Race Report: Vineman 70.3

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post. All products listed below were purchased with my hard-earned money and are provided for informational purposes only.

I bought the damn race photos so I may as well write a recap so you can enjoy way too many photos of my spandex-clad self🙂.

Similar to my Oceanside recap, I’ll try to limit the personal narrative/internal monologue and focus on preparation, strategy, and other helpful tidbits. This won’t be a literary masterpiece but hopefully it will be useful!

Pre-Race

I have a fairly standard set of gear I pack for races now. To make sure I don’t forget anything, I start packing a couple days beforehand and mentally simulate all the gear changes I’ll make during the race.

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So. Much. Shit.

I drove to Windsor early Saturday morning to get the mandatory pre-race briefing and packet pick-up out of the way. If you haven’t raced Vineman before, plan on spending a couple hours at the high school. Their packet pick-up process is more time-consuming than most other races. Oh yeah, parking can also be a nightmare.

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I love waiting in lines!!! (Photo credit: Isa Hashim)

After packet pickup-up, I rode the run course to make sure my bike was working properly. The road quality is still very poor in that part of town, so be careful. I saw a few people dealing with flats out there. Fortunately, The White Knight survived the short ride unscathed.

Although I had many friends racing that weekend, I opted to be anti-social for my pre-race dinner. Since I’m vegan, my options can be very limited depending on the restaurant of choice for the group and I’ve had some spectacularly bad races in the past as a result. I went to town at the Whole Foods in Santa Rosa then headed to the hotel to put my feet up and stuff my face. I had no GI issues on race day thanks to my dinner of sushi (one tofu roll and one avocado roll), potato bolani, vegetable soup, and bananas with nut butter. Before bed, I drank a bottle with 2 scoops of osmo preload.

Race Morning

This year, my age group was the last wave, starting at 8:42 am (FYI the pro men start at 6:25). To avoid any parking issues or potential race morning panic, I chose to arrive in Guerneville when transition opened at 5:30. This worked out really well for me. Parking was easy, I snagged a great spot in transition, and saw most of my friends before they started their races.

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Even the camera thinks it’s too early  (Photo credit: Kathy Harris)

After watching the pros head out on the bike, I literally sat on my ass in transition for the next hour and a half to save my legs/feet for the race. The late start time also allowed me to eat much more than I normally would on race morning. (I consumed about 700 calories)

During my swim warmup, my goggles started leaking. Fortunately, I brought a spare pair and had time to swap them out and continue my warmup.

Tip: Always bring extra goggles!

Swim

As a former way-back-of-the-pack swimmer, the constant contact of swimming in a pack is a relatively new experience for me. Basically, I was kicked and punched for 1.2 miles but didn’t have any moments of panic. I spent a lot time swimming in open water during this training cycle (1-2 times per week) which has helped me overcome my swimming anxiety.

Photo credit: Finisher Pix

Photo credit: Finisher Pix

Swim time: 39:04

Bike

On the bike, I focus on safety (there are a couple sketchy bit on the course), hydration, nutrition, and having fun.

To keep my hydration and nutrition on track, I have an alarm set on my bike computer that goes off every 10 minutes. I aim to consume at least one 24 oz bottle of green tea Skratch and a smooth caffeinator Picky Bar every hour. Before the race, I put 4 oz tick marks on each of my 3 water bottles and cut each picky bar into 6 pieces so I knew exactly how much food and drink to take at each alarm.

**TMI alert** I lost a bit of time on the first half of the bike slowing down and trying to relax enough to pee while riding but it didn’t work. Once I hit the aid station in Geyserville, I decided to make a pit stop so I could ride the rest of the course properly. Please feel free to share any advice on how to pee on the bike!🙂

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Photo credit: Finisher Pix

Just before the high school, I saw my training partners/super cheerleaders, Allison and Jenesse and got a big boost of energy from them.

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This is where I yelled “what’s up bitches!!!” at my friends. Hopefully, there weren’t any kids around… (Photo credit: Dennis Mellican)

This year, T2 was longer than usual so I opted to remove my bike shoes at the dismount line and run to the bike racks barefoot.

Bike time: 3:03:14

Run

Although the weather was mild by Vineman standards, it still felt effing hot by the time I started running. The plan was to drink a bottle of Skratch every hour on the run, stuff ice in my bra and shorts at each aid station, and shamelessly expose my jiggly bits to stay cool.

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When I don’t know my photo is being taken… (Photo credit: Dennis Mellican)

I stuck to the plan… except for the running part. Between miles 3 and 11, I gave myself too many excuses to walk. Still need to work on that whole mental toughness thing…

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Most forced smile ever (Photo credit: Finisher Pix)

Run time: 2:35:14

Finish

Total time: 6:26:00

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Photo credit: Finisher Pix

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So happy to be done (Photo credit: Finisher Pix)

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Jenesse, me, Coach Muddy, and Allison (Photo credit: Dennis Mellican)

Race Report: Oceanside 70.3

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post. All products listed below were purchased with my hard-earned money and are provided for informational purposes only.

A gorgeous weekend in Oceanisde

A gorgeous weekend in Oceanisde

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of racing Oceanside 70.3. The southern California weather was perfect, the course was challenging but beautiful, and I managed to finish a few seconds under my goal time of 6:30. Rather than recount each of the 23,377 seconds of the race, I’m going to share some tips and lessons learned from the day in a bullet-list-y (not a word, I know) kind of way.

Lodging

If convenience is your priority, choose lodging at the Oceanside Harbor. You can walk to the start and don’t have to deal with parking and shuttles race morning.

I wanted to keep expenses low so I booked a hotel a few miles away from the action and made my reservations before race registration opened and only paid $70/night at the Best Western Oceanside Inn. If you go this route, I suggest going to packet pickup ASAP to snag one of the limited parking permits for race day.

The day before

As expected, there were a lot of people peacocking and sizing each other up before the race. As a middle/back-of-the-pack athlete, this aspect of racing is always entertaining to me. Many of these guys are indeed very fast, but in some cases it’s just for show. My slow ass passed a lot of fancy tricked out bikes (and also got passed by people on not-so-fancy bikes). A bike is only as fast as the person riding it.

The days leading up to the race were very hot, about 90 deg F. I made a point to limit my sun exposure and stay hydrated.

My coach also advised me to let some air out of my tires at bike check-in to keep my tubes from expanding too much in the heat (genius!).

Just before bed, I drank 1 scoop of Osmo PreLoad (a full dose for my weight is 2.5 scoops).

Race morning transition setup

My first priority, pump tires back up to pressure.

To prevent blisters, I put foot powder in my socks and had a second pair for the run.

In case something should happen with my contact lenses during the swim, I put the prescription insert for my sunglasses in my transition bag (in a sturdy case). At IMCdA, I put spare pairs of contacts in all my gear bags, but I didn’t want to deal with them for this race.

At first, I made the mistake of putting my helmet, sunglasses, and food on my aerobars. I walked away for a few minutes and came back to find everything scattered on the ground.  Lesson learned: put everything on the ground under my bike in transition.

Prior to entering the swim start corral, I drank 2 scoops of Osmo PreLoad.

Beware: Port-a-potties were extremely limited in transition, plan accordingly!

Waiting in a long line for the ladies room

Waiting in a long line for the ladies room (and perhaps, engaging in a little peacocking…)

Swim

The water was warmer than usual (upper 60s, I believe) so I didn’t wear the booties I brought. A wetsuit, two latex swim caps, and ear plugs kept my body at a comfortable temperature.

I had my watch (Garmin Forerunner 920) set up and ready to go in triathlon mode before wading out to the swim start line. Unfortunately, I discovered it was in power save mode when I went to start the timer as the horn went off for my swim wave. Rather than waste time playing with my watch, I chose to swim immediately and dealt with it after exiting the water. Lesson learned: turn off power save mode on watch before race.

Be advised, if you’re in one of the later swim waves, it’s going to be a full-contact swim. I was in wave 17 (out of 20+ waves total) and the mens 40-44 waveS (the age group is so big, they start in multiple waves) started just after me.

The first half of the swim was fairly mellow. I passed some people from the earlier waves but there was plenty of room to get around. The water got a little choppier as I approached the end of the harbor, but nothing terrible. The end of the swim is when shit got a little crazy. The space between the buoys and harbor is narrower on the return trip and it was more crowded as I started passing more people from earlier waves and more of the faster guys from the later waves started to catch up. I had various parts of my body grabbed and pushed and got punched in the face but somehow managed to remain calm and keep swimming. I used to have a lot of anxiety during the swim portion of races but I think surviving IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene must have calmed the part of brain that would freak out in the water.

The week before the race, I did a “dress rehearsal” swim where to test for issues with the Castelli Stealth T1 top I bought for sun protection on the bike and didn’t find any. Unfortunately, on race day the collar was sticking out of the top of my wetsuit and caused some serious chafing. Lesson learned: make sure all clothing is fully encased by wetsuit to avoid chafing.

Swim time: 42:09

mmm
 friction!

mmm
 friction!

Bike

My strategy for the bike was to maintain a moderate level of effort, eat/drink constantly, and see what happens. The first half of the bike course is flat and fast, the second half is hilly and hard. You definitely don’t want to go balls to the wall at the beginning because you’ll become one of the many people walking their bikes up the hills later on. Bike nutrition: 1 bottle of plain water, 2 bottles of green tea Skratch, 3 smooth caffeinator Picky Bars

Bike time: 3:16:13

Run

The run course is mostly flat with some short and steep climbs/descents between sea level and street level. I ran all of the first loop then decided to walk the steep bits and aid stations on the second lap. At each aid station, I topped off my water bottle and put ice in my top to keep my core temp down.

Around mile 10, I ran through a huge puddle at the aid station and soaked my feet, causing hot spots and blisters to form. After a decade of distance running, I’m still a huge wimp when it comes to the skin on my feet and walked a good portion of miles 11 and 12. I finally forced myself to suck it up and run the last mile. Lesson learned: don’t run through puddles (and maybe, toughen up a little…)!

Nutritionally, I felt pretty solid. I didn’t have a single muscle cramp and my GI system stayed calm the whole day. Let’s be honest, it’s not fun when you feel like you’re on the verge of shitting yourself throughout the run. I’m ecstatic that I didn’t have to deal with tummy troubles this time.

Run nutrition: 1 bottle of green tea Skratch and lots of water from aid stations

Run time: 2:20:40

Total time: 6:29:37 (Hello, PR!)

(Fore)play with your food

For years, I thought people were full of shit when they proclaimed their love of kale. I ate it because it’s supposedly good for me, but the gastronomic experience was always bearable, at best. Kale is tough and bitter, how could anyone possibly enjoy eating it?

My opinion changed for the better after trying the “All Hail Kale” salad at Veggie Grill. They somehow managed to make the taste and texture of kale pleasurable. However, my excitement turned to frustration after several failed attempts to recreate the salad at home.

While browsing some seedy websites, I learned that kale requires a bit of foreplay. You need to oil her up and rub her down before she can pleasure your palate (it also to remove a few of her ribs). You see, it turns out that key to good kale is a deep massage that softens its texture and tempers its bitterness.


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Massaged Kale Salad

1 bunch kale (any variety), ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
juice of 2 lemons (or 1 orange), divided
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional, if you like it hot)
1/2 small onion, minced
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa

In a large bowl, combine kale, juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Massage kale until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. Toss and serve.