Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Re-finding my race mojo: Vineman 70.3 race recap

I can't hide the fact that I've had a few frustrating seasons of triathlon racing recently. While some things have gone okay, I've never quite felt at home in my "racing body" since I did Kona in 2013. It has basically been three years since I felt in control in a race, rather than pushing myself to give more than I was able to give.

Finally this past weekend at Vineman, I feel closer to my old self than I have in 5 years and it showed in my race performance, my self-talk during the race, the results and how I am feeling and recovering post-race.

The CliffsNotes version is that after 8 attempts (I thought it was 10x but I missed more years than I realized!), I finally won my AG at Vineman 70.3, in a time that was just a minute off my best time. I still missed the elusive 5hr mark at this race, but it's given me more determination and faith that I will get it next year! Yes, I'm kicking my mid-40s in the pants :)

W45-49 podium

The lead-up to the race was less than perfect as a sore hamstring after every run in the last two months prompted coach Matt Dixon and PT Mike Lord to tell me to stop running for a couple of weeks pre-race. Which I mostly did. Of course, Thursday pre-race, I decided that I need to check whether I was still capable of running, so I ran a quick two miles around the block... only to leave me with a very sore hamstring. Oops!

Fast forward to race day and Blanco zipped me up in the new Roka Maverick X before heading to his own swim start. I waited for my wave, chatting with Betty team-mate, Alison Keple, and excited for the day ahead. In the last few years, the swim starts for my AG wave has become less hectic as I am now one of the faster swimmers in regional races these days. I find this rather comical as I was the chick doing head-up doggy paddle too scared to put my face underwater in my first several triathlons. It's great to acknowledge that I've worked my way from a 38-40 minute swimmer to a 32-minute swimmer. People, it's possible and I thank Matt Dixon and my purplepatch lane-mates for helping me get there. High-five to lane 3 --> Sarah, Scott, Vanessa, Kathleen, and Jerome!

A gal that I didn't know took off very swiftly at the start and Alison also got a gap on me, but I found myself in 3rd place, swimming calmly towards the first buoy. Things stayed that way to the end and I exited the water in 32:02, a PR for the Vineman course.

Exiting the swim in 3rd, I passed Alison in transition but knew there was a woman in my AG ahead of me but had no clue who it was so would not know if I passed her. On the bike, I really wanted to take the first 10-15 miles to settle into my pace and navigate the traffic of other cyclists as safely as possible. The first 30 miles included a lot of passing as I worked my way through W30-34 and M45-49 waves that had started ahead of me. Of course, Blanco was long gone but there were plenty of other folks to pass on the winding Sonoma County roads. A solo TT effort with lots of "on your left" was pretty much the story of the bike ride until a few of the M30-34 (a couple of swim waves behind) caught me on the approach to Chalk Hill. I knew I was on track for a slower ride than the last two years as a strong headwind during the first 25 miles was out of the ordinary for the course but I still made it back to Windsor HS with a sub 2:40 bike split (barely).

Time to run and this leg of the race has been a major question mark for me in the past 5 years. Would my run legs show up? Had I nailed my nutrition to get me through the next 13.1 miles?

Photo credit: Jene Shaw
I clicked off the first mile in just over 7:30, running at what felt to be an easy pace. Same thing happened in mile 2. In fact, I made it all the way through 7 miles with sub 8-minute miles. Yay... I was doing it. My run legs have returned... It was great to see coach Dixon on the course, Sarah Piampiano and the OC cheering crew and hear their positive comments on my run form and pace. It helped shore up my confidence.

Unfortunately, I did not nail my race day nutrition (I was testing out eating more calories than usual) and I was paying for it by mile 8 with a potty spot that resulted in an almost 10min mile. Oops! I got back on track for the final 4 miles of the run, though my pace slipped to north of 8min/mi as I stopped ingesting more food for fear of disturbing my tummy once again.

I crossed the line and saw that it was a 5:02, stoked to race as fast as I did 5 years ago. With two waves for my age-group, I had a strong suspicion I won my wave but needed to wait for confirmation of the age-group win. I was ecstatic to check my phone after about half an hour and see the 1st place ranking against my name, with almost a 14min gap to the next gal. Betty teammate, Polly Crawford took second so it was sweet to share the podium with a fellow Betty.

I caught up with Blanco post-race and, as his coach and wife, was pumped to learn that he was off the bike in 1st place and held on for 3rd in his AG with a solid run (way better than Oceanside). We started cheering that we'd be taking home a couple of bottles of La Crema wine... except, WTC ditched the unique awards in favor of generic plaques. Boo!


Next up is the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba Australia and I now find myself looking forward to it... I just need to deal with this pesky hamstring and get down to World Championship season race weight (i.e. Kona abs)!


  1. Awesome! I know it's been a challenge w your body, so glad to hear you knocked this out of the park!!!!

    1. Thanks Jen! I was hoping you'd be back with me in Kona this year to tackle our new AG :)

  2. Great work, sista! Thanks for the secret tip. ;)

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