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Vineman Training Weekend Pt. 1

Most people will venture out to Santa Rosa for a little wine tasting, but no, not the IronTEAM, we drive up there to get a preview of what’s to come in a few weeks. We got a taste of the Vineman 70.3 and the Full Distance triathlons! Starting on Friday, I met up with some teammates in the valley and we trekked the long, scenic route up north because some of us have never been there. Pictured above was our pit stop at Big Sur. Such beautiful ocean views! I can imagine why the Big Sur International Marathon is one of the top races to do in North America. Although it was nice and scenic, the drive took about 10 hours! We were unfortunately stuck behind some slow trucks on the cliffs, then took the necessary gas/food exits, so that was pretty much day 1 until we got to the Hilton for a little debriefing of what’s to come from our coaches.

Saturday Swim
Day 2 was the main reason why we went up to Santa Rosa – to test out the course! In the morning, we did a bunch of car/bike shuffling at the high school and on to Johnson Beach, where we will be doing our swim. The coaches set up bike transition racks for our convenience, then it was off for a lovely swim in the Russian River! The “slower” swimmers got a head start (which I’m a part of). The water was amazing! I was so used to the cold, salty, & rough ocean, that this was a sweet departure. Temperature was perfect, and the best thing? It was shallow! Shallow enough to stand. It was tough at some parts because I couldn’t even extend my arm all the way (I shouldn’t anyway). It was nice to be shallow enough to see the river floor so I could get a sense of how fase (or slow) I’m going. My open water skills have improved, and my nerves are much more relaxed. We were supposed to swim the full 2.4 miles by looping from the start to the “Big Green Wall”, which I missed! I was with another teammate and we kept on swimming past it – wayyyy past it! I was wondering why no one passed me up yet? I turned around sooner on the second loop to offset my mistake, but eventually finished! Of course, I was one of the last ones out because almost all the bikes on the rack were gone!

Saturday Bike
After the swim, we had an opportunity to test out the full 112 miles on the bike! The course was two loops through the beautiful vineyards of Santa Rosa. We passed by so many wineries that it was so difficult to resist temptation to stop and get a drink! The course was exactly what people described – hot, relatively flat but rolling hills, bumpy, scenic. It was true test of endurance, but more importantly a test with my nutrition and hydration. I tried something new though – Honey Stinger Waffles. It’s very tasty, but doesn’t have much calories, which I’ll be needing. It’s best to try and fail on this new product now than on raceday! There’s a big hill towards the end, but it’s nothing compared to some of the hills we’ve conquered during training. The bumpy roads masked within the shadows of the trees was a challenge. I lost 2 water bottles because of it! Overall, I was feeling great after I eventually finished the 112 in 7:20 hours. It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t overly difficult. It’s manageable if I set up my nutrition and bike strategy well. I now know how 112 feels, so that completed my puzzle of the IronTEAM unknowns.

THEN, just when you thought it was over, we had to do a 6 mile transition RUN. Yes, a run. My legs were so heavy! I was still able to run here and there, but slower pace nonetheless. It was a preview of what’s to come, but I felt overall good about it. It’s still a little crazy to think I’ll be running 26.2 after the 112, but it’s great to know that really is within arm’s reach!