Thursday, 16 July 2015

Vineman 70.3

After racing in the extreme heat at Challenge Williamsburg I took a few days off to travel for some sight seeing and to celebrate my 21st birthday. First stop was Las Vegas, took a day trip out to the Grand Canyon, the Red Rock Canyon and the famed Vegas Strip. Then headed to the West Coast and road tripped Newport Beach up to Malibu. Saw a lot of cool places and it was a great experience. It wasn't long until I would be back on the plane to where I would base myself for the next 7 weeks... Boulder, Colorado. From what I have read and heard, this place is great for training and was keen as to get there.  

I arrived in Boulder on the 22nd of June just short of 3 weeks before I would  race Vineman 70.3, fingers crossed it would be enough time to gain some benefit and I would come down from altitude fine. I picked up a cheap commuter the 2nd day I got there that would allow me to cruise around town and get to the pool each morning as I was only staying 2mile away from the 50m pool which was a bonus. Was happy to be back swimming long course again, I was getting dizzy swimming in a 25yrd pool. Next was exploring on the bike, after a couple of short rides just out of town it was time to hit the hills and no better way to do it than have a guided tour from Craig Alexander. We rode 110k which included a 38k climb up to 9250ft, the roads and scenery were unreal. Riding up the canyons made time pass quickly while climbing. Plenty of options for running, my favourite being Boulder Creek Path. Although I didn't get too many hard sessions in before the race I was cautious not too over do it but still get plenty of hours done.

I came down from Boulder on the Friday before the race, landed in San Francisco just before lunch and headed up to Petaluma where I would spend the first night. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time was awesome, glad the Famous Fog wasn't too bad and was able to catch a glimpse of Alcatraz. Got some dinner in Petaluma and was off to bed early ready for the next leg of the drive. From here we travelled further up to where the race start was and our accommodation for the next two nights Johnsons Beach, Guerneville. Mum and I were very lucky to book a sweet cabin right at the beach just two days before due to a cancellation. Did my usual pre race swim at the race location in my new Xterra Vengeance wetsuit, my first swim in it and I was speechless. I've tried many wetsuits but nothing compares to this, the buoyancy and flexibility is unreal, it's like wearing nothing at all and the wetsuit is extremely fast to slip off for those quick transitions. The guys at Xterra have created a masterpiece. Was off to race briefing next and T2 setup before heading back to the cabin to prepare for Sundays race.

The men's Pro list was stacked full of big names and some of the world's quickest over the half distance, I was pretty nervous but very excited and honoured to have the chance to race alongside these guys. The start list ended up 25 by race morning and go time was 6:25am. Quick swim warm up down to the start line and I was in deep water shoulder to shoulder with some extremely fast guys... literally. Horn was off and the 100m sprint was on to the first buoy, I was leading out the left side but a quick breath to the right I saw the middle and far right was pulling away, fast. I knew they couldn't possibly hold this pace for long. After 200m I was sitting in 2nd or 3rd on the feet of what seemed to be a boat, his kick was wild and he ended up gapping the field early on. We passed under the bridges where the shallow section started and the leader had about a 20m gap, the river bottom was right there and it was porpoise time. It wasn't long till myself and a few other guys bridged the gap and we were back on his feet. We remained behind him until the turn around, his kick stopped and Appleton and I took the lead side by side with a trail of guys behind us. We kept even all the way to the shore until I just got the edge with a few porpoises to exit the water first with a time of 22:42. 

We pretty much exited the water and were in the transition, out onto the bike, the mount was a little tricky being up hill so I decided to run it up to the flat where I could mount easily. The pace was on straight away and it was fast, there was no let up. It took me over half an hour before I realized I should take some nutrition because I was so focused on trying to ride hard and stayed tucked in aero. Once we hit some hills I was able to sit up and starting consuming fluid and gels, I tried a different strategy of nutrition on the bike this time and hoped it would pay off in the back end of the race. The course was hard and the pace was harder, I was feeling good but the rest of the guys were up the road and I was chasing for the first hour until an attack was made 'at the spot' . I was unaware of 'this spot' and was caught off guard falling off the pace and lost sight of the front group. Even though I was feeling great on the bike the pace was just too quick. I rode strong by myself for the second hour and tried not to lose too much time. Finished the ride in a time of 2:09:2.

Coming off the bike I was 4min down on the pack of 7 and Appleton had another 2min on them. I wasn't sure what the gap was behind but I was chasing that group ahead, going out confident in the run. Looking down at my watch and the pace was good and I was feeling in control, the miles were ticking by and soon enough 8th position was in sight, I passed Bell on a short climb around mile 3 and I kept pushing on. I took a whole different approach to my nutrition this race and it looked like it was working, slowing down though the aid stations making sure I took on board what I needed helped a lot. Now over half way and still running strong, in the back of my mind I was waiting to hit the wall which I had suffered the past few races but as the miles went by and the pace kept the same I was thinking I could finally finish with a decent run. The course was tough and there were plenty of rolling hills but now only a km to go and still running the same pace as the first few k's I was stoked and finished strong to hold an average of 3:43min/km for a slightly long half marathon.

Very happy to finish 8th overall in a very strong field at Vineman 70.3, first time under 4hrs with a finish of 3:55:38. Congrats to the other Aussies Appo and Crowie taking 1 and 2 on the podium and Collington 3rd. Some big positives from that race, even though I couldn't keep up with the pace on the bike, my run was very pleasing and heading in the right direction for faster times in the near future.

Massive thanks to my parents for allowing me to travel to this race and all my sponsors that provide me with the best equipment. Also quick shout out to Colorado Multisport for chucking on a Zipp disc before flying out, I don't think a 2hr 10 bike split would have been possible without it.
Back to Boulder now where I will spend the next month preparing for Timberman 70.3 on the 16th of August.

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