VineMan 70.3, 2011, by Jen C

The Devil is in the Details! VineMan 70.3 2011 review

By Jen C, third half Ironman, old age women category

I joined one of the TRIMORE weekend intense sessions late in 2008, just before the Marin County Olympic Distance Tri.

Has it really been 2.5 years?

I wanted to know: what relative effort should I expend on each of swimming, cycling and running to gain efficiency, to get the biggest benefit? And, without expiring before the end of the run. Where do you push? Where do you lay off? How much training is enough to finish, without overtraining? My how far I have come since riding my bike from San Francisco to Tiburon and taking the Ferry back, many years ago!! And needing to take a nap to recover.

I wanted to improve in the areas of my strengths, and learn to work around the areas that were not going to improve much. Mission accomplished.

Since I would not be an age-group place contender, my goal was to feel better and be confident doing so.

TRIMORE = Far More Fun and Far Less Struggle.

I’ve been participating in all three sports for 25 years but didn’t actually do a tri until 2006. Then, not many – just one a year. Until last year. I was motivated by my improvement at the Wildflower Olympic distance. Together with the urging of certain TRIMORE teamies, (Nancy R) I moved on up to the half IM distance.

You don’t need to train (much) more. You need to train better.

VineMan 2011 Half Ironman was an outstanding example of the improvement you can experience. How?

– regularly attending one RST a week,
– focusing on quality long runs (outside of the brick run),
– using a heart rate monitor
– paying much more attention to fueling and nutrients like electrolytes, magnesium, calcium etc.

You want to experience the full weight management benefit of your hard work. Without knowing any better, your though is to try to eat less before and during a work out or immediately after since you aren’t really hungry. And, you want to get the most benefit from burning calories. Why un-do the benefits of the calorie burn by eating MORE? But this is completely opposite of what you must do to avoid gastro discomfort or full on distress or a complete bonk. Endurox recovery drink has been a pivotal part of my performance improvement in the last couple of years. Replacing spent glycogen stores immediately after the workout and in the right proportion of carbs and protein is essential. When the recovery nutrients are not readily available, your body goes to muscle glycogen for fuel instead and the result is sore muscles.

Week before – drink water/fluids in quantities such that your new favorite hobby is finding a bathroom. We all hear it, but do we do it?

Heart Rate Monitoring
If you use one during training and also get VO2 Max tested, Neil can better help you train specifically in the zone that is efficient and sustainable and help you determine what zone to work during the actual race. See bike comments below.

Selecting your race day digs
Simple. Don’t wear anything you haven’t worm before. I remembered to put body glide everywhere where wetsuits and/or undergarments could rub. Even a shirt that doesn’t hit where you want or drags down from the water soak on the swim is not good for race day.

Having a great race is as much or more a mental challenge. What a difference if you have TRIMORE digs on! People recognize you and it feels great that they do. Saw Coach Tracey and Ed on the water stops as well. The GGTC people are so kind about giving a great shout out too!

Bike check up.
I waited until two days before, on the way to the race, since my bike guy is not close to my house. After my bike was ready, I did not actually ride it to see if the gears were shifting. I jumped on the bike the night before the race only to find out that the gears weren’t shifting fully into place. Sure, it can be corrected, but any cause for stress is something you don’t need that close to race time. I called the bike guy in a panic and he told me how to adjust. Lesson: have your bike checked a week before race day and ride a short ride before to make sure.

Food the day before:
Meal the night before – simple pasta, early on so that you can digest and attempt to go to bed early. I cheated and had a little crème sauce.

In the afternoon I confess I had a scoop of Basin Robbins. Oh well, it was early enough in the day!

Good night’s sleep.
Amazingly, this time I actually got some measurable amount of sleep. Must be feeling fairly confident. Visions of walking during the swim if needed was comforting! I would bring my own pillow next time to be absolutely sure to avoid a possible crick in your neck.

Food prep
Prior races I didn’t eat enough on the ride. It’s not easy to focus on the road with it’s potholes, make sure you don’t draft someone, make sure you don’t get run over by super racers and eat on the bike.

Make sure your packages of cliff blocks or GU gel bags are already opened and ready to go. Don’t find you have to break them open with your teeth on the ride. My GU chomps were a bit stuck in the bag. I didn’t think to make sure they were loosened up first.

Breakfast – at o’dark’hundred
It was ½ bagel with a little butter on the way to the race and a yogurt waiting for my wave to start. Intended to eat a banana too, but it just didn’t happen. Will make it happen next time.

Arrive at the race much earlier than you need to.
VineMan does not require everyone to leave the transition area by a certain time, so technically you don’t have to be there as early as the first wavers. You can use the extra time to snack if you haven’t quite eaten enough.

Bring Toilet Paper to T1
Eating the bagel brings me to the next point. The lines for the port o potties are really long and not always stocked. Bring your own before the race starts!! I was pining after mine that was back in the car.

Transition set up
TRIMORE needs to have a little distinctive flag you can tape to your transition area rack that sticks up slightly. Although this year I found my place fairly quickly, last year I was a little off. A number of people put an identifier like a pinwheel by their rack spots so they could easily see it. I bet race officials won’t let us have an official TRIMORE item, but can’t we find something to use here so that teamies can see and find their places?

At T1, I put a wet cloth in a baggie so I could wipe the Russian River Funk off my face before the bike. For sure start the sun screen application before the bike starts, even when it’s cloudy. You just don’t know when the sun will finally come out. The two years I’ve done this race it’s been a cloudy start but sunny later on. It was quite foggy last year.

Vineman’s Russian River swim is the one of the easiest swims outside of a pool. Piece of cake compared to Marin County Tri swim or Aquatic Park. Mostly because it’s warm and sans wave action. You mostly go forward instead of side to side and up and down. Less dizziness too. Wahoo!

As long as you have been in your wetsuit a number of times prior, no issues. It’s not like Oceanside where the cold water and lack of training enough in cold water can cause great risk of cramps. (And land you a DNF as happened to me).

I improved my alligator eyes sighting skills by not bringing my head too far out of the water. Also made sure my timing chip strap was really attached well this year. I lost some time last year futzing with it. Result? Swim time 42 min. Faster than last year by 3 minutes. And, I did not get clobbered by the faster swimmers coming up in the wave behind me!

Trust the heart rate monitor. Also, you almost can’t eat enough on the bike.

This sounds so odd. It’s no problem to put away food any other time. But you must. You must because you just can’t digest the same on the run. I took in one GU as soon as I could get out of the mayhem of starting the bike ride. I made a pnut butter and jelly sandwich and cut it up in pieces to eat on the ride. I practiced this during training. Noticeable difference. Improved run times off the bike from increasing my calorie intake just a few hundred calories. Prior to, I was only eating one package of clif blocks and a GU for 50 miles without any calories in the drink.

Mistake: I used a different kind of bread on race day and it was hard to chew and swallow. At least I did not buy that cheesy garlic bread from Healdsburg bakery!

You cannot change anything on race day from what you’ve done during training. Even if no one is looking! Also, it seems to help to drink only water on the last 20 minutes of the ride, other food or drink mixes don’t work well on opening mile where you are trying to quick step your legs back from jello to strong run legs. It worked ok, but I still didn’t eat enough of the peanut butter sandwich, since it was hard to eat.

Last year, Neil told me to ride at Heart Rate in the 140s on the bike. I was pumped up going into the ride, since the swim gives you lots of confidence. Instead of the 140’s as instructed, I stayed in the 160’s for the first hour and a half. It was hard to bring it down. The run suffered last year partly for this miss on the heart rate.

This year, I was in the 150’s and even a bit lower at times. This year, I had a few minutes faster overall time AND I expended less effort. Yes, this is the result you want from training smarter. The most important benefit of riding in the right zone is the significant improvement in how you feel on the run. You can only know the right zone on race day by trial and error during training. 3:15 on the bike. A few minutes faster. Not a big deal. But the BIG DEAL was that I used less effort and much more energy was available for the run.

Next year coming off the bike I might try to get out of my shoes sooner. You can’t jog well in bike shoes. Perhaps I could have left them attached to the bike.

Since this race has a cloudy weather start, you might want sunglasses that are not quite as dark. There a number of shady and bad road conditions that were hard to see. Next year I will wear slightly lighter lens if they day starts off cloudy.

Since my bike zone was better aligned, and since I have 18 months of RST behind me instead of just 6 months (last year) I was much better prepared for the run. You can see benefits from RST only after a month or two, but to experience the long term benefit is terrific!

Last year, every step of every mile was challenging. Felt some gastro distress from not eating enough and suffered as a result of the wrong heart rate during the bike. This year, WOW, what a difference. The challenge didn’t really kick in on the run until about mile 8.

Another adjustment I made compared to last year: My transition training runs after the bike were somewhat shorter in duration than last year. Instead I focused on a higher quality standalone run (not off the bike). Higher quality longer stand-alone run helped. Last year was my first half ironman, and I only trained two months at increased distances (after Wildflower). This year having trained for Oceanside since last December, I’d been doing long runs for many months.

It’s the combination: RST, more training but not overtraining and then eating chomps or blocks more frequently during run training all working together.

This year I trained in the super light weight shoes, both Nike Free and the New Balance light weight one. Since I wore them a number of times prior to the race, I found that I needed a band aid on one toe. One little blister could be one big problem if you don’t know what’s coming. A Band Aid is not going to stay on. I bought some duct tape that worked just fine and stayed on in the water.

Shoes work well at 1 hour 30 minutes training, but not as well on longer times. There is a powder that is good for blister prevention called Blister Shield.

During run training, I tried GU Brew in my bottle on a run of one hour and a half which worked (stand alone run). But I had not tried to do this on a run after cycling, prior to the race. More devilish details. It was way too sweet tasting for the run in warmer weather after the bike. I had to ditch my bottle as I had a very slight stomach stress during the miles up to 6. Not bad, but just enough to want to correct the problem.

Run result 8 minutes faster overall. That’s good in itself but the thrill of having less challenging miles up until 8 or 9 instead of wanting to quit every step was the big success!

Immediately after the race, recovery nutrition is important. Make sure to grab carbs and some protein. I was excited to see the VineMan vittles! Oceanside vittles: pizza and cookies. Whatsup with that??? VineMan provided chicken, buns, great fruits and a cookie. I was going to do my usual Endurox recovery drink, but I think their vittles worked well.

Days one and two after the race I am tired but not crippled. Clearly the result of training….with a plan, even as I run my executive search firm and travel 25% of the time. Some days the only training was a shuffle through airports trying not to look at the cinnabuns and pizza hut!

I actually planned to increase my total race time over last year by 15 minutes, thinking the slow down on the bike would help me feel better on the run. Not only did I improve my total race time with each segment improving, I felt better the whole time.

Thanks Neil and TRIMORE team.


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