On Sunday I took part in the Vineman Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Sonoma, a triathlete’s version of a trip to the wine country.
This is my first 70.3 mile event, you might remember my previous attempt at this distance ended with my bike crash two weeks before the race last October.
A 70.3 Ironman consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, followed by a 13.1 mile run. The plan going in was to only do the swim and bike as I’d been having knee issues since my half marathon last month. My coach Paul Kinney recommended I leave my running shows behind so I wouldn’t be tempted to do the run. The concern was not to jeopardize my ultimate goal of completing a full 140.6 Ironman this November. Whilst I knew it made sense I was torn by the idea of not completing the race.
Vineman is a beautiful course that starts with a swim in the Russian River at Guerneville, followed by a scenic ride through Sonoma that winds its way to Windsor High School and from there a run out to La Crema Winery and back.
It was up at 4:30am Sunday morning and heading off to Guerneville at 5:15am to set up my bike transition and get ready for my wave to start at 6:54am. Thankfully it was a misty morning (you can see it above the water) that boded for cooler temperatures for the first part of the race at least.
I had a great swim, it’s a really easy course as it’s hard to go too far off track, the river is quite narrow. In places it was so shallow that my hand hit the bottom and I saw a number of people walking along…not quite in the spirit of Ironman! I came out of the water after 47 minutes feeling in great shape. Given I was not planning on finishing the race I had a nice leisurely 12 minute transition (the pros were out in 1 minute, by comparison).
Finishing the Bike Ride
The bike really is beautiful, winding through the wine country passed vineyards and wineries, all helps take your mind of the 56 mile ride ahead. I must say though, that the roads are a tad treacherous; twisty, bumpy and narrow (they aren’t closed to traffic). Made for an exciting experience, especially with the two sets of train tracks you have to cross (given my prior run-in with train tracks). I finished the bike in 3 hours 8 minutes, averaging just under 18 mph.
Exiting for the Run
Felt in great shape, felt strong and I know Paul had recommended not to do the run…but I had set up my shoes in the second transition just in case and what harm could a little run do anyway? And so off I went against doctors orders.
My focus was just on enjoying the race, originally I’d wanted to complete it in under six and a half hours, now I just wanted to finish safely. The run is a tough one, rolling hills a good chunk of the way so I kept it to mostly walking with a little bit of slow jogging mixed in.
Crossing The Finish Line
Good news is I had no knee issues and whilst I faded somewhat on the second half of the run I still completed the half marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes for a total race time of 7 hours 11 minutes. And to be honest I felt in great shape, if I’d been fully fit and hadn’t just taken a month of training whilst I was travelling in Europe (not the best of plans) I think I could have got close to the 6 hour mark.
All-in-all I was ecstatic with the race, it gave me great confidence that my running issues are behind me and that I’m well on my way to preparing for a full Ironman this November in Cozumel. I’ve got 4 months of training left and $5,000 to raise for CAF.
You can view more pictures of my race on Facebook or watch me finish the swim and cross the finish line below.
Just want to say thank you to my top donors this last month, Martin, Chris and Nghia, thank you so much. I was just shy of my $5,000 goal to mark the midpoint of my challenge with $4,679, for those of you waiting on the sidelines, go on, click the button, I dare you.
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Mount Kilimanjaro, Empire State Building Run-up & Ironman Lake Placid
Help me raise $10,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation to celebrate still being alive 10 years after my near-fatal accident