Vineman Full Ironman - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Guerneville, California
United States
Total Time = 14h 04m 35s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 79/119
Pre-race routine:

Everything begins with a dream. In my 20's, I dreamed of running a marathon. It took 20 years to do it because of major issues with chronic pain, but eventually I did it. Last year, I dreamed of completing an Ironman. And now I've done it!

Going into this event I had one goal and that was to go the distance. Any time goal was secondary, but I was hoping that I could pull together a 13:30 total. I figured this was a reasonable goal given my training. So a 1:30 swim, 7:30 bike, and 4:30 run with transitions would be my rough target.

I drove out to Guerneville on Thursday early afternoon and went over to Johnson's Beach to take a dip in the river. The weather and the water were perfect. I swam around for 20 minutes or so (no wetsuit) and then headed over to the meetup spot for Sushi with some of the other BTers.

After a nice dinner, I went back to the hotel and hit the sack. On Friday, I woke up early, had breakfast, and headed out with my BT mentor, Mike (McFuzz), and his wife Beth (BAMBAM66) to drive the bike course. We stopped for lunch in Windsor and then went to the race packet pickup area. Did all of that, set up T2, and then rode our bikes on the run course to see what it was going to be like. Went out to dinner and had spaghetti and meatballs. Went back to the hotel, setup my stuff for the next day, and hit the sack around 9pm.

Woke up around 3am, had breakfast (3 hard boiled eggs, cantaloupe, coffee), shaved, and got ready to go. At 4:30 met up with Mike and Beth and we drove out to the beach. We were about half way there when I realized something that sucked the blood from my face. I left my Infinit-filled bottles at the hotel... freak out moment. All my bike nutrition which I had trained with was not going to be with me. I turned to Mike to tell him what happened and ask what my options were at this point. He suggests that I could live off the course and take it a bit easier than planned to be on the safe side. There was some silence as I thought about this and Beth said something that was positive attitude quote. It helped. I thought about the situation for a bit and knew that there were some people that lived off the course so... heck, if they could do it... why not me? So I didn't worry about it anymore and figured it would work out somehow. I knew there would be challenges, but before we even get to the race??

I really started to get nervous about the whole race when we got there. I was forgetting little things like grabbing my helmet and bike shoes from the car. Thankfully, Mike was there to save me from myself. It was dark and we waited in line to get into T1. I found a spot and setup my area. I had some time to go the bathroom and then get into my wetsuit about 20 minutes before the wave starts. I waited around on the beach very nervously.

Event warmup:

There was no real warm up for this race. We were not allowed to go into the water. Once wave 2 took off, my AG had 3 minutes before our start so I got in the water and barely got myself situated when the 10 second countdown started.
  • 1h 13m 29s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 44s / 100 yards

My goal for the swim was to go at a comfortable, brisk pace, but not redline it. I have been in many OWS before so I wasn't nervous about the washing machine that was to come or swimming out in the river, but I was SUPER nervous because this was my first IM. The anticipation of the day was HUGE. My HR was up and I was taking deep breaths to keep me from shallow breathing. I felt a buzzing in my head which I can only assume was an adrenaline rush. I must not have sealed my right goggle right because as I got going it filled up with water. I had to pause and empty it out and reseal it two times before I got it right. That was a tiny mishap that thankfully I resolved quickly. The first 5 or 10 minutes were very crowded and I had to be very mindful of the other swimmers around me so that I did not swim over people or get stuck behind those where were gliding tightly together. One thing that plagued me all during my training were calf and feet cramps. I got them in almost all of my longer pool swims. I never experience this in OWS, but still I was concerned to a small degree that this might happen. My plan to avoid this in the race was to use my arms and not my legs as much as possible. I also wanted to draft off of others as much as I could. So I was doing both of these things as much as possible. There were some areas that were so shallow that I could not take a full stroke and decided to get up and walk. I probably didn't have to, but frankly I figured that I'm not out to break any records or anything so what could it hurt. As far as cramping goes, I did not cramp at all UNTIL the last 30 yards (unbelievable). As I neared about 100 yards away, I did start to kick so as to get blood flowing in my legs before getting out of the river. I'm guessing that this must have triggered the cramp, but around 30 yards from the ramp, my left calf totally locked up with my toes pointing "down". I thought maybe I could touch the floor with my foot so I could try to force the cramp out by putting weight on the foot, but it was too deep still at this spot. So I swam as best I could toward the ramp and when I saw others standing, I too stood and worked out the cramp. It actually worked its way out as I slowly walked up the ramp. I saw 1:19 on the clock and knew that meant 1:13 for me so I was fired up!
What would you do differently?:

Not get so nervous at the start I suppose. I also think I could have worked just a bit harder than I did. Oh, and I believe my swim fitness and technique could improve still -- that calf cramp at the end being an indication of this.
Transition 1
  • 10m 5s

I totally passed the wetstuit strippers by accident as I didn't even notice them. I went as fast as I could, but still took around 10 min or so because I decided before the race that I would change out of my wet jammers and put on dry tri shorts. I wanted to be comfortable for my 1st IM. Once changed, I made my way out of T1 and on to the bike course. Like others, I walked up the small hill after the "mount" line to get to a flat area before mounting.
What would you do differently?:

Comfort was more important than speediness. If I was going for speed, which I will likely do in my 2nd IM, I would not have changed my shorts and I would've focused a lot more on a speedy transition. This time around I was after the experience more than speed.
  • 7h 22m 28s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.19 mile/hr

My goal here was to stay in Z1 for almost the entire bike ride. In my training, I never really had a very good long ride where I got into Z2 for a length of time so I wanted to be conservative so I could finish strong. I also knew that during my training, my nutrition was never quite right. I either felt light headed and tired or I felt bloated and full depending on the amount taken in. So going into this race, I was not totally confident. I had decided a few days earlier to go with 250 cals per hour using Infinit. But without my bottles, all I knew was that I would try to target the same amount of calories using course offerings. For the 1st 20 minutes my goal was to just sip some water and then start taking in calories. I remembered that I had put 2 GU's in my seat bag the day before for emergency purposes. I figured out that I could take both in the first hour and that would get me close to the 250 cals since each had 100 in them. So at 20 minutes in, I took 1 GU with water then again 20 minutes later. Now I had nothing on me and I started to worry. I knew the aid station would be along soon, but it seemed like forever. Whenever I saw a dropped bottle or nutrition bar, the thought seriously crossed my mind to stop to pick it up for myself (LOL). But clearer thoughts prevailed and I waited until the 1st aid station to grab some nutrition.

I grabbed a Gatorade, a bottle of water, and a mini-cliff bar which people were holding out in their hands. I was hoping that these bottles would fit in my bottle cages well enough to not fly off if I hit a big bump or pothole. They weren't a tight fit like my "made for bike" bottles, but it was secure enough. When I had a moment, I checked the nutrition labels on the cliff bar and Gatorade for calorie content. Cliff bar = 100; Gatorade = 150. In order to keep this simple, I just figured that if I could just eat one cliff bar and drink one Gatorade bottle per hour, I would be ok. I marked the time and then made sure that at the end of the hour I had taken this in and had the next bar and bottle ready. As far as nutrition goes, this is what I did for the entire bike ride. Thankfully and amazingly, it worked very well. As far as hydration goes, I took in 3 swigs of water every time I had some of the cliff bar.

The ride was really nice, very beautiful scenery. It was chilly in the morning so I'm glad I took the time to change into dry shorts and to put on my po man's arm warmers (tube socks with toes cut off)... an idea I got from AbbieR. It worked very nicely. I kept them on until around 11am when it started to warm up. Lots of people passed me and I passed only a few. I didn't care much about that. I had a lot of energy in my legs, but I kept telling myself that I was riding at my own pace and didn't need to catch anyone. Things were really going fantastic and the miles and the time went by rather quickly in my mind. I stopped once to go to the bathroom around mile 26.

Just before the big hill (Chalk Hill) I got passed by a friend, Mike Pirnat, who was doing the Aquabike. He didn't see me so I yelled out and he slowed down a bit to chat for a moment. We crested the hill with me just slightly ahead. I took the downhill as fast as gravity would pull me and I hit a deep groove in the road so hard that my Gatorade bottle popped out. I was a little bummed, but figured I'd just replace it at the next station. Mike went on ahead. Not more than 5 minutes after losing my bottle, I notice my rear wheel was flat! Crap. I couldn't believe it. So I pull over to the side where there was a large shoulder. I recalled the deep groove and immediately thought "pinch flat". So I flip my bike over and of course all my water from the aero bottle and the course-supplied water bottle start to come out. I flip my bike back over and remove the bottles first before turning the bike upside down (Lesson #1). I get to work on changing the flat. People are asking me if all is ok and if I need anything... very nice. One guy says "That sucks!" I say, "You're telling me!". I finally get the darn thing changed and pumped up with my C02 (so glad I practiced using the C02 just a few days before!). Got the tire on, bottles on, checked my brakes... all good. So off I go!

I'm riding along, thinking "what luck" that I would get a flat. I figure it took about 10 to 15 minutes to change... I really don't know for sure, but it seemed long. So, I'm riding along and all of a sudden, I look down at my tire and it's looking a little low on air... no way. I stop and feel the tire. Yep, another flat! What in the world! So I pull to the side, this time there's a sidewalk where I'm at so I get the bike up on the sidewalk and go through the process again. A little quicker this time as I'm quite familiar with the process now. So when I get to the part when I'm putting the new (and last) inner tube in I stop for a second. Now, I'm not a super religious guy in a bible thumper sort of way, but I do have faith and belief in God. I look up to the heavens and ask Him to help me because this is my last tube and I need this one to last another 60 or so miles. Right at that moment, I kid you not, I get this thought to check the tire for anything sharp on the inside... maybe I have piece of glass or something sharp embedded in the tire. So I drop the tube and start look at the actual tire closely for the first time. What do I find? A staple! So that's what caused my flats. (Lesson #2) I felt pretty dumb for not checking that in the first place, but also relieved and happy that I found that thing. So I took that little guy out and put the tube in being very careful not to pinch it between the rim and tire. I pump it up with C02 and get the tire back on. As I get going again I look up at the sky and say Thank You!

Now, I've lost about 20 to 25 minutes (maybe more) changing my tubes, but since my #1 goal is really to finish, I'm not too upset about it. I keep on keeping on. I ended up stopping one more time for a bathroom break and then pushed a little harder after mile 80 or so. I finished the bike segment feeling pretty good and ready for the run.
What would you do differently?:

Use a checklist when packing up for the start to avoid forgetting important items like nutrition.
Always check for sharp objects in my tire when I get a flat.
Keep working on my bike fitness. There's a lot of improvement available.

Transition 2
  • 12m 19s

I took this transition easy like T1. I walked from the dismount all the way to my rack area which was pretty far. I had a little bit of a tough time finding my stuff because so many bikes where already racked. It just didn't look the same as the day before when there were no bikes. I walked back and forth for probably a minute trying to find my stuff. When I did, I changed my socks, shirt, put on sunscreen, race bib, and bottle carrier. I then went to the porta-potty before hitting the run.
What would you do differently?:

Next IM I will go faster. I didn't have any inclination to do fast transitions on my first IM.

  • 5h 06m 14s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 41s  min/mile

My plan was to run very slow the first 5K to get the legs adjusted. I wanted to negative split the distance and run the last half faster than the first. I was to run for 4 minutes and walk 30 seconds up until mile 18 or so and then run the rest if I felt good, stopping to walk steep hills if necessary. Nutrition-wise I had planned (and practiced) to take in 200 cals of Gatorade per hour, BUT because of the Infinit fiasco my taste for Gatorade was spoiled by this time. Really what ended up happening is that I just went with how I felt instead and took something in at every aid station, whether it was a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade or water and fruit, cookie, cliffblock, fig, peach, grapes... whatever. I just made sure that whatever solid I took in I liquefied it in my mouth as much as possible before swallowing. One of my major concerns going into this IM was that I might get stomach shutdown. So I was real happy that my stomach felt so good throughout the entire race.

At around mile 9.5 after starting the 2nd loop, my energy level dropped down to almost zero. I felt like dropping to the floor and taking a nap. Fortunately this happened right before an aid station and I knew what to do because this had happened to me during a long ride once. I drank a cup of cola and within a few minutes, I was running along like nothing happened. The miles and the time went by somewhat easily. The weather was awesome and I never really felt hot, warm yes, but never hot. I did keep the front of my tri top wet to keep me feeling nice and cool.

So after I hit mile 17, I decided to stop the walk intervals and just run as much as I could. My legs felt fine, tired, but not exhausted. I wasn't really keeping track of any pace since my overall goal was to finish and I didn't want to suffer on my first IM so I went by feel. I'd push hard when I felt like it and I slowed down when I felt like it. All in all I had a decent run I thought. I averaged 12:11 min/mi in the first half and 11:11 min/mi in the second. Certainly not super as far as pacing goes, but it was a tough course with all the hills. I finished very strong and passed several people in the last final quarter mile. I entered the finish chute with a new dose of adrenaline running through my veins. I pumped my arm in the air as my name was called out by the announcer. I crossed that finish line and broke the tape. What a feeling of accomplishment that moment was. There's nothing like it. Mike had finished ahead of me and was there to congratulate me. I saw my family, gave everyone a hug and kiss. The boys were SUPER excited, as was Antonett. I was on a natural high!

What would you do differently?:

Next IM probably keep to some pace goals and focus on faster mile splits overall. Focus on getting through aid stations faster. I might even store some of the foods in my shirt pockets to allow me to dismiss some aid stations.
Post race
Warm down:

Just walked around the finisher's area a bit and got some food. I was actually quite hungry.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Training and experience at longer distances will help improve my speed.

Event comments:

Vineman was an awesome venue. The volunteers were awesome and the course was BEAUTIFUL.
Other observations:
T1 was very croweded and made it harder than other races I've done to really get out fast if that was a goal. It was also sandy/muddy so it's easy to get sand, dirt, or little rocks in shows or socks. Changing tents were small and got crowded.
The river is very shallow in a couple of areas preventing full, normal strokes. Because of the two loops you end up going through shallow spots 4 times.
Bike course is on roads with a lot of potholes, cracks, and rough areas. Great care should be taken on that road. Only a few porta potties at the aid stations so there was almost always a line.
T2 was quite a distance from the bike dismount line. Getting out of bike shoes might have been a better option for the long walk.
Run course is HILLY with hardly any long stretch of flats. Plenty of aid stations (seemed like 1 per mile). Not too many lines at porta potties that I noticed. I never waited in a line, but they did get pretty nasty and hot. Stations were well stocked.
Volunteers were awesome! (oh, I already said that)

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Last updated: 2010-12-16 12:00 AM
01:13:29 | 4224 yards | 01m 44s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/119
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Suit: Full Neosport
Course: 2 loops at Johnson's Beach
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:05
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
07:22:28 | 112 miles | 15.19 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/119
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 12:19
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:06:14 | 26.2 miles | 11m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/119
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4