Well it appears my tempting of the triathlon fates in trying all the "new" things this weekend didn't work out so bad in the end. I went into Vineman 70.3 a bit uncertain. How much have I really "recovered" from IM CDA, how much will I have in the tank when I go digging deep, will everything hold up, was I "pushing it"... all these things had crossed my mind. The fact that almost everyone I talked to about it would say something like "so soon" or "you gotta be careful" only served to reinforce the doubts I had. But, there was only one way to tell.
I got to Wine country on Thursday and was pleasantly surprised by the house we had rented. Myself, my parents, the brothers Pearson, Brynn and Sean & Trish had all rented a house together that was about a mile from the swim start. The brothers parents and Sean's also made the trip and were staying nearby. Add to that mix that Charisa & Steven, Kevin, Jeff & Becky and Tawnee and we had quite the race crew.
The night before the race we had a ~15 person feast put on by my AWESOME MOM!! She put in an INSANE amount of effort this weekend to fuel the athletes, serve as photographer and cheer us all on. Saying she was a superb spectathlete would be a drastic understatement. A HUGE thank you goes out to Moms. She takes the MVP award for the weekend hands down.
I mentioned the wagering that was going on before. Basically, there is a group of us going to Kona to either race or watch, so each of us had to pick a goal time. Whoever didn't make their goal time owed a round of drinks or ice cream for the others in Kona. My time goal: 4:12
However, at dinner, some side betting went down. I, stupidly, threw myself into 3 side bets:
1. With Charisa to mile 19 of the bike. Whoever made it there first gets to pick a 70.3 to race next year in the US.
2. With Sean to mile 45 of the bike. Whoever made it there first got a Sushi dinner.
3. With Kevin to the finish line. Loser buys lunch after next Henshaw ride.
Swim + T1= 27:55 (my watch said 26:19 out of the water)
The swim started out faster than ANY other swim I have ever been in. My wave was nuts! 350yds in and I was still going full out and smashed in with a group of others. One dude (pretty sure it was a guy named Brian Lamar) had gapped us early and went on to an insane swim and T1 of 25:22. After about 500yds I was finally able to settle down and was battling another guy for the remainder of the swim. I swam faster last year so that bummed me out, but you never know with swim courses.
Bike = 2:19:57
I had a good T1, got on the bike felt pretty good. About 10min in I see a guy walking back towards the start with his bike. Sure enough its Sean. His rear derailleur broke. Bummer. About a mile later I passed the a guy in my age group. he said he thought there might be only one guy ahead of us. A minute or 2 later and we come upon a freaking tree laying across the entire road. A F-ING tree broke and fell, hitting a rider and downing another. The guy it hit was pretty mangled but EMS was already there so we uncliped crawled under the tree and took off. A minute later, and the rough roads send my gel flask packing. So I am about 15min into the ride and all I have left is an aerodrink full of Gatorade. This was NOT looking good. I knew the first aid station was just about 18mi into the ride, and I had catching Charisa on my mind. I tried to ride a little conservatively to give myself a shot at catching her, but not digging too deep of a nutritional hole that I couldn't get out of.
At the first aide station I slowed way down to grab a bottle, and 3 Powerbars. I had less than a mile to catch Charisa. It soon became apparent that I wouldn't do it. In fact it took til about mile 24. One bet lost. Where we are racing next year is now up to her discretion. A couple miles later I caught the leader of my age group. I was able to put in some good riding from that point on and just tried no to go too hard as I was unsure what my legs would have left for the run. Some strange feelings cam about, but all passed fairly quickly, and I made it into T2 with a good shot at making my goal.
Plain and simple, I am not happy with my run. It is clear I have lost some major run fitness due to all the bike training, injury, & laziness. So I know where my focus needs to be for the next couple months. Looking back I think I kinda took the run too easy.
I was hesitant to go out too hard due to the uncertainty I had about my legs. So I planned to go for a solid negative split. I know I accomplished that, but I think I was just too conservative. I saw Kevin at the lake at La Crema (he had already circled it) and thought I might have a chance. After I exited La Crema however, I was pretty certain that it was a lost cause. He looked too good and I knew he wouldn't fade. Bet #2 lost. Thank God he is a vegetarian, at least I won't be footing a surf & turf bill.
Total: 4:12:43, 1st in 25-29, 2nd Overall AGer.
I made my goal time. Thank GOD!!
On my run in I was about a mile out and I see this guy running towards me in the inbound lane with his arms in the air. I get closer and its Sean. he sat on the side of the road for an hour and a half until someone could fix his bike, got back on and hammered the rest of the race. A SOLID performance and definite winner of the "never say Die" award for the weekend.
After awards it was back to the house for the post-race party. Unfortunately Charisa & Steven, Kevin, Jeff & Becky couldn't make it, but we added Tawnee (3rd in her AG and CLEARWATER SLOT!!!) and her parent's to the post party crew. Catered Mexican food, beers, wine, ice cream and some awesome conversation topped off a great day.
My only complaint about Vineman is the condition of the roads. Other than that, this is an awesome race. This trip was made al the better by the radical group of family and friends we had. It literally "made the trip" to stay, eat, race and relax with such great people. I would gladly lose bets at every race if each one would turn out to be this much fun.