*Apologies for the lack of photos. I had them hosted at a site that I took down and I did not save the photos*
Well the first A race of my season is in the books. The cliff notes are I finished the 2010 Vineman Ironman in something like 14.5 hours. My goal time was going to be 13 hours but I got motion sick during the swim, which I'll talk about shortly, and that sick stomach feeling never really went away. But I pushed through and finished, which is what really matters.
Race reports are important for a number of reasons. I know for myself reading RR from past Vineman participants was very helpful in getting an idea of the event into my head since I had never been to Northern California before. Also when next season rolls around and the "Vineman 2011" threads start popping up at beginnertriathlete.com and slowtwitch, I can post this to give the athletes a bit of insight into the race.
For this I will go through each part of the race, starting with the race meeting and expo the afternoon/evening before the event.
Everyone met at the Windsor High School at noon and you could come and get prepped up until 8pm. I arrived just as the first informational meeting was starting. I do not know who was giving this particular Power Point, but he did a good job of going through the course and everything about the race. It was all basically a review of the race bible, but good to hear. Then a USAT offical took the stage and I paid great attention to this, since I am not very familiar USAT rules. In particular passing protical. The way I understood it was on flats and down hills you have a few seconds to overtake a rider when you come up from behind them. When you get around the athlete they are considered overtaken and must back off 3 bike lengths. Riding next to riders is really only allowed on hills when the drafting advantage is minimal and it gets kind of conjested. Sort of like the begining of a construction zone on the interstate when everyone must slow down.
At the expo there was vendors selling various products, most of it was pretty cool but items I do not need or have the money for. There was a lot of Vineman stuff for sale, most of it was really neat. There were some wine glasses that Desi and I wanted purchase but when we came back after driving part of the course they were sold out. She did get a nice green Vineman shirt that is pretty cool. Registration was easy and straight forward. There was a significant line when everything opened up, so after the first meeting and checking out the expo Desi and I went to visit T1, the swim course, and drove part of the bike course.
I noticed many athletes wearing compression socks at the expo. Doing so seems very unnecessary to me. First I am unaware of any concrete evidence that compression aids in recovery. And second, they should not have anything to recover from. They have been in taper mode for two, three, or four weeks so should be 100% recovered and fresh for this event. Wear them afterwards to help with recovery if you want. I wore my CX-U compression tights to bed the night after the race.
Once we got back from scouting the course we drove back to T2/finish and I set up T2. Being number 25 I was lucky enough to have the first rack in both transition zones so they were super easy to find. For T2 I simply laid down my Vibrams, an already tied white bandana, race belt, and the Amphipod with Running Food chia seeds in it, everything was ready to go.
That night for dinner Desi and myself went to a fake mexican resturant and had a bit to eat. You know, mexican food but it was totally an american place. They had a cool mexican guy actually bring out the food though, probably to make it more authentic. Then we went to our motel and slept for something like 5 hours before we had to wake at 4am.
T1 went smoothly. They had wetsuit strippers to help the athletes but I opted to do it myself at my rack. Their was carpet all the way up to the transition but once you leave the carpet path you are on sand at the racks. A good tip is to have a plastic bucket or longer flat plastic container to dip your feet into before you put your shoes on to remove any sand from them. The night before I decided to not do this since the path up was carpeted and I thought the racks were on a paved lot. Well setting up my zone was obviously on sand but I did not bring the bucket with me so had to try to get as much sand off my feet as possible before putting my shoes on.
The exit of the beach area is a steep hill and the majority of people simply ran with their bike up. I did the same and mounted the Y-Foil at the top. The first 30 miles were so conjested with riders that I was counting and literally passed a rider a minute. Probably 80% of the riders I passed were during a climb. That is a trend I notice during every tri and time trial I have ever done. I pass people on the climbs and get passed on the flats. I weigh 10, 20, or 40 pound less then most of the other riders so I can climb much faster then many of them, but the heavier guys can just hammer it better on the flats when weight does not really matter as much. So I would literally pass and get passed by the same people two or three times. I had a goal time of 7 hours, or 16mph, for the ride. This is a very easy pace I put up for myself since I was hoping to have a successful run. Someone once said that the run course if full of guys walking and talking about how fast of a bike leg they had. It was honestly hard to let myself get passed by people. Ages were written on the left calf of every athlete so you could see age groups. I literlly saw only a few athletes under 30 the entire race. I have no problem getting blown away by a 40, 50, or 60 year old though. I have mentioned to people before that I cannot wait to get older. Some of these athletes have been doing endurance sport for longer then I have been alive! They have every right and reason to crush me. I only started cycling four years ago and running and swimming less then that. I'm just getting started and in 10 or 20 years will be passing all the youngsters.
As far as the course goes, it was gentle rolling hills other then one spot. That fracking hill. It may have been the steepest incline I have ever ridden up for any sort of distance. This was the only part of each lap where I was actually sweating since all the riders came to a near complete stop (it felt like) to mash up this hill. I did not notice at what mile this climb was during the first lap so when I was nearly through the second lap I was convinced that this hill was not included a second time. But when I turned a corner and came upon the "May the course be with you" sign I knew I had reached the hill. I felt ok going up it and did not struggle, I had just thought that it was earlier in the first lap. Luckily after that it is pretty much all down hill to the finish and I got off the bike with an easy 16.2 average miles per hour. My legs and everything felt ok but my stomach was still bothering me from the swim, I hoped that once I was not hunched over and up and running it would go away.
Nutrition wise during the bike I was exactly where I wanted to be calorie and water wise. Each hour I had about 300 calories of Running Food chia seeds, Lara Bars, and bananas. I also drank 6 or 7 bottles of water. That hydration along with the water in the Larabars and bananas held me over well and I did pee once or maybe twice during the bike and a couple times on the run.
It is very interesting that during the race I took in almost zero sodium and did not have a single cramping issue. I heard athletes talking during the bike and run about taking sodium and they were likely drinking Gatorade and still cramping. I am part of the crowd of distance athletes who do not really believe in sodium consumption during sport. Maybe that will change, but so far I have yet to supplement with any during an event and have never experienced a cramp.
T2 went smoothly. I rolled into the crazy cheering crouds at Windsor High School and racked my bike next to my running gear. I then sat down and put my Vibrams on, slipped my headband over my head, grabbed my race belt and Amphipod, and I was off.
I was right on time to start my run. I was hoping to do a four hour marathon and get that 13 hour finish. The constant stomach pain on the bike went away but was replaced with a throwing up feeling each time I would drink or eat. Speaking of food, the aid stations and volunteers here were AWESOME! For drink and food they had Gatorade, H2O, soda, banana halves, peach slices, nectarine slices, orange slices, and Cliff Bars. I stuck to the 100 cals of Running Food Chia that I had on my amphipod, water, and a small slice of fruit each mile. The run course was made of three out and back laps. There were a couple hills during each lap where most of the runners walked up these. About half way through the first lap things started to go down hill and I would get a feeling like I was going to throw up each time I would drink or eat. I still kept on eating and drinking though, since I have no choice but to take in nutrition.
Desi was making friends a half mile away from the finish/start/ends of each lap so I got to see here quite a bit. That half mile section was full of people cheering, it was super cool. At the beginning of lap two I stopped to talk to Desi for a bit because I was slightly hurting and needed a short break. She said I looked totally fine and honestly much better then most of the people on the course. Better to look good then to feel good I guess. She was pushing me to get back running since I looked so good and she was surprised when I told her I did not feel well. After the race she kind of apologized for being so pushy but having her out on the course encouraging me to go helped more then anything.
Mentally the first lap of the run was the hardest since I was thinking along the lines of "holy crap I feel horrible and still have almost 18 miles still to go". But once I started the second lap I was mentally fine for the remainder of the race, but physically was going down hill fast. I did a run/walk for lap two, walking most of the up hills and at the aid stations, trying to eat and drink when I could. Lap three was mentally the easiest and physically the most difficult. I knew I was going to finish, but just had to get it done. The mile 21 took me a half hour to do since I stopped at the last aid station on by the turn around. Aside from walking almost the complete mile I stopped at the porter potty and had some diarrhea and peed. I nearly passed out in the porter potty so got out as quick as I could. I pictured myself passing out in there and them not finding me until they were cleaning up the aid station. So I got out and sat down on the ground for a while. A really cool guy came over and talked to me for a bit. He was really helpful, chatting with me and got me up and going again. I walked away from the aid station until I got to mile 22.2 of the marathon, and ran the remaining 4 miles without stopping.
Wearing the Vibrams really made me stick out to the crowds. I had many people cheering me on and yelling out about the shoes, or I would run by spectators and hear something along the lines of "whoa look at his slippers", and other runners would ask me about them. The most common line is "Do you like running in those?" I would always think to my self, "of course I do, why else would I run in them?!" But would give a simple yeah I like them a lot type of line and we would talk about it a bit further if they inquired more. One guy told me he had webbed feet so could not wear them. I said at least he could swim a bit faster.
Ok, by run I mean doing something like 12 or 15 minute miles. There were tall guys walking at the same speed that I was shuffling along at. But I always notice during super long runs like this that you always get to a point where it hurts more to walk then run, so even though I was slowly putting along it was faster and less painful then walking. This happened during my double marathon earlier this summer. I was suffering so would stop running and walk. But that hurt way more then running did, but all I wanted to do was walk for some reason. For the ultra I know I will reach this state again, so I think I'm going to Sharpie something motivating on my fore arm, like "it will always be more painful to walk". A short something to keep me shuffling along.
The road conditions could have been much better too. There was one short section where the slope was so intense at a sharp turn that it was actually uncomfortable to run on (in my opinion). Not really a big deal though. The middle mile or so of each out and back was horrible road conditions though. Lots of dips and patches. Also this was probably not a problem for people wearing thick running shoes but for me or the other two guys in Vibrams definetly felt the HUGE cracks in the road. I'm talking some had to have been quarter to half inch wide cracks. It was almost scaly. There would be a two or three square foot section where it looked like the road was literally falling apart.
I am bummed that the race took 1.5 hours longer then I had hoped it would. At least this was not really a mistake on my part. I made no nutrition, hydration, or pacing errors. The motion sickness was a good learning experience and should not happen again. On the bright side I am almost more proud of myself for finishing under the conditions, being sick and all. More proud for pushing through it and getting the 140.6 miles completed. Doing it in 13 as planned would have been much more easy and comfortable then doing it in 14.5 and having an upset stomach for 12 hours while biking and running.
Major thanks go to my amazing girlfriend Desi for helping me out so much. I felt bad for doing so little at times since she was always more then willing to help out. Also thanks to my family and her family for the support they provided : ) Thanks to Desi and ASIorders for all the pictures. Thanks to the volunteer at the half way aid station I stopped at when I was really feeling it at mile 21 for chatting with me and encouraging me to get off my ass and back running. Also the folks at Nature's Chemistry for who own Running Food for being so generous and provided me with their chia seeds. Finally thanks to the other 1800 athletes, the hundreds of volunteers, and hundreds of spectators cheering the us on!