Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Vineman Ironman Report

The 2008 Vineman Ironman Distance triathlon was interesting to say the least. The course featured a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run for a total of 140.6 miles, all to be done in one day. Well, my teammates and I arrived in Santa Rosa, CA on Thursday. It was generally a cool day with daytime highs of about 80-85 degrees and night lows of maybe 50. After settling in our hotel, we went for a team dinner, chatted, laughed, some cried, and back to hotel and slept. Friday comes; we woke up early and were in the Russian river to get a feel for the water, practice swimming one last time, and to get all the jitters out. It worked as the water was likeably warm and the air temperature was perfect. Every one of us was looking forward to the race at that point thinking that the weather is going to be on our side. The rest of Friday was pretty standard… We had a team lunch, chatted, chatted some more, went for a bike ride to make sure all the components are in working order, and chatted some more and more. As Friday evening approached, I started getting a bit nervous of what I am about to do Saturday. The lights out time was 9PM.

Race Morning – Swim

4:30 AM – Met at hotel lobby, did a head count, and made our way to race/swim start. As soon as I walked out of the hotel, I did notice that the air temperature was much warmer than the past two days. Being in denial, I didn’t think much of it.

5:30 AM - Arrived at Johnson’s Beach, got situated, and walked nervously until race start. Congratulated my teammates as I kept running into them and said phrases like, “we’re actually going to do this”.

6:45 – The gun went off and the race started. After about 15 minutes of swimming, I looked up and saw the sun. The only thing I could think of at the moment was, “crap, this is going to be a hot day”. Overall, the swim went great. While my time wasn’t exactly top notch (1 hour 18 minutes), I wasn’t too disappointed considering that 8 months ago I couldn’t swim across a 25-meter pool.

7:00 – Out of the water and wobbled my way to transition. Wetsuit off, helmet on, socks on, shoes on, and off I go.

Race Afternoon – Bike

7:00AM – 1:30 PM

This was my approximate bike duration. The course consisted of two 56-mile loops starting from Johnson beach and ending at Windsor High School in Windsor, CA. The first 56-mile loop went really fast. With the help of my best friend, Mr. Tail Wind, I was able to average nearly 24 miles per hour for the first 56 miles. I could’ve gone much faster but remembering coach Paul’s advice to conserve some energy for the 26-mile run, I didn’t. My favorite part of the first 56 miles was when I passed riders with fancy $5K wheels and deuchebag (aero) helmets.

On to next 56 miles… This was probably the most challenging part of the Ironman. The temperature increased significantly to upper 90’s, pain in my right foot developed which made it very difficult to pedal with it let alone to stand on it (worried me as to how I was going to get through the 26 mile run), and all of a sudden, the tailwind changed its direction to a significant headwind. I was using my left leg to pedal and was only “soft-pedaling” with my right one. The pain was excruciating to push down on the pedal. Long story short, I had a really difficult time on the second loop. The frustration was setting, leading to exhaustion. The second loop average speed dropped to 15 miles per hour.


1:30 – 6PM

Run, Run, Run, and Run some more!!! The marathon potion of the Ironman was my favorite part of the event. Coming off the bike with the pain in my right foot, I was greatly concerned as to how I was going to pull of the 26-mile trick. I sat, massaged my foot for a good 10 minutes and started walking the run course. For the first two miles, it was just walking. Thankfully, the pain dispersed after taking 4 extra strength Tylanols and I was able to run. The heat was unbearable and was probably in triple digits. However, constant hydration and hose showers helped greatly to go through the run and not collapse. The run featured three 8.7 mile out and back loops. The first two miles had many spectators cheering, but after that, the only people out on the course were the volunteers at the aid stations. Anyhow, I only walked a few spots on the run (other than the first 2 miles). I generally felt good on the run and I felt like I could’ve gone much faster. But taking heat into consideration, I didn’t want to raise my body temperature and collapse. Therefore, I took it nice and slow, for the most part. Come the last loop of the course, I kicked it up a notch and increased my pace significantly for the "superstar" finish.

6PM -------

Hang out with my Team in Training cheering squad and became a loud spectator. It was great to see so many of my teammates finishing in style, looking strong, healthy, and really kicking some major ass. One in particular, Carlos…. While for most of the run he was well ahead of me, upon seeing another teammate, Danielle, he realized that she needed help and started walking/ running with her for support. In fact, he continued to do so for the remainder of his race. Now, that’s not the amazing part, yet. After he was done with his race, he ran right back out on course and ran with her for her last loop. What a great sport!!!! So, not only did he do an Ironman, but he also did an ultra marathon (34.6 miles), all in one!!!!!!


I had a wonderful time in Sonoma County. Training with my teammates has had a positive impact on my life. We had great times together, laughed, struggled, and bonded. They have become my second family. In fact, I spent more time with them training and having fun than I did with my own family. I would’ve never imagined that training for an Ironman could be so much fun. I also thank my coaches (Paul, Rad, Brad), mentors, and captains. The fact that this team was so great was not due to one person’s efforts, but everyone combined. Great teamwork leads to great results.

I saved the best for last!!! Cynthia!!!!! She has been so awesome and supportive every step of the way. My training really did take a toll on our relationship. Like I said, I spent more time training than I did with her. She’s been very understanding, supportive, and encouraging. She’s been a big influence on me, not only during this training, but also during my weight loss journey, and everything else. I really hope that she decides to join IronTEAM next year so she can experience what it's like to be an "Ironman".



Rich said...

Awesome review!!

I did not hear that story about Carlos. That is amazing!

Stevie said...

Wow, this is very motivating, I'm a runner myself & will definitely push harder for my next race. Congratulations!