Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vineman Race Report

I have to warn you that this race report might be a bit "strange." My mental state leading up to the race is not where it usually is. I just wasn't ampted to race. I have never gone to sleep the night before a race not wanting to race the next morning. I love racing! I can't pin down one single reason for this feeling, but I woke up with little desire to race. I had to pull it together because I was staying with my buddy Kevin. It was his first half IM ever, and I tried hard to sound excited for the day. I don't know if it is because I need a mid-seasn break, because I haven't been able to do any run training for the past month, or for other reasons.
I thought when I got to the race site I'd be more excited. I wasn't. This was so so weird! I took a little while alone and had to pull myself together. I was lucky to be racing, and owed it to myself and those who support me to get my crap together and get ready to hammer. In order to do so I set some different goals/experiments for the race. They were:
1) Swim: Find feet on the swim and stay with them. If I lost the lead girls feet I had to suffer a penalty. This would consist of 20strokes all out, 10hard. I'd have to repeat this until I found the feet again. (PS- I hate feet, and I don't draft well).
2) Bike: Put the Garmin305 watch in the bento box. After on the bike put the watch on, and monitor the HR. I wanted to remain in the mid/upper 150's through mile 36. From there I'd go by perceived effort and try to make the same move that I made at Buffalo Springs.
And #2 for the Bike- enjoy the scenery. If you have never done Vineman before, this is what you're missing out on. Vineyard after vineyard! It's so green and so beautiful in NorCal!

3) Run: I struggle to take in calories in the run. Last year at Kona I didn't take in a single calorie via gel or food. I only took Gatorade and water. It worked fine, but it can't be the smartest approach. I also wondered if my bonk at BS in the last 5k was due to poor run nutrition. In order to prepare for Ironman I decided to test out a new nutrition plan. I mixed 2 scoops of CarboPro in a gel flask. I added half a nuun to give it some flavor.
4) Run: Do not go out too hard. Remember my final 5k at Buffalo Springs. Try to go out reasonably strong, and negative split the run. If I felt any bone pain in the shin I must opt for the DNF.

Ok, I had my crap together and headed to the water. I was warming up and realized I didn't put my race number and belt out in T1. Ugh, this is what happen when I become absent minded and disinterested in the task at hand. Small details slip by. Not good. I ran back, threw it by my bike and made it to the start just in time. One quick "suck it up and race!" pep talk and I was off.
Here is a pic of me with the sign Andrea waved out on the course! I've never had anyone make a sign for me. THANKS for your support Andrea! You rock!!!

Swim: BANG- we were off. Within 5 seconds I think I had 3 body lengths on the rest of the W30-34 field. My thanks to Kate for our fun 50's with deep water starts. After a few minutes two girls grabbed my feet. no no, that wasn't my plan. I slowed and they passed. Or so they thought, I grabbed their feet and never let go. That NEVER happens for me! They rotated back and forth for the lead and I followed. The swim felt way too easy. I wasn't breathing hard, my shoulders didn't feel like they were working, and I wasn't kicking. As we approached turn around I looked for anyone else ahead of us with purple caps. I didn't see anyone. I questioned making a break for it, but I've tried that before and it never paid off. My goal was to draft the entire swim, so I remained where I was. I sang a few songs in my head and just simmered down and enjoyed the pull.
There wasn't a mat at the swim exit, but I was later told I exited at 29mins. Not bad. If I worked hard I could maybe go 45seconds-1minute faster. I think I made the right move by sticking to my swim goal of drafting. One down, two to go.

Bike: Oh the start was not good. If anyone thinks you can put a garmin watch on your wrist while riding, please practice before race day. It was impossible for me. I can't take my hands off the handlebars of my tri bike or I'll veer off the road. I tried to put the watch on 3 times. I slowed to about 6mph and still couldn't get it on. Ok this trial was a large failure!
Then there was my attempt at the bento box. Ugh, I use it in training rides and sometimes it falls off to the right, but not like this. It wouldn't stay upright. My knee hit it with every stroke and it was frustrating beyond belief. Then I noticed my front wheel was rubbing. Ok, things were not going well. Time to make q pit stop and regroup. Yes, I pulled over and stopped. The watch went onto the wrist so I could actually see my HR, I stuffed the bento box belongings into my pocket, and I ripped the bento box off and threw it toward some volunteers, and adjusted the wheel. I think there was 1/2 a banana in there still...hope the bunny's enjoyed it.
I started riding again and felt way better! I literally went from being annoyed and unhappy to free and fast. After making it through the tree fiasco I was right behind Charisa. She is an amazingly solid racer. She's THE BOMB! I wanted to keep my distance and keep her in sight. I felt great. Then two cars flew by me and immediately slowed. To like 10mph. I was stuck behind them for about 3 minutes and again became angry. Man I love racing on closed bike courses! I didn't feel save behind them, couldn't get into aero, and was riding the breaks. Not cool. Eventually I had to get around them. To do so I'd have to go into the left lane and pray no cars were coming towards us on the winding road. Whew, safe pass. I was free again, and again felt great.
Thankfully the rest of the bike was uneventful. I was motivated to hold the average speed at 21mph. I knew without all three stops I could have broken 2:40, but still wanted to get into the 2:30's so bad. I was motivated and kept my eyes on the HR and speed. It was right on, and thought I broke into the 2:30's. Both computers showed a 2:38split. However, I forgot that my bike computer and Garmin stop when I stop. Therefore when I saw my official bike split I sadly realized my bike split was actually 2:41:21. Not as good, but it was still a bike split PR.

I am still learning what it feels like to be a half-way decent cyclist. It has always been my weakness. But I've put a lot of time/effort/focus on my riding. It is paying off, and with it is more confidence. I'm still learning how hard I can push the bike and have no doubt that next year I'll see a few sub 2:40 splits.

T2: Ok, I know most don't make comments on their transitions. But they are SO important. I always pay attention to my transition times compared to others at the race (especially the pro's). Due to the lack of the swim splits we didn't have T1 times. My T2 time was only 7seconds off the fastest pro female T2 time, and they come into transition with less traffic and better rack locations. Transitions are free time, and I captured about 30seconds on my competition.

Run: Hot, Hot, Hot! I didn't notice the heat on the bike at all. But the minute I left T2 I knew it would be a scorcher. My Garmin would provide me with constant splits, as well as a projected 13.1 time. After 1/4 mile I checked in. 6:05 pace and 1:20projected time. No! I instantly slowed. I felt great, but I haven't run for a month (other than BS race). I had no idea how my legs would respond to the impact. I didn't even know if I would be able to finish the run. The first 5k was all about self control and continuously checking in with how my legs felt. I didn't have any pain around the suspected stress fracture location. I counted my blessings and ran on.
I don't know my run splits because my Garmin is still making its way back with my transition bag via TriBike Transport. Therefore, I am not sure if I succeeded at the negative split goal. My suspicion is that I did not. Although my shin didn't hurt I had 2 old injuries rear their ugly head. My right ankle (2yr old injury. GRRR!) was not good. It hadn't hurt like this all year. Pisser. The pads of my feet also felt like they were on fire. This was an issue that caused me to give up long distance running a few years back. Orthodics solved the issue last year. I pray this was only a result of not running for the last month, and my legs not being use to the pounding.
Over the last 5k I tried hard to hold my projected run time under 1:40. Considering I didn't know if I would finish the run, I would be quite happy with that. The temperature kept going up (or so it seemed), as did the burning of my feet. (if anyone else has ever suffered from this and has any suggestions I will take 'em!!!!!). The volunteers were unable to keep up with the flurry of thirsty hot runners coming by the aid stations. If you wanted water you had to grab it from the table. Probably not smart because I was dying for aqua.
My run nutrition experiment went splendidly! I took in the full 200+ calories, and never felt ill or disinterested in taking in the calories. This is a wonderful lesson and one I will now implement in my Kona training and race.
Run time: 1:40:31. At first I was pretty dissatisfied with the run split. I have no doubt I can run low 1:30s, but again that will have to wait for next year. I am so hard on myself after races. After absorbing the entire lead up to the race and race itself I have to be satisfied with the run.

I finished 4th in my age group (again). I knew the top three would be unbeatable for me, and they didn't disappoint. They dominated. They were the top 3 overall, and beat many of the pro women. A huge congrats to Meredith Keeran, Charisa Wernick, and Kathleen Calkins!! These girls are all studs. I am inspired by each of these girls, and hopeful that I too can get faster with age ;) Every half Ironman I've done this year has been a new PR (besides Clearwater- which doesn't count!). Vineman didn't disappoint, and I beat my BS (previous PR) by 6 minutes.

Moving up to the "big girls" age group has been quite an adjustment for me. The 30-34 year old girls are a large step above the 25-29 competition I faced. I believe if you want to be your best you have to race the best. At every half IM I've done this year the girls that won my age group have been the best. It is pushing me to expect more from myself. It's exciting! No better stage to continue the path of improvement than Kona!!!!

All too often triathletes refuse to be happy with results. They improve, but still aren't happy. I am one of these triathletes. So I went back and looked at my Vineman experience from 2 years ago. That was a break through race for me. It was my first half-way decent bike split, and the race when I realized that you can really push the bike and run 13.1 strong after. This year my time was 22mins faster! In 2007 I was 15th in the W25-29age group and 54th female overall. This past weekend I was in a MUCH tougher age group and finished 4th in the age group, and 11th female overall. Think I can improve that much over the next year or two?!?!

A Ginormous THANK YOU to XTerra and TriBike Transport! THANK YOU for your support! I'm very honored to be able to represent these amazing companies (backed by even more amazing people!)

This is my post finish pic. Immediately after crossing the finish I ripped my shoes off. My feet were throbbing and on fire! This is my "I'm happy to not have shoes on" face. Or is it my "it's blazing hot out here" face?!?!?!

A huge thanks again to TriBike Transport. If you ever want an easy/worry free bike transport option this is it! If they service the race it is WELL worth it! Thanks Marc!!!!!

A HUGE congrats to Kevin on finishing his first half IM!

I even fit in a wonderful visit with the newly relocated Shannon and Stephen. We really miss you guys!!!!!

Next up: an attempt at 2 weeks of no biking or running. I strongly believe my "I don't want to race" mindset will change dramatically if I can cure these injuries and give myself a much needed mental break. I've been going hard since January. 2 weeks, Can I do it?!?! So far, so good. I'm off to the ocean to give paddle boarding a try.

Dang, that was a LONG one!!! Thanks for reading!! Cheers!

1 comment:

Uli said...

Congrats Caroline! Sounded like a tough race, good on ya for listening to body but finishing too. I never saw you in the results, weird!?