My first Triathlon
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Full Vineman Triathlon - TriathlonFull Ironman
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73F / 23C
= 14h 25m 4s
Age Group Rank
The day before the race at the expo, I dropped off my run gear at the transition area. ***Note! At T2 during the expo, I highly recommend you practice run/walking from the bike dismount line to T2 and then from T2 to the run begin line. This year they moved the transition area from the parking lot to inside the school which totally changed the enter/exits to the transition area. I was asked by many other triathletes asking if I knew where the bike entrance, unfortunately it was not clearly marked.
On race morning:
-Woke up at 3:30am and drank 1 bottle of Ensure plus
-Took a shower, packed up my gear and loaded it into my car.
-Our place was close to Windsor High and it takes about 35 mins to drive to Johnson's Beach in Guerneville. Thus we left our place at 4:30am to get to the beach by 5am.
-***Note! Even though T1 doesn't open till 5:30am I recommend you get there around 5am due to the limited parking on the streets. We were able to find street parking not too far from T1.
-Once parked, I loaded up my bike and left my car with only these items: my bike, T1 vineman bag, bike special needs bag and run special needs bag.
-I setup my transition spot, put on my wetsuit and used the porta potty one last time before the long day.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to warmup before my swim wave due to the long lines at the porta potties. This totally affected my swim as I'll describe below.
1h 34m 30s
02m 14s / 100 yards
Each wave went 3 mins after the last wave. This year I was in the second wave. Unfortunately, right when I got into the water my wave started. This sucked because I didn't have a chance to adjust my goggles. I just went for it and sure enough, water starting seeping into my goggles. So I had to stop swimming and tried tightening them a little bit. As I continued to swim there was still water getting into my goggle. Thus I stopped again and tightened them a tight as possible. It worked and I was able to finish my first lap with no "water in goggles" issues BUT...after the first lap my head started hurting really bad! I thought I could just swim it off but it started to feel like a migraine. So I stopped and took off my goggles. I tightened them so much that it gave me a headache! I was panicking because:
1. I still had 1 more lap to go
2. I tried to loosen my goggles and swam but water go in them
3. I even tried to swim without my goggles but that was not working
Thus I ended up doing the breaststroke for a little bit to let my headache go away. My head started feeling better, so I put my goggles back on and went back to freestyle swimming. Luckily my headache did not come back as bad as it was before and I was able to finish the swim. The funny thing is that even with the goggle issue, I still improved my swim time by 6 mins as compared to last year's full vineman.
What would you do differently?:
Definitely get in the water earlier so I have time to adjust my goggles.
-This race has "wetsuit strippers" if you need them! Literally they help you strip your wetsuit off.
-Luckily my wetsuit came off easily thanks to cutting part of the wetsuit leg off so that the hole is bigger for my ankle to get out and pam spray around my ankles.
-Given there are 2 transition areas in this race, one extra step you need to do in T1 is to put all your T1 stuff that you leaving into the clear, plastic Vineman bag. It's really cool, you leave the bag at your spot in T1 and it magically appears at T2 waiting for you after the race!
What would you do differently?:
Nothing, my T1 went according to plan. Yay!
7h 05m 26s
The first lap
) was the BEST!!!...now let's take it back.
Right when you cross the T1 exit mat are faced with this uphill portion. You can either mount your bike there or run your bike up the hill first and then mount at the top. I recommend the latter approach due it being so crowded right after the mat. After I got on the course, these were my priorities:
1. Keep below 175 watts on flats
2. Keep HR < 160 bpm
3. First 2 hours sip from bottle of Ensure Plus
4. After 2 hours, 1 Clif shot every 30 mins & 1 thermolyte pill every 30 mins & drink sip water every 5 - 10 mins.
5. Attack on the downhills
(I added this one based on advice from my fellow ironman, thanks JK!
Based on those priorities and "the chase", I had a great 1st lap! What is "the chase" you say? Well, two of my other friends were doing the Half Vineman Aquabike, thus they were doing have the swim and half the bike. Their swim wave started after mine and based on our calculations, they would be out of T1 about 15-20 mins after me. Given I was doing 112 miles on the bike and they were doing 56, I knew they were going to catch me because I needed to stay at a slower pace. During the whole 1st lap, I was looking over my shoulder for them to zoom by me, but I think that feeling of being chased is what caused me to push a little harder on the first lap than I should have. Amazingly, my friends didn't pass me and I happy.
Also, imagine starting the bike and riding under cloudy weather with some drizzle...that is how the bike portion was for almost the whole 1st half of the bike! It was awesome! Especially for a heavier guy like me where I sweat more when the sun is out.
Start of the 2nd lap and I stopped off at the aid station to get my special needs bag. The volunteers were so great! I was expecting to have to get off my bag and find my numbered bag myself but the volunteers saw my race number, found my bag and brought it to me. Thank you again volunteers! In my special needs bag, I just had some coke and more clif shots. I put the coke in my back jersey pocket and put the clif shots in between my shorts and quads. This a great place to put gels in case you don't have space in your back jersey pockets or in your bento box.
Also at the start of the 2nd lap, I took a look at my first lap time and it read 3:15. I was so excited! I was thinking, what if I can do the exact same time for my 2nd lap?...hmmm...then I would finish the bike in 6hrs and 30 mins. Wow! This got me pumped to continue on.
On the 2nd lap as I was going down Dry Creek Rd, I unfortunately saw an athlete on the ground right behind a mail truck. I didn't see the accident happen but I can only guess that the mail truck cut off the athlete and they crashed into the back of it. I hope the athlete is okay. There are some parts of the bike course were there is a clear bike lane but most of the course you are sharing with other vehicles, so be careful especially when you move to the left to pass another athlete.
There is this one little climb about a mile before the major Chalk Hill climb where my legs had enough. They told me to stop by cramping in both quads as I was going up this little climb. I didn't want to stop in the middle of the climb so I just cliched my teeth and forced my way to the top. Once there, I pulled over and let the cramps do their thing. I think it might have been due to the sun now being out and I wasn't taking in enough electrolytes. I know I was taking in enough water because during the 2nd lap I was "watering" the trees fairly often. :
So as you can imagine, given the cramps bringing my bike pace down to a crawl, I didn't make it to the end of the bike portion in 6:30. I did finish below my goal time which was great! But the thought of what I could have done and what I actually did caused mixed emotions in my head.
On to T2...
What would you do differently?:
I would have taken 3 electrolyte pills every hour instead of 2 during the 2nd loop to try and prevent the cramping.
T2 went great! My running dismount was perfect coming in from the bike. The run with my bike to the transition area was long. I changed my top.
***Note! To make sure your running top does not get stuck when you put it on, make sure you roll it up like a sock and then put it on. Then it will just roll on easily rather than you trying to pull it down.
At this time, I was a mental milkshake, in that I finished the bike under my goal time which was great but because the 2nd loop of the bike I had to deal with the cramping, I wonder how much faster I could have finished the bike. Anyways, I went through my checklist:
1. bike socks off
2. run socks on
3. run shoes on
4. bike top off
5. run top on
6. run watch on
7. visor on
8. fuel belt on
9. race number belt on
10. spray on sunscreen
11. grab headlamp
(given I finished last year in the dark
Done! Time to run...
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. T2 went exactly as planned. Yay!
5h 36m 7s
12m 50s min/mile
PEACHES! THE best ironman marathon food!
(for me at least
The 1st lap was okay. I spent the first few miles jogging slowly trying to get my heartrate down to around 150-155 bpm. Once I got it down, I continued to jog at my target 10min/mi pace. My plan was to continue to use my clif shots as my nutrition for the run but I had this feeling in my throat that I was going to hurl. Thus I didn't take any nutrition other than water for the first lap.
On the 2nd lap, this is where I reached the dark side of ironman racing. Any and every negative thought ran through my head during this lap:
-Don't eat anything or else you'll throw up
-If I can't take down any gels, then how am I going to finish?
-I don't have any energy to run
-Will I make it to the 3rd loop time cut off?
(you need to start your 3rd loop by 9pm or else your race is over
-Will I finish the race?
-Why am I punishing myself like this?
-The pain can end now if you just give up
Yup, it was pretty depressing...until about mile 14 where I stopped at an aid station. There I decided to try non-astronaut food
) like PEACHES!
Try and imagine having only gels for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then say you had of choice of having another gel for a late night snack or not having any late night snack at all. What would you choose? Exactly! I have been racing for about 11 hours now and I didn't want anymore gels, so I chose peaches. It's like my taste buds and my brain woke up! It's hard to explain the change that I felt after each some peach slices but all I can say is that it rejuvenated me so much that I started jogging just so I can get to the next aid station for more peaches. It was amazing! I used this peach motivation to get me through the rest of the 2nd lap.
Final lap, as I started the final lap, I was able to see the race clock and saw that I could still hit my overall finish time goal! This got me very excited! I calculated in my head how much time per mile I would need to go to finish under my goal. This motivated me, along with the peaches fetish, to finish my final lap faster than the previous 2 laps! I even overheard another athlete say, as I ran by them, "...nobody should be running that fast this late in an ironman race..." :-D I agreed with him, I don't know how I was doing it but I had the energy and was making the most of it.
What would you do differently?:
I would start with the peaches at the beginning of the run and ride that good feeling for the rest of the run.
My warm-down included going over to the athlete finisher area and just sitting down on the bench. I soaked in as much as I could of this new ironman distance PR that I just obtained. I did this same race last year and finished 15:40. You can imagine how excited I was to beat my last year time by more than 1 hour. Then I met my wife and cousin outside the finish area, they were shocked that I was already done. I was so blessed to have them there because they put all my swim and bike stuff in the car already. All I had to do was walk back with them to the car. I love them!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
The cramping during the bike portion slowed me down but I think the root cause of this cramping was me pushing myself harder than I should have. Which goes back to the training prior to this race. Unfortunately I didn't get all the bike training in that I wanted to because of work demands.
First of all, thank you to all the volunteers! I sincerely appreciate all your help and motivation during the race.
Second, on my race plan, my Dream Day was to have a finish time of 14:50:00. Amazingly, I crushed that by finishing in 14:25:04. So even though there were tough times during the race, I can honestly say I had my Dream Day at the 2011 Full Vineman! I hope you too had or will have your Dream Day at this race! Good luck!
Last updated: 2011-07-31 12:00 AM
01:34:30 | 4224 yards | 02m 14s / 100yards
2 loop course with parts of the river being only 2-3 feet deep.
0F / 0C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:05:26 | 112 miles | 15.80 mile/hr
Avg HR:140bpm; Max speed:44.7mph; Lap1:3hrs15mins; Lap2:3hrs50mins
2 loops of rolling hills through Healdsburg, Geyserville and Windsor with hardest climb up Chalk Hill.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:36:07 | 26.2 miles | 12m 50s min/mile
Avg HR:140bpm; Lap1:1hr50min; Lap2:2hrs flat; Lap3:1hr44mins
3 loops of rolling hills through Windsor with major climb on Mark West Station Rd.
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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