by Ben Munguia
A pack of riders flew by, and I lifted the tempo to try to “stick” with them. I felt strong, but they were putting time into me, and there was nothing I could do. The only thing that was going through my head was “I shaved my legs for this?” Thank you Deanna Carter and thank you Specialized.
To back up a little bit, Lauren was nice enough to let me turn our anniversary Napa trip into a Sonoma for the Vineman 70.3, and then usual Napa winery vacation. We arrived in San Francisco early Saturday morning and headed to the Sonoma area for packet pick-up, bike pick-up/checkup, and a few short workouts. I definitely underestimated the amount of time it would take to get everything done on Saturday, and it ended up being a bit too stressful. Some last-minute bike pains resulted in a little too much time at the race expo, but everything checked out during the pre-race ride and I thought I had everything dialed in for Sunday's race. The one thing I was not able to figure out before the race was my Garmin watch, which conveniently decided to die upon arrival. Last-minute adjustments are part of the game, though, so I mentally prepared myself to race by feel during the run.
Side note—if you are looking for a way to get your bike to an out of town race, check out Tri Team Transport (soon to be Cycle Chauffeur). Kevin did an unbelievable job, and I’m still amazed at how patient he was with all of his customers. He fixed flats, pumped tires, provided race nutrition, and most importantly, he delivered the bikes in great condition.
Maybe I’ve just never checked out guys' legs in detail in the past, but walking around the race expo I noticed a lot more shaved legs than I ever have before. I’m going to guess that I wasn’t the only one that saw the recent study done by Specialized on the time savings from having smooth, pretty legs. Well, more like hairless legs with razor cuts up and down both sides. Props to all you ladies out there who do this daily.
After an unusually good night’s sleep it was off to the race start for a relatively late start. I was in the last wave, which was scheduled to take off at 8:36 a.m., which was actually 10:36 a.m. Austin time. It was a very relaxed morning spent at a Starbucks next to the race. I went through the usual pre-race routine and felt ready to roll.
The swim start was pretty entertaining, with a few frat-tastic guys in the same wave who didn’t stop talking and quoting movies until the horn sounded. A decent start but not a very good line to the first buoy had me in no man’s land. It was a pretty uneventful swim until the turnaround, where you could stand up and walk, dolphin dive, or continue to swim with your hand scraping the bottom of the river. I felt like I made up some time on the way back in and had a smooth transition to the bike.
I’ve been training with a power meter and was planning to race with one as well, but was having some pre-race difficulties getting everything set up. Fortunately, the guys at Austin Tri Cyclist hooked me up, and I now had TWO power meters on my bike. Well, as luck would have it, both power meters decided to start working on Sunday, which caused some mass confusion to the borrowed Garmin (Thank you, Dustin). I had random spurts of power, which I could get going just long enough to make sure the effort was strong enough.
I felt pretty good on the bike and never hit too much of a rough spot mentally until the rough road towards the end of the bike. I could hear some unusual sounds from my front wheel, but it didn’t look like anything was flat or rubbing so I kept going. My left aerobar did drop down about 45 degrees, which made for a rather uncomfortable position, but at least it was still intact. I rolled into transition frustrated with my position after being passed by quite a few guys in the second half of the ride.
Hot, hot, baby. Starting out on the run I felt so-so, but soon found a decent rhythm. The first few miles went by quickly, and then there was a tough, hilly section from miles 2-5 that sapped my legs, but I still felt pretty strong. The only thing that was really bothering me was my feet. They felt like they were on fire, and I started walking aid stations to give them a break, as well as make sure I was taking in enough fluids. The run course loops through La Crema winery and provides runners a nice break from the pavement and hot sun. It was definitely warm on the run, but I’ll take California heat over Austin heat and humidity any day of the week. Miles 7-9 were pretty rough. I wanted to walk, real bad. There were two things that kept me running and inspired me to pick up the pace for the last few miles. The first was Lauren's pre-race advice of “the sooner you finish, the sooner we get to go to wineries.” It was some pretty good and logical advice that kept me motivated to shuffle on. The second, and the one that made me pick up the pace again, was the thought of my best friend's mom. She has been toughing it out with ALS and has refused to give up. She has always been a very health-conscious and active woman before being diagnosed with ALS. All I could think about was how much she would give to be able to do what all of us were out there doing that day. Maybe it wasn’t the fastest or prettiest of runs, but I was happy to have finished and grateful for the opportunity to race.
Finish (4:25:58): 6th in Age Group and 44th Overall, including the Pros (Yes, I got chicked)
The Vineman 70.3 was all around a great race. Beautiful course, great community support, and a very well-run event by the organizers. How often do you get to run though vineyards during a race? Not too shabby at all. There are definitely some things I’d do different next time, but it was a good experience and a race I hope to do again in the future.
I can’t thank Don, Kaleb, Adam and Chris of Austin Tri Cyclist enough for all of their help with getting me race-ready on the bike. Above and beyond. ATC’s unbelievable support along with the great guys at Cobbcycling resulted in this beauty:
Also, a big thank you to Dr. Jarrod Carter for working his magic and getting me in before leaving town. And of course I have to thank the Pickle and my family for supporting me and this crazy habit. The other real beauty in my life: