If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Ironman Vineman 70.3 ~ Sherpa/Coach Duty


Are you all caught up on how we got here? Good.
Are you understanding that my 57 year old mother who has never swam or ran in her life finished her first 70.3 in 7 hours and 29 minutes? Good.
Here's the day...


5 Athletes, 4 Sherpa's, 1 Coach
We're waking up at 3:45am to leave at 4:15am. Um, crazy say what!? Dude, the swim start is 15mins away. 30mins max with traffic ~cause there's so much traffic at 4am. The girls don't go in the water until 7:30 and transition doesn't close. Why is this early morning happening again!?
I stepped in quickly and argued a 5am departure. We compromised for 4:45. I think I got up at 4:41. Hey, I'll just nap in the car! Not. You know how some people shut down when they're really nervous, kinda bite on their nails, and you keep having to ask, are you okay? because they're so quiet and to themselves? NOT Laura. I'm wondering how she caught a breath between her nervous ramblings that morning on the drive over.
When she asked, "how do I know what side of the road do I run on?" I about flung myself out of the vehicle. Follow the course Laura. "but what are the rules, do we run against traffic, isn't it unsafe to run with traffic, how will I know, what if I'm alone and don't see anyone else, I didn't read anything about which side, cars, rules, running, lines, rules, rules, rules." AHHHHH!!! JUST FOLLOW THE MOTHER EFFING COURSEEEEEE!!!! 
^ seriously, I wasn't mad at the girl. She's a wonderful lady and just full of angst for the day. It was actually quite entertaining and humorous (and she was totally able to follow the course and run on the proper side of the road) ;)

I've never gotten to transition so unnecessarily early for an event. With 5 of them racing though and the nerves, it was okay. We shoved them in and got them setting up and eating. Check your tires ladies, check your gears, eat your breakfast... 

Vineman puts athletes in the water by age groups. The pro's went first. Oh the pros. So cool... I'm not big on knowing all the pros or keeping up with them but I'm aware of the big names and their abilities. I was so excited that Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae, Craig "Crowie" Alexander, Chris McDonald, Leanda Cave, and Lauren Brandon would all be there and I'd actually get to see them race vs. being in the race with them. These are the pro's I'm most familiar with (among a few others that weren't here racing). With a $50,000 purse, I expected a few other big deals to be racing too. The best part of watching the pro's was transition set up. I was next to Mirinda, watching her... I love that she looked as nervous as I always feel. She even took a few deep breaths to let it all out. That and she stopped, looked over everything, and I could hear her brain going over a checklist. She kinda nodded to herself and went and got in the water. Oh, and she too struggled like hell to get in her wetsuit. Pro's are athletes just like us (just really fast and make lots of money for it!).

Back to the swim, the ladies were in group 12 going off at 7:30am. I finally convinced them to leave the comfort of transition and get ready for their swim. Wetsuits, pictures, swim caps, and goggles. Hugs and wishes of good luck and we shooed them into the water. I was able to watch them and kept my eyes on them for a the first 50 meters or so. Mom had to stop for a second and my heart dropped to my pelvis. She later told me she just realized she went out a little fast and had to stop and breath. It was seconds; she didn't even get behind the pack. I was expecting her exit around 50 minutes and she came jogging out ALL smiles at 48 minutes. FANTASTIC!

She buzzed through transition; I met her on the uphill coming out of transition and shouted, don't try to mount, everyone is running to the top of the hill!! So I got to jog up beside her for some last minute cycling tips and nutritional coaching. My blood was pumping with excitement. She was off for her 56 miles. The other Sherpa's and I headed back to Windsor to clean up the girls swim stuff and I needed to grab a 2 hour run (which turned into a 15 mile run).

I calculated mom's bike time with a 17mph average, but gave myself a 30min buffer. Arriving right on schedule, I caught her coming in with more smiles and she shouted that Jen got a flat tire. ~found out later that Jen actually got 2 flats but didn't have a 2nd tube and rode the rim in for the last few miles. Poor thing! She totally persevered though and ran strong.

With a hefty trek to T2, I waited about 8mins before mom came jogging onto the run course. Alright mom, your goal is to run (with your scheduled walk breaks). She walked a bit more than we planned but hey, she had no idea what it was going to feel like to run a half marathon after a bike and a swim. I think the coolest part of her run course (that I didn't get to see) was she got to run through/around a vineyard. She said it was a dirt road so very dusty and hot back there. She pretty much had to walk all of that too because the terrain was sketchy.

Mom ended up finishing 7:29 (I caught her on that last mile stretch and mean Coach stepped up, MOVE YOUR ASS, you are 15mins from breaking 7:30). And she did! *big smiles*
She was 4th of 5 of her friends and 35th of 49 in her age group.
Before the race was even over she was asking, what's next!? "I want to do this again!" She says she refuses to do a full though.
And first thing Monday morning she complained, "I don't have a training schedule yet." Oh good grief woman! She's a champ for sure! I bet she'll have second thoughts when I make her run 30mins tomorrow though ;) hee hee hee...

Ironman Vineman is not spectator friendly. Well, it's partially spectator friendly. The swim course is, the bike course isn't, transitions are not, the run course is for a 1 mile section of them going out and the same 1 mile section coming back. Honestly, the finish line isn't super spectator friendly either (very tight small area) but then the after party area is, except the food area (where they all actually hang out) is off limits to spectators. So, I guess it's not really friendly either. I think that makes it a great destination race for a group of athletes to travel to and race together vs. bringing friends/family that aren't racing. I'm SO happy I got to be there though and SO happy that mom raced with a group of her friends (all their first 70.3's).

The course is gorgeous (from what I saw of it) and even more gorgeous (from what I heard of it). I want to come back and do this race. 100% for sure, YES! The river is clean and cool, very little current, the buoy's are marked 1-12, the river is actually walkable, no critters, tons of support in the water, out and back, perfect. The bike is rolling hills with one challenging climb, gorgeous scenery, 40 miles of newly paved road and paving plans for the other section by the end of 2016, and vineyards with mountains lining the skyline, one big loop. The run is challenging, hot (just like I like it), seems kinda lonely (besides the other runners), and a few long stretches, out and back. I'm sure if I were out there running it'd feel endless, but it's just so pretty out here! Definitely going on the list.

All the girls had really strong impressive finishes!

Swim: 47:55
T1: 3:45
Bike: 3:13
T2: 8:27
Run: 3:14
Total: 7:28:14

More pictures for the girls: