Monday, July 30, 2012

Vineman 140.6 - Race Report

I did it. I finished. It took me forever and it was hell, but I didn't quit.  
Thanks to my photographers - Chris, Greg, and Rex!

The start.
Saturday morning started at 3:52am when my alarm went off. I drank some coffee and surfed the web for about 30 minutes before I started getting ready. I felt good and it was great that my awesome sister was there, keeping me positive and helping me with everything. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the bathroom before we left the hotel, but I figured there would be time for that once we got to the start. Friday it took us 28 minutes to get from the hotel to the start so we left Sat morning at 5:20 so we would have plenty of time before my swim wave was supposed to start at 6:40am.
Leaving the hotel 
Waiting to get into T1
The line to get to T1
Transition 1
The line to get into transition was ridiculous so by the time I got my stuff set up in T1 and got my body marked there was only 12 minutes before go time! Not enough time for me to wait in line for the bathroom, but enough time to get a few pics of me getting my wetsuite on!

Was the guy marking me drunk?? Totally asymmetrical. 
Can't wait to get started!
The swim (1:28).
We thought we had plenty of time, but then I heard the announcer say, "If you have a yellow cap, you have 30 seconds to get into the water".  So I hurried in, but was only knee-deep when my wave officially started. The swim part of the race was actually really enjoyable! It was a double out-and-back in the Russian River, which was fairly warm (not sure of the exact temp) and not too deep. They advised us in the pre-race meeting that "if you freak out or have a problem - don't drown, just stand up". Good advice. Luckily, the river was deeper than last year so it didn't impede my stroke, but still shallow enough that you could stand if needed. I did stand at one point to adjust the back of my wet suit. Unfortunately, I didn't learn from last year so my wet suit ended up chaffing the back of my neck pretty badly again. But I powered through and finished feeling really good. If I had it to do over I would have pushed harder. I feel like I had it in me to finish in 1:15, but I started out cautiously and didn't want to push too hard. Oh well, I'm pretty happy that it was under 1:30.

Transition 1 (7:14) 
T1 was pretty uneventful. I definitely took my time, but I wanted to make sure I had everything and got sunscreen everywhere (which, btw, hurt really bad on the sore that my wetsuit created on my neck!). 

The first 56 miles of the bike (3:35)
I was rocking the first half of the bike course!! My average speed was really good and I felt pretty good until about mile 40. That's when my stomach started really hurting. I was nauseous and when I pushed really hard on the bike, I had stabbing pains in my gut. Not only did that prevent me from enjoying how well I was doing, but it prevented me from eating as much as I should have - more on that later. Around mile 50 I heard a weird noise and noticed that my front tire was really low on air. So I pulled over and used my CO2 cartridge to pump it up, hoping that it would last until the next rest stop because I only had 1 CO2 cartridge and no hand pump so I didn't think I'd be able to change my tire. 

The bike course is 2 loops so after 56 miles I was passing through the T2/finish and got to see my cheerleaders!
Pulling up to my fan club :)
I am obviously not enjoying the race as much as Chris was enjoying cheering!
The second 56 miles of the bike (4:25)
Luckily, the next rest stop was around mile 60. I asked them if they had a bike pump and one of the volunteers grabbed one and came over to me and changed my tire for me! Technically, they're not supposed to help us, but since I wasn't exactly in the running to win it, he took pity on me. I was super grateful because he did it about 4 times faster than I could have. I was in and out of that rest stop in 11 minutes! I left there feeling a little rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of the race!
And that's when everything went to shit..... My stomach started hurting more and more, the wind started picking up, the heat got more and more intense, and my butt was really hurting from sitting on that bike so long!! So I kept getting slower and slower and slower. The first time around I grabbed gatorade and water and bananas as I passed the aid stations. The second loop I actually stopped at each aid station and took my time catching my breath and rehydrating. The last 10 miles of the bike were especially hard and I could not wait to get off that bike!!! I really cannot even put into words how much I was hating my bike!!

The run (6:12)
This was the worst 'run' I've ever had in the history of forever. My stomach problems may have started because I didn't get to go to the bathroom before the race (don't know why else?), but they were definitely compounded by the heat and the lack of food. So by the time I got to the run portion, I was seriously on the verge of hurling. Every time I tried to run, I was afraid I was going to lose it, so I had to walk. It was so aggravating that I cried a couple of times with frustration. My legs still had a lot of miles left in them (shockingly) so I could have had a really great marathon, but my stomach was not allowing that. Every single mile was a mental struggle to keep going. I honestly considered giving up after 3 miles of walking, but then I thought about it and did the math and realized that even walking most of it, I could finish before the cut-off. So I jogged the down-hills and walked the rest, resulting in a 14 min mile average. 

I finished the race with only 20 minutes left before the cut-off. Really disappointing. I mean, yeah, I finished. I'm happy about that because there were many many many miles when I was thinking that finishing was not a possibility. But running is usually my strongest sport and I know my legs had enough left in them for a really decent marathon..... stupid stomach. And I've never had stomach issues during races before!

So what happened?? When all was said and done I burned 8082 calories (!!) on Saturday. And all I managed to eat was: 1 banana, 2 GUs, 1 cliff bar, 1 oreo, 1/2 pb sandwich, and 2 fig newtons. That's probably only ~900 calories of food, plus gatorade, maybe only 1500 calories all day? I'm sure that didn't help my stomach! But it's impossible to eat when it's 90 degrees and sunny and you're extremely nauseous. Anyway, whatever the cause of my gastrointestinal issues - it sucked but I finished anyway. 

And now I'm done training and done racing and can get back to real life. Wait. I have no idea what regular people do on weekends anymore!! How am I going to fill my time?!?! Not sure yet, but I'm positive it won't involve biking!


  1. You finished and that's the important part! Don't focus on went wrong - focus on what went right. You now get to wear that 140.6 that a badge of honor & you earned it!

  2. What an amazing accomplishment Michelle, you ROCK! I agree with Emily, there is so much that is positive about this, I mean you just trained for and completed an Ironman!!!!! That's nothing short of amazing or amazeballs!! You should be incredibly proud of yourself, I know I'm proud of you :) Great job chick!

  3. You sure finish what you set out to do - you rock! Regardless of time or gastro issues, you finished strong, which is more than most people ever dream of doing. Enjoy your free weekends!