Wednesday, July 23, 2008

vineman 70.3 race report!

vineman 70.3- 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run- my first half ironman!

time for the ole race report. i've been procrastinating because there is so little, yet so much to write! here we go:

saturday- pre race:
vineman is a point-to-point half ironman, so the place that you swim and get on your bike is about 15 miles from the place where you finish your bike and start the half marathon.
so, on the list for saturday was an easy easy swim (10minutes- was supposed to be 15, but james "you can see all my ribs" walsh got cold so we got out), bike (30), run (20). i woke up saturday feeling like crap. on friday, i was "coming down with something" and i went to bed praying that i would wake up feeling miraculously better. not only did that not happen, but i ended up awake most of friday night from the feel-too-crappy-and-achey to sleep thing. not cool after 2 days prior of not sleeping due to crazy travel. anyhow. saturday i knew things were not getting better, but i decided that i was going to race for sure. my parents were flying across the country, i had trained for a few months, and i wanted to race! and since it was my first half, i knew that the experience of it would be the most important, and i wasn't sick, like barf sick, just cough/cold/snot/sore throat sick (i was suck-it-up-sick) my legs and tummy would be fine, just had to find a way to breathe through this thing! my "test run" did NOT go so well. high heart rate and high perceived effort with a slow pace. not a stellar combo. whatever. i knew my legs would get me through 13.1.

so, after my workout (and james went out and rode the whole vineman course) we brought my run gear (in the red xterra bag to spot easily) over to Windsor High School (T2) and i picked up my race number and did that frozen yogurt get in my hand? CARBO LOADING!!!
after that, we stopped at a pharmacy for some more interesting meds ( i was willing to bag the "nothing new on race day" plan )and some kombucha. after that, we met up with my parents and went to dinner. James' first "meet the parents" was fantastic- he thinks they are alright :) and they loved him! i felt so lucky to have this great boyfriend with me who was clearly taking care of me (going to get medicine, preparing my bike, my nutrition, making sure i wasn't on my feet too much, driving me around, directing my parents....)'s nice to have someone like that who your parents can so easily see that you are their #1 priority.

Race day!

woke up at 5:15. our cottage was literally a 5 minute walk from transition. i actually considered swimming to transition but didn't (we were like 500yds downstream)...anywhooo....rode over to T1 at 6am in my compression tights and warm jacket. it was freezing! i was hoping for a HOT race, so i was bummed. i racked my bike easily and headed back to the cottage...where i did my little race warm-up (15 minute jog). still felt like crap, but ignored it because i was going to DO THIS! after running, i met up with the parents, james helped me get into my wetsuit and we walked to transition (getting into your wetsuit in your hotel ROCKS!). for breakfast i ate a cinnamon raisin english muffin (140cal) with cream cheese (40 cal) a powerbar (240) and a small banana (90)....right about 500 calories..oh, and COFFEE! lots of it. after coffee, i sipped on electrolyte drink..

the walk to T1- munching on the powerbar

pink zink! works for james- thought it would bring me good luck!
go time...

the swim: 33:12 (26/83AG)

i situated myself near the front of the pack off to the right. i met sarah in the water which was really fun because she was so sweet and it helped me to relax. at the start, i wasn't nervous, i was honestly just concerned about how my respiratory situation would play out in the race. i KNEW i was fit enough to get to the finish and my legs felt fantastic, i was just worried. anyhow. the gun went off and i went into a state of asphyxiation. i was convinced i was being strangled and couldn't get air and i thought about dropping out of the race about 100 times in the first two minutes because i could not breathe. seriously, in my head i was thinking, "i totally have an excuse! no one will be mad! i can save myself from an embarassing race!" i was breathing every stroke and i NEVER do that. i always bilateral breathe. its just what i do. but, i kept telling myself to go a little more, and after 5 minutes, i was calming down. the thought of quitting never crossed my mind after that point in the race.
notable things i remember from the swim:
* it felt long. really long. boring long. is it over yet? long. why aren't we at the turnaround yet?
*aside from the first few non-breathing minutes, i never went out of my comfort zone. it was like i was doing a practice swim. i came out of the water realizing i did not go hard on the swim. but, i saw that it was about 33 minutes and that was just fine by me for that day!
*i drafted some off of two girls at different times, but other than that, all 3 of us were in no man's land on the swim. we were the same pace, so the draft didn't help time-wise, just energey-wise. a bunch of girls in our wave swam 25's/26's. they are awesome swimmers.

strip and run!

T1: 2:25- pretty good!
westuit off, all the normal stuff. ran my bike out (in my bike shoes) and had an embarassing minute where i could not clip in. i ALWAYS clip in the left first, but my messed up head allowed me to clip in right first (dumb!) i realized i was not coordinated enough to learn a new clip in move and had to unclip. i was at the bottom of a hill and even though my plan was to ride up, i saw lots of struggling traffic on the hill and opted to run. i probably lost 30 seconds to a minute here out of T1..but at the time i was more embarrassed than caring about the time to be honest because my parents and all the spectators were watching me blow it! ha! pretty funny.

the bike 3:00:21

the first thing i said to james when i crossed the finish was "i might have biked under 3 hours, but probably it was like 3 hours and 14 seconds because that's typical for me" (my last 10k was 40:00 and my half marathon is 1:30:13...i have trouble breaking those time barriers...but what's time anyway?)...funny. i was right about on it!
what i remember from the bike
*trying to pee. i had to go so bad. i tried and tried and couldn't do it. i slowed down several times to try, but just didn't make it happen. i guess i'm just too much of a lady :) ...
*my parents appeared like magical little gnomes all over the course. they ROCK!
*i was so freaking cold for the first 2 hours that's about all i thought about besides sticking with my nutrition (both of these helped to pass the time). i hate being cold.
*i never left my comfort zone. at all. i didn't know the course, the miles at the aid stations and i had no bike computer. all i knew was that " chalk hill" comes at 46 miles. i got to "chalk hill" (not all it's "chalked" up to be) and i thought, that's it? i better GO because i feel like i'm just out here cruising around and i think i'm supposed to be hurting. i think i was too worried i would "blow it" that i never really left zone 2. part of this is my inexperience (i was scared of the "distance" and part of this was me being conservative and "having fun" because i had an excuse that i was sick (next time, maybe i shouldn't make excuses for myself...)
* tried to cheer for people i passed and people who passed me. i must say i got very little in return. i was feeling kind of lonely on the bike. i remember feeling cold and lonely and LOVING seeing my parents and the vineyards. but i was still having a nice time and enjoying the scenery.
*i stuck right to my nutrition plan: 1 bottle of powerbar endurance drink per hour (170 cal) and 1/4 of a powerbar (60 cal)= 230 cal/hour. plus, a double latter powegel right at the end of the bike as run rocket fuel. this was a nice plan for me, but the liquid got slushy in my stomach and i had to pee so bad. maybe i drank too much? also, i mistakenly cut up the powerbar and put it in a baggie with my dayquil and tylenol and halls and they all stuck together and froze in the cold and i was like biting off dayquil capsules and spitting them out. it was funny.
*i was so happy to get to transition. and aside from crappy throat/snot fest, i felt GREAT. ready to run! i DID notice that there were lots of bikes in T2, but was okay with that (remember, i had already made excuses for myself). this was my race to LEARN. i would NOT be hard on myself.

T2: 2:34.4- fine by me, but i have no idea what is good.
i took a tip from a nice friend and sat down in the grass to put on my shoes and discreetly had a little pee in the grass.. (shhhhhh!!! don't tell!) but i must say that this was the BEST piece of pre-race advice i got. so smart! so sly! too bad i didn't share with poor mer who had to wait in line for the potty!

Run 1:33:24
i left transition and high fived james.....

i started cruising. seriously. it was like cruise control. my breathing was heavy for the first few miles, but i was just so thankful i didn't feel like total crap and i was moving and my legs felt freshy-fresh. but i was too scared to push it. i didn't focus on my mile splits, but noticed that i was right around 7 -ish miles in general.
* i was SCARED to blow up or bonk or whatever. i feel like i was racing waiting to bonk. that's crazy! i was soooo conservative- like i was out for a tempo run..comfortably hard. i was running by a lot of people easily, but i wished i had someone to run with. i saw some friends out there and we cheered for eachother and i was all smiles and thank-you's at the aid stations....i saw christine at her mile 8 (my mile 5) and realized she was WAY ahead of me, and also that she was going to break 5 hours!!! i was impressed that gave me some thinking fuel for the next couple miles of how much i need to work on my bike and swim to be in contention!
*at the turn around i realized that i was probably not going to blow up becuase i still felt like i was just cruising and i could fake the last 6 miles if it came to that. this was the point in the race where i realized that regardless of being sick and taking it easy-er, i was actually having a pretty darn fine first half ironman.
*(BEST PART OF THE RACE ALERT) i was bored running alone, so i passed this dude that looked like he had it in him. as i passed he said "go girl" and i barked, "come with me!!!" well, he did! and i met my new friend sergio. sergio is a dad from palm springs and he was at vineman with his friends. before i picked him up, he had a leg cramp. the last 5 miles were the best part of the race! sure, i chatted too much with Sergio, but i felt great and we pushed each other. he would slow down at the aid stations and i would push through and yell, "come on, sergio!!!" until he caught back up...he'd yell back "i'm coming!!!" it was SOOOO fun. after we finished, he hugged me real big and said i was his hero and he would have never run the last 5 miles like that if i hadn't made him!!!

i crossed the finish all smiles and bubbly and found james and my family and started talking their faces off. i wouldn't shut up...but hey, it had been 5 whole hours basically ALONE!!! working!!! my stepmom has a funny video of me at the finish. she thought she was taking a picture of me and james but its a video and i go on about how "i don't see how you can go hard for five freaking's so long!!! how do people focus? who wants to hurt for 5 hours?" i need to get pictures/video from her..

finish chute

Finish 05:11:59.3
14/83 in my Age group. clearwater 70.3 (world championships) slots actually rolled down past me, but we didn't go to awards and i would have passed anyway.
my run was 2nd fastest in my AG (behind the winner who went 4:43 and ran a 1:30). the swim and bike were just hovering in the top third of the group.

my thoughts...
i was really happy with the race. i swore i would not do another- not because it hurt, but because it felt so long! but afterwards i kept thinking of how i think i could shave minutes here and there to go under 5 hours on a good day. i would add them up like this- and say, "if i push i think i can..."

swim: 1:30 faster
bike: 4 minutes faster
run: 2:00 faster

not sick: 2 minutes
tri bike: 2 minutes
luck: 29 seconds
(that's 11:30:59 saved...i can do it and go under 5!!!)

i am not saying i could have done it on THAT day (and i really hope it doesn't come off that way). i didn't and wouldn't have even if i had not been sick. i did what i could on that day. sickness had maybe only 1 or 2 minutes to do with it and helped me play it safe. no excuses.
i just didn't really understand the strategy of the distance. i'm saying that i know i can do it in the future and its within reach and i need to believe in myself. aside from the first 2 minutes of the swim and the last 4 minutes of the run (push to the finish), i never left my comfort zone. not once. this is NOT like me. i am the queen of going for it!
i know that there is the theory that my playing it conservative may have helped me go faster in the end, but i really think that now, after having the experience of how long/hard the 70.3 distance is will help me "push it" next time.
i'm just thinking that with how easy/great i felt the whole race, i can push it a lot more and still make it. i know i was fitter than how i raced. and i am writing this so that i REMEMBER this and RACE next time. it's not social hour or a ride in the country. ITS A RACE! (and i think i have a fast little tri bike coming that might help me even more- more on that soon! yippee!)
Finish 05:11:59.3

after the race, i enjoyed my time in wine country with my three favorite people in the world (james, dad, and step-mom marsha)....more on the relaxing and wonderful people who made the race happen for me in the next chapter..."vineman 70.3...the aftermath"....

as you can see from this picture. it was brutal. torture. life sucks.


Ryan Denner said...

beth- killer race!

way not to be hard on yourself, and don't spend too much time thinking about what you could have done - just get hungry for next time, which it sounds like you are!

peeing on the bike - i obviously mastered it this past weekend. the key is to stand up on the bike when you are going downhill.

t1 - if you do this race next year, just RUN up the hill out of transition with your shoes on your bike - you will pass all the mess, and its a ton easier.

congrats on a great race!!!

Shan said...

Awesome RR! I really love that course, and you guys were lucky it wasn't so brutally hot like it was last year...I like racing in hot weather, but I almost fell over last year in the finish chute...

The half IM distance is definitely long, and it takes a few of them to fully understand how to strategize - i.e. how fast you can push it without blowing up. Sometimes you just have to go for it and see what happens!! Next time! :) For SURE you can break 5hr!!

Hope you're enjoying an awesome recovery, and hope to see you soon! Hugs!

jameson said...

You killed it and you never stop impressing me! I love watching you race and will be your triathlon sherpa any day...

JP Flores said...

Nice work! This was your first 70.3?? wow...

Bummed I didn't catch up with you and James at the race.

See you guys at track!

Sarah said...


Great race report! I know how you echoed so many of my thoughts...and this was my 5th half-IM - you never stop learning and questioning!

I guess it's a tough distance because pacing is key - it's tough to gauge just HOW hard to push it out of your comfort zone because it IS such a long race. Also, every race is different, every day is different, so you'll always be pacing differently. It's not like Olys or Sprints where you can just go ALL OUT!

I get lonely on the bike, too. I often run alone but the bike part...I ALWAYS bike with friends!

That was so cool about that guy Sergio. I love finding people to run with at tris! I would've run with you,'re kind of way faster than me. ;)

i LOVE the pee trick in T2! Wow! I never thought of that! I usually never have to pee but this time I kind of did - I don't think it was that you drank too much, but it was so cold that I don't think any of us were sweating much, so our bodies weren't absorbing as much liquid.

ANYWAY (I know, long comment) - GREAT JOB out there. Keep aiming for that sub 5! (p.s. Big Kahuna is a good one to do that at) I hope to get there next year, too. If I can just tighten up my running skills...

HOOORAY for you!

FatDad said...

Great race, Beth. The same thing happened to me in the water of my first Oly distance swim! Crazy. Anyways, fantastic result no question.

Gould said...

you had a such a great race for your first half!!! my first half was . . .well . . .it's definitely a learning experience! you are an extremely talented athlete to bust into this sport with as much success as you've had already! (i'm jealous :)

it was great meeting you before this . .. we should hang out and do more fun stuff now. i like finding a fun group of gals to train with. :)

enjoy the recovery time! maybe we should go get some yogurt? :)

GZ said...

Great race, great report. FWIW - I know guys and gals who pee on the run during really long runs - and yes, while running. I can't seem to do that.

Like Ryan said, it is really cool to hear you thinking about how well you did and how you will go after this in the future.

Nice job lady! Way to live it.

Nikee Pomper said...

Lady, you are a total beast! 5:11 at your first 1/2, oh and you were sick? That is amazing! You have just hit the surface of your potential.
Let's ride when I get back mid-August.
Big Congrats on the race!!!

Rachel said...

Yea!!! Congrats! You had an awesome time (literally and figuratively), especially with being sick. I always run like crap for 10 days post-cold; my worst half-mara EVER was with a cold so kudos to you! Great race report! Loved it! I also love making friends on the run to pass the time. I will have to do Vineman 70.3 sometime--maybe next year in prep for IM-Canada?

SixTwoThree said...

Girl, you KILLED it! OMG, I'm starting to talk like you guys ;-)

kerrie said...

you can sooooooo easily go sub 5, and with practice, you'll be able to do all kinds of things - like pee anywhere at any time!
can you guess what i'm doing right now? ;)

rr said...

Loved the RR Beth! You really had a great day, especially impressive that you did it sick! You have to do another half.. in fact, I see many more in your future.

I do that panic can't breathe thing every cold race I do. It nearly killed me at oceanside, and did ruin my race. Nice job not letting it hold you back!

Kombocha might be your pre-race drink tradition now. It's costly, but so good.

Jim said...

Apparently, the "Pink War Paint" does work. Great race.....Great stories....Keep up the good work.

AND...The Library of Congress is REALLY AWESOME. Unfortunately, they won't let you take pictures of the exhibits or the reading rooms /library floor. At least, I was in awe......

Mer! said...

HEY!! Superb race report!! I absolutely loved, loved your "play by play" of the swim, I actually thought the same thing "shit, I forgot how long and boring this 1.2 is." And, I think it was absolutely awesome how you befriended Sergio! So cute! Even zipping past everyone you made friends.....very cool!

So great to meet you and just to reiterate what everyone else said..I had the same problem-I didn't trust my training that I could "go all out," for the distance and I think this was my 4th Half?? Still tinkering with stuff!

OH!OH!! We ate at that frozen yogurt/ice cream place near the start the day before as well....frozen yogurt addicts.

We have to check out Paradise Yogurt together in Mission Valley sometime-we're regulars..

Awesome job Beth!

Supalinds said...

Fantastic race!! You killed it, and I have no doubt - if you were 100% you would have smashed 5 hours!

Matt said...

having dong a 1/2, I know the feeling of BORING and the being sick feeling sucks. How you ran 1:30 feeling like that is the other "sick."

u-r-a beast.

Are you trail, roadie tri, xterra to be? new word: Versalititious!

triguyjt said...


great race beth and loved the report....super photos too

White Salamander said...

Congrats on your race. Great times. Thats a sharp looking bike too!

Mark said...

Congrats on an awesome accomplishment!

Yes, you had plenty of reasons/excuses to quit when things got tough (swim), but you pushed through and conquered - you're a rock star!

Awesome pics - you look SO fast on the bike!!!

Sub-5 is SO within your reach it's not even funny!

Congrats Beth - what's next?

The Young Family said...

Found you through Bree's site. Loved your race report! Thanks for taking me on the hourney with you. I am a newbie to the sport, and hope to do a 70.3 in two years. For me this will be a mohor accomplishment! For you , well you rocked it!! I am training for my first Full marathon in October (Portland, OR) so I am working on all the distances... thanks for letting me peak into your life!