Where to start this Monday morning…everything really hurts!! As most of you know by my obnoxious posting of Strava Activities and Instagram posts, I’m kind of getting into this whole Triathlon thing and really enjoying it. This last weekend was my first chance to measure up to some big Pro names at the Ironman 70.3 Vineman. I should start with our arrival in to the town of Guerneville, where Tasha and I checked into our VRBO rental on Old Cazadero Rd, hidden amongst the big trees of the Russian River area. Our hosts, Richard and Bryan (hilarious and amazing people) set us up with some fresh baked banana bread and tour of their lush property. Immediately Tasha and I had great vibes from the area, and it further confirmed why I am switching to Tri. Guerneville with wife trumps Modesto Motel 6!! I was able to spend two days prepping for all the little details of my first race as a “Pro” in the Ironman 70.3 world. I swam in the river, pre road the course and enjoyed some nice meals at the local eateries with Tash. The race check-in was seamless, as Ironman has their ducks in a row, and the Pro treatment was top notch!
Fast forward to race morning. Up at 3:45 for a 6:25 start. I wrote a little timeline of how I wanted everything to go. With two transitions, 3 disciplines and such an early start, you can’t just wing an Ironman. After coffee, oatmeal and a quick trainer warmup at 4:45, I rode my Tri rig down to the transition (as a Pro you don’t have to check your bike in the night before). I found our little VIP area and scoped out how other guys had set their Transition up. You would think this is auto pilot for a Pro, but as the day would prove, I am still very much an amateur. I still haven’t perfected the running mount with shoes already attached to pedals. I practiced a week ago and almost lost my middle toe via rear wheel spoke and couldn’t get my stubby ass feet into my tight road shoes, so I decided on putting on my shoes first. All warmup was completed, and I was kitted and ready to rip!!
The Pros got a quick warm up in the warm 72 degree Russian River, and as we lined up I got pushed out of the way a few times. I’m not too scared of the water as I grew up swimming, but fighting for position and swimming in the scrum is new to me. The gun went off and the sprint for the first buoy was on!! I actually have some speed and was right out front and could see Andy Potts right next to me in his florescent yellow and blue kit. I just told myself to slot in right behind him, but that was easier said than done. I got bumped, punched, grabbed and pushed out of the way, and I kept filtering back in the large group, on the outside. Soon I was probably about 10-12 back and settling into a good pace. I could see the lead paddle up ahead, and knew I was still in the lead group as we hit the approach to the turnaround. It was too shallow to swim so everyone was pretty much walking and diving and I lost another few positions not really knowing what to do. We made the half way turn and headed back and I soon lost feet. I could tell I was breathing way too hard and was nervous that I would lose the group. I was just off the back as we hit T1. Per results I was 40 seconds off the leader but right in it. This is when things go bad.
I couldn’t feel my hands and couldn’t get my swimskin off. I was pulling super hard and soon realized I was trying to pull my skinsuit off. I eventually got between the two suits and got undressed. By that time the guys were gone that I exited the swim with. Now I was frazzled and awkwardly trying to put my shoes and socks on (my wife has video of the whole shitshow and it’s too embarrassing to share). I finally got my helmet on, unbuckled, and my glasses were all cattywampus on my face. I finally got to the mount line and it was on a steep ass hill! I came to a complete stop, mounted then got my steed rolling. I hit River Road and knew I had to get moving fast to catch that lead group. The problem was I was smoked, my heart rate must have been maxed out from the swim and transition. I couldn’t push the pedals over 330, and it took about 10 minutes to start catching a couple guys.
I hit Westside road and was moving my number up to 350 and smashing hard on any uphill sections. No sign of the lead group as I continued to overcook my legs. No one on course was giving time gaps, and I told myself that if I didn’t catch them by the first feed zone at mile 18 I needed to settle down. I went through the feed and could see a solo rider up the road so on I went. This went on as I passed two more riders in the same fashion and thought that I would eventually make the catch and could cruise the last 20 miles to get the legs ready for the run. Instead I just ate a face full of headwind (this year’s Vineman was much slower due to a solid headwind for the first half of the race). Looking back I was only a minute down at all the time checks!! I would have just buried myself at 400 and been done with it! Turns out I was the 3rd fastest Bike split of the day just under a minute back from the fastest of the day.
I hit T2 much better than T1 with a good dismount and run to the racks. I hurried a bit since I saw the lead group leaving the transition as I was running in, not that I had any aspirations of running with those guys. I started the run and immediately knew I was in trouble. My legs felt completely empty. I have had a good two months of training since St George and had aspirations of running in the 1:25-1:28 range. I looked at my watch and realized I was running 7:05 pace two miles in and hurting bad. My feet were killing me!! I had numb toes on my left foot and some serious pain on the top, medial side of my foot. I stopped and adjusted my shoe at mile 3 but it continued to hurt so I finally stopped at mile 7 and realized my entire shoe was folded inward on the right side. I pulled it up and continued my slog. I was running 8th place at the transition but knew guys would be catching me soon. Matt Lieto was the first to pass and gave me some kind words about my bike split. I would be passed by 4 more runners including Brandon Nied, fellow Reno Pro, who has been taking huge strides each time he competes. I never slowed though, I held steady at 7:05 until the final mile when I picked it up to 6:40 pace as Dylan Oliva was hot on my heels. I crossed the finish line in one piece and with mixed emotions at 4:09:19 in 13th place, only 7 seconds off 12th. Not the performance I wanted but still plenty of positives to work off of. Next up is a local race at Donner Lake and then on to some travel races in New Hampshire, Santa Cruz and maybe Miami!!