- I ventured into triathlon in 2008. I had heard a few people talking about it and thought I would give it a go. My first event was Wildflower in 2008, Olympic distance (0.9mi swim, 25mi bike, 10k run). I didn't know anything about tri bikes, or really much of anything at all. I picked up an ill-fitting used wetsuit from craigslist, didn't really have a nutrition plan, did barely any swim/run training, didn't learn how to spot...pretty much just winged it. I ended up with a 3:03, which I was perfectly happy with since I didn't have any standard to compare it to.
- In 2009 I stepped it up a notch and signed up for the Vineman Half (1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, 13.1mi run). Trained better, threw some clip-on bars on the road bike, even did some running! Unfortunately my motorcycle accident made me unable to run, so instead I did the Aquabike half. It went pretty well, but on to the next step!
- 2010 was all about cycling, as I still couldn't run. I did the Death Ride, the Gran Fondo, and the Davis Double Century. Fun times! I saw saw a few race reports from friends who had completed Ironmans of their own, Then, sort of on a whim I decided that my challenge for 2011 would be to try and do one of my own. Bring on the Vineman!
|The pets are curious about my race fuel.|
Race day started with a wakeup at 3:30am. Jon and Jo Ann were gracious enough to let us stay at their place in Forestville, just a short few miles from the start in Guerneville. Just so happened that they were racing at Mt Diablo on the same day, so they stayed at our place. Anyway, I packed up my race bag, filled up my fuel bottle, pumped up my tires, then laid back down for another hour or so, trying to calm the nerves. Oh and used the bathroom about 5 times. Nervous stomach.
By the time we arrived at Johnson's beach is was almost 6:00 (for a 6:30 start time), and boy were there a lot of people there. Around 1000 people, much more than they've had race before. I had to wait in line just to get into the transition area, I had to search around for quite a while for enough rack space to hang my bike, had to organize all my stuff, had to go get my body marking, had to get my suit on, all the while the announcer was repeatedly telling the first wave participants (that's me) to make their way into the water. By the time Austin and I made it into the water, it was about 6:27. Not enough time for a warm-up, but at least we didn't miss our start! There was a lot of excitement out there and a lot of people cheering us on. However, my nerves finally took a backseat as I realized that all that was left to do was race!
|A smile coming out of the water? That's a first for me!|
I found myself right in the middle of the pack at the beginning of the swim, as I wasn't in the water early enough to get myself out of the way of everyone else. It was mighty crowded, but I tried to ignore it all and pretend I was swimming alone. Luckily I didn't have any breathing problems or anything. I did get kicked a few times which sent me gasping for air, but nothing too bad. Overall the swim went by pretty quickly. There were a couple of very shallow sections where people really had no choice but to stand up. Felt kind of like we were cheating a bit, but whatever...better than clawing at the riverbed. Overall the swim went by a lot faster than I thought it would. Definitely faster than Wildflower felt! Still, I was surprised to get out of the water and realize that I was only at ~1:22. I know, that's still pretty slow, but my guess was 1:30 so I was off to a good start.
The ride started sloppy, as a fumbled to get clipped in on that little hill going up to the road. For a split second I thought I was going to fall over...that would have been quite embarrassing. I managed to pull it together and off I went.
It took about an hour for my heart rate to drop down to where I wanted it to be. I felt like I was doing an endurance pace effort, but my HR was telling a different story. I couldn't bring myself to slow down any more, though, so I just chalked it up to adrenaline and kept going. Eventually I managed to get myself into a groove, and it was the same story as my other tris this year: almost all of the fast athletes already started the bike leg before I did, so I was left with tons of slower people to pass. I love it. On your left! Oh! And someone had chalked GO DAN! in a few place along the course, so I pretended that it was for me!
Mechanicals! Ack! Had no issues on the last few rides, but managed to have a bunch of issues this time. Go figure. I dropped my chain on the first little climb at the beginning of Westside Rd. Dangit, now I'm going to have greasy hands for the rest of the race! Then later, on Chalk Hill I hit a pothole and launched my gel bottle!! No!!! I need that! I stopped, turned around, rolled down the hill and picked it up. Can't afford to leave that bottle behind now...maybe if it was the second lap, but not with ~70 more miles to go. Then, dropped the chain two more times going up the hill. First time I was able to roll out of it but the second time I had to stop. For the rest of the ride I made sure to be very careful shifting into the small ring.
Second time around was a bit slower. Legs still felt great, but the wind picked up around Geyserville and I was starting to feel a bit achy. I managed to keep the pace up as much as possible. Passed quite a few people struggling up Chalk Hill this time around, so I tried to give some encouraging words when I could. I finished strong, though, and much faster than I had planned, even with all of the mechanicals. 5:38, so just under 20mph. For sure my fastest 112 miles! I managed to finish almost all of my E.F.S. gel, plus 3 Clif Shots for the boost of caffeine, so around 2000 calories total and my stomach felt fine. I took water at every aid station as well, so I was well hydrated.
Only a marathon to go! Felt OK at the beginning and was pulling off my planned 9 min pace for the first few miles. However, I think I may have been over-hydrated, because after a while I could feel the liquid sloshing around in my stomach. In fact, I could hear it. glurp glurp glurp, on every stride. It got to be a bit painful. My legs felt OK, but the stomach was really slowing me down. Oh, and the hills! I had no idea from looking at the elevation map that it would be so hilly! However, after my stomach started to hurt, I actually started to look forward to the hills as an excuse to walk and let my stomach settle.
The rest of the race was just a matter of gritting my teeth and putting one foot in front of the other. My pace got just a tad slower every mile, but I kept going. The best and worst part was the turnaround at the finish. I was great because that's where all of the spectators were, so there was a lot of encouragement to actually run. But then you get close enough to see the finish line, only to have to turn around, knowing you have a whole loop or 2 left to run. Ouch. They give you a bracelet at the turn around so that you can keep track of your laps (as if you could forget how many times you've had to turn around), so I made a game of counting other people's bracelets as the run progressed. "Oh, this guy is flying right by me...damn he already has 2 bracelets!" "Oh, this dude isn't doing too well, oh and this is his first loop! Yikes!"
Had lots of support out there! Right out the gate I saw Dave Gindy telling me I looked strong. Then I hear Dan Taylor, who immediately tells me to "pick it up"! My wonderful gf was there at the turn taking pictures and giving me high fives, and offering me chocolate. Lily was at the mile 3 aid station to hand me coke and spray me with a hose. Carmen and her boys were there at the lonely far end of the course to say hi. Then of course I passed by Austin and Zach several times as they were running the opposite way; bother looked like they were doing better than I was! Support definitely helps. Thanks everyone!!
Started looking at the watch more as the last few miles slowly ticked away. I had a goal of 12 hours for this race, and I could see it fast approaching. At the beginning of the run I had thought it would be easy to make it, since I had given myself a good 20 min buffer on the bike, but slowly I started to realize that I might not make it. Finally with 2 laps to go I worked out the math and figured that if I kept up the pace a bit I would make it. someone passed me with less than a mile and said "we're going to be sub 12!" but I still wasn't sure. It was 6:25 as we made it back to the main road. Really had to fight the worn out legs but pushed it enough to make it just in time!!