Vineman Ironman Triathlon Race review report 2010

Filed under: random stuff — admin @ 10:28 am

~ This was posted on - August 3, 2010

Patrick runs an on-hold messaging studio, providing music on hold and telephone scripting in the Portland Vancouver area through, BUT he also does triathlons and is a member of the Portland Triathlon Club.  Enjoy!

Race Report

The Vineman is the longest running Iron-distance triathlon that’s not franchised by the Ironman Corporation; And they’ve been improving on the race for 21 years now… it’s a good system, and a great race. This is my seventh triathlon in three years, and first full distance.

But every triathlon has to borrow somebody else’s lake, road, and facility. So read on to learn about what gives this event so much personality. The Vineman also has a 70.2 distance race two weeks earlier than than the 140.4.

Overall Score: B+

Registration: B

Good pre race meeting, and pretty good parking at Windsor High School. A modest expo. Not to detract from the level of helpful support, but the line for registration was maybe 800 people long (no, that’s not a typo: 800). Here’s a tip: Register before (or several hours after) your pre-race meeting. If you register right after your meeting over, be prepared to wait in long, long line.

I came back to register later in the day, so maybe that’s why the only swag left were eye drops and shampoo. On the other hand, the (included) race finisher shirts are super nice technical tees with cool graphics. Somebody really worked to get a nice design! The medal is slick too.

Parking at T1: F

Guerneville downtown is 5 blocks long? It doesn’t have enough streets to accommodate 2,000 athletes parallel parking on any day, much less Saturday morning.

Parking at T2 and Finish: B+

It was a big high school.

Volunteers and support: A

Top notch. Aid stations well stocked and helpful. Everyone appeared enthusiastic to help. The volunteers were well managed, and there was always a knowledgeable supervisor within shouting distance. This was a welcome change from the clueless teenagers you encounter at AA events. Vineman had great volunteers!

Camaraderie and Enthusiasm: A

The inclusion of the all women’s ½ Iron-distance Barb’s race on the run course with the full iron-distance triathlon meant lots of chatter and fun on the run course. The swim and bike were business-as-usual. The Vineman is a three lap race, looping through the finish area, so you get a big bump from the cheering crowd!

Many people set up hoses and music along the run course to encourage runners with “Eye of the Tiger” and a cool spray.

Porta-poties: C

The line up at the main bank of facilities was 20+ minutes long prior to the first heat. I got in line for the bathrooms at 6:00, and got to the water 30 seconds before my 6:35am heat. There was also a line up at the first bike aid station. The facilities were where you expected them, just not enough for peak times.

Swim: A-

It was my first river swim, and the narrower passage makes more for more swim traffic throughout the race. Twice during the swim the depth decreased to 2 ½ feet, and most swimmers waded it. Maybe 100’. It was just a part of the race.

Great support, and safer than most races. At one random point I stopped and lifted my goggles to look about, and within 20 seconds a lifeguard in a kayak made eye contact with me – signaling the thumbs up / thumbs down to make sure I was okay.

Bike: A-

A fun course with gently rolling hills and meandering curves. One really good steep hill. Classic wine county scenery – unless you’re in aerobars, then you can’t see anything but the road. 2/3rds of the road quality was lumpy, but from what I’ve seen a lot of roads in California are suffering from deferred maintenance…

If you’re used to Pacific Crest or Blue Lake, Vineman is not as fast, and the road quality is 3 out of 5. Pay attention to those lazy corners. I nearly ran in to a rider who went down when he cut an uphill corner a bit hard, ran his front wheel off on to the shoulder, and fell onto the pavement. Owie. Five minutes later, he ran off the road again, probably from amped up and in pain. Another rider I spoke with pulled over to relieve himself (read here: not enough portapoties), but fell in the gravel as he stopped.

Other bike groups were also riding the pleasant course in the opposite direction, and I appreciated it… but at least one of the local didn’t. I pulled over for a mechanical issue and got a drive-by insult from one of the neighbors (“A** Hoooooooooole”). I guess Sonoma County has its share of male rednecks in late model vehicles, same as Oregon. Traffic was mild.

I saw at least a dozen incidents of drafting, and it’s no surprise that monitoring from motorcycle-riding officials was very sparse compared to other triathlon races. One dude was on my wheel for a few blocks until I slowed down, forcing him to pass as he mumbled, “…don’t even say it.”

Run: A

Great support throughout from the aid stations. 50% shaded. Lots of stout California Highway Patrol at intersections, and not much traffic at all. I liked the three out-n-back loops. It helped me anticipate the geography that was coming up, and be entertained by encountering almost all the participants at some point. No listening devices were allowed, and I didn’t’ see any. The crowd was very enthusiastic… the best I’ve ever seen.

Finish line and after: B+

My wife volunteered for the day, so they let her greet me at the line with a kiss, and present me with a handsome finishers metal… that was nice! I finished at twilight, and the crowd was still going strong, solid cheers behind the crowd barrier for 150 yards or so! That was pretty cool.

Although I did not use them (my mistake), T1 gear and bike check tickets are included in your registration packet… this allows others to pick up your gear while they wait for you to finish your run.

The post-race food was good, but the time I finished (twilight), there wasn’t much left. A cold hamburger, a hot cup of chicken soup, a bit of salad… One serving per person. Oh well. No better or worse than other tri’s I’ve done. They also had a few energy cookies, but I was so tired of sugary drinks and shot bloks that I passed on anything with sugar. Yick!

AS this was my first full Ironman, it was quite the experience…

What I did not expect:

The biggest thing I did not expect was the wear and tear on my musculature and joints. I had plenty of energy throughout the race – avg. HR on the bike 135, and never got winded on the run – but my knees and feet did not have the endurance to keep up with where my mind and cardio wanted to go.

What I did right:

Held back on the bike, and ate… even when I did not feel like it.

Best moment of the day:

Moving through the pack on the swim (and Finish Line, of course).

Worst moment of the day:

Mile 50 through 80, when I was thinking: “You gave up all that time to train… for this? I’m not having fun at all! This sucks!”

Biggest Problem to Overcome:

My bike’s headset disassembled inside the travel case during transit. I must have re-assembled it poorly, because the steering column was stiff for the ride. I fought that bike for 112 miles.

Biggest Solution:

Dumping ice into the legs of my tri-suit at every aid station. Ahh!

Best Insight:

Our city-life is so far removed from the native engineering of our amazing bodies. Humans are not that strong or fast compared to our land-based mammalian cousins, but we are long. We are the whales of the land, just going and going and going. It’s been so rewarding to strip away our cushy modern environment to experience first-hand the potential of our light and durable bodies.

Oh, yes the tattoo…!

Ironman Tattoo image

Ironman Tattoo image

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