Every time I event at a triathlon, I learn something about life, about me.
Vineman 70.3 has been no different.
Most people's race experience ended at the finish line, or maybe carried on for a few hours after with some celebration.
I am going to celebrate today - about 40 hours after crossing the finish line.
That's the ugly of my story.
And I am saving it for last.
The Good parts of Vineman were eating dinner the night before the race with my Triathlon Connection friends. We even made friendly bets on what our times would be and what other people's times would be. Right now I am going to apologize to Enrique and say yes, I could have hit that 7:50 mark, but I chose NOT to. I'll tell you why later.
The other good parts were my swim and my bike, overcoming some adversity and making a new friend during the race. And having my guy Robert here to enjoy the experience with....and have him take care of me.
And the Kaiser ER in Santa Rosa is really nice.
The actual RACE was Good, with just a tad of bad.
My swim was good, except when they let the green-capped men go after the 50 plus aged women and they felt they had something to prove, so they swam right over the top of us, or at least me. One hit me in my right calf and I tensed up and got a charley horse. I had to stop swimming, and luckily it was in the shallow part of the river. It took me a couple of minutes to stretch and massage the kink out, then I was on my way.
I didn't have the fastest swim, but I was steady and never once felt as if I was pushing it.
I felt elated that I could swim 1.2 miles in open water and not feel nervous at all. I enjoyed my swim and cut about 10 minutes off my time from my SOMA half distance swim.
My bike ride with good, with one bad - my right cleat would not clip into the pedal. I think it was because of all of the dirt in transition that I had to walk through.
It was frustrating!
I spend a lot of time during the first 10 miles trying to clip in. I stopped once and used my finger to try to clear dirt out of my cleat. It was no use.
Going into the first aid station I passed Harriet Anderson. She's the 78-year-old triathlete who goes to KONA every year...
This is how Harriet looked when I passed her, except she was wearing a Mark Allen tri-suit. She was wearing those yellow bike shoes and riding her Beyond.
When I rode past her going up a hill, I asked her how she was doing. She said good. I told her she rocked. We got to the aid station at the top of the hill and she rode through. I stopped and went to the bathroom and then spent another several minutes pouring water on my pedal and cleat and cleaning it off with a toilet paper I had grabbed in the bathroom.
I still couldn't clip in my right foot.
My left leg got a BIG workout on the ride. It had to do double work because while I could push down on my right pedal, I could not pull up on it at all. My foot would just lift off into the air. I made it up the hills as fast as I could and I went down the hills as fast as I safely could, but it was a little dicey at some places because I would forget that I wasn't clipped in and I would hit a bump and instead of staying secure on my bike, my right foot would slide off the pedal.
After 30 miles, I told myself that this was just a challenge and maybe a lesson for me to learn in life - it is better to have both feet firmly clipped into what you want to do, but even if you only have one foot in, you can still succeed.
Eventually I caught up and passed Harriet again. We had a little chat before I passed her.
Every aid station I stopped and worked on my cleat, and every aid station Harriet zipped by me.
I passed her the last time right before going up Chalk Hill.
I was happy when my bike ride was over. It was a beautiful ride, though riding/racing through some of the traffic was scary. It forced me to really keep my mind focused on what I was doing.
In T2 I took my shoes off and looked down at my feet. My poor little broken toe on my right foot was more swollen. I thought maybe that was because I had done so much pushing down with it. I actually grabbed my run gear and went and sat on some steps in the shade, took a picture with my phone and facebooked while I ate a banana.
After my LONG transition, I walked over to the restrooms and who got there at the exact same time as me?
I told her to go first.
She opened the porta-potty that had green on it and slammed it shut.
"What?" I asked her.
"Some guy is in there?" she said.
"Well, I hope you got a good look," I told her.
She chuckled and went into the porta-potty that had just opened up.
By the time I was done, she was long gone.
I started my run out with a 4 minute run/30 second walk. It felt good and I thought Enrique was going to be happy because I was definitely going to make the time he had predicted for me. I had two miles done before I knew it. I kept up my run/walk pace until about mile 4 when my run brought me up to Harriet. She was walking. It was time for me to walk, too, so I walked with her.
And we started chatting and my 30 seconds were up and I was suppose to start running, but Harriet was walking and I was enjoying our chat, so I decided that I would just walk with her. After all, how many times am I going to get a chance to talk to Harriet Anderson.
Her run strategy was to run down the hills and walk up them. Okay, I could go with that. For the most part she kept to her schedule, though on some places I reminded her it was downhill and we should run.
After hanging with Harriet for about 2 miles, I just didn't want to run off and leave her.
That's when I made the decision to let Enrique down and finish with Harriet.
It was the best 13.1 miles I had ever run/walked because of the conversation. I learned a lot about Harriet and about triathlon during those 9 miles with her.
(Look for a blog in the future called What I learned From Harriet).
After doing the mile loop though LaCrema, I told Harriet that I was stopping off at the bathroom and in case I didn't catch up with her, we needed to take a picture together.
Harriet will be competing in Kona this year...Goooo Harriet!
I easily caught up with her.
So I traded in my faster time for the opportunity to talk with Harriet.
It was well worth it.
At the end she was mostly walking. When we got to the chute, I told her we had to run. I think she glared at me, but she did run. Right before we got to the finish line, I pulled over and let her go through by herself. The announcer was saying her name and making a big to-do about Harriet. After she had gone through, I snuck over the finish line.
My total time was 8:05:52.
That is 5:34 FASTER than my last half-iron distance, and that one was flat and this one was HILLY, so I am happy with my improvement.
And I am happy that I know when to go fast and when to slow down and enjoy the experience.
Thank you Harriet!
Yes, Robert was racing also...and even though his swim wave started about 35 minutes after mine, I was expecting him to eventually creep up and pass me because he is a way faster swimmer and biker than I am.
He was having bike issues of his own.
At the bottom of Chalk Hill one of spokes came loose and bend in half. His entire wheel bent. He thought his race was probably over. He carried his bike up Chalk Hill then started working on it. He said he had to take the broken spoke off and tweak the other spokes to get the wheel somewhat straight so it wouldn't rub again the frame. There was no way he could straighten it enough to not rub on the brakes so he took his back brakes off.
He rode the rest of the way DOWN with only his front brake and a crooked wheel.
He lost a lot of time.
Harriet and I did see him on the run (I mean, walk).
We were about at mile 10 and he was at mile 6.
He did finish.
But I wasn't there to see him.
I was on the last shuttle to go back to the start, so I could walk to the Fern Grove Cottages where we stayed, to get our car, so I could drive all the way back to the finish line to get our bikes.
One thing about Vineman 70.3, it is a logistical nightmare if you don't have someone there who can shuttle you and your bike.
I got the car and got back to Windsor High School where the finish line was at.
This is were my next endurance test started.
This is where the UGLY starts.
For the past couple of hours, every once in a while I had been feeling a little dizzy and nauseous.
I thought it was just because I had been out in sun for so long. My nutrition had been good the entire race. I was hydrated and I had been eating all along.
But on the drive back to the cottages, I had Robert pull over to the side of the road.
For the next 6 hours I was throwing up, even when I was out of stuff to throw up, I was dry-heaving.
Sorry, I said it was ugly.
I felt horrible.
At midnight Robert took me to the ER in Santa Rosa. They gave me two shots to stops the vomiting and gave me 3 IV bags of Saline solution. They did blood tests and said my electrolytes were all good - yeah for my race day nutrition.
The doctor said I had some kind of virus.
At 4 a.m. I was back at Fern Cottages and was able to sleep...for about 24 hours.
I don't know what I had or how I got it, but the owner of the cottages did come by Monday morning and say she had contacted the health department and made them come out and take water samples because six other people staying here had also been sick. Most of the people staying here were at the race, but she said two of the people that were ill were not in the race. I guess the people staying next to us were sick BEFORE the race and not able to compete.
I am just glad that my bout of whatever held off until AFTER I was done eventing.
Vineman 70.3 - we will be back!