No, this race report does not have pictures. Yes, there were lots of people taking pictures, but I don’t know who they are and I didn’t get any.
So, Vineman — actually lots of fun, right up until it started sucking.
Last year, I did Barb’s Race as my first half (Barb’s Race is the same course as Vineman but two weeks later; I had done Big Kahuna the year before but the swim was cancelled, so). I was hurt at Barb’s Race, coasted in on the bike, fell apart mentally on the run, walked a lot. Since then, I figured I had an ok solid effort at Oceanside in April, I’d gotten the not walking thing down, and I had trained more too, so I was sure Vineman this year would be a huge improvement.
But, I’d also been a mess the last two weeks, so was counting on some race magic to bring it all together.
I actually had a lot of fun before the race. Actually enjoyed myself in transition and at the expo the day before — which never happens, I hate that shit. But, you know what would have been more fun? Going faster.
Swim – 30:23. Very meh.
It started out super rough, like Olympic-distance rough. And, with girls on both sides of me and in front and on top, I didn’t look up or think for the first 300y, just swam hard. When I did look up, the girls feet in front of me were gone. Damn. There was another girl next to me for a long time and I was swimming ok to stay with her, then in a shallow area she did some dolphin dives and all of a sudden was a body length ahead. I never caught back on and she eventually caught another girl ahead of us. Damn. After that, I just became heavily focused on how goddamn hot my legs were in my wetsuit, how much I wanted to just float in the nice river, and whether or not I actually wanted to get on my bike after this. Kristin caught up to me on the way back, which was probably good, because it made me start swimming for reals again. And we came out of the water in the exact same time, with a lot of girls I usually swim with ahead of us.
T1: 1:44 — actually not bad. Maybe I should just go pro in transitioning. Most importantly, I was totally optimistic, thought I’d swum ok, joking around. No problem.
Bike: 2:42:05 — Well, sigh, an improvement?
I really pushed the first half — well, I tried. About 30-40 minutes in, Kristin and this other girl who had come out of the water right with us passed me. But, they didn’t just fly past me, which is usually how that shit goes down. Then, another girl caught up to us too. We were all kind of near each other (like within sight) and I was so excited; I don’t think I’ve had anyone to bike anywhere within my vision since my first for real pro race. This is awesome! I’m amazing! Etc, etc.
Eventually, the girl who had caught up to us started to put some distance between, so I passed the other two and tried to keep her in my sight. She dropped me, but I put some distance between me and the two girls behind me. I was feeling great, I was doing great, this was amazing. Then, my legs started to give out.
The last 40 minutes got really nasty. I was barely holding on to super low wattage. I would stand to go uphill and my legs wouldn’t hold me. I was trying, but I had gone too hard for some sections at the beginning and was just toasted. And I really, really had to pee. And I wasn’t keeping a lot of food down.
But, that’s fine, I was still doing good, it’s still going to be a solid race. Just get off the fucking bike and start running.
T2: 1:27. Spur of the moment decision to do my first ever flying dismount and it worked! This race was going great!
Run: 1:52:03. Ugh. UGH.
Ran a 6:50 or something first mile. (Side note: Beth was coming in on the bike as I headed out and cheered for me and I was like shit, was that Beth? How far behind me did she start??!) After that, it was all 7:15s. I felt like I was running harder than that and pushing it, but there were man, a lot of hills. That’s ok. No problem. Just put together a solid effort and you’ll still have a huge PR, you’re still beating a handful of people, you’re having a very solid race. I felt great, I looked good (if I do say so myself) and I had NO WORRIES. I was completely confident I was going to run like a 1:35-1:36.
Even as the miles went on, I was completely confident. I felt totally strong.
Then, we looped around the winery at the half way and it was finally flat on a trail, so I tried to pick it up, swore I was running faster and I ran a 7:40. Hmm, ok, no problem, it was on a trail, maybe it was slower. Drink some more Coke, push it, all you have to do is head back the way you came now. Still, totally confident, feeling fine. Then, I ran an 8:00. And I was STARVING. Shit. Then, I started to feel slow and heavy and slow, ran another 8:00. Ok, OK, that’s ok, you just have to hang in there, it’ll still be fine. Only like four miles to go.
Both Beths went by me at some point in there. I didn’t feel too bad about myself, since they’re fast 😉
But, then I started to wobble. I started to drag my feet, couldn’t pick them up, things got kind of hazy and out of balance. I ate a cookie and ran a 9:00 mile. Ok, fuck.
Then, I tripped. It was a small trip and usually wouldn’t be a problem, but I had no balance and was pretty wobbly. I went down hard and was slow to get up, but I got up and started shuffling again. All the hills seemed like they had gotten huge and I couldn’t pick my legs up. I was trying to focus, but my eyes just kept rolling up in my head and I felt like I was going to pass out. Hell, I sort of thought passing out would be nice – because then getting me back to the finish would be someone else’s problem.
Then, I fell down again. I was just really wobbly and out of balance and the change in stride as I headed up hill (which sounds really stupid) threw me off. I sort of lost my momentum and wobbled and tipped over and fell in a heap. This time I was slower to get up. Some volunteer said she’d get me water and then she started running back to the aid station and in my head – I shit you not – I was like oh, that’ll take her a really long time, I shouldn’t wait, I should keep running. So, I got up and started the wobble-shuffle again.
I made it over that hill and down and around a corner and then I fell over again. I just couldn’t stay upright and couldn’t balance. Some 40-something guys were running the other direction, so a bunch of them stopped. They told me to lay down and picked my feet up and started pouring water on my head. I mumbled something along the lines of “I keep falling down” and “I’m fine” at the same time and they said ‘No, no, you’re in no condition to finish.’ Someone running by said they’d get the motorcycle to come back at the next aid station, at the two mile to go sign. And, I thought, two miles, only two miles to go. And then I thought, why is the sky spinning. Hah.
They said wait right here, the motorcycle will come get you and then they continued on with their race. So, I rolled over and stood up and started wobbling/shuffling again. The motorcycle came and asked if I was ok and followed me for awhile and I mumble mumbled.
I saw Hailey’s husband Mark at the aid station right ahead and for some reason I focused on him. He was going to make everything better. I just wanted to be able to tell someone my body was quitting on me; I didn’t want to have to think about it or solve it. I may have been wallowing a bit.
He said something along the lines of ‘stay strong, you’re almost there’ and I said something like ‘I keep falling down.’ He made me stand and eat some random handfuls of whatever was there (I think Hailey passed me then) and then I started “running” again. There were so many people out of course I knew and they kept cheering and yelling for me to finish strong and I felt so embarrassed and I couldn’t really see them either. I was still so dizzy and stumble stumble. Then, I could see the mile 12 aid station up ahead and just one mile to go. I grabbed another handful of Oreos and more or less closed my eyes and ran as hard as I could in not a super straight line, which was like a 9:00 mile. And then they took me to the med room and they DIDN’T EVEN HAVE IV’s, which I had been dreaming about.
In retrospect, the ok parts were still slower than I felt like they were while I was racing. Why can’t I bike faster than a 2:40? I should be able to – hell, I did at Big Kahuna. I’m pretty sure I’m biking harder than in past years and going slower. Very discouraging. Honestly, my bike set-up is definitely not as aero. I was getting away with much lower wattages and faster times, because I had a hella aggressive position. BUT, that position also got me very hurt and kinda crippled for a year. So.
Why aren’t I running faster either? I don’t know. It seems like my problems on the run aren’t running problems, they’re end of the race problems. Whatever leg was last, I would be struggling with. I’ve managed to lose all my speed from being good at shorter distances, but not yet gain enough endurance to be good at longer ones.
The blow up so loud it was heard around the world, well, I didn’t eat enough. I just didn’t. That’s why I had to pee so bad and that’s why I got starving and that’s why I stopped being able to see straight. I was having a hard time keeping food down, which I thought was fine, no problem, but turns out I only had like 400-450 calories the whole race.
The biggest downer is that I really, really had to pee (because of all the not taking in enough sodium to balance out all the water). Everyone told me I should just pee while I was running – which involves just peeing on yourself – and not stop at a port-a-potty — it’s what the pros do, evidently. I figured if I had to pee I would just pee and if I didn’t then I’d be able to hold it. I think, though, most people when they pee while running they only have to pee a little bit, but I like reallllly had to go. Around mile 7 or so, I was still moving pretty well and I didn’t want to lose momentum, so I just peed on myself and it was a MESS. Huge mess. Total disaster.
IF I had known I was going to take 17 minutes to do one mile, I would have fucking stopped and taken the extra minute to go to a port-a-potty.