... and I'm back.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

And finally ready to tell you all about Vineman.

Perhaps the delay is fitting -- I've discovered my body is still recovering from the race. Been dealing with a cranky left hamstring -- pain and tenderness at the attachment to the glute. Ick.

As a result, I haven't run farther than six miles since the big race, which is sort of interesting since I'm supposed to be starting my New York training (that deserves a post of its own) and I'm registered for the Water to Wine half, which is, oh, this Sunday.

But whatever. It will all work out. Now on to the important stuff: I finished Vineman. And it was awesome and fun, and I can't freaking wait to do it again. Yes, there were moments when I was deliriously talking to myself (ahem, the bike leg). But overall, it was fantastic, and I felt great and well-prepared throughout. And the weirdest part: Zero nerves. I just went out there and did it.

Pre-race: As you know, I watched my diet like crazy in the final weeks -- no gluten (OK, maybe a little ramen slipped by once or twice), and 24 hours prior to race day, I cut out dairy too. I also drank a lot of water the week before the race and made sure I got at least eight hours of sleep every night. As a result, I was well-rested, and my nutrition was spot on. Hence, I did not shit my pants, which is always a win in my book.

(Cattaneo's -- which has gluten-free pasta and no corkage fee -- was the pre-race dinner venue of choice for our group of yellow wristbanders.)

The swim: My wave started at 8:22 -- third-to-last out of 18, so pretty much everyone had peed in the water by then. Thankfully, it was still cold enough for wetsuits. Home court advantage helped immensely -- I knew exactly what to expect from that river. The shallow parts were no surprise, and I ended up dolphining through them and passing people. But I have to admit that I still got a little confused on the course and actually tried to turn around early (and got yelled at by the race officials -- embarrassing). Things also got more physical than they have in previous races -- lots of limbs and body contact, especially from the fast male swimmers from the two waves behind mine. But I coped.

The funny part was that I had no idea how I did. I swam hard, got out, tried not to topple over (going from water to land still makes me dizzy), stripped off the wetsuit and got on my bike. About a mile into the ride, I looked at my Garmin and realized it was only 9:20. Which meant: "Holy shit, did I really swim that fast?" (And you have to remember: Just four months prior, I could barely swim in open water without a complete freakout.)

The bike: Consequently, I spent a good portion of the bike mumbling to myself: "Holy shit, I killed the swim. Holy shit." And any time anyone in my wave passed me, I thought: "Ha, I swam faster than you!" And I thought this often because, oh, everyone and their mother (and grandmother and unborn children) passed me on the bike.

The bike was really, really slow. And I had to stop and pretty much have a picnic on the side of the road any time I needed to re-fuel or hydrate. (To the many people who asked me if I was OK or needed anything: Thank you.) I didn't pass a single person until Chalk Hill -- and even that was so ridiculously slow that I actually had a conversation with a dad who was riding his hybrid bike up the hill while pulling his daughter in a trailer behind him. (WTF, right?) That is one tough dad -- and I am one slow-ass, snail-paced cyclist. But I powered through.

The run: All I could think was: "Thank god, I am not on that stupid bike anymore!" And I took off. This was by far my strongest leg -- I felt good immediately, and that feeling continued. I passed a lot of people and not one single person passed me. (And yes, my co-workers played my power song. And it brought me to tears because never in my life did I ever think I'd be doing a half Ironman.) Still, I played it pretty conservatively -- stopped at nearly all of the aid stations for cola and ice, and walked up the hills.

It was on one of these hills that the best conversation of the entire race occurred. I was walking with a 29-and-under age-grouper, and he started telling me about his injury. "I think I sat on my bike seat wrong," he said. I asked him if he was badly chafed. He said: "Worse. One of them is swollen." And then we proceeded to discuss his testicles.

I managed that for a few minutes, until we saw his dad on the course and the conversation got too strange, even for me. Nothing like a stranger's balls to make you run faster to the finish line!

So I did it. And I loved it. And yes, you'll see me out there again soon, hopefully with a better bike split! (Side note: Don't you hate it when race photogs take photos of the clock time, not the chip time, and then you look really, really slow?)

Final results:

Swim: 49:00 (!!!)
T1: 6:12
Bike: 4:11:21 (due in part to the picnic stops and one port-a-potty break)
T2: 5:24
Run: 2:20:48
Overall: 7:32:45 (not a bad showing, but there's plenty of room for improvement -- bike split, here I come)

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