Friday 7/13/12 - Travel Day

Woke up Friday morning and per my training plan, I was supposed to get in a 1 hour very easy bike ride.  I didn't want to have to do this in Guerneville after my long car ride, so I had decided earlier in the week to do it early Friday morning.  I ended up going from my house out just past the covered bridge, which at a nice easy pace ended up being just under an hour.  When I got back to the house, I packed up the car, put the kids in the other car and left for grandma's to drop off the kids.  We finally left Chico at about 12:30, destination, Guerneville.

Not too bad of a drive, took about 3.5 hours and there was no traffic except for the last 1/2 mile in Guerneville.  Showed up at the cabins, which we had only seen pictures of on the internet, and it was not too bad.  A bit quaint, but the location was perfect.  The start of the swim was literally less than 100 yards from my cabin.  I figured this would make it much easier for the last minute bathroom stops.  We got everything out of the car and into the cabin and started to get settled in.  We took it easy that night and went to a little pizza parlor just down the street for dinner.  It was very busy with all of the activities and events that were going on that weekend.  Took 45 minutes just to get the pizza, but it was worth the wait.  We watched a movie and went to bed that night at about 10:30 or so.

Saturday 7/14/12 - Pre-Race Check In Day

Slept in until about 9:00am Saturday morning.  It was the greatest thing ever!  I have not been able to sleep past 6:30 for the last few months so, it was great to get in some extra rest.  We finally got up and went out to Subway for one of their breakfast sandwiches, I had the 6" ham, egg and cheese on wheat, which I love.  I was in need of a nice easy 40 min bike ride and 20 min run per my training plan, so I got my gear together, put some air in the tires and headed out for a quick ride up hwy 116. I didn't like the traffic on 116, so I cut my bike a bit short and only did 30 minutes but threw in (2) hard 20-30 second efforts.  When I got back, I grabbed my running shoes, and went out for 15 minutes of easy run and also did the same as on the bike and did (2) hard 20-30 second efforts (both of them, just over race pace).  Everything felt pretty good, but I still seemed slow for some reason.  I don't know what made it seem slow, but it didn't help my confidence very much.  I kind of shrugged it off and didn't worry about it.  Figured it was just the long drive from yesterday and adjusting to the new environment.

After I got back to the cabin and cleaned up, I gathered my T2 gear and we headed out to Windsor High School in order to check in and set up my run gear for T2 as well as to look at the shops that had set up.  We had some snacks before we left, so we didn't stop for lunch before we headed out.  We ended up getting to the school at about 1pm and looked around and ran into Sean, Jen and Jay and we all watched the 1:30 showing of the required pre-race video.  The video was rather annoying since they had this puppet chicken that you could not understand throughout the entire video.  Anyways, after the video we all got our race packets and then went to set up for T2.  I put down my transition mat (I used this since it is bright red and it seemed like it would be easier to spot than a towel), I then put down my running shoes, a filled water bottle with (2) GU Roctanes attached and a small towel to dry off if needed.  I also took my recently acquired Vineman T-shirt  and put it in my Oceanside gear bag and tied it around the rack.  This served (2) purposes, One, to spot my T2 area easier and Two, to have a spot to put my stuff in when I am done and to have a T-shirt to wear after I finish.  Once I was done with T2 setup,  we then looked around the tent shops, sampled some wares and purchased a few Vineman products.   Jay, Jenn, Myself and Marisa then went to downtown Windsor to have a very late lunch around 3pm.  After lunch, we went back to our cabin in Guerneville to relax and make sure I had everything ready for tomorrow.

I went through all of my gear and made sure I had everything that I needed.  I put my (3) GU Roctanes and my (3) Margarita Shot Blocks (with extra sodium) in my aero fuel bag on the bike.  I then made sure I had all of my clothes out for race morning; my tri-suit, my swim gear, my short sleeve wetsuit, goggles, etc. and set those aside.  My Garmin Edge 500 is what I use on the bike since it can read the power meter, but since my Forerunner 305 is out for repair, I wasn't able to have that for this race so that I can see what my pace is.  I didn't like that, but I figured I can pace myself off the mile markers so I wasn't too terribly worried about it.  So I set up the 500, set up my Speedfil A2 aero-bar mounted water bottle and set the bike off to the side for the night.  I did one final check of my gear bag and then closed everything up for the night.  I was trying to get to bed by 10:30, but I never sleep well before a race, and to compound that, I never sleep well when I am not in my own bed, so double whammy there.

I finally got to bed around 11:15 or so and was able to go out pretty quick.  The one nice thing was that since my wave didn't start until 7:40 and we were right at the start location, I figured I could get up at 6:00am and eat something substantial for breakfast.

Sunday 7/15/12 - Race Day

I had set the alarm for 6:00am, but ended up waking up about 10 minutes before it went off.  I proceeded to get up and take a shower so that I could fully wake up.  It was probably the best thing I could have done, it really washed out the sleep in my eyes and woke me up pretty well.  After the shower I put  on my tri-suit and heart rate monitor and made  myself  a bagel with cream cheese and then put together my pre-race chocolate shake mixture chugged that down.  After that I put together my water bottles for the behind the seat holders and put them in.  I then grabbed my bike and my tri-pack and headed down to the swim start.  I laid out all of my gear at T1; gloves, helmet sunglasses, shoes, socks etc. and ran into Ken Petruzelli and talked with him for a bit.  I looked at his new BMC TM01 Time Machine and he checked out my Felt B12.  One thing that I noticed on my bike while it was racked up was that the water bottles I had on the back were clear and the Accelerade that I used was bright pink and it really stood out in the sea of bikes.  I made a mental note of that so that I could spot it when I got out of the water.  I also looked around to see if there was any chance that I could just toss my gear bag to Marisa rather than worrying about picking it up in Windsor.  Unfortunately, there was not a good way to do that so I abandoned that idea.

I finished setting up my gear and put my leftovers back in my tri-pack and then walked around to see how everything was going.  By the time I had gotten set up, the Pro Men were coming out of the water.  I was able to get right in there next to the Pro transition area and watch these guys get into T1.  These guys were fast!  It was amazing watching them moving out of the water and getting on their bikes.  That whole thing kind of amped me up for the race.  It was great to see that.

After watching the Pros for a minute, I then went back up to my cabin to use the restroom one last time and put on my race bib (which I now always wear under my wetsuit), my wetsuit and some cheap flip flops.  I carried my race cap, goggles and ear plugs down to the swim start as well.  I use the ear plugs from now on due to my dizziness from the cold water at Oceanside.  Ever since then I have used them and not had the same problem.  Marisa had come down with me to the swim start so I was happy that she would see me start.

I waited while the wave in front of me (the red caps) entered the water and then watched them get counted down to the horn.  Once they were off, my wave (the white caps) all got into the water and started mulling towards the start.  I was looking around for Justin to see if I could spot him since he was in the same wave, but it was about this time that I realized that I never did any warm-up before getting on my wetsuit, so I would be going into this cold.  The only nice thing is that the water was very warm so at least it didn't add to my missing warm-up.  Not much I could do at this point so I just took a few quick strokes and got ready.  All of a sudden the horn goes off without any countdown as was previously done, that was a bit disappointing, but oh well.  I pushed the button on my watch and went to town with my swimming.

The Swim

I have really been trying to work on my swimming in the past month and a half since it has become painfully obvious that this is where I am currently doing my worst.  I tried to focus on getting my body rotated and keeping my stroke the way Wally has been showing me.  I know it wasn't perfect, and I would catch myself not rotating like I should and force myself to fix it.  I noticed a lot of people were standing up and walking through the water.  I knew that it was shallow, but some of these guys were less than knee deep.  I considered getting up and walking as well, but then realized that they were walking a lot slower than I could swim so I just kept at it.  Not much after the turn around, I did end up standing for a few seconds since it was getting a bit too shallow.  I sited myself out and then aimed myself for one of the bridge pillars.  I kept going along and just about 20 yards before the 1st bridge pillar, I saw Ken go past me with his blue cap.  I knew it was him because of his wetsuit and the goggles.  I had pretty much figured that this would happen, so I just relinquished and kept going on my own pace.

I finally got to the end of the swim and finished in 34:36.  Much, better than Oceanside, more than 5 minutes actually.  This made me feel very good coming out of the water, which is rare, because typically when I look at my watch coming out of the water, I don't like what I see.   Running down the carpet, towards the bikes I was able to spot my pink water bottles and go down the correct isle.  I got to my bike and started tearing off my wetsuit and shoving it into the gear bag.  I grabbed my towel and wiped off all of the dirt and rocks from my feet.  I then rolled on my socks, and slid my feet in the shoes.  I thought about putting on gloves, but decided against it and threw those in the bag as well.  I then  grabbed my helmet and sunglasses and headed out.  All in all the 3:35 transition wasn't too terribly bad.  Ended up being 1/2 the transition time I had in Oceanside (7:12).  I made a mental note of both of these and realized that in the first 40 minutes of Vineman, I had already cut 8.5 minutes from my Oceanside time.

The Bike

I got to the base of the hill driveway that leads out to the bike course.  I stopped at the base and considered running up the hill, but it seemed relatively clear so I decided to just clip in and go for it.  I clipped in and started to chug up the hill.  I was in the right gear and was moving along fine, but then a huge cluster formed right at the top of the hill where everyone was trying to stop and clip into their pedals.  I didn't think about that at the base, but luckily I saw an opening.  I ended up swerving to the right and riding up on the sidewalk on the way out and went around the entire mess while I was securely clipped in and moving.  My plan was to have 1 GU right at the start of the bike, and 1 GU for the next (2) 30 minute intervals.  I would then switch over to Shot Blocks with Extra Sodium since I seem to have an issue with quad cramping on the run sometimes

The bike started off pretty nice, it seemed pretty flat for the first few miles, with only some minor dips and valleys I downed one of my GUs and kept track of the time.  I kept a very good pace through the first few miles here, about 23-24mph, but I was watching my heart rate and power as well.  (Before the race, I had decided that I wanted to have a heart rate around 153-154 and a wattage around 260. This had been based on the Oceanside race and the feeling that I could have done a lot more during the bike leg of that race (248W Avg. and 138 HR Avg.)).  It took about 8 miles before my heart rate settled down, but I kept my wattage where I wanted it at right around 260ish.  After the initial, mostly flat few miles, it started into some larger rollers and I wound up passing a lot of people.  I also yo-yoed with (1) guy for about 20 miles, and another for a good 15 during the ride.  I would fall back going up the hills and then I would just fly past them on the down hills.  This went on so often, we actually laughed and chatted each time we passed each other.  It was good to get some levity during the race.  During this time, I had finished off another (2) GUs and was starting planning to move into the Shot Blocks.

I can't remember the exact location, but I came up on Ken I think at about mile 20 on the bike.   I had spotted his red jersey and slowly started to roll up to him.  And with him it was the same thing for a while, I would go past on the downhill and he would catch me going uphill.  This seemed to go on for about 4-5 miles through the rollers and then we hit a good sized hill where he passed me again, but on the downhill side, I really made sure to keep my heart rate and power up and just flew past.  I didn't see him again until the run.  After this there were a few times I had to hit my brakes to avoid hitting a slower cluster of riders, and I noticed that a lot of riders think that they are the fastest guy out there (including me a few times) that would sit just next to the double yellow and cruise along.  I found myself having to yell out "On your left" many times during this ride.  I will say, I only remember about 4 guys that passed me on the bike that stayed out in front of me and I never saw again, so that made me feel pretty good.  Oh yeah, before I forget, Never, Ever, buy a tri kit or a pair of cycling short that are white where the ass cheeks meet, unless I want to scare my opponents.

So after all of this, I finally get to "Chalk Hill" the Oomph! part of the climb apparently.  The climb started at approximately Mile 44 and it was fairly steep.  It didn't seem like it was as bad as the climb at Oceanside, and after looking at the data for both, while Vineman had a larger overall elevation gain, the big climb at Oceanside was longer and higher, which for me is much harder.  I actually got through the tough hill fairly quickly, downed my first Shot Block during the climb and hit the 2 hour mark right at the top of the hill, I then proceeded to fly down the back side of the hill for the last ~12 miles at an average speed of 23.8 mph (calculated).  During this time I was keeping an eye out for Jen since I had figured I based on our start times I should see her around mile 50 on the bike.  Right at about mile 48.9, I yelled at her while I went by.  She was looking very strong and moving at a great clip.

I was feeling pretty good, and for the last few miles, and was trying to make sure my cadence was higher so that I could get ready for the run.  I rolled into T2 at a fairly good speed and ended up with a split of 2:28:26 for the bike leg (22.6 mph average and 11 minutes faster than Oceanside).  Final data from the Garmin showed an average of 258 Watts and an average Heart Rate of 149, which was pretty close to where I wanted to be.

The Run

When I checked my watch and saw the time, I knew that I was going to pay for it on the run.   This was a bit of a gamble that I was hoping would pay off.  I got into T2 and had remembered from yesterday to watch for the pink "X" that someone had conveniently put on the ground so that I could find my row.  I found my row and proceeded to rack my bike, take off my helmet, grab the last (2) shot blocks from my bike pouch and put those in my kit, throw on my shoes, and head out for the run.   The transition here was not the fastest, but there was a lot of ground to cover in this transition.  Ended up with a 2:25 T2, which while faster than Oceanside, I didn't stop to take a bathroom break this time.

I headed out for the run and immediately noticed it in my quads.  They weren't in pain, but I could tell that I went pretty hard on the bike.  Out of the run start, even though I could feel it, I was actually moving pretty well.  I went around the first right turn and noticed a Chico Tri Club kit about 30-40 yards in front of me.  I knew who it was, but was very surprised to see Justin Waller just a few yards in front of me since we started in the same wave.   I figured he must have had a mechanical since because I have ridden with Justin many times and we are fairly close, and I know his swim is much better than mine.  Either way, I thought about trying to close the gap and run with him, but I thought better of it.  I didn't want to slow him down, and I didn't think I could keep up anyways.  kept going along at a decent pace, and kept him in my sites until about mile 5, just before we went into the winery.  By that time, I knew that he was just going to keep pulling away, and I figured he would finish while I was still about a mile out.

I was starting to get annoyed with the run since I couldn't see any mile markers on the course.  I was guessing that the aid stations were the mile markers, but I didn't actually see a mile marker until Mile 6 while running through La Crema Winery.  By that time, I had already been clicking at the aid stations so, I don't know what my splits were for sure.  I re-calibrated at mile 6 and started fresh with my pacing on my watch.  Right about mile 7 on the run, my quads started screaming at me.  I don't know if it was from low sodium or if it was from going too hard on the bike, but they were starting to hurt.  I kept going, although at what felt like a tragically slow pace.

I was finally able to figure out my splits for the last few miles, and it was a bit discouraging.  Miles 7 and 8 were ~ 8:25, and it just got worse from there.  I ended up slowing down about 10 seconds per mile until the end of the race.  I had downed one of the shot blocks at the start of the run, and hit the other one just before the half way mark, but it didn't help the quads.  I don't think it was cramping due to low sodium, I think I just hit the bike too hard.  It was about mile 8, that I saw Justin while he was headed back from the turn around and about 10 minutes later I saw Ken after I had made the turn around.  Not much further down, I got to see Jen again while she was at about mile 4 or 5 of the run, nd she was still looking strong.

I kept looking at my watch and trying to figure out what I needed to do for my last few miles in order to break the 5 hour mark.  I remember thinking to myself, 'OK, I just need a 10 minute per mile pace for the last (2) miles and I will have it'.  This was the only thing keeping me moving, because my legs were literally dead.  The entire time, I was waiting for Ken to just fly by me during the run.  He is such a strong runner, I knew it was inevitable, but surprisingly it never happened.

I kept on plodding along, the entire time my quads were telling me to quit and just walk it out, but I refused.  I actually reasoned it out that my legs were going to hurt no matter if I walked or if I ran, so I might as well just keep running.  My last 1.1 miles ended up being about an 8:30/mile pace which surprised me because I was sure I was only going on a 10min/mile pace.  I finally crossed the finish line with a run time of 1:47:45.

The Aftermath

My final official time was 4:56:47, which was 3:13 faster than my goal and I was very happy to attain.  Ever since Oceanside, I had wanted to see if I could break the 5 hour barrier at Vineman.  Based on the data from Oceanside, my gamble on the bike paid off.  I ended up 11 minutes faster on the bike, but 5 minutes slower on the run.  That ends up giving me a net gain of 6 minutes which in my book is a good thing.  With the gain on the swim and the faster transitions, I was able to take 14:20 off of my time at Oceanside and drop below that 5 hour mark.  For me, Vineman 70.3, 2012 was a success.

Jason Berry