Aug 13, 2008

RACE REPORT: The Vineman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Well I did it.

My second Ironman 70.3 Triathlon is now complete and it was fantastic! But if you aren't interested in wine, vineyards and detailed race reports, you may want to skip this report.
First things first. I beat my Hawaii Ironman 70.3 time by 45 minutes and I am extremely happy with that result. Elated.

When I finished in Kona, I felt great, actually not that tired at all. That's because I played it safe. I was holding back not knowing what to expect on my first 70.3. Now that I knew what to expect and had completed the event, I was ready to push things a bit harder in the California Wine Country.

I arrived two days prior to the event to settle in and to review the course. That was a good idea, as it was a very technical bike course and I felt better knowing what to expect on the narrow, winding and rolling roads coursing through these beautiful vineyards.

Race day morning I rose at 3:45 am with three separate alarms (2 watches and my cell phone alarm). This was a wetsuit-legal race as the water was less than 78-degrees. An up and back route in the shallow river was much easier than the open-water melee of the Hawaii Ironman start. I had plenty of clean water (meaning, no one swimming in front of me or crawling on top of me).

Swimming up the current was no big deal at all compared to my Endless Pool workouts at home, but the return trip with the flow of the water seemed effortless. One really crazy thing is that I got hit with a giant catfish during the swim! The fish was so big, and hit me with such speed and force that it nearly knocked the wind out of me. It was pretty scary because the water was so dark green that I could not see the fish hit me and was not expecting it. The surprise of the hit, combined with the powerful "thud" when it collided with me, really shook me up!

Despite the run-in with the giant fish, I finished the swim about 5 minutes faster than the Hawaii event. The transition from the swim to the bike took four minutes and the bike leg went well. I pushed the bike harder than I had planned, and I broke somewhat from my race plan. I let my ego push me a bit as I tried to average 19.5 MPH. I finished the bike about 20 minutes faster than Hawaii.

The hard effort on the bike really took its toll on the run; I paid the price to be sure, but that was OK.

One interesting note was that my toes were nearly frozen on the bike. It was cold and I was not wearing socks. So when I transitioned in T2 and started running, the exact feeling was that of running with my feet frozen inside of two blocks of ice. I literally had no feeling at all and I really thought that someone could have hammered nails or spikes into my feet and I may not have felt them at all. It felt as if my feet were going to shatter. Literally.

On the 13.1 mile run, I seemed to average just under a 10 minute mile, but was surprised by how many hills there were. I walked many of them. I also made it a point to walk the aid stations. Since Gatorade really makes me cough, I stuck mostly to water. I picked up the pace toward the end of the run and literally passed dozens and dozens of people in the last mile. That tells me that I probably did not push hard enough during the middle of the run.

I was very, very happy with my race results. No shoulder pain, no trigger point pain in the aero position and no hip pain. I just ran out of wind on the run and my legs were pretty much shot from the harder than normal bike. But with all of that, I still recorded a very great time, shaving about 45 minutes from my first 70.3 Ironman which was only about 50 days before this race.

My confidence has skyrocketed based on these results.