Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vineman Version 9.0

Flight with Friends!
Hard to believe that I'm old have done 9 Vineman 70.3's in a row...outside of Kona, this is my fave course...even though the half distance is not my expertise, I love this course.  It's close to home, there are always tons of familiar faces and if you do it right, you win wine!! If you have not done it, you must...if not for the race, but for the wine tasting afterwards!  Although, as Mark likes to point out, I talk a big game about the celebrating I will do post race and then wasn't even able to finish my full tasting flight this past Sunday and the thought of red wine made me want to hurl.  One day....

Quick stats before the dirty details:
2nd in the AG (previous best in 3rd AG), qualified for 70.3 Worlds but passed on the spot
4th Amateur female (same as previous best in 2012)
23rd female (best was 16th in '12)

I last raced in March at Ironman Los Cabos.  I was supposed to do Alcatraz, but really just didn't want to race.  And I know that that was the right decision as I was pumped to be at Vineman and see how I could do after so long without racing.  I knew that there would be LOTS of fast ladies racing, specifically Coeur team mate Sarah (who I think this was her last amateur race...GO AHEAD girl!) and buddies Christine and Kayla.  I also knew that we were THE very first wave after the pro women and that was exciting.  No people to crawl over in the swim, an entire bike course to ourselves and empty aid stations...it was like a catered training day!  I had also prepped myself for the empty course.  Knowing Sarah and Christine would exit the water ahead of me, I figured when I passed Christine that would be the last of any interaction on the bike.  So going in, I knew it would feel empty and there would be the potential to feel like I wasn't doing well as I wasn't passing folks...but there weren't any people to pass!  So I had prepped for that going in and had only myself to push out on the course.

Mighty Mer, the champ!

Pre swim Nutrition:  bottle of pre-load, granola with almond milk, banana and Wild Friends chocolate coconut PB, bottle of active mango.  Total kcals:  ~800

ROKA swim: 29:57 previous best of 28:26 in '12 (best time TY was a 28:32)
Woof- not the time I was hoping for, but super fish ladies were only 1:25 ahead, so I think it may have been a bit slow for all.  And really it's about how you are performing on THIS day, relative to THIS field and not some time so I don't usually get hung up on times on race day. I was happy with my ability to immediately jump on Sarah and Christine's feet...but that was pretty short lived and by the turn around, the gal who seemed to think that she and I were in need of occupying the same space as the Russian river is only 3 feet wide, had dropped off the back and I was swimming solo for the rest of the way.  It was awesome to have the bouy's marked with numbers 1-12 as you cold keep track of exactly where you were in the swim.  It got SO shallow after the turn around that i had to modify my stroke to keep from hitting the bottom with each pull.  California has been in such a huge drought I was impressed the swim was still on! Mark got an awesome pic of me, and I was truly all alone jammin in my Roka wetty.  Did I mention I had ZERO neck chaffing?  I know it's cute to show up to work post race and have your coworkers wonder if it's a hickey gone wrong, or a wetsuit wound...so I was pumped to not have markings of any sort to explain Monday morning ;)

Bike Nutriton: 2.5 Bonk Breaker Bars (left salty balls at home), 3 bottles of active ~835 or 330/hr

Enve & Argon18 Bike: 2:40:07 previous best of 2:30:16 in '12
Thanks Freeplay!
I started the bike in the dense fog, so placed my sunglasses in my helmet and prayed I had the skill that they would stay put until needed! I had seen Mark at the start of the bike and he told me I was only a minute down and sitting in third after the swim.  I had a small pat on the back for decreasing the gap while in transition!  I got to work and started to fuel and try to "PUSH PUSH PUSH" as Mark likes to yell at me (in the most loving tone imaginable).  I was passed by some guys in the wave behind us, but other than that, it was a very quiet ride of me telling myself that although I felt flat and was most certainly pedaling squares and having absolutely ZERO suplesse, I was doing OK, not getting passed and If I was hurting, so was everyone else.  So quit your bitching, and keep going!  Food always helps theses moments, and I just kept eating and drinking.  Within 15-20 miles, the sun was out in full glory and it was starting to heat up.  I lived in Santa Rosa for a year way back when and remember thinking how HUGE of a hill Chalk Hill is...and every year that I compete here, the hill seems to shrink.  Not to say it isn't an effort and it DOES hurt, but as the years go by, you continue to get stronger and what was once a mountain becomes more of a very manageable hill. eating before a big hill is also always a part of my plan and Sunday was no different.  You need that extra bit of kcals heading into an effort like that! I managed to pass Christine and one pro, but got passed by another AG'er, so after the bike, my net was still 3rd place. 

Run Nutrition: Slush bottle of half pre-load/half active for first 2 miles of the run, 1 pack energy drops, coke, and glucose tabs ~350

Happy time!
Coeur and Smith Run: 1:40:23, previous best of 1:36:20 (slightly altered course- best of 1:38:06 in '12 on new course)
Once I hit transition, I quickly saw that I was right that I was in third as there were only two other bikes in our section. I grabbed by bottle of slush...best idea ever...and headed out onto the run.  I must have been WAY too excited to see friends and family cause at mile 1, the split was a 7:06...now mind you, I FELT great...but having never held that pace for an entire half mary, thought I might have been a bit ambitious that first mile.  Mile 2 was in check at 7:30 and I just need to do 11 more and we will be home and in good shape.  But being the true flatlander that I am and my legs feeling flat, those tiny rollers of the Vineman course felt like Chalk Hill when I was still drinking and smoking more than I was S/B/Running!  I got a little grumpy with coach out on the run ( I REALLY am trying Mark!!) and walked a few sections of hills (bad Hailey).  I had made up time on 3rd place quickly though and passed her around mile 5 before going into the loop at la Crema winery (running a mile on a private vineyard makes this race spectacular) I was very vocal going into aid stations and drank only coke (since i had topped off salt store with the pre-load during the first few miles), water and had chews and glucose for the nutrition.  The volunteers were amazing and had everything you needed.  I was safely in second place, but not knowing what the other AG's would do, tried to keep pushing. Mark reminded me that the first few mile are always crappy for me and true to form, around mile 10 I was feeling awesome!  Can we just go 10 more miles please...cause I can hold this pace forever...just don't ask me to go faster!  mark told me to pick it up in the last mile, and I swear I tried, but it wasn't pretty.  Somewhere along that last mile though, when I saw all of the spectators, I remembered JUST how much I love triathlon.  All of the people cheering for you, and running down the finish line just can't be beat.

I crossed the line in 2nd place in the AG and was promptly greeted by Mark and Lisa from Osmo shaking a recovery shake at me over the fence.  Here tired athlete, here girl!  I busted a move for that...who wants a veggie burger?  We chatted, watched as Kayla and Christine came in and then took advantage of the AMAZING showers that Every Man Jack had provided...that was a TRUE luxury.  Post race shower?  YES PLEASE!

Podium wine!
After we showered and collected the bikes and swim bags, we packed it up to go have a proper lunch and some wine tasting before the awards...when you start at 6:30AM, you have a bit of time to kill between the finish and the awards!  I treated myself to a massive milkshake, a grilled cheese and tried to have a flight of white wine...nice effort my friend, nice effort.  It was great to hang with Kayla and Jordan and their guys.  Too quickly it was time to go to the awards.  The awards at this race are truly top notch.  Not only did I win a bottle of vino, I also won a ROKA gift card! Surprisingly, all 5 of the gals in 30-34 passed on the 70.3 worlds spots.  There were two to have and I am not sure how far it rolled down, but if you don't already know this...GO TO rolldown if you have ANY interest in qualifying...you just never know.

It's hard to believe that I have done this race 9 times in a row and my very first time, it took me just over 6 hours.  This past Sunday was not a great "time" for me on this course, but it was great to do and now we will take the lessons and apply them to Kona. I think I'll be doing some local races inbetween now and then, but other than that, all eyes are on the Big Island!

The prize
Thanks to my family and friends for all of the support and to the following companies who ensure that ALL I have to do is race, they take care of the rest:  Enve wheels, Argon18 and Mark Manning for not only the best looking bike, but the fastest and most well maintained!  Roka for the fastest (literally- they've done tests) most comfy wetsuit and goggles, Smith Optics for lenses that change shade as the light moves, Coeur Sports for all kits beautiful and comfy, Osmo Nutrition and Stacy and Lisa there for the recipe for Salty Balls, and the magical pre-load and active women's specific products, Muscle Milk for the protein to go in those salty balls and for awesome aminos, and to Compex for the machine that shakes my muscles recovered.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What a difference a year makes

Protein and Sunshine
It's already July and that means that Vineman 70.3 is THIS Sunday!  Originally, I had signed up for Ironman Frankfurt AND Vineman, apparently not knowing how to look at a calendar and impulse purchasing Frankfurt. This resulted in the realization that the races were a mere 7 days and one long inter-continental flight apart.  Both races were never going to happen...either I was going to still be in Europe watching #letour, or I would be here and racing Vineman.  Vineman is one of my fave races and I think this year will be number 9 in a row...I'd like to know how that is possible!  I couldn't break the streak right?!!  Thankfully this year, the organizers let anyone who had completed 5 or more Vineman's register early and not have to panic about registering within the first 30 seconds and hoping that Active.com doesn't fail midway through the transaction.  This is also the only way I know that I had done 8. I was sure that I had done 5, but had no IDEA that I am so old  that I've been doing triathlon for so long.  I think I still tell people "oh, about 5 years" when they ask how long I've been racing.  Goofball.

A year ago over July 4th weekend, I had hit the bottom stores of my iron reserve within my body and didn't know what in the heck was going on.  Ironman Texas had been a complete bust and I had had no idea why I had raced so poorly.  Then I remember going to to masters on the 4th and swimming two lanes down (10 seconds/100 slower as a base than my usual) and not even being able to lead the lane.  I was advised to not do Vineman and to let the iron continue to come back up.  I got it tested the week of Vineman and consulted with a Dr that if I raced, it wasn't going to plummet my stores, but that a participation in the race was more advisable than a RACE.  Duly noted.  And that's exactly what I did...I don't think my body was capable of much more than that.  I was so glad to just be able to race and ever since then, with continued supplementation of Iron, my levels have returned to normal.

How you look when you have energy!
Side note here- I was re-tested at one point and the Dr (non sports of course) said, ohh your levels are back up to normal, you can stop supplementing.  So let me get this right, if my levels are back to normal and holding constant while I am STILL supplementing, why on earth would I stop?  I love my health care provider in a general wellness sense, but man I wish they had a special "for athlete's only" section where Dr's who were also athletes could treat us weirdos.  Another thing that I have learned about iron supplementation over the past year is that as SOON as you become a slacker and stop being diligent about supplementing (again, my experience here) is that the levels go down pretty quickly.  And when the levels go down, it's just an ever so noticeable, hmmm, where'd all my energy go?  And you don't always notice that as anything out of the ordinary, because you are in training so you are supposed to be tired...

So this past weekend, on the 4th, I went to masters and swam in the sunshine and remembered that "wow, it's been a year since the poo hit the fan".  THANK BUDDAH that I'm not in that place any more.  If nothing else, I will have the period of time from after Los Cabos this year, through now as a better training block than LY since I am healthier.  And who knows how long it took to really return to proper training after Vineman last year. So that makes me feel good about the build leading up to Kona that is just underway.
What I dream about...

So this Sunday, it's time to shake out the cobwebs.  I haven't raced since Ironman Los Cabos...I was supposed to race Escape From Alcatraz, but my heart wasn't in it and jumping off of a boat into freezing water had zero appeal, so I decided to save the hunger for another day.  I think that my true passion lies in racing LONG distance and that Ironman is where I have the most fun.  The other races are tougher for me to get excited for, as my most favorite part of the year is October in Hawaii.  That's the race that finds me in my dreams year round.

Bon Courage to all of those racing this weekend!