Monday, July 18, 2011

Vineman 70.3 Race report

(WARNING! I am posting this without pictures! I am going to come back on Tuesday or Wednesay and repost once I get some fun photos. But, it's written, so why not throw it out there. Feel free to return later this week if this is far too boring without a little visual excitement.)

So many things I've been thinking about this race!

First, if you haven't done Vineman 70.3, you need to add it to the list. The swim is calm and straighforward in the Russian River. The rolling/hilly bike takes you through the backroads of wine country and the run is a challenging hilly trot through yes, another winery. The race is simply beautiful and well run.

On to my race.
The swim: 1.2 miles- 29:51 (12th AG/ 1:34/100M)
Athough I was 12th in my age group after the swim, I am very happy to report that I am now part of the sub :30 half ironman swim club! This is a big milestone for me and perhaps the biggest milestone of the day. The fastest swim in my AG (Christine!) was 26 minutes, so 3 minutes back out of the swim. Not bad for me, but I knew that some of the fast girls I know in my age group (Christine, Hailey, Beth S. & Brandy) were ahead of me and I'd need to push it on the bike.
Back to how it played out. I swam hard off the gun, but a group of girls got off ahead of me at a pace I couldn't hold. Everyone else was behind. I swam in no man's land the ENTIRE swim. I couldn't even see a purple cap after the first 500 yards and never saw one again. Looking at my age group's times, there was one other girl in the 29:00s but that's it (for 181 girls in my age group, that's nuts!) ...So no man's land for me it was. But I swam pretty hard and  was super comfortable in my Zoot Prophet. I never took a break since I was alone and not drafting, I just kept going until the finish. I was smiling huge across that timing mat, thinking I just scraped by low side of :30.

T1: 2:50
I sucked a bit in T1 taking off my wetsuit, trying to brush rocks off my Zoot compression socks (I wore them in the swim, bike, & run thanks to tips from Tawnee and I actually loved it! ), and then pack my gear in the swim gear bag that they transport to T2 for you (T1 and T2 are about 15 miles apart- I love a logistical nightmare!). Anyhow, felt like some dilly dallying and a long run out of T1, but I got on the bike with no problems. (My age group also had a little detour/extra running due to non-preferred transition rack location).  There is a short steep hill out of T1 that many people eat it on, and I managed to avoid anything embarrassing, so I was stoked.

The Bike: 56 miles- 2:41:21- (20.8 miles per hour, 6th or 7th AG)
The bike started off well out as we wound down River  Road. I quickly noticed that starting in one of the very first waves at Vineman 70.3 rather than one of the very last waves makes it a very different race. Of course each one has its pro and cons, but I prefer the latter. I am a people person, people! I had little or no company and at times no one to even see in the distance. The bike felt lonely and I realized how the pro girls who are not stellar swimmers must feel in many of their races. It takes a tough girl to race like this! Anyhow, as the bike progressed, I felt fine, nothing went wrong, no excuses. I just didn't have that OOMPH, that push, that leg turnover pounding on the pedals. I totally felt like I was in Ironman and could have biked that pace easily for another 56 miles (looking at my power data looks like I was right. I biked over 20 watts lower than Oceanside 70.3 and similar watts to IM Texas. I also had an avg HR about 6-7 beats lower than Oceanside). I knew I wasn't blazing any new trails through Northern California. At times, I would try to pick up the effort, but it usually only lasted a minute or two and then I'd be unfocused again, staring at the vineyards and forgetting I was "racing". The bike ended uneventfully. I guess the good news from the bike is that it was in fact uneventful and I said silent "thank yous" for no mechanicals AND that my nutrition seemed to be spot on (I drank 1.5 bottles of Powerbar Perform (aaaprrox. 250 cal)  and almost 1 flask of EFS Vanilla liquid shot (350 cal). I kept it simple and took in about 600 calories on the bike.

T2 2:18
nothing special or notable

The Run: 13.1 miles - 1:29:12 (6:48/mile, 1st AG)
The run starts out with a mile flat and then you climb and descend up to La Crema winery. At the winery, there is a 1.5 mile loop on dirt roads and gravel through the vines and then you go back the way you came. I headed out and felt pretty good. I saw Steph on the side of the road and she told me I was in 7th. I knew a few girls were "right there" and I made a few passes in the first mile bringing me to 4th. I knew exactly who was still ahead of me - Hailey, Christine, and Beth S.. I saw Hailey and Christine when I was finishing the bike and they were starting the run, so I knew they were a few minutes ahead, but maybe not out of reach. I didn't see Beth S. at all, so I knew she was further up the road. I settled into a nice pace (high 6:30s) and found a pacer (JOE! My hero!). Joe was clipping off miles at a tough pace for me, but one I could hold. I apologized to him in person, but I'll do it here again.

Joe, I am sorry I sound like I have asthma when I run and was breathing heavy. I am sure you thought I was going to blow up at any minute (and wished I would get off your shoulder), but that is just my regular M.O. Anyway, you were awesome.

Back to miles 2-6. Joe and I were running. Me mostly right behind him and keeping 6:30s/6:40s with the hills. I was feeling pretty good and kept reminding myself to run my race, not rush it, and hope I'd see the girls in due time. Heading into La Crema, about my mile 5.75, I saw Beth S. exiting the winery. That meant she was about 8 minutes ahead. YOWZER!!! I knew then that she was un-catchable. I was excited she was having a great race, and set my sights on the other girls in front of me and beating Tatiana who was running in a different wave. In the winery, I caught up to Christine who was having a tough time and around mile 8 or so, I think I caught up to Hailey. Both had encouraging words as always and I kept moving. I felt like we (Joe & I) were going faster, but in fact we were slowing down. (My average for the 2nd half of the run was 6:56 compared to the first half 6:40). I should have been paying attention to my Garmin, but I swear we were running faster. Guess not! I felt like I was running pretty well and hoped to break 1:30 on the hilly course. I just barely broke 1:30 with a 1:29. I never caught Beth S. (not even close, she beat me by over 6 minutes!) but ran straight to her for a hug at the finish line. I was feeling okay with my race until Tatiana crossed and I realized she had also beaten me by about 5 minutes. Damn, girls! Turnin' it up a notch! As much as I wanted to win my bet (for dinner!) with Tatiana, I was truly very stoked for her race. This was a huge breakthrough race for her, promises great things in the future, and that little one even out ran me by thirty seconds!
After catching up with friends at the finish, we waited for James, who went 4:14 and won his age group! He was the champ of the day!

My Results:
4:45, 2nd AG (of 181), 6th amateur

Okay, going to try not to get too deep over here, but I am going to try to be honest. That means that although I recognize that I had a good time and a great placing and very stiff competition, I am left with many thoughts. I want to take absolutely nothing away from Tatiana and Beth S. and everyone else because they performed beautifully and were true examples of how to smash it out there in the amateur race. But, personally, I am a bit disappointed in myself. Listen, I know you can't have an "A" race all the time. I know I raced and Ironman in May, took a midseason break, a vacation 3 weeks out, and added a mega ride during race week and all that. I know. BUT, I expect myself to step up to the occasion a little better. I really was very blah on the bike and didn't bike near the top AGers who were in the mid 2:30s. I know that I CAN bike closer to that, but just didn't. Or, rather, I didn't have what it took on that day.

I know that I need to realize that you can't win them all and that everyone has an off day. I am not complaining here and I really hope it doesn't come off that way because my goal is to be honest and to NOT just brush everything off with a smile and to let whoever reads this see that I am real and real people  have thoughts and self-doubts too :). For me this race was not about winning, actually.
For me, Vineman 70.3 was just about how far off I was. I am actually very very happy with my placement. I will take 2nd to a stronger athlete any day! I just wished I had been a closer second.

And, very honestly, after California 70.3 and IM Texas (1st amateur overall at both), the pro word had been floating around for next year. I felt like I might be ready to take a step and possibly race the best next year. But, this race put lots of doubts in my mind! Not only was I "off" the winners of the amateur race by 5+ minutes, but I was much further from the pros I had been nipping at in other races. I know I am pretty hard on myself, but If I want to compete with the best, I at least need to be a little better. The good thing is, I think I have it in me to push to be better. Especially for the Ironman distance. I may not ever be truly competitive at the 70.3 distance, but Ironman is my thing. I am not that fast. I just don't slow down as much as others.

Anyhow, as always, regardless of the race, the POST-RACE is always where its at! We have already spent some quality time with lots of the amazing people I have met through this sport and had an absolute blast last night. Can't wait for more adventures with my champ husband this week!

Thank you to all of my sponsors and supporters including James, our families, Coach Dirk, Nytro Women, Zoot Sports, Powerbar, MRM, Dan Selstad ART man to the stars, Rehab UnitedLululemon, Nuttzo, and everyone else who makes my dreams come true, even on an off day!


A World of Gratitude said...

I'm sure you know this, but I'll toss it out there for whatever it's worth...

When considering the PRO aspect, step back and just observe. One race is just one race. Consider everything over the course of the season, what you've learned, where you need to improve, what the benefits and drawback are, goals, compromises, etc..

Sometimes it can be hard to "observe" or "witness" our journey, but stepping back can be of help, too.

You'll know what's best for you.


goSonja said...

I think it's okay to not be satisfied as long as it comes from a place of growth rather than negative reinforcement. Pull out the positives, fix the negatives and move along. Many PROs have races like your did today and the best of them brush them off, recover that much quicker, and throw themselves out there again.

:) Sonja

Kelly said...

It was nice meeting you after the race.

Yeah, you can't always have the snap, but you still had a pretty awesome race. I wouldn't take this to mean anything in particular.

Teresa said...

Beth, you had an amazing race and what you are experiencing is totally normal. You have what it takes to be pro and I am sure after your next ironman race you will know the answer!! You will rock it out there!!

Way to learn and have fun racing all in one! Can't wait to hear about post race festivities!


90f3770a-b166-11e0-995f-000bcdcb5194 said...

Beth, I just wanted to tell you that I think you are an amazing athlete. I know everyone can be hard on themselves and I understand where you are coming from, but know that you are an inspiration to so many people. Your athletic accomplishments speak to your dedication and drive. I am working the med tent at the 70.3 championships and hope I have the chance to cheer you on :) -Melanie

Christi said...

Congratulations on your race and thanks for being honest. That really puts things in perspective for your readers. You will get your race again soon! I have no doubt!

Jill Costantino said...

You ROCK! Congratulations on a great race! I think it was great on SO many levels for you. Reading your last part of this post and reading what you REALLY want just shows your drive and the fire in your belly. For what it is worth - I would GLADLY take your "off" day anytime!
Congrats to both you and James. Enjoy the vacay!

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

I think you are "jumping to conclusions", to use our lingo! I was under the impression that you did not want to really "race" Vineman, given that you've gone on vacation, started your Kona training, did not taper well, etc. So, of course, mentally you were not fully on.
Nah, still rock star and I worry about your competition in Kona!

mtanner said...

Beth, What I love about you is you are the REAL DEAL. Ditto what Sonja says. Learn from it and never be afraid to put it out there. XOXO

Beth said...

You are hard on yourself! I bet after Kona you will have no doubt in your mind that you should turn PRO. :-) Enjoy your vacation with James!

Matt said...

To be unhappy with parts of the race is great, it will fuel the fire going into Vegas, but don't doubt your ability. Oceanside was stacked and you killed it! Trust mr, I can understand the doubt, I felt it after Portland last week, but using it to fuel Dirk plan for me more so next week...ouch. Enjoy the wine!

Yasi said...

Beth you truly did a great job out there, but it's natural (and is certainly a good thing) to check back on your 'work' and assess to see what you can better for next time around. Although this race didn't go as you planned, I think you should still really consider the pro-side. You're a super strong and talented athlete and you've got a LOT going for you. Keep it up!

Tawnee Prazak said...

I sound like my father's daughter saying this, but I believe it -- it's important you keep balance in your life, triathlon and otherwise. The vacation you took, the long bike ride during taper, etc. -- you enjoyed that stuff and that's important. You obviously have what it takes to go pro, but remember, it has to remain FUN on some level!

Unknown said...

Hi, this is Daryl, I ran with you for the second half of the race. Was Joe the guy in black with red shoes? I was just trying to keep up with him :-)

I'm trying to figure out what pace my second half was (ran an extra lap around the winery and so the result page says 8:26/mi), do you know if it was it 6:56 for the part I ran with you? I swear it felt faster :-)

Anyway, I was glad I ran into you guys ... I swear Joe didn't drink a thing on the run!


beth said...

DARYL!!! How did I not give props to you in the race report too! You were so much fun. I can't believe you took an extra winery tour.. (To anyone reading, Daryl & joe were in same AG and I was trying to pit 'em against each other and talk smack the last 2 miles to get them to push the pace and bring us home). Yes Daryl, I swear it was faster, but nope, whole second half averaged 6:56 pace. We need to step our game up! You did great. Sorry about the extra miles...but was nice to get to meet you. Yeah- Joe was the guy in all black who drank NOTHING the whole race. I thought he may pass out!

GoBigGreen said...

Hey one thing i admire about you is your ability to keep this sport in perspective, so pro or not, remember why you do this crazy stuff and like sonja said i know that pro's have days where they are smelling the roses, too. ( ok maybe Chrissie doesnt but...)
Glad you had fun and the after party sounds like an even better time! Chin up and keep on enjoying your summer!

Adam said...

It's interesting that you wore socks during the swim. Was that purely for a faster T1? I always struggle trying to brush the dirt off my feet and then putting my socks on, especially with that gravel in the transition.

Kona Shelley said...

Can't wait to see pics, it sounds like something I need to do!

Damie said...

mmmm yes. I get this. I had a similar mid-season feelings this weekend. nice post.

Charisa said...

Congrats!! Sometimes the off or hard days are the ones where I learn the most. Plenty of races left for you to rock :)

Libby said...

listen here chica- you absolutely have what it takes to be pro and you will know by the end of this season if you are ready. from your previous performances, I have no doubt you belong out there with the best of them. but you can't judge your progress on one mediocre race that you didn't peak for where you had stiff competition. keep training and racing your heart out and you will continue to be tops of the podium and when you know in your heart its time, you know you will have an awesome team of support crew backing you up! From watching some friends who have made the leap, a big part of it is the mental aspect of dealing with sub par races and adjusting and moving on for overall progress. don't forget that your progress train has accelerated tremendously this year :) the end of the year will confirm that for ya I'm sure. go drink some more wine and enjoy yourselves :)

trimom said...

hey - i found your blog thru beth shutt's site. i completely understand your feelings about this race and going pro. this is my 1st pro year. last year, i was 1st amateur at the two 70.3 races i did (6th and 3rd overall) and had the same "pro" word floating around. I decided to go for it and i have had NO regrets! I haven't won any pro races (and may not , ok probably won't, ever) but the experiences i have had and people i have met have been great. it's defly been hard not winning after being at the top but i also think i would not be pushing myself this hard if i was racing as an AGer. Good luck! Cheers!

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

You totally have what it takes. Considering you were probably still on island time and confused there weren't pina coladas at the aid stations. Your body probably went into shock drinking coke with no rum. Keep up the good work and we'll be cheering for you this fall.

Barb said...

Great race and great report Beth!!! It was really fun meeting you too. I know what you mean about being all alone on the bike, it was hard to focus.

I am sure you will have some amazing races yet this year and then after everything you can make that pro/amateur decision. But you sure run like a pro!