I weighed in at 178 on Friday, July 15. Six pounds lighter than the previous July. In July 2010, I did the Donner Lake Triathlon which was an Olympic distance event. This year I set my sights on a higher goal, the Vineman Half Ironman 70.3 race in Sonoma County, CA. Six pounds less I thought, as I stood on the scale, that is good. It is not a huge amount but if you had seen me on the beach in Mexico in 2007 you would have nominated me for Weight Watchers Man of The Year. Four days prior to stepping onto the scale, I had carbo loaded like I never have in my life. At this point, if I never saw marinara sauce again in my life I would have accepted it. One week later I am still OK with my life long ban from Buca Di Pepo!
I arrived in Windsor, CA on Saturday, July 16 to drop off my run gear at T2 and attend a mandatory meeting prior to race day. We had never seen so many thin people in one spot in America EVER! It was unreal and at the same time pretty intimidating. To start, my bike cost probably as much as the pedals on most of my fellow triathletes bikes! Aerobars, disc wheels, tri bikes, and race helmets shaped like spaceships were abound! My Giro bike helmet was a 1990 model that I was concerned was even within race rules it was so archaic. The racers and their families all jammed into the Windsor High School gymnasium for the 2:30 PM meeting. In a nutshell, riders DO NOT take the hard right and hill at mile five on the bike fast! It was probably repeated twenty times to us on this Saturday so I made a mental note.
Fast forward to mile 4.7 on the bike. By this time, I had survived the swim in the Russian River clocking in around 39 minutes. As I approached the 5 mile mark, I could see flashing lights on a fire truck and thought there is no possible way someone could have ignored those 45 warnings and crashed. Or could they? YES THEY COULD. I rounded the hard right turn and went down slowly and there on my right an unfortunate participant was done for the day. The rider was bloodied and laying on a board with his neck secured like an injured NFL safety.
The bicycle route of Vineman is absolutely stunning! I probably biked past 50 wineries. Damn that was KORBEL? The famous champagne? I believe it is known much more for their brandy these days. Of all places, Wisconsin, is the biggest consumer of Korbel Brandy as my Grandma Helen can attest. It was a very enjoyable ride and I was able to keep a solid pace of around 18 mph. under mostly cloudy skies. I did not come upon anymore carnage, thankfully, and sped by vineyard after vineyard thinking to myself this is why I live in California! The field for this event consists of people from all over the world and it was not uncommon for me to hear Spanish speakers during the run.
The moment of truth is always the run portion of a triathlon. It makes sense as it is the last event, the temperature has risen, and you are on your last hours of the race. I call the last five miles the “hell zone” ala the “death zone” on Mount Everest. Make no mistake, I am definitely not comparing a triathlon to an Everest climb but the “hell zone” is not pleasant either. The temperature was not even 80 on this particular day which makes a world of difference. While I was waiting in line to get my race bib I was informed by another racer that just a few years back it was over 100 degrees at the end. Brutal! I totally lucked out and it was a fantastic day!