Friday, July 24, 2009

Vineman 70.3 Race Report - Part 1

One thing I love to do is read other people's race reports. They give me info on what to expect from my own races (physically, mentally, emotionally) and they give me ideas on how to make transitions easier or more efficient. The more details the better. So, I'm taking my turn. Here's the first installment of my race recap from Sunday's Vineman 70.3 triathlon.
I woke up at 4:30am, figuring leaving at 5:30 would give me 45 minutes to drive to the race venue and park. (I stayed at the Best Western in Santa Rosa.) That'd leave me with an hour before my wave started. Well, first I left 10 minutes late (I was sure I was forgetting something! but I wasn't), and then a bunch of kids were at the entry to the parking lot the race organizers suggested we all use and asking for $5 donations for the local schools sports programs. That sure slowed down entry into the lot. (My only cash was in my saddle bag which was packed full and impossible to open, and in the trunk. I gave them the meter quarters I could find.) Long story short, I ended up getting to the bike rack for my age group at about 6:45 instead of 6:15. Then I spent 15-20 minutes in the porta-potty line and a minute or two in the body marking line. (If you ever volunteer for a triathlon, this is the best job in the morning. You get to write race numbers and ages on the limbs of mostly super athletic bodies!) My warmup consisted of running back to my bike to setup T1 with about 10-12 minutes to go before my wave started. I threw everything I wasn't going to need in T1 into the big plastic bag they'd given me with my race number and ran to the swim start where most women my age (30-34) had already entered the water. I was a little concerned about the water being cold because there was seriously steam rising from the water where the swimmers were! Good thing I decided to leave the wetsuit at home because I probably would not have had time to put it on! I threw my swim caps on and jumped in.
Swim: 1.2 miles
The water was the perfect temperature for me. I wore my STC tri top (sleeveless and meshy, perfect for hot days) and tri shorts (like bike shorts but almost no padding, so they dry quickly). The race was a deep water start - my first! We probably started the race at the deepest part of the river! This was the first time I hadn't made multiple port-a-potty trips before a race. But I had a few minutes in the river to warm up the water around me.... The Russian River seemed about 20 feet wide and a few miles long. There were lots of small orange buoys that we were to keep to our left as we swam a counter-clockwise rectangle. Just before the race started, the announcer said we had the largest wave start. Oh good, more mass swim start practices! I got scratched on my left arm and probably hit too, since I've got a good sized bruise there now. I mostly avoided getting kicked in the face, though I'd placed my goggled under my race swim cap just in case (to keep the goggles on my head) I've finally figured out I need to wear two swim caps to do that. Goggles directly on my hair don't seem to stay in place. Hair, then cap, goggles, race cap. I started my watch when the announcer's countdown hit "1", figuring one extra second on my watch wasn't going to hurt me. During the St Croix 70.3, the official photos of my wave start show me in the back starting my watch while everyone else is running into the water. 
It seemed like it took quite awhile for our group to spread out. Each wave was 7 minutes apart. I had a hard time drafting off of anyone though after the first couple minutes. It was basically just a mass of people. Good fun! At one point a woman swam over my legs/back. We'd been running into each other with each stroke because I was taking the shortest route to the next buoy that I could see whereas she was apparently sighting on one of the buoys on the return side. She finally gave up and just swam over me, and continued in the wrong direction for who knows how long. The river had tall trees along the bank of the river. I smelled deisel and sure enough shortly went past a boat full of people that were just pulled up on the edge of the river watching the race. On the way back I smelled smoke and I'm pretty sure they were smoking cigars. Who smokes at athletic events???  I kept looking for the turnaround, wondering how I'd know it was the turnaround. Along the way I realized that the swim leg was basically "swim, swim, swim for what seems like a really long time, then swim, swim, swim some more, then finally turn around and swim back." I must work on my swimming so that 1.2 miles is easy and 2.4 miles is nice.
I glanced at my watch at the turnaround and I think it said 22 minutes. I'd heard the way out was a little longer than the way back, so I thought this wasn't too bad. I was hoping for faster, but what can you do besides train? My swim time is the St Croix 70.3 was about 45 minutes, which was extraordinarily slow for me then. But on St Croix I'd stopped in the water twice to pee thinking it would mean I wouldn't have to pee during T1 - didn't work! and I'd stopped to post for a picture for the rescue diver. I was having fun. This time I wanted to see what I could do. I finally managed to pee while swimming - a goal I'd been trying to reach for many years. But I realized I'd slowed down so much that I should just stop and stand up. Yes, the Russian River is shallow enough that we could stand during the swim. At the pre-race meeting we were told it was perfectly fine to stand up and walk if we needed to. Seems lame to me, but what the heck. I finished the pee (yes, parents, I know this is ridiculous to post to the whole world about bodily functions like this, but it's important for other triathletes to know the important parts about doing a tri, and that includes potty breaks) just as the next wave (<29 yr old guys) reached me. I could see the finish and was so happy to be done with the swim.
Swim time: 40:30.8 (unofficial. official results merged swim + T1) 
I ran along the not very nice gravely occassionally carpeted area which led everyone to the bikes. The rows were identified by age group, but I was in a row that was identified only as <29 men, even though the far side of the racks were for women 30-34. Some guy yelled "move!" as he passed me. I hoped I'd peed on him. I found my stuff and was happy to see that my bike wasn't the only one left. I had placed a large beach towel on the ground under my bike, so I stood on that, rinsed my feet off with my spare water bottle, then dried them off quickly with the spare towel. I do not like having rocks, dirt, or sand stuck on my feet while riding my bike or running. Especially when it's 56 miles of biking and 13.1 of running! I put my socks on. Meanwhile everyone else was just grabbing their bikes and helmets and putting on shoes with no socks over their dirty wet feet. Then I pulled up a long terrycloth bathingsuit cover up to create my very own changing tent, pulled off the wet shorts and pulled on (with great difficulty) nicely padded bike shorts. The race actually had official changing tents for those who like to change clothes for each transition, but it would've taken way too much extra time to use them. I'd decided that I wasn't quite hard core enough yet to ride 56 miles in my tri shorts. The longest I've ridden is 20 miles and that was in a race. It was fine, but as my husband adviced, might as well get used to the transitions I'll be doing during Florida. And I'm certainly changing clothes in that race! I'm not sure putting bike shorts on a wet body is something that I can get better at with practice, but perhaps I should try. Got my bike shoes on, gloves and helmet on. Inhaler in jersey back pocket. Race belt on with number in the back. Throw everything else into plastic bag. Realize it won't fit. Tie plastic bag carefully to the real bag I'd brought my stuff in. Think about whether I'm too dizzy to ride, decide no. Grab the bike off the rack and start running with my bike to the end of the transition area, cross the timing mat and hop on the bike. The bike starts on a short hill leaving the transition area. Some of the pros actually ran up the hill. I was feeling lazy and I'm terrible at running in my bike shoes, so I just pedaled up. Kinda wished I'd been in an easier gear, but I got the job done and was on the bike course!
T1 time: 7:18.7 
Stay tuned for the bike, T2, and run recap! Official pictures should be posted soon and I will try to link to them.


  1. Awesome job, Kendra! This is as close to a triathlon as I care to get, so appreciate ALL your details. :)

  2. I actually love your details as well. You have no idea how many times I read and re-read your post about the st croix swim before we did that for the first time!

  3. Erin, I wish I'd written more about that swim!

    I will try to post about the bike + run in the next day or so, and catch up on everything since. Busy weekend and I need to unwind on the couch tonight.

  4. I am so with you about washing my feet in T1. Especially if it's an ocean swim.

    And ew about the smoking! In my first tri there was someone smoking at the finish line. It really should not be allowed!!! Gross.