Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Water to Wine Half Marathon
Healdsburg, CA
August 12, 2012

The finishers medal.
Back in April, I decided to take a vacation to CA to visit with my mom. So of course I looked for a race that I could run while out here. I found this half marathon, about 3 hours from my mom's house. It looked to be a nice course with average low temps in the mid 50s. I figured the low temps would make up for the rolling hills I would encounter. It seemed like it would be a good course to try and PR on and I wanted to make my 40th half marathon a memorable one. :)

The ride up north was no fun. I made the mistake of driving up the 101 freeway. It drops you off in the middle of San Francisco. I figured I could stop on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge for some photos before continuing on. I missed my turn in the city. This mistake added on about 30 minutes. Once I managed to get back onto the main road that would lead me up and over the Bridge, I hit massive amounts of traffic. The bridge was covered in Fog, so I didn't even bother making a photo stop. The rest of the trip involved lots of stop and go traffic. In total, it took me 4.5 hours to make the trip, which should have been just over 3 hours. I got to the little expo at the Winery by 4:45, 15 minutes before it was over. I then headed over to my hotel, made a quick trip to the grocery store, found the Starbucks next store and then headed back for a quiet night.

Feeling pretty good! :)
I was up super early the next day and at the Starbucks when they opened at 5am. I got my coffee and then made the half hour drive to the race start. I was one of the first few cars there and I was able to get a spot right near the start line. They had lots of porta potties and a real bathroom, which was nice. I found a couple of half fanatics before the race started, so ran over to get a photo, then I put my phone back in the car and stood in the start area, waiting to go.

We got going right at 7 am. I could tell right way that this was a fast group. I was carried along with them, but the pace felt fine, so I thought I would try it out for a while. The road we were on for the first few miles was very slanted and hilly in parts. I tried to stay on the flattest sections, even if it might add time on to the total. I didn't want any issues with my ITB. We passed by a few different wineries, one had a beautiful, large building. I thought it would make a great photo with my medal. So I thought I would go back after the race. Just before mile 3 we hit the first water stop. I had brought one 10 ounce bottle with me, but decided to walk through this first stop and take a drink.
Miles 1 through 3 - 8:25/8:22/8:45

We were now off the main road and now running on a smaller, two lane road that we would be on for most of the rest of the race. I've got to say that even though it was beautiful countryside, it got kind of boring. I focused on my PR goal and powering up the hills. Every time I would look up from the road in front of me (the road was not in the best condition) I would look around to see yet another row of grape bushes or another small hill approaching or another curve in the road. It was still pretty cold out, the fog stayed with us for the entire race, so I pushed ahead, trying to get to the end faster so that I could get warm. I felt fine with my pace, which ended up staying pretty consistent. :)
Miles 4 through 10 - 8:44/8:40/8:41/8:43/8:42/8:47/9:06

Focused on the finish!
By mile 10, I knew I would get my PR. I had 32 minutes to finish the last 3.1 miles. Unless I totally fell apart, I would get my sub 2 hour half. It's something I've been wanting to do for a few years now. I put the possible fear of falling apart out of my mind, even though I could feel my pace slowing a little. The hills were getting harder to power up. Even the flat sections seemed to have a slight rise to them. I forced my self to not look at my garmin so much to see how much further I had. I thought about the book I had recently finished. It's called "Wild" and is about this woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Her story was so inspiring. Thinking of all the crazy things she encountered on her journey, helped to keep my mind off of my discomfort. Thankfully, just before mile 13, we turned on to a main road, which I knew would lead us to the finish. There were lots of people around now, cheering us on. My right calf was starting to tighten up, so I focused on keeping my form and getting to the finish. We turned to the right and then another sharp right onto the winery property. The finish was in sight! I kicked it in strong to the finish. I was so happy to see my sub 2 hour finish time!
Miles 11 through 13.26 - 9:01/9:11/9:05/2:07
Finish: 1:56:25

I brought some wine back with me. Couldn't drink
the sample I got, so I poured it into my water bottle
and brought it home. :)
I got my awesome finishers medal and headed over to get something to drink. I found the tent with our wine glasses, got that and then headed over to the local running store tent. They had foam rollers and the stick out for people to use. I got down on the grass and rolled out my calves as best I could. It hurt, but also felt good. :) I then went to check out the food tent. They had rice, black beans and bread. Um, not what I wanted at 9am! I had a Marathon Bar in my bag back in the car, so I just decided to head over to the buses and get back to my car. Our bus driver was speedy, getting us back to the start area in good time.

Overall, I would recommend this race. It was well run, the weather was perfect and the t-shirt, medal and wine glass goodies were great.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Top Gun Triathlon
July 28, 2012
Me and Gina before the race.
Top Gun Triathlon is the largest triathlon for me to date. There is only one distance (the sprint) for all athletes. They capped the entrants at 1200. The race sold out a few weeks ago.  Since we knew it was going to be crowded, Gina and I had an early start race morning. We got going at 4:30 am and arrived at Ft Desoto Park at 5:30, just as transition was opening. We walked over, got our body marking done, hit the porta potties and then went back to the car for our bikes. Since it was still so early, we had lots of time to kill. We got our bikes racked and our gear set up. Made another trip to the car and then waited in line for the porta potties again. By the time we were done with that, we had just a few minutes before the closing of the transition area. We headed down to the beach. It was a hot morning. Low 80s when I left the house. I was sweating just standing on the beach waiting for the start. I had a hard time getting my new Garmin to set to the multisport function. I asked Lauren’s dad for help, but he couldn’t figure it out either. So, I set it to bike mode and figured I would wait to turn it on then. Lauren and I were in the 4th wave, which included the Athena and 20-29 age group. There were about 140 women in that group! Lauren was nervous, it was her first triathlon, but I kept telling her she would do great.
Swim, 440 yards: We got started about 7:15 (a little late). The water was pretty shallow for a long ways, so I ran it in for a bit. I had started at the back, but managed to get in the thick of it while running. This was just a waste of time, since I couldn’t swim with so many people around me! It was crazy packed! Every time I put my head in the water, I saw a foot coming towards my face. I slowed down and let people get around me. By the time we got to the first buoy and turned to the left (to swim parallel to the beach) I had moved over to the left. I finally got in a good swimming rhythm. I was swimming along and then looked up to see where I was at. I discovered that I was about to run into a guy sitting in his kayak. He was waving his hands at me and pointing to my right. Oops, I was a bit off course. I got back into another groove and continued on.  A little before the last buoy, I turned and saw a wave of silver capped guys coming on fast, they wave that started after us. I even saw a pinked cap swimming in there. She was in the wave before mine! As soon as I could touch the bottom and run, I did. I had a good run out of the water and up the beach toward transition. I grabbed a cup of water from the water stand and poured it on my feet. I grabbed a second one and tried to drink it. The water ended up half in my mouth and half up my nose. I am not good at running and drinking! The parking lot/transition area was not kind to my feet. I slowly made my way to my bike, toweled off, put on my socks and shoes (which took way to long!), put on my tank and helmet and headed out of transition. Swim: 8:46 (12th out of 15). T1: 4:07(yikes! Very long)
Bike, 10miles: I had my garmin set to bike mode, so I started that once I got going. I wanted to work on keeping my speed up, so I needed to see that on my watch. I felt very good on the bike and kept my speed high (for me) at an 18.4 mph average! Just past mile 1, I grabbed my water bottle to get a drink. Lost my grip on it and it went flying behind me. I had to yell out for the riders behind me to watch out. Next time I don't bring one of my favorite bottles with me. :( I caught up to Lauren soon after that. She had a great swim, beating me out of the water. We had the roads to ourselves, which was great because there were a lot of riders out there! I was being passed and passing people constantly.  After the turnaround, I saw Melissa (speedy lady) and then Gina. I made it my goal to try and stay ahead of Melissa, but was thinking the whole rest of the ride, that she would catch up to me. The last mile, I changed gears, in an effort to loosen up my legs for the run. I came into transition, hopped off my bike and headed to my spot. I went to the wrong one first. The woman had the same, bright pink mat that I have. It took me a second to see that the stuff on it wasn’t mine! I wheeled the bike back out and found my stuff 3 rows down. J During this time, I reset my Garmin and switched it to “run” mode. I racked my bike, took off my helmet, put on my visor, grabbed my water bottle and wash cloth and headed out of transition. Bike (9.48m): 30:59 (8th). T2: 1:36
Run, 5K: I felt strong heading out on the run. It was very hot, but my legs felt fine. I just needed to get my breathing under control. I looked at my watch after a while, thinking I must be getting to mile one, and I was only just over half a mile. Wow, this was going to be a long 5k! I’m very happy I had my water, though I could have used the water stops. They had 3 out there for us, which is alot for a 5K. About half way through the run, we left the sidewalk that we had been running on and started the beach run portion. Thankfully, it was hard packed sand. We did encounter a couple of wet spots, were we all ran single file, to stay on the higher sections of the path. I got stuck behind one guy who was going slow, but I wasn’t about to run through the mud and deal with heavy shoes. Around mile two, we were greeted with ice cold towels. Wonderful! I squeezed some over my head and then wrapped it over my shoulders and neck. It felt great. I kept that on for the next mile, dropping it on the grassy area of the park once we turned off the beach. I was so thankful to see the finish line up ahead. Though it seemed really far away! I ran it in strong to finish the race. Run (3.18m): 29:51 (1st)
Total Time 1:15:20
Overall I am very happy with my race. Great improvement in the swim and bike portions. I wish I could have kept a better pace for the run. I ended up with 4th place in my 40 and over Athena age group. They had awards 5 deep, so I came home with a nice plaque. J