July 20, 2017

Vineman 70.3 2009

I completed my fourth Vineman 70.3 on Sunday, July 19th. The reason I’ve done this race so many times is simply because of the beauty of the course and the friends there.

This year a good friend, and Triathica member, Mark Arenal said he was going to step-up his training and do a half Ironman again. He had done one sometime in the ‘90s so he sort of knew what he was in for. I wasn’t planning on doing the race this year but when Mark said he was in, so was I.

Mark rented a small cottage right on Bodega Bay, which is about 45 minutes from the Vineman start. We both brought our families and had a blast there. The scenery was amazing and the cottage, quaint.

We went to pick up our race stuff Saturday morning and realized what we would have to deal with the next day . . . the heat! It was blazing hot just walking around the expo. We could only imagine cycling 56 miles and running another 13.1 in it!

On the way back to the car I dropped to the ground clutching my left foot. I looked at my toe and saw the stinger, still in my toe, pumping poison into me. I was going to survive the sting, but the bee . . . not so much. Thankfully, by Sunday the bee sting would be the least of my worries.

Not having trained much prior to the race I didn’t have high expectations for myself. Actually, that’s a lie. Even though I hadn’t trained, I still wanted to PR (get a personal record).

Race morning was perfect. The air was cool and still. Mark and I drove to the race start in his rented motor home, which I now have on my triathlon checklist as MANDATORY equipment. It was so great being close to the starting line and being able to use the rest room as much as I wanted.

We caught up to another old friend, Pete Condy and his wife Chris. Pete looked in great shape and ready for the day ahead, and for IM Canada.

My wave went off at 7:42, which was kind of late. I knew this would mean we’d be out in the intense heat later on.

My swim went very well even though I couldn’t find another swimmer to draft off of. There was a group ahead of me but they went out so fast there was no way I was going to catch them so I just settled into my pace.

For anyone that doesn’t know, another attractive feature for weaker swimmers is that the swim takes place in the Russian River and doesn’t have any current. In fact, in some places the water is so shallow you can actually get up and run!

No true swim split was available because of a malfunction in the timing company’s equipment.

My bike also went well. Since the bike portion of the race is typically my weakest, I generally see lots of riders in my age group pass me by. This time I only counted two and I had passed four that were ahead of me. According to my Ergomo my numbers were:

Average RPM: 90 (nailed it!)
Average heart rate: 168
Average watts: 182 (normalized)
Average MPH: 20.7

Since it was still relatively cool on the bike I started out on the run feeling good. I was sub-8:00 but could feel myself beginning to melt. By mile five I started my walk/run routine. I was told after the race that it got up to 105! Since I don’t train in the heat it’s no wonder that I was melting down.

I did see Mark on the run. When I saw him he was looking great and high-fived me. I also saw quite a few of my OCTC mates and called out to them as well.

Swim/T-1: 34:04
Bike: 2:41:13
T-2: 2:47
Run: 2:01:36
Total: 5:19:41 (13/109 = top 12%)

This was a PR for me so I was very happy about that. But, you know how it is . . . woulda, coulda, shoulda . . .

Ron Saetermoe

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