I’ve been racing long course triathlon for the past 2 1/2 years. Vineman was my second full IM, my first was IMAZ ’14. I’ve also done two 70.3’s. Training started out slowly in 2016. It wasn’t until my coach switched to a short course plan, and eventually a 12 week IM Advanced plan that I started to see my form finally come around. When it did, it was fantastic though. Eventually, only one or two of my regular ride buddies could hang and I started consistently dropping guys who were even with me just a year ago.
Priority one was the bike where I have the most room to improve, then running and last of course swimming. I made sure to hit my volume goals in the camp/ RR weeks and to really push myself on those Wednesday & ABP rides Solid race rehearsals and knowing what to expect this time compared to the great unknown of my first IM gave me confidence that I could beat my first IM time of 11:58, despite hillier bike and run profiles
So that’s the background, now about the race.
The Vineman swim takes place in the shallow and relatively narrow Russian River, making navigation straightforward. Based on RR times, I went between the 1:00 and 1:05 groups in the self-seeded start. I mowed over some slow guys early, was kicked once or twice by guys passing me, but otherwise just held position. It was shallow enough in some spots to stand and walk but once I figured out that a super-high elbow technique had me passing the walkers I went with that. The turn around seemed to come up quickly and I still felt good and in control so I just kept pulling long and strong all the way home. Noteworthy; the new sleeveless wetsuit really helped free up my stroke since I have more muscular arms and shoulders. My wife was pumped at the swim exit so I figured the time was solid.
Swim time – 1:02:36. Six minutes faster than IMAZ ‘14 despite averaging just 2 swims and 8k yards/ week. Solid ROI
T1 the volunteers were great at stripping wetsuits and clearing the way. I sat down in the changing tent just long enough to put shoes on, the remaining admin was done on the move. From recon, II know there’s a steep hill right at the mount line and predictably tons of guys fighting their machines struggling to mount and start climbing that quickly. As planned, I ran clear up the first hill and past a couple riders before mounting. A spectator yelled, “smart, very smart” as I was clipping in and I almost crashed turning to say “thanks”!
T1 time – 3:05
My weakness! As mentioned earlier, I put in a ton of seat time getting faster on the bike. As the bike leg unfolded, predictably rider after rider passed me. VM is a rolling course with a few bigger hills where everyone seemed intent on dancing on the pedals and racing each other uphill in the middle of nowhere. At times, I was going so easy that I happily whistled a tune as folks whizzed by me. If they were more experienced and faster, then I had no business chasing them, if they were overcooking the bike then I would run them down.
By mile 90 I was still doing well, still staying aero and even starting to catch people. so different from IM #1, where I had lower back problems all day long and sat up for most of the bike. The regular strength and core training really paid off.
With 7 miles to go, just as things were looking good and I was sure I would break 6 hrs, disaster struck. I punctured my rear tire on a nasty little tack. I sprang into action quickly but try as I might I could not get the tire changed. Everything that could go wrong in that moment did. First I couldn’t get the spare tube out of the aero bottle where I had crammed it for the first time ever (never try new stuff on race day, I know). Then I couldn’t remount the tire on the rim. Each time it was almost on, it popped off again and again four, then five times? I lost count then I lost it. I freaked out I admit it. Seven agonizing minutes later the wheels were finally rolling again.
Officials reported that multiple athletes flatted in same area. Allegedly some clown intentionally spread tacks on the road. If that’s true, words fail me especially since it happened at other IM’s this year.
As I finally got back up to speed, I glanced at my HR which had hung around 140 bpm all day and it had spiked to over 170 just standing there wresting that freaking tire! Those last five bike miles gave me just enough time to slow my pulse and get my head back in the game.
Bike time – 6:06 all in. 13 min improvement. (Did I mention 7min tire change?)
As I finally handed off my bike and ran to the changing tent I kept repeating my mantra; “get your sh#*t together, it’s an Ironman.” I had a zip lock go-bag inside the main bag with my visor, race number, salt tabs and the Coach Patrick run-saver bag. Once the shoes were on, I was out and moving quickly, doing the admin as I went.
It was a hot day my friends; 85 degrees, no shade and borderline muggy. The course consists of 3 out and backs with one significant half-mile hill in the middle, meaning we climbed that sucker 6 times total, and yeah that got old quick. Lap one felt ok but seemed to take forever. Only 4 miles in I got my feet wet aggressively dumping water on myself. Then the special needs guys missed me twice and I never got to the dry socks or those skittles I was dreaming about. But after that nightmare flat, I figured if some blisters where my second biggest problem, then it was still going to be a good day.
As the miles ticked by, my wet left foot really started hurting and I knew I was tearing up my sole but I just didn’t care about anything but the finish. Keeping the run-saver bag full of ice and staying wet at all times were crucial to surviving the heat. That, and knowing that I had followed the bike plan almost exactly.
By lap two I really found my rhythm and focus. Coming through the bottom of the course again I yelled to my cheering section “I’ll be right back!” In that moment, I knew I had it in the bag even with 8 miles to go because I was winning the mental game. It was highly satisfying passing so many familiar tri kits from the bike leg as they shuffled or worse, walked slowly along. Failure to plan is preparation for failure.
Run time: 3:56:48 – 23 min improvement
Total Time: 11:11:38. Hoped for a 10:XX but I will take the 45 min improvement.
All day long I was so fortunate to have my family cheering me on and to share the day with so many peeps from Endurance Nation and Folsom Bike Tri Team all supporting each other. That support and camaraderie meant the world. I won’t pretend to have this IM thing figured out, I know better. But that’s the beauty of it, so much left to learn, so much room to get faster and smarter. Now I do know I’m not a “one and done guy”. 2x Ironman sounds so much better.
Thanks for reading. Exorcise with Exercise.
Race morning was warm, oh no, it will be a hot race through out. It was 83* at swim start so my watch said, lol. Went to Folsom Bike the day before to get my race nutrition GU Roctane , Salt Sticks, and Bonk Bars. Did a little warm-up swim before the start. The swim was a 30:30, I had a drafter that I couldn’t shake till the second buoy, you really know how salmon feel battling upstream. I was second out of the water for my group, YAY!
Arrived at T1 and had to use my inhaler, as the air quality was not the greatest for asthma folks. Left transition hopped on the bike next to teammate Scott Williams, that was cool, and I was behind him for a min lol, then he was gone like a he had a jet pack on his back. My bike was 7 min slower then last time 1:39:34. Arrived at T2 felt good, a little slow but ready to run, or not. Then run was a run/walk I saw Josiah Garrison and we high fived gave me some of his speed mojo, I felt good was running and kept saying my mantras. Mile 3.5, why is my left heel hitting my right lower leg with each foot strike? That’s odd so I concentrated on that and kept moving on, well, I stopped sweating at 4.5, maybe my left foot was telling me your going down, and was trying to wake me up. I was at the last aide station, it must’ve been the look I had, or I was stumbling lol, they asked if I was ok, I said I stopped sweating , well they cooled me down with ice in bra and down back in my shorts in hat. The Folsom Bike tri kit can hold a lot of ice. They wanted to call the EMT’s, I begged them not to, I need to finish, I said. So, love the volunteers, they had two water bottles full of ice water and walked me to a spot that I could run in across the finish, lol where the EMT’s were waiting.
I finished 3:29:30.
Not only did I finish lol, I came in 6th for overall ranking in the series, and 2nd in my AG for female division for the series. And it was all because I finished!
Ironman Vineman 2016
Leading up to this race my confidence was broken a bit from Vineman ironman70.3, three weeks prior. That race was supposed to be an “A” race and I was hoping to PR. That particular day turned into a training day. Feeling run down, Tired and mentally not wanting to train leading up to the big day. I consulted a few friends and coaches I’ve had in the past, all recommended to just rest and take it easy. I listen and took all advice to heart and it all paid off. Two days prior to race day I started to get excited and pumped up for the challenge of 140.6 miles. I knew this was a good sign for me, I had enough rest between races, to perform.
Race day Morning
I woke around 0400 to eat my nutrition, and on the road at 0430 hrs to drive to the swim location (Johnson beach in Guerneville) but mainly to be beat the traffic into Guerneville. I like to give myself at least a 1.5 hours of extra time prior to the start of the swim. Believe me it goes fast when you dial the bike in, Mother Nature calls you to the porta Potty, and a short swim to warm up. 30 min prior to swim start I take 3 Clif Shot Block with caffeine for a little jump start.
Ironman had all competitors self-seeded by swim time to finish. I seeded with 1:20-1:30 min time group. Athletes were released in small groups at a time into the river, with over 2000 athletes this worked out pretty good, since the Russian river is narrow throughout the swim course. As I slowly pushed through the crowed and into the water I started off slow, and picked up the pace like I normally would swim. I have to mention, the river was very shallow around ¾ of a mile into the swim, some athletes walked to deeper waters, including myself. The water was dirty and hard to see in front of you most of the time. I finally reached the turnaround or halfway point, and the swimming was a lot easier and it felt like I was moving pretty fast down river. I finally reached the swim finish and looked at my watch and i swam 5100 yards @ 1:22 min.700 yards more than I needed to swim!! I’ll take that any day. My fastest swim ever; and a nice PR heading into T1. I knew today was going to be a good day. Swim time 1:22:48
Smooth transition nothing exciting to report, lots of mud accumulated on the bike cleats heading out of T1- 5:40
My goal on the bike was to ride around 18.5 -19 miles an hour or around 6:00 hours without crushing my legs and blowing up on the run. While exciting transition and starting the course the biggest problem I had was finding a comfortable group of people with the same speed on the bike. The first 20 miles I had to pass a ton of people and thus I pushed pretty hard on the bike to do so. Not part of the game plan. After finding a nice pocket where I could settle into a comfortable speed, I really needed focus on eating as much as I could about every 30 min. I had three Bonk Breaker bars on the bike that I needed to eat to stay on track with my nutrition plan. I executed this plan for first 60 miles. I stopped at the bike special needs to restock and I was off again. Around mile 80 on the bike I was too full to eat any more or drink anything. I managed to eat 5 Bonk breaker Bars and one full Gatorade, along with water. The winds also started to pick up on the course too, this made it difficult to push hard on the bike and maintain the speed I wanted. Also, I started to fade a bit, around mile 90. There is one hill called Chalk Hill, it’s a small hill in my book, not to steep, but it can be a pain after 90-95 miles on the bike. I pushed up Chalk Hill and some downhill relief, as I rested the legs for a few miles coasting downhill. The final 12 miles were tough heading back into town as winds were very persistent. I was happy to see T2 to get off the bike that’s for sure. Bike time 6:15:33
T2- 5:36 : Smooth transition from bike, to run. Took a shot of “Hot Shot” for cramp prevention put the shoes and visor on and off I went.
I felt pretty good getting off the bike in transition; I wasn’t thirsty or hungry at all. That’s a big plus for me. Previous races I haven’t felt that way. My biggest concern on the run was my cramping issues that I have around mile 6 or 7 on the run. I wanted to see if “Hot Shot” would cure this problem. I took one on the bike, one shot in T2 and I had one shot ready to go in my back pocket of my jersey. My game plan for the run was to run the first 6 miles nonstop to see how I felt with cramping issues, stop at every aid station and for water and to cool my head. I started the run around 2 o’clock, it happened to be a warm day but not too hot. The run course was a three loop course that you had to climb the same hill three times. Not a huge hill but long enough to take the wind out of your sails. I had to re-adjust my game plan on mile 8 because my legs were getting pretty tired. The new game was to walk the hills and run the rest as much as I could. This plan worked out perfectly. Also, I started to set goals of finishing before dark and possibly under thirteen hours. 2.5 laps into the run I started to pick up the pace to finish before dark. Last mile into the run I could hear everyone cheer and hear that famous “You are an Ironman” that always gives me the chills. I slowed down on the red carpet to give high fives to the kids and enjoy the moment of hearing my name “Brian, You, are, an, Ironman.” I have to say I had a good day of racing, everything came together and I feel I had a solid race. I finished before dark, missed my goal of finishing under 13 hours though.
Run time 5:25
I really enjoyed every moment of this race; sadly I was disappointed to finish so soon, Good problem to have, I guess. This was my 5th Triathlon of the year meeting my race requirements for my team “Folsom Bike Triathlon Team”. I want to thank Folsom Bike, and Karyn Hoffman for allowing me to represent The Folsom bike name and Folsom Bike Triathlon Team. It’s truly an honor to help represent my favorite bike shop, racing up and down the state of California. Hopefully I’m welcomed back next year to represent Folsom Bike Triathlon Team. I already have my race season planned for 2017. I can say Folsom Bike is very well known! I’m sad my racing season is over but, now it’s time fight fires throughout the state of California.
In the past I’ve done very well with this crowded swim course. It’s an out and back in the Russian river In Guerneville. The water, to me, is very warm and almost too warm to be wearing a wet suit. I was seeded in the 17th wave that started around 8am. That’s an hour and 15 min after the pros. After the gun went off, I settled into a comfortable pace that I was used too, made the turn back to the T1 and I could feel the current push me down river a bit. No problems with the swim, sighting was good or I thought it was. I swam 300 more than I needed too. This happens way too often for me. Everything went as expected and planned. Swim time 42:00 min
Everything went as planned, but very crowded with a sold out race. Time 4:36
This bike course can be very fast if the wind is non-existent, otherwise it can be a real pain in the…..This year, around mile 15 the winds started to pick up. I rode with a head wind for 20 miles, which took some gas out of the tank. I pushed too hard to fight the wind, big mistake, on my part. Also, I spent too much time worrying about my bike speed, and I lost focus with my nutrition plan. This ultimately destroyed my run plan. This sport can be very humbling at times. Mile 40, I had a tail wind that was a huge relief; again I pushed too hard to make up time. Miles 45-55 the winds switched back and forth draining the tank. I just wanted to get off the bike at that time. Bike time 2:49
As planned nothing really to report here Time 4:57
Previous races my hamstrings start cramping around mile 6 or 7. This year was no exception. Like clockwork, boom it happens. I had to re-adjust the game plan to accommodate this ongoing problem. This leads to slowing down and walking at times. Around mile 8 the hunger became a problem. My energy levels were low and mentally I had to push myself forward. I only had five miles left, but it was the longest five miles ever. I clearly was paying the price for not taking in calories in on the bike and pushing the bike speed. I finished the race Very defeated and frustrated. This race was planned an “A” race and I was hoping to PR. That did not happen at all. This race became a glorified training day for Vineman140.6. Run time 2:27
Today was rough day of racing for me. I had high hopes for a PR today, but on a positive note, a lot was learned and needed to be addressed before my full ironman in a few weeks. I want to thank Folsom bike, and Folsom bike triathlon team for their continued support
Start–Guerneville , Ca
Wave 15 start gives you plenty of time to get everything in order as well as see your friends get their race going. As usual the typical items of a Johnson Beach swim were present, a nice walk in the perfectly timed half way point as well as the green slime hitch hiking on your googles. The swim was fun and I didn’t break any records, but given it was my second swim since November……I will take it! 34:43
The new pavement and repaired road ways were flat out awesome. Having clean fresh asphalt makes for a much more enjoyable ride and really easy to get into a groove. My goal was to get through the ride without a mechanical and a smile on my face…. Done and done!! The volunteers were awesome as well as the law enforcement, made each of the intersections a breeze and for that THANK YOU!! 2:28:26
Always a warm sunny run. This is a rolling hills style of run that I would say is not flat, but not too hilly and similar to any run in the foothills in the Folsom area. Running with the symptoms of too much water, made this a really long run for me. Again, the smorgesbord of items at the aid stations seemingly encouraged my side ache with all of the choices but none the less loved it. Thank you again for all of the great aid stations and assistance out on the course. The out and back portion of the course is where I was able to get a quick high five to Scott Williams and get on with the rest of the run. All and all a great fun race and glad I am healthy and able to be a part of it!! Also, watched Karyn Hoffman finish and got in a good group photo post race with Scott and Karyn. Great job to everyone!! #FolsomBikeTriathlon #Trek 1:38:57
Finish time: 4;47:08
This is a race that I have done several times, however I had not planned it on my race calendar. Early Saturday morning, Scott and I decided to test out the water at Lake Natoma, the swim venue for this event. Lake Natoma has been especially chilly due to snow run off, so I better try out the water before I pay money to race. It surprised me that the water really was not that bad. Around 60-62 degrees. Face did not freeze so that is a good sign. So we drove up later that day to register for the event. I have some comparison times having raced this course so I had those in the back of my mind. It is another opportunity to practice my training and represent FolsomBikeTriathlon team. This race had always been the Tri Club championship. So it brings an elevated competitive field. There is both collegiate and tri clubs, STC, EMJ, SVTC, Freeplay and many others.
Race morning we arrived early so to secure a good bike rack position. The air temp felt nice, maybe a little crisp. We unloaded our gear and organized the transition area. Plenty of time to get into the wet suit. I felt kind of nervous for some reason. I think it was more thinking about the chilly water. There were several distances at this event besides the Olympic such as the short course, paddleboard and an aquathon. The temps for the day looked to be high 80’s, so in preparation I froze a water bottle thinking I may need it for the run.
Swim: 32:30 1:53/100yds
Co-ed wave start of 40 yrs. and over. It is a deep-water start, so you had no choice but to be treading water until the start. Quickly our wave started and we were off. The awesome part of the swim today was that the rowing lane lines were still in place making it very easy to stay straight. Even though I was being passed I felt good. Made the 1st turn buoy and could sight the second. I continued to push and made the final turn and headed to the shore. No major issues. Was hoping for a respectable time. I went a little long with my yardage according to my Garmin. Transition 2:53
Bike: 1:16:28 19.8mph
Quickly, I headed to my bike rack. I ripped off my wetsuit and I already had my Folsom Bike top on. I got my act together and I knew I needed to quickly get out of transition. I mounted the bike and headed out toward the CSUS center. We had a hill with the over crossing and then began the climb towards Prairie City and then towards Intel. This is a deceiving road as there is some steepness and then there is some flat. I headed towards the Hwy 50 underpass towards Latrobe Rd. It winds and rolls and momentum is building. I did pass several riders and was back and forth with a male rider. Kind of chase and be chased. The ride proceeded on Grantline Rd and the pavement was pretty smooth. I was in my aero’s most of the time. I saw my speed in the 19-24mph range. I felt decent and continued to fuel with GU Chomps, Vespa and Skratch. The course weaved thru a business park before heading toward Sunrise and the entrance to the canal to get us back to the CSUS. The canal portion is flat and fast. A moderate up on the bike trail to get back to the south side of the trail and to the run transition. Transition 1:19
Run: 49:48 7:58min mile
Quickly transitioned, carrying my race belt, cap and water bottle as I crossed the transition mat. Having no idea where I was in the race for the AG podium. No one had calves marked with their age as is usually done in Triathlons. I got moving and felt great. I had my chilled bottle and sipped and I passed runner after runner on the bike trail. I encouraged everyone I passed. It was warm and there were several people walking or shuffling. I was now 2 miles in and under 16 minutes.
Now I was looking for Scott who I figured would be heading towards me on his way back to the finish. Finally we spotted one another and encouraged each other. I glanced at my Garmin, which indicated I was past mile 3 and getting ready to make the turn around. Grateful for my hand held I did not need to rely on the aid stations.
I continued to push hard as I headed to the finish line. I was now feeling a bit spent as my effort increased. Making the turn back into CSUS and I could hear the crowd lined up along the finish shoot. I crossed the line and immediately saw Scott who already finished and making sure I was ok. I needed to some shade and ducked into the paramedic tent. All was good just some post race exhaustion.
At this point I had no idea how I did other than my watch time. Awards started and still not knowing if I was in contention. Finally the time arrived for 50-54.
Final time 2:42:58 and 3rd AG. The main difference maker was my swim, which I continue to work on. Proud to represent Folsom Bike and love Riding like a Girl!
My first race of the season,(Yea!). I’m staying local and doing Olympics distances this year, so this first one was a good way to see how my training is going, and a great venue to cheer on the Folsom Bike Triathlon Team.
Swim: I felt good in the swim, I did run over a bunch of people (sorry), once I got clear water I settled in and got into a rhythm. Swam pretty straight, I did stand up a little early and had to do the lifeguard run to shore as I jumped up as soon as I hit sand with my hand. Maybe I should’ve done a couple more strokes. Swim time: 30.26
T1– stripped, threw on my Folsom Bike jersey which has nice deep pockets and no worries of anything falling out, got hydrated and headed out in 1:32
Bike: I was a little chilly at first. I got out onto the highway and was moving pretty good, feeling good, but thought where is everybody? Lol, as I soon caught up to some rabbits that I chased down. The new chip sealed road was a little rough, but smoothed out when I hit the county line. The headwind coming back was a little troublesome. I made it back, going a little too fast into transition and skidded to a sudden stop. Bike- 1:36:26
T2– got to the rack out and on the run in 2:02.
Run: I was moving well from T2 to the run start. I went out a little fast, but felt ok. Got to high five Folsom Bike Tri teammates, which gave me a little boost, and a hop in my step. I settled into a 10:13 min pace. I loved the run course with both fire road and single track. Run- 1:04:25
All and all a great race and a fun time! Looking forward to race #2 in the series, bettering my times, making new friends, and being part of the Folsom Bike Tri team family.