I came into the race with high expectations. At St George 70.3 in May, I had the race of my life. In spite of a run fitness that was sub-par due to a foot fracture just 5 months before the race, I finished my fastest 70.3 by 18 minutes on a hot 90+ degree day and a very hilly course.
While St. George proved I am quite good at riding hills, my speed on the flats needed improvement. So, in the 2 months leading up to Vineman, my coach gave me bike workouts that were on flats with 10-20 minute bursts of zone 3-4 riding, pushing the pace for those intervals to make me a faster cyclist. And I was fairly consistent in doing weekly track workouts to bring my run back up to where it had been before I broke my foot in December.
On race day, I gave myself a goal time of 5:40. That would be by far my fastest 70.3 if I could do it. Breaking it down, that's a 38 ninute swim, 2:55 bike, and 2:00 run, with about 4-5 minutes for each transition.
I had a side bet with one of my teammates that involved a shot of tequila, so I had extra incentive to swim fast. It wasn't a very crowded swim, and I eased into the out-and-back without difficulty. The Russian River was quite shallow, more so than usual in the current drought in California, but even in two feet of water, I continued to swim, and not stand up. Standing up would have slowed me down. It was an odd feeling as my hand would hit the bottom of the lake on several strokes. That said, a couple people who were dolphin-diving, in other words, standing up, diving, standing up again, and so forth, passed me.
Swim time: 38:31. My fastest swim time ever. My teammate with whom I made a bet: 38:04. For both of us, a personal best, so I will gladly do a shot of tequila to celebrate both of our successes.
I had a heck of a time pulling my arms out of my wetsuit. Next time I swim in open water, I think I'm going to put BodyGlide on my wrists and see if that helps to pull the wetsuit off.
The bike portion of my race fell apart at a few places. Coming out of the first transition, my bike front wheel didn't seem to be moving very well. Instead of immediately mounting my bike, I pulled off to the side to take a quick look and make sure nothing serious mechanically was wrong with it. Fortunately, it was just some mud, and in the first several hundred feet the mud came off my front tire. Then between miles 8 and 12, my bike tool kit, which contains spare tubes, tire levers CO2, etc, fell off my bike not once but TWICE, requiring me to pull off the course, dismount my bike, get the components that had flown onto the road, and pack in back up. Ultimately, I threw the loose components into my pockets, and fortunately without the CO2 cartridges jostling around the kit stayed in place. Then my chain came off around mile 24 and I dismounted the bike again and quickly put the chain back on.
My hydration was a bottle of half coconut water and half water (the other bottle fell off the bike), and about half of another water bottle. So, over 56 miles, I only drank about 30 ounces, probably not enough. The rest of my nutrition consisted of medjool dates that I packed from home and the Bonk Breaker bars on the course.
In spite of these various nuisances, and two bathroom breaks, I averaged 18.3 miles per hour over the 56 miles, for a time of 3:03, a little slower than my goal of 2:55, but still okay.
I felt amazing starting the run! Temperatures were still moderate, and the first two miles were each run in about 8:20 apiece. My strategy, which I stuck to, was to walk through the aid stations, drinking at each station, and run everything else, including hills. I knew that I hadn't drank enough on the bike, so I had to be sure to drink the electrolyte solution, which was Ironman Perform. It's not my favorite tasting drink, but it's effective.
Then the heat hit, and my pace slowed. By mile 10, my legs felt heavy and it took everything in me just to keep running. Around mile 11, I decided to stop looking at my watch because I was so fed up. What was wrong -- not enough hydration? Was yesterday's delicious vegan scone a bad idea? Was I on my feet too much yesterday? While I felt like I had come to a crawl, my run averaged out at 9:21 per mile, with a time of 2:02, only two minutes off from my goal.
The grand finish
I finished in 5:54. That was a bit off from my goal, but three years ago I did this race in cooler conditions and finished in 6:27. So, I had my personal best on this course by 33 minutes, and my personal best at the 70.3 distance by 15 minutes. At 35 out of 137 women in my age group, I placed in the top quartile.
My amazing teammates and friends.
--Secure the flat kit. Really really secure it tightly.
--Hydrate better on the bike
--Get the wetsuit off faster!!! BodyGlide on wrists before the swim?
I think that's it. For the most part, a well-executed race on a hot day.