It’s been three years since I last raced Vineman 70.3. In 2013 I placed 3rd in my AG and qualified for IM 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas. Although I knew my fitness wasn’t what it was in 2013, I was excited to see if I had made any progress since racing Folsom International in June. The good news is I’ve made some progress in my fitness since June and I performed better than I expected. This was my first 70.3 of the season in my new age group. Friends and family offered words of encouragement “Hey that’s great, you’re aging up, it should get easier then, right?” It’s true, there are fewer women ages 50-54 who are competing; however, it only takes one or two really good athletes. You see, there’s no longer 2-3 slots at IM World Championships for my age group, now only 1st place earns a spot at World’s. There are fewer women, which means fewer qualifying slots going to my age group. That’s the deal, you have to win, and winning is hard… but of course, that’s why I LOVE it!
Race day is always stressful, in fact so is the day before the race! On the way to the race the “check air pressure” gauge went off in my car and I later found a screw in the middle of the tire. Rule #1 avoid non race related stress the day before a race, God knows you’re stressed enough as it is. We checked in at Windsor High around 2:30 to pick up our race packet.
Traffic in and around Santa Rosa, Guernville, and Windsor was crazy due to all the extra people who flood the area for Vineman. After waiting in traffic for what seemed like an hour we parked our car on a side street and road our bikes into Johnson Beach. I wasn’t doing such a good job minimizing stress the day before the race, nonetheless, we managed to get our bikes checked in and then drove to the Hampton Inn located in Rohnert Park. I would recommend this hotel because they don’t require a two night stay and the rate decent. We got our race gear ready after checking into our room and then we were off to a great dinner at The Pullman Kitchen.
I slept awful the night before the race, which is typical for me. Vineman had two waves for exiting transition on race morning, which was great because it helped with traffic congestion getting into the race. Lining up for the swim is always stressful, but after small talk with women in my age group we were herded into the water for our start around 7:55 a.m. I told myself to take it easy to begin and pick up my pace as we went along. It’s fun to see the locals hanging out on their decks having their morning coffee as we go swimming along. The water was shallow as usual and pretty warm. You know what was super weird? I felt single hair strands getting caught in between my fingers as I swam, not sure if that was some sort of weird algae thing or what. I was happy to exit the swim in about 33 minutes and race to my bike. There were a few women in my age group ahead of me in the swim, I raced through transition as fast as possible and started on my bike. We had a head wind after about 20 miles into the bike, but we also had a great tailwind for the last 10 miles or so. A fellow age-grouper, Gina Correl, and I kept passing one another and encouraging each other along the way. We’ve competed for years but we’ve never been close enough in a race to actual talk. My bike split was 2:46 (20.12) pace, just a little slower than 2013. Things were going pretty well with respect to my time, I had about a 2 minute deficit coming into T2. I raced through transition knowing this was going to be a close race. I knew there were at least two girls ahead of me and Gina was right on my heels. I ran very consistently and really I didn’t feel awful until about mile 6 when Gina passed me. It was hot and all the aches and pains started catching up with me. I kept a close eye on Gina but I couldn’t catch her. Around mile 11 she slowed and stopped and looked back to see how close I was. She saw me in the crowd and turned around and kept running. I ran 1:52 (8:36) pace, a little over 3 minutes slower than 2013. After finishing the race I collected my gear and walked to my car I found my “check engine light” wasn’t lying, I figure better my car than my bike.
All in all I’m psyched with 5:18 and 4th place. I have some work to do but I am making progress. I look forward to racing Lake Tahoe Triathlon 70.3 on August 28th.