This has been an interesting racing year for me so far. The year started off great at Oceanside 70.3 even with the double flat on the bike. I had a good time and nailed my run with a 1:40 (7:38mi/min pace). Rev3 Knoxville was up next and I just felt ok, but suffered through the humidity on the run. Last month was my expected “A” race at Kansas 70.3 until my bike failed coming out of t1 and was dq’d for riding the SRAM tech guys bike as a replacement. A week after Kansas, I signed up for a local Father’s Day 10k in Pleasanton. It was great having wifey and my girlies there, and I crushed it averaging 6:59’s! For me that was quite a feat breaking into the 6’s for a 10k! That brought me into Vineman 70.3 ready to prove that I could really race and be rewarded for my hard training.
Last year I pulled off back to back 70.3 race weekends with Rev3 Portland Half followed by Vineman 70.3. I PR’d the Portland race with a new 5:08 half dist PR and followed up with a solid 5:19 at Vineman 70.3. I knew this year that I was in better shape, much faster on bike and run and finally more rested.
My goal was to definitely PR and try to break the 5hr barrier. Coach Jeff from PRS FIT laid out some seemingly reachable numbers to hit, and I was very confident coming into the race. My Dad had been visiting from Maine and came along to see me race. He hadn’t seen me race for a few years, so it was a fun adventure. Windsor is about a 2hr drive from my house, and we made good time getting up there on Saturday for registration and T2 bag drop off. They were forecasting mid 80’s highs and mid 50’s lows to start the day. After a nice dinner, we settled in at the hotel and watched Caddyshack to relax!
Race morning came quickly, and we were off to Guerneville and the Russian River. The pro’s were set to go off at 6:30 and my wave didn’t go off until 7:58. Instead of waiting and showing up later, we arrived at 6am and were able to watch the pro’s start and finish. I also caught up with a few friends and twitter peeps including Doug.
The Vineman 70.3 has to be one of the easiest swims on the circuit. They break the waves into smaller ones like the one I was in for the 38-39 yr old men. It’s also in the mild Russian River and is never more than 4ft deep! Before we started, the guy next to me said he was aiming for 25min or so. My best was around 32, so I was just hoping to hang on for a bit. I felt good on the way past the two bridges and hit the first turn buoy at 17min. That was right around where I was last year, so I knew I was having a good swim. I only “walked” slightly at that point as it was really shallow, but quickly saw that swimmers were faster. I really pushed on the way back with a slight current and finished with a new swim PR of 31:56! I need to give a big thanks to Blue Seventy and their great Helix wetsuit for helping me PR!
T1 was sub par for me (3+ minutes), as I somehow missed my row with over 2,300 participant bikes to navigate! Regardless, I was focused and off up the hill as you exit T1. I was also glad that my Kestrel rocket was working and ready to fly!
I absolutely love the Vineman 70.3 bike course and it’s rolling hills. It has just under 2,000 ft of climbing and is constant rolling hills through the very picturesque vineyards. I was very surprised by the lack of traffic this year out on the course! My nutrition plan was to mainly focus on using my Powerbar Perform drink mix for calories. I love my TorHans Aero 30 and she was filled up with Perform. I also had two additional 18oz bottles of Perform to refill the Aero and drank one one course water bottle. At the halfway mark, I was averaging 21.4 and felt very good and was excited about my race. I also had one gel at that point of the race. This is my first year training and racing with a CycleOps Powermeter and I love it! I was right at my 220 magic number and holding steady.
Being in wave #13, I was finding myself passing people all day on the bike. Of course I was passed by some, but very few! This was especially obvious on the 1mi 240ft climb up Chaulk hill. My attitude was to just spin my way up and it actually felt “easy”! Overall, I was trying to keep my HR at 160 on the bike leg and I finished in 2:37:51 averaging 21.3mph!
Here’s my Strava bike leg link: http://app.strava.com/rides/13525332
T2 was slower than last year, but did include a quick potty break. As I headed out on the run I was around 3:16 and I knew a 1:44 or less run would get my under 5hrs. The race then, became tactical and I was just trying to click off the miles. The first couple were easy and the countdown had begun. The rolling hills kicked in then and I was just laser focused on staying sub 8min miles no matter what. I have to give a big shout out to Pearl Izumi for their great running shoes! I loved running through the La Crema winery and felt like I was passing quite a few people. It was mid 80’s at this point and there is no shade on this run course. My nutrition plan was simple with some FE Liquidshot flask starting at mile 5 and a Powerbar 2x caffeine gel at mile 10. With that I was drinking water only through 8mi, and then coke and water every stop.
By mile 9, I could tell that I was pushing my body to it’s limits. My HR data shows that I was anaerobic those last four miles and very driven to finish what I started! My lower quads were teetering on cramping, and I was just trying to hold it together! Mile 11 was by far the hardest mile I’ve ever run, but I fought through and went for it.
Here’s my Strava run leg link: http://app.strava.com/runs/13525802
It was exhilarating turning that last corner and seeing the finish line. I knew I had broken trough the five hr barrier, and I was thrilled by that feat and my efforts throughout the race! I finished in 4:57:34!!!
I wanted to wait around for the awards ceremony to see if there was a chance for a rolldown slot to the Ironman 70.3 World championship in Las Vegas in September. The only way to race there is to grab a qualifying slot at a race. For this race, my 35-39 age group had three spots. I had three things helping me out. First, it’s pretty late in the season and most of the podium guys in my AG already claimed theirs. Cost is another hurdle for some and lastly, you had to wait around until 4pm for the awards and rolldown. I was hoping all of these factors and my sub-5 would give me a chance. They called the top 10 in my AG and only two of the three were taken. Then Instead of spending all day calling off names, they asked for anyone in the AG who wanted a race in Vegas to come down and see who had the fastest time. It turned out that I was the only one who had gone under 5hrs and I had my golden ticket!!!
I was beyond excited at how the day played out, and I appreciate the outpouring of congrats from my friends and twitter peeps! I’ve taken the last few days to recover and spend some quality time with my NormaTec compression boots!
I’ll be training hard the next month and a half and then racing Rev3 Maine Olympic dist race on Aug 26th followed by Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas on Sept 9th! I can’t wait to race on that challenging rolling bike course and very hilly run…ok, I’m scared now!
Big thanks again to my sponsors in REV3, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, Blue Seventy, NT Recovery, Swiftwick & Cyclops Power! Thanks for reading about my adventures!