Monday, July 18, 2011

I've Found My Tribe: A race report from the Vines

I know that I love triathlon and the life of an athlete, but do you ever have one of those days (in life)-whether you're a triathlete or not- where you look around and think to yourself, "man, this is what I was born to do and this is where I am at my happiest!"? This past Sunday at Vineman, and the whole weekend for that matter, was one of those days. From start to finish, it was a great weekend with friends and my super star supporter Mark gave me the royal treatment all weekend (even washed my wetsuit). On that note, ever have one of those moments with your significant other, where you think, "man, I'm so glad I found this person!!? I do, and sometimes I have them so often, Mark might gag a bit. But that's OK, I just rub it in then. Again, this weekend was one of those days.

Vineman is my FAVORITE race, always has been, and most likely always will be. I'm always one of this first to sign up, and I don't miss it. It's just that great. It's close to home, I always have lots of friends there, you can go wine tasting after, and it's usually guaranteed (this weekend being excluded) to be a scorcher. What's not to like?

Mark and I headed up after his long ride on Saturday, a morning I spent dallying around the house keeping so busy with small chores that I couldn't think about the race. Clue number one I was excited and pre race nerves were a comin'. After registration we headed back to old faithful, the North Bay Inn, chosen for its proximity to my favorite Santa Rosa Taqueria and smoothie bar. My pre race meal dwarfed Marks taco plate. I can rival most men when packing in the kcal's the day before a race and this tamale platter hit the spot! Perfect pre race meal done and off to the hotel to number the bike and catch up on the Tour before bed time.

I knew it was going to be a good day as I kept waking up excited to race, not thinking that I wasn't getting my rest but thinking...come on, isn't it time to go yet!!! Maybe I should mail my parents some sister and I used to have to give them a nickle every time we asked "are we there yet?" on car trips.

Right, 4:30 alarm. Sunscreen on, hair braided, team kit looking SO good, massive bowl of puffins, check. Off to the start to get this show on the road. The usually foggy Johnson's beach was clear, crisp and not too cool. Great I think, gonna be a hot one. Perfect. My wave was the 2nd wave after the pros. This was a much different experience, lots of clean water and not too much swimming over the guys. Already off to a good start. I kept with some gals for the entire swim and had the motto that I was going to get in under 30 and break my dirty 30 spell. 28:35 later and I hit the shores ready to get my bike. In what seemed like a year, I got my wetsuit into it's bag so I was sure to get it back at the end of the race. I am so attached to my TYR Hurricane that I took the most care I ever have making sure it would find its way back to me.

I had a goal to hit 2:30 on the bike. I really wanted to average 22MPH. I went 2:36 on this course in '09 and this weekend would only see me hit 2:37 or 21.2MPH. It was not sunny, but instead very wet and actually rainy in parts and windy. SO, I will take it, especially after looking at the pro times. I am most happy with my mental attitude at this race. I KNEW that I had to push on the bike and would have to maintain the pressure ALL day as the field here was HUGE, and if I wanted to do well, it had to happen before I hit the run. I got off the bike just behind 2nd place and was able to pass her on my way out of T2...another teammate, Christine from CA who I would meet later! Mark got some awesome pics for the crew and I can't wait to share them!

Out of T2 I went, very happy with my decision to have one final gel right before the bike ended. The more I race, the more I try to stuff into my face over the day and the better I get. Luck? I think not. More calories, makes for a happier, negative spaces come much less frequently Hailey. First mile done in just over 7 minutes. This is GOOD I think to myself, you can do this...However, it ain't over till the fat lady sings...don't get cocky. I saw Mark for the first time and Christine and I were still running neck and neck. Keep going girls he says, you are going so strong! I kept running through the aid stations which is good, if I start walking the aid stations, I know it costs me valuable time, and man oh man, did I know who was coming. We entered into La Crema and while trying not to think about how nice a glass of wine would be, I thought, now you just have to run home. NO problem. Keep it going. I run out of the winery and Mark tells me the inevitable is happening. Mighty Beth is running her booty off and coming for me. The catch comes around mile 9 and exactly as I envisioned it, she tells me to "come with her". Did I mention this gal ran a 3:10 in Kona? Fierce is this girls name. So with her I went...for exactly 30 seconds. But then I did my best to keep her in my sights. Around mile 11 I could feel the slow down coming on. I grabbed another gel, and said to myself, now is not the time to relax, you must focus. Two miles to go. PUSH! Mark had told me that I had 3rd covered with both Beth's in front of me. Final run time was 1:36 averaging 7:20's the entire way. Total PR for me on the run by 3 minutes...and the 1:39 came t Clearwater...flat, not rolling like Vineman.

Across the line in 4:47 and a 10 minute PR for this course. Good enough for a slot to Las Vegas 70.3 World Champs in Vegas. The race is 3 weeks before Kona, so really perfect timing for me and my race plans. And who wouldn't want the opportunity to go to a pool party at the Wynn after? Maybe my girls will come meet me after....

Highlights of the day had to be getting a photo with Chris Lieto, getting interviewed by 3GO magazine as a "top age grouper", seeing friends all day long RIPPING it up and the awards ceremony where so many accepted their slots to Vegas. We picked up a shipment from Williamson Winery (hello birthday weekend) and ended our day with dinner at the Russian River Brewing Company with a large crew of awesome athletes and friends.

BIG thanks as always to my FANTASTIC supporters for their amazing products: TYR Sports for the best wetsuit/goggle combo on the planet, Gray Wheels for the fastest wheels out there, nuun for keeping me perfectly hydrated, the team for keeping me looking good while keeping me comfy ALL day long, and Mark and my entire family for cheering and coaching me each and every day.

Next up, training for the big dance in October and a birthday this Sunday. I live a good life.