Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Well another 70.3 in the books. Super stoked to be back at triathlon and writing a RR!!! And what’s not to like about Vineman? I especially love all the amazing options for great (and healthy) restaurants to eat well beforehand, and then, of course, great (not as healthy) restaurants for indulging afterwards ;) In my next post I’ll go over all that — I definitely think a little “guide to eating out at Vineman” is needed in blog world because I haven’t seen one.

Anyways, onto the race! Woo hoo! I’m very pleased with my performance; yet, I’m hard on myself and am not 100% satisfied. Duh, right? After not doing a 70.3 for over a year, I had some cobwebs to dust off. I think I sort of forgot how hard these things actually are. I set some lofty goals and was ready to achieve them. Easier said than done. But I love the difficulty of triathlon and figuring it out — it’s what keeps me coming back for more. In fact, I signed up for Steelhead 70.3 only hours after Vineman. I had already thought about this race for weeks, but was just waiting to see how I felt after Vman. I felt motivated to work on this 70.3 stuff. I want to get to the point where I’m worthy of World Championship racing at a competitive level.

So my race. Truth be told, my lofty goals included a sub-5 finish. I’ve been close to that on flat courses, and I felt (still feel) that I can break 5 hours. Instead, the reality: I ran a 5:11, putting me at 8th in the 25-29 AG. I like top 10 finishes :) My time wasn't terribly far off my goal, but it was also terribly far off. Haha. During the race I didn’t let my times screw with my head, especially when I saw that sub-5 slipping away. Mentally, I think it’s the strongest triathlon I’ve had because never once did I “give up” and just go through the motions. 

After a solid ~8hrs sleep (one of my best pre-race sleeps ever), we were up at 5 a.m. and right away had coffee (which I didn’t even finish) and brekkie of sweet potato/almond milk/chia/egg. Vineman is chill because they keep transition open even after the race starts so we rolled in around 6:30. John’s wave was 7:50ish and mine 8:06. I wasn’t even thinking about it then, but my wave time sucked balls. I had some pre-race nerves, but nothing insane. I got everything taken care of with ease, chatted with friends and had a few Endurance Planet listeners say hi, which made me smile. Mellow morning. Felt great.

I warmed up for about 5 min prior to my start. It was a perfect conditions, water at 71 degrees. My swim is always a question mark. I know I’ve gotten better but I also know I’m not a consistent swimmer at all. The gun went off and my goal, as always, was to not blowing myself up just to save a few minutes. Right away I got a hard blow to the L eye (welcome back to tri!), and after I got over that shock and got my goggles back on, I was able to find feet here and there on the way out. Nothing consistent though. At the turnaround somehow I lost all feet and was on my own. Thankfully you’re with the current on the way back, so that helped. My time coming out on my watch was 37:xx, officially 38:03? Blah, but it didn’t get me down. Truthfully, the best I could have swim was a 35, so, really, what’s 3 min?

Transitions came back to me nicely despite the hiatus from triathlon. I rode up that first hill out of transition, the hill that many people walk up, pros included. Smart or dumb? Hm… at the time, I didn’t realize that my HR was 170+. Yikes.

It’s a good thing I love the bike course at Vineman because my performance on the bike was forgettable. My goal was a sub 2:40, which is totally realistic for me. (When I nailed that recent training ride of 56 miles in 2:42 on a hiller and windier route than Vineman my confidence was soaring). 
So what happened? At first my HR was way too high and I needed to chill but was having a hard time doing so. Just being in a race had me amped up too much. I had to manage HR otherwise I knew I’d be burning matches that would cause me to really suffer on the run. (“Don’t be totally in the moment.”) 

Meanwhile during the beginning of the ride it’s rolling hills through tree-covered roads and I passed a ton of girls in my AG, probably 10-15 in the first 10 miles. Pretty standard. The shaded roads eventually give way to unshaded highways surrounded by vineyards. The sun was out and you could tell it was going to be a warm day. Thank goodness, as the next day, Monday, it was cold and raining!!! So crazy.

HR settled into an acceptable range after ~30 min. About that time I realized I had a worse problem going on that would ruin my bike mojo. (Sorry if this is a big fat excuse, but whatever, it’s reality)…. Being that I was nearly the last wave, and a slow swimmer, I hit traffic on the bike. Big time. I spent the whole ride getting stuck behind slower riders and then trying to surge past big packs to get ahead. People weren’t really drafting (though it was close at times), but there’d be these huge lines of riders going along at a 17-18mph pace, and I’d get stuck at that then would dig deep and give a max effort to make legal passes so I could ride my pace, which was more 21-22mph. But even after I made the pass, that cycle of having to slow then surge ahead just kept repeating. It was frustrating, and didn’t help HR matters. I’m good when I get in a rhythm, and that was far from the case here.

I finally felt like I got some freedom around mile 35 — it seriously took that long. But then at Chalk Hill (mile 44) it all backed up again and the last portion of the ride, while mostly downhill/flat, was another game of getting stuck then powering past. Oh yea, and Chalk Hill isn’t really that bad. It’s short and sweet. However, before that there were some false flats and even some headwinds that I don’t recall from when I did this in ‘09, which I feel were harder than Chalk Hill. The course was no walk in the park. But that's a good thing! I liked it. A lot. 

I realize my “slow-then-surge” situation was largely out of my control, so just deal with it. The question I’m wondering, though, was that lack of rhythm on the bike responsible for me feeling “off” in general or would I have still been “off” otherwise? I gave it my all for those 56 with how I felt, but I definitely didn’t ride to my ability, and the numbers reflect that to some degree. Power was about 10-20w avg lower than it should have been. Even my mom later questioned, “So what was up with your bike?” Ha.

Got off in 2:46. Just slightly faster than my 2009 ride time. Ha.

My bike performance was “eh” but it didn’t make me give up mentally. Things were still OK overall. I didn’t feel like death getting off the bike. My nutrition was going perfectly (Skratch Labs drink and ~2 bars). And, mostly, I was excited to run, not afraid.

They’ve changed the setup from when I did it in ‘09. There’s a long run off the bike through the high school. I feel like my AG had a good rack position :) I hammered through T2, and even passed a couple girls. In and out baby! Ready to runnnn!!!

I had never been so excited for the run portion of a race. I was ready to lay it down, with a goal of ~7:40 average or faster. Again, totally realistic. I knew the key to doing this would be staying mentally strong, willing to hurt and “recovering” from rough patches. Bring it. 

The legs turned over nicely out of the gates and I had to ease up a bit to not go too fast. We hit a couple hills around mile 3-4, and while they hurt like a bitch, I still was able to efficiently run up, and power down the backside. The hills still slowed my pace, though — I think my mile 4 was an 8:06. 
Then around mile 6 I started feeling worse and the body was begging me to stop. Rough patch. I had been taking in water at aid stations and some gel, and was nutritionally still feeling on target. I wasn’t bonking. I knew I just had to dig deep.

I never eased up on myself, yet, the legs were not responding as well as I wanted as of the halfway point. I had some 7:50-8:00 miles. My average was slowly dropping from 7:40 to 7:50. I was ignoring HR. I saw no one in my AG, and that wasn’t even a care or concern. I knew a sub-5 was not happening, thus I was not in it with the fast girls. No biggie. At this point I just wanted to finish with a run I could be happy with. It was time to live in the moment and not worry about the future — give it everything now and don’t hold back.

It was getting hotter by the minute, but it wasn’t insanely hot. I kept getting water at aid stations for drinking and splashing on myself. But the body was screaming. I felt like I was running with a 100-lb pack. But one big plus was no GI issues, which is something that has plagued me in the past, so yay for that. I just kept saying “keep going… dig deep… keep that sub-8 pace alive!”

We ran through La Crema vineyards this time, which was so nice! But it felt extra hot back in there.
Out of the winery and more rolling hills. Ouch.

No major hills after about mile 10. Whew. Near the end I was able to pick up my pace and finish strong. I held on to a 7:49/mile average overall for the run, with a 1:42:xx split. That’s the same as my current half iron run PR time — I ran 1:42 at Rev3 Portland last year, and that course (in ’11 only) was as flat as a pancake. Vineman is not flat, so I see this run as an improvement :)

Man, I was hur-ting at the finish!!! But happy :) The biggest takeaway from this race is that I need to race more if I want to achieve the goals I have for myself, like that sub-5 time. Again, I could tell I had some cobwebs to dust off in putting together a solid race. It takes a lot to really nail a race, and experience is a huge factor. So, fine, I’ll race more:) Lesson learned! 

That said, I am totally content with my performance and a 5:11. Yea, the bike could have been better, but that’s life as an age-grouper! It’s on me to handle those situations. Not to mention, my time this year was 9 minutes faster than my time at this race in ’09. 

John and I finished very close to each other, and it was so great sharing war stories at the finish line with him. This is only our second tri together, and it’s our first trip for a race in which we both participated. That made things 10x better than I ever could have imagined, and knowing he was out on the course too was the best feeling. It’s fun to travel and race with a BF :)

Sorry, this is the only pic I have so far... but ya gotta love a post-race beer pic!


  1. Nice job Tawnee! Dealing with bike traffic always sucks. I few more good races and you can just get your Elite Card! ;-)

  2. i love that race! so chill indeed. great job lady!

  3. Well done looking hot there!

  4. Great Race, nice report!

  5. Great job!
    I meant to post a question to your previous post about the enzymes. I also take crystal plex enzymes, you mention taking them on an empty stomach, how do you dot hat? The only way I can get that powder down is to mix with juice or yogurt. Also, do you take all your supplements at the same time of day or spread them out? TIA :-)

  6. Sally, honestly I just mix the powder with a bit of water in a little bowl and slurp it down with a spoon. As you know, it pretty much has a "nothing" taste so it's easy just to get it down. I will usually have it 1 hour before I eat a meal (i.e. before breakfast) or 3hrs after I eat a meal -- that's usually when the tummy is empty.

    Also, I spread out some supplements like XEndurance, fish oil, etc. And some I just take it bulk... it's more about when I remember than a specific timing/structure to it.