Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vineman 70.3 (travel craziness edition)

Vineman 70.3 is a race I've been looking forward to for a long time. After Boulder 70.3 we incorporated some unstructured training then began working on some focused run power and speed. This included racing a local olympic distance race, Loveland Lake to Lake, and a local 5k. 

Vineman is know for a few things...a beautiful course and very fast competition for pros and AG'ers. This year, the start list was filled with legends like Craig Alexander, Tterenzo Bozzone, Ben Hoffman, Tim Reed, and Andy Potts.

Crowie = stud
Leading up to the race, a lot of my time was spent working. The days and weeks leading up were a bit more stressful than usual. The Tuesday before the race, I successfully defended my thesis. While submitting my thesis Thursday evening on 1% batter life, my computer died. I ended up borrowing my roommate's computer to finish the submission. The deadline to submit the document was Friday at 12 pm. Our flight left at 6:20 am. And my laptop's charging cable had crapped out earlier in the week - leaving me computerless (#firstworldproblems) and unable to fix any potential formatting issues. 

Packing for the weekend began on Thursday. Trying to save space for snacks, I loaded my checked bag with all of my clothes and the small parts from Bae's (my bike's) front end. 

She looks like she knows something I don't...
Rachael and I's travel to California began at 3:30 am Friday. Half asleep, we checked the bike box and a rolling bag. We arrived at SFO tired and hungry. At the baggage claim, I retrieved the bike box. Slowly, all the bags disappeared from the carousel. The rolling bag had not made it. The "agent" casually told us our bag must have been lost. I'm not going to name the airline but the first part is "front" and the end rhymes with "pier." Ok, no big deal. According to the airline, they would "likely" deliver it to us later that night as there were two flights from Denver that evening. Even better, they would call us when it had made it to SFO and was being sent out for delivery. When we asked if the bag was still in Denver, no one was able to tell us. I was relatively relaxed about the whole deal.

You MUST watch this SNL skit video 
We headed off to get coffee and a muffin ^^^ and waited to meet Matt Miller from BASE Performance for a ride. To add additional stress, renting a car would have been ridiculously expensive as we are both under 25. Though we had a home stay, the family was leaving for vacation the next day so we could not depend on rides from them for most of the weekend.

The remainder of the day, we drove up to the race expo, helped Matt set up, worked the BASE tent, and talked with other booths. Late in the afternoon, our home stay was able to come pick us up. On the way, I realized the rolling bag had all of my run clothes (#rookiemistake). We stopped at Kohl's and I grabbed a pair of $12 FILA basketball shorts I could run in. Boom!

#sponsorship?...  just kidding

We stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up groceries for the next few days.
We made it to the house with plenty of daylight left. Wearing my one pair of socks, my only shirt, and my $12 FILA shorts I went for a run. It was great to move again. Later, we made a big salad with couscous for dinner. Neither of us were too worried about the missing bag just yet. Eventually, the arrival time for the Denver flights came and went. We still had not received any notification from the airline. Rachael reassured me that this wasn't unheard of and they would probably just drop it at the front door at some point over night. Then we realized, they had never even asked for the address.

Saturday morning (the day before the race), no bag. And no call. Still, we weren't stressing. It was early in the morning. I knew our day could become devoted to tracking down this bag and so I wanted to get a workout in. I started rummaging through my bag, looking for swim gear. I had goggles, wetsuit, and swimskin, but no swimsuit or tri shorts. I grabbed my $12 FILA basketball shorts and went with David to the pool.

No joke what I used to swim in...
Post-swim, I informed Mace on what was developing. I said that we weren't freaking out but we were going to get the ball rolling to figure out other options for race gear - mostly a bike and kit. One Facebook post from Rachael's friend, Heather, and all of a sudden, people had reached out to offer up gear.

Except for the airline "agents" tracking down our bag - not so awesome
A quick phone call told us a Felt IA 10 (an incredible substitute for Bae) down San Fransisco was available for me to use. We packed snacks, convinced Matt to let us borrow the car, and drove to pick up the bike. Throughout the day, one of us was constantly calling the airline. While one of us was on hold, the other's call would drop, or the "agent" would not have an update. While it was frustrating to still not know about the missing bag with less than 15 hours before the race, I took comfort in knowing that we were making all the moves we could to allow me to race. Finally, the airline said the bag had made it to SFO and it would be delivered sometime in the next 4-6 hours. That timeline put the bag arriving, at the earliest, around 3 pm.

Driving across the golden gate bridge to retrieve the bike

I was stoked to have a usable bike, let alone the IA 10!
Despite our troubles with the airline, everything else was coming together. The bike was my size. It even had shoes and pedals I could use in case the checked bag never showed. After a quick coffee stop, we made it to the pro meeting - only 5 minutes late! The meeting was probably the most relaxing part of the day. For 30 minutes, I was able to sit in a cold, dark room, listening to logistics and rules for the next morning's race. The bag, bike, and lack of clothes, all out of my control.

Back outside, the Clif Bar tent took pity on me. They gave me enough bloks and gels for the race as well as a few of their new nut butter stuffed bars. #win

Frantically, I got my run nutrition ready, and peeled off my one pair of socks. I stuffed all my run gear in my race bag  (race shoes had been packed in my bike box #gofigure) and we headed back to the house fingers crossed. No bag.

My face when the bag STILL hasn't shown up
Inside the garage, we got to work on the Felt. I took some rough measurements for seat height and reach. I quickly took my saddle off Bae and tightened it to the Felt. We stuck the new bike on a trainer to adjust a bit more. I rode it up and down the driveway a few times and declared the bike good to go with less than 1 mile ridden on the road. 3:45 pm. We had less than 15 minutes to get the new bike to T1.

We made it back to the house around 5 pm having been on-the-go all day since 8:30 am. Sockless and shirtless, I did another short shakeout run. At some point during our endless calls, the not-so-awesome people had said the bag should show up around 8-10 pm. We were losing hope it would ever show up. Awesome people stepped up. Team Every Man Jack found me a kit to wear and a ride for the morning. While I prepared my bottles and nutrition for the race, we laughed at how crazy the race lead-up had become. With my bike and run Garmin devices in the lost bag, I'd have zero way quantifying effort. The more specific strategy Mace and I had been working on had been thrown out the window.

Race morning
When I woke up at 3:30 for an MBK run, I checked the front door. The bag had arrived.

When the bag finally shows up at 3 am...
I cried with joy as I put on REAL running shorts. While running, I tried to devise a new strategy for how to handle the situation. I could now race in my own kit and also monitor heart rate for the bike. After some oatmeal, I threw together a morning gear bag. I included my own pedals and shoes as well as a new pair of socks to transport in the storage compartment to T2.

We arrived at transition with plenty of time. I quickly swapped out pedals, removed a bottle cage, and got nutrition ready. Water temp was too high for pros to wear wetsuits so after a quick warm-up jog, I put on my Roka swimskin. After saying one last "by" and "thank you" to Rachael and Heather, I made my way to the river for the swim start. After all the moving pieces the past few days, I was happy to make it to the start line knowing I could race.


After a short swim warm-up and 10 second countdown, we were off. On the right side, I put my head down and swam hard for a few strokes without much contact. Someone on my outside was quickly converging so I crossed over to find free space. A few minutes in, I was swimming hard and knew I was part of a large group.

The group eventually strung out into two lines. People to my right were dropping off the pace. A little before the swim's halfway point and in the left line, the guy in front of me started merging over.  I increased my effort to try and cover the move. I kept making myself swim hard by saying "just 10 more seconds" to try and catch back on. As we reached the turnaround, they'd swam away. I wasn't sure of who was in that group but I was hoping that people were still swimming around me and that I could use them for pacing on the bike.

The river was very shallow at the turnaround and I stood up for a few dolphin dives. I could see the group ahead of me and estimated they had about :40-1:00 on me. On the way back, I pushed the disappointment at being dropped out of my head. Happy to be racing, I swam hard to try and minimize how much time I'd lose. It was hard not to enjoy the endless trees surrounding the river. Nearing the swim exit, I dolphin dived a few more times before standing up and running into transition.

I threw on my helmet and sunglasses, then ran uphill out of transition.

After mounting, only one guy was in sight. I immediately set to work, pushing the Felt hard. Coming out of the water, I had no idea how far down I was from the group. I knew that the guys in front of me would set a ridiculous pace for the first 45 minutes and I'd have to work even harder if I had any hopes of catching them.

The course at Vineman is very windy and rarely are you able to see more than a few hundred feet in front of you. I definitely think this was a disadvantage for me. Not knowing the course, and without anyone to ride with, I wasn't sure where to slow down. Being on a bike that I'd ridden less than a mile, I also took turns very conservatively. The first 45 minutes or so I stayed positive. I knew I was riding hard as my heart rate was high. I kept reminding myself that the group could be just out of sight. It's much easier to push yourself when you see a group up ahead.

After 5 miles, I knew I'd be able to finish the ride. While it might not have been the most ideal ride in terms of speed and bike familiarity, I did everything I could to make the most of it. I made sure to stay on top of hydration and nutrition. Taking in calories and liquids at regular intervals. I was still in control of my run and so I wanted to set myself up well.

The bike course at Vineman is very pretty. We rode through forests and around vineyards. The roads are undulating and make it hard to settle into a rhythm.  Constantly shifting, I had a new appreciation for the Di2 on the borrowed bike. Literally, so spoiled! On one particularly rough section of road, the top flap on the top tube storage unit became dislodged and flew off. A few minutes later, one of my #fresh running socks I was transporting to T2 flew out as well. Thankfully, most of my shot blocks remained inside the compartment.

Then second half of the bike I dialed back my pursuit.  Still riding, I was picking off a few athletes but I knew the likes of Ben Hoffman and Matt Lieto, people I'd hoped to ride with, were not going to be caught. I rode strong, made sure to not crash on turns, and took in the views.

Nearing transition, I saw the leaders heading out on the run. A group of 5 or so were running together. I steered my way up on the sidewalk to transition and got ready to run.

Socks and shoes on, I ran out of transition. My goal for the run was to be more aggressive in the first half. With that being said, I didn't want to completely tank the last few miles. I tried to have a quick turn over and transition from biking to running mode. I had started my regular watch so I could estimate my pace by checking every few miles.

The first two miles felt good! My stomach was right and my legs were moving well. I went through 2 miles in a little under 12 minutes. I took in some calories and fluids at each aid station but maintained a good pace. A few minutes later, I could see two people up ahead. I was motivated and believed I could catch them but didn't want to burn all my matches in the first 4 miles.

The first half of the run course had a good amount of shade. The short hills and frequent turns kept things interesting. Going up a hill, I worked my way past one guy. Around the half way point, the course runs through a vineyard. The change in running surface was welcomed. Heading into the vineyard, I saw some of the leaders heading out. Running through the vineyard was really cool and reminded me of running the crushed rock trails in Fort Collins. I tried to relax, and get my breathing under control before heading out of the vineyard for the last 6 miles.

Vineman run course
I finished my nutrition (2 gels) about 7 miles into the run then started in on the Coke and Red Bull. After a few aid stations, my stomach got the message and I tried to up my pace. On the short out and back I was running in 9th. I didn't seem to be making much time up on Matt Lieto. Behind me, a guy I didn't recognize was moving well. 4 miles to go and I continued to push, focusing on making it to the next aid station. The sun and lack of shade was making the run hot. The guy from behind passed me around mile 10.5 but I committed to try and keep my 10th place spot.

The high school came into view and I did a quick shoulder glance to see if I was being chased down. With no one in sight I pushed hard and enjoyed the finish.

I took my time to walk around a bit after the race before heading to the food tent. I made myself eat some real food to try and get the recovery process started.

We quickly transitioned to "go" mode again. After a quick clean-up at the house, we headed back towards San Francisco. Heather drove us to her place in Sausalito and took us to some amazing trails and a terrific pizza place. With a flight at 6:20 am the next day, we were up again at 3:30 am, making our bodies go but appreciating the journey.

So many people made this race on many different levels...

Thank you to Windsor Eye Care and Vision Center for making this trip possible.

Coach Mace, thanks for outlining the training and being flexible with my school deadlines.

PJ! Thanks for letting me use your new bike. That Felt was sweet. Maybe I'll just "forget" to bring my bike to races from now on...

David, thank you for opening up your home to us and showing us around the course. I hope to be back in the future!

Rachael, thanks for coming along, consistently calling the "agents", and being a great supporter!

Thanks to CSU Tri, NoCo Endurance Center, NoCo Tri Club, and Green Events for offering a great training atmosphere in Fort Collins. And thank you to Patrick at Rocky Mountain Multisport for always taking care of Bae and I!

Thank you to everyone who followed along via snapchat/instagram/facebook and selflessly offered their gear or support. It was so awesome hearing from all of you. If you're ever in a pinch, just ask. Most people are awesome and want to help!

Up next, I'm trying to work out the details for Calgary 70.3. A solid group is going from Fort Collins and I'd like to race again soon.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. You have shared very useful information about this Vineman weekend. Have been participating in few such races to keep myself fit. Recently bought mesh leggings from an online store for regular workout and loving them!