position for most of the ride. It’s not an easy course and you have to be careful to not go out too hard. My master plan was to do everything I could to maintain above 20mph on the bike. With all of my training, I thought that was a challenging and realistic goal. I tried to break the course into 14m blocks in my head for checkpoints. The first 14m cruised by quickly and I was averaging 20.4mph. I felt strong and wasn’t passed by anyone. The second block was tougher, as I hit my 28m checkpoint at the top of the days first big climb. That second block was slower averaging 19.6. At this point, I was roughly 1:20 into the ride and was drinking a lot. I use EFS drinks and Liquidshot during my rides. I try to drink at least one bottle an hour. I had two EFS bottles and a water bottle with me. At this point I was already done with the first EFS bottle and my water bottle. I knew it was going to be a hot day later, so I was drinking plenty. Onto the third block is when the elite age groupers from the next mens wave caught and passed me. They were riding legally in a train of about seven of them. I knew I couldn’t keep up their pace, so I just tried to keep them in sight for as long as I could. I was able to get my average back up during this leg, averaging 20.3. I felt that I was pushing hard, but not to the point of blowing up on the run. On the last 14m we hit the largest climb of the day and I knew to just keep spinning the legs, as the last 10m is downhill or flat. I was able to finish the bike in 2:47:1 for an average of 20.1! I was psyched at this point and knew I was in a good position to get a pr if I kept it together.
I crused through T2 in 2:37, which was ok given the long run up to the bike racks. I took off my cycling shoes to get more speed through transition. Coming out of transition, I was at 3:28:01 and I knew that all I had to do was run a 2hr half marathon to crush my pr by almost 30min.
I felt great right away on the run, averaging 8:15 min/mi for the first six miles. Coach and I had talked about trying to get comfortable and to hold back on the way out. I felt great and found myself going at 7:30 pace a few times and had to slow down, as I didn’t want to mess this up. The course is very hilly, so it can catch you offguard if you’re not careful.
At the turn around point, I felt good and on track to have a reverse split on the way back. My garmin showed my around 55 at the halfway point. My plan now was to maintain above 8min miles and push hard the last three miles to the finish. I had glimpses of 5:15 in my head and was fired up. I averaged 8:30/40 for miles 7-10 and could feel the pain. The last three miles were very challenging, as I started to get that twitch muscle cramp above my left knee. I had to stop 2-3 times to massage it, which seemed to help. I was afraid to push too hard and pull or hurt something, so I just settled in and finished at a steady pace. I finished the run in 1:54:38(8:45 pace) cutting 10min off my Boise time.
I was ecstatic to finish at 5:22:40! That was a PR at the 70.3 distance by alomost 37 minutes! I finished 74th out of almost 300 in my division. I felt like I nailed the swim and bike. The run was educational for me, as I felt like I held back for most of the race and then the burden of the day caught up with me in the last few miles. I will be back next year and my run will be better than ever!
In two weeks, I am competing in the Vineman Full Aquabike (2.4m swim/112m Bike) on the same course. I feel confident that I can do very well on the swim and come close to my speed in last weekends race. I won’t be able to maintain the same speed on the bike though without blowing up. It will be a great test and I need to sit down with coach to figure out a strategy for the bike.
I also just signed up for my first race of 2011, signing up for Oceanside 70.3 on April 2nd! I am officially addicted to the half Ironman distance. I will also be back to Vineman 70.3 in 2011 and maybe Hawaii 70.3…