This was my first race at the Vineman 70.3 event, however I have raced the Swim and Bike course twice in the Full Aquabike and followed last year’s Aquabike with a 9 mile run on the run course, so the course itself was not new to me. I felt very prepared and ready to execute this race – I had put in some good time swimming, biking and running. I had been running El Moro every Thursday for the past 6 weeks so hills were not going to be an issue. Joby provided me with an outstanding detailed plan regarding the swim, bike and run course and so it was up to me to execute the plan.
I got up at 4:00 and got myself ready for the race – everything was packed and bagged for the race. We went downstairs and I ate my normal pre-race meal – 2 packages of oatmeal, 2 yogurts and some orange juice. I added some tea in this time too – this helps in several ways. We drove to the venue in Guerneville and found some free parking one block off of the street – usually we have to park up the street in a lot and pay $10.00. I found a spot near the end of the rack that was also close to the swim in side of the rack so I took it – the ‘bike-out’ end of the rack was pretty crowded. I made a stop at the porta potty and put my wetsuit on. I found Mindy waiting by the T1 exit so I hung out there until it was time to go down to the swim start.
Predicted Time – :46:00
Actual Time – :43:52
I have swam 4 loops of this course prior to today’s race so I know the swim course really good. It is possible to stand up and walk on parts of this swim and many of the athletes do this – I had never done this before today’s race. For this race Joby recommended walking parts of it and so I did. My time was very close to a PR for me so I have to say that walking probably helped my speed and it definitely helped with my cardio. The only drawback is that the rocks are a little sharp and hurt your feet, but overall I think it helped.
T1 Swim to Bike
I came into T1 and actually saw people getting changed which was unusual for me – most of the time my bike is hanging by itself on the rack and everybody is gone. I put on my bike things quickly and left before most of the people that were already changing. I did have to pack up my things and so this took a little bit of time, but overall it was a good transition.
Predicted Time – 2:50:00
Actual Time – 2:43:52, 20.5 mph
Split 1 – 29 mi, 1:25:14, 20.4 mph
Split 2 – 27 mi, 1:18:27, 20.7 mph
Joby knows this bike course really good and he also knows my capabilities to ride this course. Based on this knowledge he made a plan with power ranges for each section of the course. I followed this plan for each segment of distances on the bike course and I lapped these sections so that it would be easy to review how I performed on each section. The plan was
Miles 1-10: 180-200 watts EASY
Miles 11-25: 195-210 watts CONTROLLED
Mile 26: 230-265 watts A CONTROLLED PUSH
Miles 27-41: 200-215 FAST WITH SOME PUSH> WATTS WILL BE A LITTLE LOWER ON DOWNHILLS
Chalk Hill: 230-310 – CHALLENGING – YOU WILL REBOUND FROM THIS
Miles 42 – finish: 200 – 230 watts – KEEP CADENCE HIGH. THIS WILL BE FAST. SHOULD BE A PUSH
The following table is the data from each section as I lapped it on my bike computer. I followed the plan very close, however I lapped mile 42 to the top of Chalk hill and then from the top of the hill back to the finish.
|Miles/Course section||Average Power Watts||Heart RateBPM||SpeedMPH||CadenceRPM|
|Mile 1-10: From the start to an area out on West side Rd on the way to Dry Creek Rd.||195||142||19.5||93|
|Mile 11-25: West Side Rd to Canyon Rd||200||142||20.91||93|
|Mile 26-27: Canyon Rd to the top of the hill||221||143||14.4||83|
|Mile 27-41: Geyser Peak Area to the last water station before Chalk Hill||206||145||21.7||87|
|Mile 42 to Top of Chalk Hill||202||145||16.21||77|
|Mile 46 (top of Chalk Hill) to Race Finish||191||147||22.7||87|
The first 2 sections followed the plan almost exactly and my heart rate was staying right where I want it to be for an endurance event. The 1.6 mile climb up Canyon Rd could probably have been a little harder push, but hill climbing is not my strength so I was careful not to burn up on this short section. Miles 27-41 is a section that is well suited to my riding and I pushed this part very hard, although I stayed in the middle of the recommended range – my heart rate is still staying where I want it to be. Mile 42 is a rolling section with a lot of downhill prior to riding up Chalk Hill. I don’t recall my exact wattage going up Chalk Hill but I am certain it was in the mid to high 200s. From the top of Chalk Hill back to the finish is the fastest part of the course. A lot of it is downhill so the average power and the cadence read low, however when I was pedaling I was spinning in the high 90s and the power was in the 230-245 range.
This was my fastest bike time for a 70.3 race and it is one of my fastest overall average speeds that I have achieved in a race. I had the 6th highest time in my AG and when I finished my legs felt great and I knew I could still execute a good run.
T2 Bike to Run
I usually have pretty fast T2 numbers, but the run into the bike rack is kind of long and I wanted to change my socks for the run portion – I had some new dry fit socks and my feet always get very wet when I run this distance. It paid off for the run because my feet were dry when I finished.
Predicted Time – 2:35
Actual Time – 2:25:09, 11:05 min/mile
Split 1 – 7.8 mi, 1:30:09, 11:34 min/mile
Split 2 – 5.3 mi, 0:55:00, 10:23 min/mile
I left T2 feeling very good and I was certain that I would be able to turn in a decent run time. I didn’t know the entire course very well and I had only run over a four and half mile section last year. The first big hill comes around mile 1.2 and I ran right up this hill without any difficulty, albeit a little slower. I usually walk the aid stations during my triathlon runs, but my last 13.1 run race was executed without any stops so I wanted to try and do that for this triathlon race. My pace fluctuated a lot over the run course because of the rolling nature of the terrain. I continued running at a comfortable pace over the next section and then up the next big hill – again, it didn’t stop me. Once you get over the second hill you make your way out to the La Crema Winery. I had to stop at the porta potty at mile 5 and I lost a little over a minute doing this. There are some more rollers on the way out to the winery and these become a real pain on the return trip. You enter the winery property and then you run about 2 miles around the vineyard – very little breeze and kind of hot and humid. Somewhere out in the vineyard I hit the 7 mile mark and I knew that I had a 10K left. I started doing the math and I knew I was going to be close to the 6 hour mark for my total time. I exited the winery and ran down to the turnaround where the timing mat for the run split was located. After arriving at this point of the run I knew I had to go fast to beat 6 hours. I turned up the pace, but kept hitting these rolling hills that slowed me down. Overall it is downhill from this point but the rollers are a major disruption. I ended up with a faster split for the last 5.3 miles and so this was good, but I still ended up above the 6 hour mark.
Summary and Lessons Learned
Performance Goals – This was my fastest 70.3 race that I have ever completed and it was a PR for both biking and running. I followed my race plan and achieved all of my basic goals for this race. I did not set a goal of beating 6 hours; I had calculated my estimated times and it didn’t seem that I could achieve that goal, but I probably could have. My run time was better than expected and my bike time was a lot better than expected so this brought me closer to that milestone of 6 hours. I was a little slow in T2 transition and I had the one stop while running to use the porta potty – both of these factors could have put me under 6 hours, but the bottom line – I need to run faster.
Nutrition – My nutrition for the race was spot on for the bike and the run. I had put 4 e-gels (600 cals) in 2 Gu Tubes for the bike and I carried 3 more (450 cals) for the run. I consumed all of these during the race for a total of 1050 calories for the day. I felt great the entire race and I would not change anything for the next 70.3. I also learned to take water without stopping on the run – I bent the cup into a spout and I was easily able to drink the water without spilling it all over myself while still running. On the bike I grabbed water at each aid station and refilled my aerobottle. I started with 2 Nuun tabs and I added 2 tabs as I went through the race.
Race Execution – I swam the course with a mixture of walking and swimming and I am not sure if I would do that again or not. In some parts it is almost necessary, but I don’t know if it made my time faster. It probably helped me conserve energy for the day so in that sense it was a good thing to do. I followed the power plan for the bike and it resulted in two key performance factors. First , I achieved my fastest bike time for a 70.3 race and second, I was able to run continuously at a normal pace for 13.1 mile distance. For the run I was able to negative split and hold an 11:03 pace over the course of the race. Maybe I could have pushed a little more at the beginning, but overall I achieved a time that was better than expected.