Archive for the ‘Race and Away Reports’ Category

10 days late.  But here it is.

As I mentioned, I skipped Goofy Challenge.  Too many things to take care of.  So, Surf City was my first road race in 2010.

I ran 14, 23, 28, and 14 the weekends prior.  Just base-building at this point, so speed wasn’t in the cards.  Was also coming back from a bad flu situation that took me out during the Las Vegas marathon in December.  The long distance runs were just to get my lungs back in shape.

I showed up at Surf City (this was my 4th) dreading it like usual.  Can’t stand the cold breeze from the ocean in early February.  Always end up freezing.  So I wore a jacket throughout.  I got quizzical looks, but I could have cared less.

I decided to run 13.1 at 8 minute pace, and then run the second part super-easy.  That’s how it happened.  I got 3:55 for that marathon, with a 1:43 at the 13.1 mark.  Yeah, slowed down plenty.

I remembered the course well, so it was kinder to me this time.  Also glad I ran the second half easy, because it helped with me having a better time on this course than prior years.  The goal was to give the lungs a try for half the distance, and then just work on endurance for the rest.  After all, this was only my first race of the year.

Glad they placed a coned-off area for the marathoners in the last 3/4 mile, because the half-marathon walkers were just crowding the street.  I don’t enjoy the finish line area configuration, because area is just super-crowded with runners and greeters.

I went to the expo area near the stage and sat amongst the crowd.  Maybe a hundred or so others followed.  After you run 26.2, sitting is good.

So in my memories, I can say for sure that this running of Surf City turned out positive.  Maybe when it comes time to sign up again, I won’t hesitate.

Let’s go, 2010!

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Stayed at THEHotel which is part of the Mandalay Bay complex. Nice suite. Decided to show up in Vegas just in case I wanted to run the race anyway, but I knew my lungs were far from healthy. Found myself gearing up Sunday morning, so it seemed I was taking part in the race.

Corral 1, saw Celene Dion sing the national anthem. Showgirls and the white tigers (with Sigfried and Roy watching) on stage. Kinda cool actually. 36 degrees at the start; 54 degrees at the finish. The race started at 6:15, and I soon found myself running with the fast people for a little bit. They did wave starts–each corral was sent off maybe 30 seconds countdown each. There were 28000 runners, most were in the half-marathon. Don’t think they got to 8000 marathoners, with 5852 finishers.

I held myself back, and let myself be caught by the 3:20 group around mile 4. I know the pacer. Stayed with them until mile 7.5, at which point my lungs started to have a mind of their own. All was well before then–pace, body, lungs, energy. And suddenly, lights-out! Not literally. I guess I shouldn’t run when not healthy, because the objective is to run fast. Reminded me of how I felt at San Diego R&R. I guess I was sick then as well.

Let’s just put it this way, the whole world started to pass me. I couldn’t even hold a 9:30 pace to save my life. Every now and then, I would get an attack and have to go to the side–fortunately, the hacking cough didn’t take too long to subside and then I was back trudging.

Note: the second part of the course (new section) introduced undulations that weren’t in the course last year. It’s still manageable, since the inclines/declines are short or relatively shallow. I like the new course.

Yeah, this race was mighty painful! But in the maniac tradition, finish a race you must if you toe the line. Had several opportunities to bail, but after mile 10 I was basically committed to finish the entire course. I think I must like self-torture.

The result was dismal for me–4:04. I earned this medal today. My last race this year. I want to see if I can be 100% healthy for Goofy one month from now.

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(Also at Kickrunners.com with feedback from other triathletes!)

Short version:

There ought to be a law against having too much fun while participating in an Ironman event! The Ironman organization is top-tier all the way—everyone was very very nice and accommodating. Water was cold, and my bike speed in the first loop was affected by it. Did a few stupid things on the bike. Ran/walked with a new friend in the run portion. Hey, the overall time is almost to the cutoff but I did get a medal. Two Ironman races under my belt!

Overall Time: 16:18:28
Swim: 1:58:58 (yikes!)
T1: 12:44 (even when frozen stiff from the swim)
Bike: 7:18:32 (aid station party)
T2: 9:34 (got it down)
Run: 6:38:40 (walking with a purpose)

Near the finish line at IMAZ


Long version: (I’m not kidding)

My IMAZ Adventure!!!

I walked 1.5 miles from my hotel arriving exactly at 4:50, before the bike corrals were open. It was a chilly morning, and it didn’t bode well for the swim temps. Some guy forgot his bike shorts. Another guy’s bag got carried away by someone else, so he didn’t have a swim suit. It was funny.

Swim: 1:58:58

What a difference a day makes. The water was cold! At least I had been in it the day before. Some swam 50 yards and DNF’d right there. A few others were DNF’d at the med tent after the swim.

Boy did I get hit at the start. No one swam over me, but had to do some karate fend-off moves in the water. Really! It took a minute to get going.

I think my eye-popping swim time is due to me not swimming close to the buoys. I was tracing a rectangle about 50 yards in every direction. Just didn’t plan it right. When I finally got out of the water, the volunteers were alert to signs of hypothermia. Of course, it is difficult to be coherent after a 2.4 mile swim. I did notice that my hands were frozen stiff. They gave me a mylar blanket to hide under on the way to T1.

T1: 12:44

I made great time even though I had trouble getting my fingers to do anything. A volunteer had to put my arm warmers and watch back on. Boy was I glad I had arm warmers!

Bike: 7:18:32, mph 15.27, 16.05, 14.73

First loop—maybe I was imagining it, but the wind was making fun of me. My muscles were still frozen from the water, and it took about 15 miles to get my speed up. Going out, I could only muster 15mph. Coming back I got 20mph. The winds behaved normally on the way back. If my speed noted doesn’t add up to the recorded mph—there is a reason. I stopped for a potty break at the turnaround. I liked their offerings so much that I stayed quite a bit longer than I should have. At least 15 minutes. But wait…

Second loop—now the winds were not fighting me going out, but was there on the way in. I finally was enjoying getting some speed back. I settled in to about 18mph going out and coming back. Disparity? Yup—stopped at the aid station again. Repeated the picnic. In these going out and coming back laps, I played catch-and-let-go-repeat with a number of athletes. I would pass them on the way out, they pass me while I was snacking, and then I would catch them on the way back. It was fun, but I’m sure it wasn’t amusing to them.

Third loop—now the winds were willy-nilly, putting up a fight in places. I repeated my 18mph going out, but may have gone a little slower on the way back. On the way back, talked to my teammate about the run. We were soon joined by a young guy from ASU. We completed the bike finish in sequence; it disturbed a few athletes that we were talking on the bike like it was a training ride. Oh well. Oh, and I did my aid station picnic again. I guess I was there so much that the volunteers knew me by my first name. I did see the double amputee guy on the bike in the second and third loops. I was happy to see him pass us so I knew he would make the bike cutoff.

Why did I add a 1:18 to my bike? After the eye-popping swim, I made up my mind to table my time goal and just enjoy the event. It didn’t matter to me at this point when I would finish. And it gets worse!!!

T2: 9:34

I got these transitions down now. I changed into my bike shirt mainly for the finish photo-op, and did quite a few time-wasters in that tent. I still got out in good time. I changed my socks, but left my arm warmers on.

Run: 6:38:40, pace 11:29, 12:44, 17:53, 17:01

First loop–I looked for Ben, the young guy from ASU, because he was interested in running with me. Nowhere to be found. I also looked for my teammate Kasia for the same reason. I guess they had bolted already. Talked to one of my teammates Elaine in the peanut gallery for 2 minutes, about one of our teammates not making the bike cutoff–bummer. Since my run buddies were nowhere to be found, I decided to run an easy 9-9:30 pace for the first few miles until I got over the food overindulgence-induced nausea. Remember, I was eating too much at the aid station. I’m glad I changed into my bike shirt, because it was really popular with the spectators; got my name called a lot in each loop! Around mile 5, I caught up with my teammate Kasia who was doing 12 pace. So I joined in at that point, and slowed my pace down.

Second loop—It got darker, but I had my little light with me. The spectators liked it and took some photos. It helped in places where it got really dark. I’m running with my teammate Kasia now and we are maintaining a 12-13 pace. I left it entirely to her to choose the pace. Since we both wore orange, the volunteers at one aid station started calling us twins. We passed a lot of people even at this pace. My teammate wanted to stop at each aid station, so we got whatever they had—Gatorade, plenty of chicken broth (so good), pretzels, cola, and etcetera. Only at this point, my tummy was getting the best of me. At the end of the second loop, I finally had to ask my teammate to keep going because I had to make a potty break. Told her that I’ll catch up with her somewhere in the third loop. She was bummed, but my tummy couldn’t wait. Stupid stuff, and now the whole world knows.

Third loop—Right around the arts center, I spied this young lady wrapped in a mylar blanket. It was getting cold now, and I envied her. I guess Gwelle noticed me looking, and she started to talk to me. She asked me if I was in my third loop; apparently she couldn’t run, because she found out just right before the IM that there was something wrong with her right leg. She was worried about not finishing, because she was falling asleep.

I don’t know what made the situation so comfortable, but we became friends out there on the course. Right then and there, I was recruited to her cause. Of course I didn’t have anything better to do! So we planned out risk assessments at each mile marker, and figured we could go 3 miles per hour and make it under 11:30. I think my ability to talk about nothing kept her awake in that third loop. It was great fun talking, and one guy even fell into our walking group. John was doing his third and last Ironman. Since he was 6’3, it helped our walking speed a bit. One recurring theme in our conversation was—could I achieve the goal of vexing my coach by getting a 16:59 finish? This one would be close!

I know what you’re thinking—what about my teammate Kasia? At this point, I wasn’t worried about her because her forward progress would mean that she finishes in 15:30. She did finish, but in 15:20. We ran into her as she was into her 25th mile. She was doing a brisk walk at this point. Later on, as I passed one aid station the volunteers called out to me and told me that my twin passed there minutes ago. Too funny!

Right near the end, a few of my teammates (Whitney and Sal) in the peanut gallery came running and shouted my name. They looked so relieved that I would actually finish this Ironman, versus the idea that I was sitting at an aid station somewhere injured. I introduced them to Gwelle and they ran off to alert the rest of the group. John at this point had started running to finish ahead.

The finish:

In the corner right before the finish line chute, my teammates came out to celebrate and also to talk to Gwelle and me. My coach slapped me on the arm for almost giving him a heart attack (it’s a running joke between us). Tom, who didn’t make the bike cutoff, also congratulated me. We had to determine finish order and orchestrate a time lapse so that each will have a moment at the stage. And of course we had to worry about looking presentable. He he. Stupid stuff! We let a guy go past us, and when no one else was in sight, I signaled for Gwelle to go. Her finish was awesome! After she got her photos taken, I started in. I did some stupid moves prior to doing high-fives with at least 30 spectators. I lost count. Anyway, as before I stood for a few second by myself—repeating what I did at Kona.


I started out with a time goal of 11:59 but ended up with 16:18. I guess it was all or nothing, because after the swim it didn’t seem to make sense to go for another time goal. If a time goal really meant that much to me, I would have ended up with a sub-13 easily even after the swim. Subtract 1:18 from the bike, and easily 2:00 from the run. The time goal was to make my long-suffering coach happy, which was not to be. He he.

I think my outlook and sense of humor got the best of me on IMAZ Sunday. It felt like I was just there to hang out with the folks who were serious about finishing an Ironman. I basically repeated the mantra from Kona—If I make the swim cut-off, I would finish another Ironman; it’s just a matter of when. At no time was I ever in any risk not to finish. It’s a recipe that works for me.

I think getting a 16:18 is super-cool, especially if I helped somewhat in two other athletes getting their medals. As for Ben, he finished in 16:11. 20 years old and already an Ironman! He’s not even out of college yet.

My coach called it an “adventure” and it seemed appropriate. Again, I was just simply out there having fun after the swim. Maybe they should ban me from all 140.6 races if I don’t have my competition game face on.

One question that has popped into my mind after the Ironman was—how many Ironman races does it take for me to know what it is about? Right now—exactly 2. It will be that way for a few years until I get the urge to dissect it a bit more. Maybe I’ll be ready for a time goal then.

And so my IMAZ adventure ends. Back to reality.

Thanks for reading!!!

Finish line goodies

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Short version:

183/3211 OA 147/2006 GEN 37/323 DIV

Just wanted to run this one for fun. My GPS died, so I was without a watch as well. Ran with the 3:20 pace group until mile 20. Regretted letting them go, doing miles 21-26 without knowing how fast I was going. I had a super great time and I know I’m doing this again next year!

3:25 plus. Official results not available until this evening. Yup, this report is hot off the press!

Long version:


The last of the fun outings before IMAZ. I have always liked the course, even if my times there are unfailingly pedestrian.

My Garmin’s battery went to zero before the race; don’t know what’s going on, but I had charged it to 100% last night. I was out a GPS and a watch as well. I was going to have to count on mile markers and watches where I could find them.

Oh, I also ran this race without my usual bottle of water. So I was at the mercy of the aid stations for hydration.

Temps were perfect, around 60 degrees. It went up to 72 during the day. Cloud cover during the race.

The race:

I lined up in front just because I’d rather not weave through slower people. The 3:10 pace group lined up maybe 50 feet behind me, and another 50 feet behind was the 3:20 pace group.

After the start gun sounded, I experienced the surge of people passing me in miles 1 and 2. I wanted to start slow and warm up. The first mile had a clock and it said 7:30. Maybe too fast. After another 200 feet, the 3:10 pace group passed me. I entertained the thought of going with a pace group because of my lack of a functioning watch. Their pace was squarely at 7:10 and I didn’t want to work that hard today, so I let them go.

Just before mile 3, the 3:20 pace group caught up with me. The pacer was pretty good, but he was yapping too much. That’s how I noticed them. Anyway, they were doing 7:30s so I decided to go with them. I figure if I could hang for 20 miles, I’ll get a good time even if I have to do the last 6 miles without a watch.

That’s pretty much what happened. I hung around the pace group until mile 20. It was pretty cool to have such a solid group. By mile 20, that group still had about 12 people. It started out at 30 or so. The hangers-on (not trained to that level) were dropped steadily.

The dynamic at the aid stations was sorta funny. I missed a few just be virtue of me being on the left versus the right. I was okay with it because I’m built like a camel anyway. But even when I was in the right position, I still had to grab fast and get out of the way since others in the pace group wanted to get water too. If you took too long at the aid stations, you were dropped from the pace group.

I feed on Gu at miles 6, 12, 18, 21, 22. Accepted one from a volunteer, but it turns out the extra Gu makes my tummy feel icky. I went without salt tabs today, which was okay because it was overcast.

At mile 13, the soreness from my right calf came back. This was from the Triple. I found that I could still run 7:22s if I try not to make too many side-to-side moves. I think it needs more rest.

I stuck to my race plan and let the pace group go at mile 20. I regretted it soon after. I couldn’t tell my pace, and the latter mile markers didn’t have clocks or call-outs. So I just decided to keep repeating in my head “open your stride, keep moving, run as fast as you think you can”. It did get me to the finish line, but I wonder how much better my time would have been with at least a functioning watch .

The final miles were fun. I think this is why I enjoy that course. Running through the avenues with the mix of old and new houses is totally California! And the view of the ocean is great.

I looked forward to running down the last 320 yards into the finish line chute. It’s a short downhill, and the finish line meets you before you are ready for it–versus other marathons where you have to look for the finish line.

I completed the marathon in 3:25 something. Not too bad. Okay, no more running races until IMAZ!


A few things I thought about on the way back:

1 I can now hang with the 3:20 group easily. It’s funny that even the 3:10 group was an option.

2 I’m so dependent on technology. I can’t tell pace without a GPS or watch. It totally sucks.

3. The nutrition worked as before. Didn’t have any low moments during the race. I missed my water bottle though.

Thanks for reading!

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San Francisco Marathon with Prez Steve Yee (Marathon Maniac # 1)

San Francisco Marathon with Prez Steve Yee (Marathon Maniac # 1)


Chip time: 3:29:27 OA 406/5036 Gender 353/3326 AG 45/470 (Unofficial)

I ran well, and got a good time! The end.



I was a little concerned about running this race after the crazy running I did two days out on the hills of SF. Turned out the concern was for nothing. My legs were fine.

My goal for this race was a time close to my SFM PR which was 3:36 two years ago. SFM is a hilly course, and is really not a good place to try to PR unless you are a hill runner. Temps were about 55 from start to end, but the sun did warm things up at the finish line afterwards. Great food after the race.

I wore a new Zoot tech T (dark/light blue combo), my usual white Maniacs hat, arm warmers, and black running shorts. I wore my Asics Kayano-15 for this race.

Race day:

Since I stayed at a hotel one block from the start, it took me forever to get out. Had to rush to get to my wave corral (one fool was blocking me for no reason. I had 4 minutes to get in and didn’t have time to argue.)

Positioned myself near the front of my corral. I decided that I’d be happy with sub-8s for this race. I didn’t know if it was possible because there are some hills.

Since I was running a slower pace, the 3:30 group caught me early (around mile 1). The pacer was a bit talkative, and the steady drumbeat of foot strikes from such a big group was hard to ignore. I heard that he would wait for his wards at the aid stations, but for some reason I saw him bolt on the first climb right after the first station. I kinda laughed–not all pacers are created alike.

I ran next to a good-looking girl listening to her ipod. Her pace was good, but then I lost her at the climb to the bridge near mile 5. Shame. At this climb, I resolved to be more opportunistic on the downhills because it was going to be rare to run up hills at 8:30 or less.

Seemed to be running through a lot of people today. I was in Wave 2, so Wave 1 probably had 300+ people. Had to be conscious about keeping pace, so it was necessary to weave through as much as possible. It thinned out in the second half though.

Only one guy would run around me the entire race. I didn’t see him again after mile 20, but it is conceivable that I passed him because SFM does this crazy thing about using alternate roads on the same course. Must be something to do with allowing the locals to sleep.

I felt great the entire race. My Garmin was on the wrong display again, but it was okay–used it mostly to check my pace. Just used wall time to check against mile markers.

Did put the SF hills running experience to good use. I used the modified running form and got up the hills much faster than most. Still slow, but my HR never red-lined midway like it usually does.

Tried something different with nutrition. I gulped Gu at miles 6, 12, 18, and 22. The interesting thing is that the feedings at miles 18 and 22 was like a bolus injection of energy–I was surprised that I felt like the Energizer bunny late in the race.

I knew I might come in sub-3:30 because I passed the 3:30 pacer with only two guys in tow at mile 25. The announcer did do a countdown to the 3:30 wall-time. I wasn’t concerned because I was only about .2 miles away. I had 33 seconds to spare when I crossed!

The Marathon Maniacs president finished 3 seconds in front of me. It struck me weird to be calling his name in the finish line chute. We had our photo taken together (official photographer). The Prez did remark that I’m definitely getting faster.

Here are my splits (turned my GPS on a bit early):

mile 1: 8:29 (warming up, but not too slow)
mile 2: 7:53
mile 3: 8:04
mile 4: 8:01
mile 5: 7:54
mile 6: 8:34 (climb from Crissy Field to Golden Gate Bridge)
mile 7: 7:37
mile 8: 7:54
mile 9: 7:42
mile 10: 7:49
mile 11: 7:06 (fast downhill)
mile 12: 8:03
mile 13: 8:06
mile 14: 7:25
mile 15: 7:47
mile 16: 8:06
mile 17: 8:26 (got really confused with the GPS signal under the trees)
mile 18: 7:45
mile 19: 8:02
mile 20: 8:05
mile 21: 7:48 (the course starts to flatten down to sea level at 26.2)
mile 22: 7:39
mile 23: 7:48
mile 24: 7:44
mile 25: 7:37
mile 26: 7:47
mile 26.2 average 7:41 (was a bit surprised by the low numbers since mile 21)


This race was a thing of beauty. Everything worked. Listened to the course, listened to my body, and just worked on pacing as best I could given the race profile.

I completed the race feeling like I just went for a morning run. Guess I didn’t expend the energy that I should have. Ehh, leave the time goal for later.

I’m glad I went. I ran well, and got a good time!

Thanks for reading!

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My teammate came by so we could go to the expo together.  We had lunch first, since she hasn’t had anything to eat.  Stopped over at Momo’s across from the AT&T Park.  Had great food and good conversation.

Right around noon, we headed out to the expo at 622 7th Street.  We took Bryant going west, which put us right smack into that exhibition hall.  Plenty of pedestrians and cars.

After my teammate got her bib, we went looking for Dean Karnazes.  She wanted her bib signed by the Ultramarathon Man.  We saw a line for DK and right away queued up.  I said Hi to Dean first, since we are old acquaintances.  He will likely pass me tomorrow, and we usually say Hi to each other on the course.  My teammate got her bib signed and was all happy.

We didn’t stay at the expo very long.  It’s bigger this year, but once you’ve seen one you pretty much seen it all.  My teammate took me on an hour-long drive around some communities in San Francisco.  We visited the Polk District, Nob Hill, checked out Danielle Steele’s “little” house, and then swung by the Getty’s mansion.  We drove by Union west of Hyde.  It was a quick romp, but got to see where the locals spend most of their time.  Plenty of people out in the sun today.

Oh yeah, my teammate drove up Jones Street Hill to go to Nob Hill.  Yep, it was a total climb on her jeep so it confirmed how steep that hill was.  She (being once a SF resident) confirmed that I had hit the well-known hills in my workout last Friday.

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My running spirit is just plainly irrepressible.

I headed out for a planned short run on the Embarcadero. I headed south to AT&T Park and went further to the UCSF campus. So 2.25 miles one way makes it 4.5 miles back to the Ferry Terminal. I thought, ehh–let me go ahead and run the mile+ to Aquatic Park and then come back. That should give me a round 7 miles. While I was running north of Fisherman’s Wharf, I spotted the temptation presented by Hyde Street hill. Hmmm, don’t look. Oh yeah, to the right is the Aquatic Park so maybe I’ll forget about Hyde if I go further.

I ran to the edge of the pier that encloses AP. Talked to a woman who was swimming near the opening. A current kept her in the AP, and she was making little progress coming out. She said the water was 61 degrees. Mentioned I might take a dip in it tomorrow. After that short chat, I started running again.

Okay, so I spotted the road that climbs up Fort Mason. Should I run it? I did. Found myself in the Marina district and then Crissy Field. You know where this is heading? I tried to run on the east beach at Crissy Field but the sand was too soft. I kept heading west. Plenty of good looking runners today; SF has a young population.

Oh wait–there’s the Golden Gate Bridge. Now you got to run to it–you’re too close! Okay, stop twisting my arm. I ran by the rows of warehouses at the Presidio, and then up the access road up to Fort Point.

Now you’ve done it. You might as well cross the bridge since you are here anyhow. I just love running this span–slight incline and then a nice long descent. Plenty of cyclists, a number of tour walking groups, and few runners. The bridge was all mine most of the time!

I spent a few minutes at the Vista Point in Sausalito. Noticed a bunch of buildings down there, that you can access via this road with a nasty grade. I was almost tempted to go there but I just didn’t have the time. Turned around and looked forward to the run back.

Spied my GPS saying I have traveled 12 miles since I started. Was thinking I might get to 19 by the time I get back to Ferry Terminal. You can tell that the runners on the road were mostly visitors now; the locals have to go to work you know. I couldn’t wait to get back as well; I do have to work also.

When I passed Aquatic Park again, I spotted Hyde Street one more time. I made myself tired enough that the thought of going up was no longer palatable. I ran through the crowd of people getting off the cruise ships. There were many more tourists on the Embarcadero than earlier this morning.

I got to Ferry Terminal at 19.84 miles, so I ran south a bit more to make it an even 20 miler. Another example of letting my legs take me as far as it likes to go. Went to a cafe on Market and ordered an omelet, OJ, and strong coffee. Ahh, what a fun morning. 2 days in a row.

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Hey all, I ran the hills of San Francisco today!!!

Ran from the Ferry Terminal at Embarcadero to the Aquatic Park (enclosed cove for swimmers!). I then ran up Hyde and then ran down the snaky portion of Lombard. I followed Leavenworth into Market, made a right to Duboce and up to Buena Vista Park near Twin Peaks. That was my turnaround. I then ran back on Market to finish at the Ferry Terminal.

I hit three big hills amidst the undulation (Hyde, middle of Leavenworth, Duboce at Buena Vista). Would have loved to hit more, but I was limited to 2 hours. From Market, so many hills dot the landscape that it would take a longer time to hit them all! Who’s got 2 weeks?

I did have a map, but I just ran wherever my legs took me. I’ve been to downtown SF many times, so I probably can’t get lost here. Covered maybe 10 miles in 2 hours.

I thought about hitting the Golden Gate bridge but I’m holding off until SFM this weekend. I might do more hills before this week is done. Stay tuned!!!

So much fun! I just got my fix for the day…

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Short Version:

Swim + T1 0:49:22.6
56M Bike 2:55:45.4
T2 0:04:19.9
13.1M Run 2:00:43.6
Race 5:50:11.9  114/320 AG 577/1517 MEN 742/2286 OA


In theory, this could have been a 5:30, but my late race goal became to finish under 6:00. Had no solid goal for this race. Spent 10 minutes(!) at T1/T2. My run time is a result of figuring out the minimal effort to get in under 6:00. My swim was faster (43 minutes 1.2M), but it involved wasting time in the shallows twice plus just getting distracted by the fun of it. I passed plenty on the bike, but my pacing at around 20mph held to the end (slow up the hills).

The final time is not bad at all. Especially for a race with no goals to start. A lot of my teammates come back to Vineman, so I won’t say I have no plans to. But got to admit, this wasn’t exactly an easy course (compared to Buckeye). It’s a lovely way to see this wine region though.

I’m improving on both the swim and bike. Haven’t really spent much time looking for improvements in either skill, since I spent a lot of hours in run training early this year. But the build-up is showing, so things are looking good for my IM!

Long Version:


Temps 75 at start, 85 by noon, 50% humidity
Water temp 75 wetsuit legal
T1 and T2 15 miles apart
Race organization and support superb
Race outfit: DeSoto tri-shorts and team orange jersey

The expo was at Windsor High School. We did ride the run route so that was informative. I got my bib number quick, but the chip line was very long. The volunteers had a hard time with the chip rack and the dark corner. I stayed for the pre-race briefing and then headed back to my hotel right after.

Had a good lunch the day prior, and then just had snacks the rest of the night. I’m better at races on an empty stomach.

Found Guerneville okay, and got myself a parking spot close to the venue. I parked it next to a bar, so there was a possibility I wouldn’t find my car when I come back.

The T1 set up process was uneventful. Found a spot close to the swim exit. Talked to a few teammates and then suited up.

Swim + T1: 0:49:22.6 (43 for the swim)

Lined up with the white caps. Blue after. The water was 75 degrees and felt like a big pool. The Russian River is not wide, so it took a while to get clear water. I focused mainly on making my strokes longer and I would pass plenty doing it. I soon got distracted by shallows in two places. Clawing river bottom just isn’t my idea of swimming, so I stood up and had a laugh. Talked to a few who stood up too. (This is in the middle of the swim!) The fast blue caps would pass us just after the half-mile mark. Since I was standing I called out “Go Whitney” to my teammate who was in that pack. When you pass the bridge, it signals that the finish area is near. I was happy for that good swim. I never approached 80% effort, but it was a good start to a long race.

Sand all over, so had to find a carpeted spot to take off my wetsuit. That took a minute. Then had to organize so that my T1 bag is filled for transport and cinched up. And then I had to put on the gadgets before heading out with the bike. A teammate (Richard) was just right behind me in the swim; he was faster at T1 so he headed out on the bike at least 2 minutes ahead. We would have a friendly rivalry the rest of the day.

Bike: 2:55:45.4

Started out easy, and then went for my expected pace around 20-21mph. Passed plenty throughout the day, but their paces were probably in the 18-20 range. I didn’t get passed again by those athletes. But plenty of more serious athletes (those with expensive bikes and race wheels) would pass me all the time. Most were averaging at least 22-23.

Around mile 7, a tree fell on a rider. He was a mess. Bleeding from the head. But the people around him kept him on the ground and still. That was a potential race stoppage there, but I followed a few others through the branches and out the other side. That was 2 minutes.

At mile 20 or so, I would pass my teammate Richard. He is from Scotland, so we always have fun figuring out what he is saying. No problems today. He was going about 19mph average so I expected to pass him at some point.

I ignored the aid stations and kept on. At mile 40, my young teammate Chris (he will go pro next year) passed me. He mentioned that Richard was chasing after me. I was glad that he will have a better time because of it.

There was one climb where I almost slowed to a crawl. I’ve had trouble with my chain ring shifter, and this wouldn’t be any different. Got through it okay and continued on.

The views were great. Hundreds of vineyards, and about a dozen wineries along the way. The bike route takes you around 4 wine-growing regions in that valley. I forget the names.

I passed a teammate who was replacing a flat around mile 50. He had several and was having a rough day. I also pass another coach who was carrying his bike; he had a catastrophic crank failure and would walk 5 miles to T2.

Oh yeah, my Garmin was on the wrong display so I couldn’t tell distances covered easily. And my bike computer bottom display didn’t make sense either. I just went for pace and noted the distances by the number of aids stations passed.

T2: 0:04:19.9

The dismount line was quite far away from the bike. Had trouble walking so that took a while. In the meantime, Richard arrive about 2 minutes after me. He had set up just 1 rack next to mine, so we talked about the coach for a bit. He went out ahead while I took my time checking my stuff. Did I mention I take too much time at transitions?

Run: 2:00:43.6

I’ve seen the course from the day before. The heat was blazing overhead at this point. Plenty of walkers more than runners. I would search for ice and was allowing it to melt on my tongue. It did plenty for lowering my body temps.

I looked at the wall time and compared how much time I had to run in. My late race goal became to come in under 6:00. I think if I had gone after getting close to 5:30, it would have been doable. Unfortunately, I execute my plan really well and there is no changing it once in place.

My coach and Chris would hi-five me along the way. Chris was as happy as can be (finishing the run in 1:35).

The halfway point was at La Crema winery. I was still on very easy pace and running fine. I passed Richard at mile 4 but somehow didn’t see him. I saw him on the other side of the road just as I was exiting the winery.

The rest of the time, I was looking for orange in the crowd. It was fun to cheer my teammates on. The heat was just getting to everyone. But you soldier on.

I would finish just as the clock was showing 12:36 or 6:00 for the wave ahead of me. My task was done!

Race 5:50:11.9 114/245 AG 577/—- OA

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I hooked up with the group at Windsor High School this morning.  We went out as a team and did a bike ride over the run course.  A few hills in a shaded country lane, right along the La Crema Vineyard.  Very nice, but not exactly a walk in the park. 

After, I lined up to get my bib number and set up my run gear at T2.  There was a short race briefing including a discussion about all the penalties they can give you out there.  Most of the time, it’s  for safety anyway so if you ride okay then you won’t get one.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel.  Got some food and supplied, and promptly took a nap.  Just staying up long enough to write this report and offer up today’s pictures.

I’m proud of myself about being able to pack my big bike in the back of the small car I’m driving.  Pretty crazy, but I got it done.  Reminds me to drive the the SUV for future traveling races.  Check it out in one of the photos.

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