Vineman Aquabike

I've just returned home from Windsor, CA, one of my favourite places.  Of the limited places I've been, there are a few spots I love on this planet and could live: home (Vancouver Island), Whistler BC, Sonoma County CA, Hawaii, and coastal Australia.  That's not a complete list, but those are the top.   Actually I couldn't live in Whistler really as all winter there's snow, but it's close to home so we can go there anytime we want.

Anyway, I digress.  I was in Windsor for the Vineman Aquabike, which I've never done before but have done the Vineman 70.3 multiple times, so I had the gist of it.  I was really looking forward to an aqua bike, because as my friend Candace said: "You're still in a good mood after the bike!".  Hey - those IM marathons are tough!  But yeah, I was stoked to toe the line on Saturday.  I had some goals, sub-34 swim (1.9 km), sub-4 transition, and sub 3:04 ride (90 km).  Not necessarily all PRs, but where I felt I was if I had a good day in my current level of fitness and on that course.

I was a bit bummed that it was a wetsuit swim.  My first Vineman 70.3 (it was actually called Half Vineman back then, in 2001) I did with a fun group of girls (Corinne, Catherine and Kirsty) had really warm water and was a non-wetsuit swim.  So the Russian River had kind of cemented in my head as no wetsuits, which I love.  I was also in the second-last swim wave, and it seemed like right from the gun I was catching swimmers from earlier waves.  It was actually tough swimming through so many people, as I'd come up on them so fast and then have to go around.  I'm sure I swam quite a bit extra having to weave through people, but I figured that was better (for them) than swimming right over them.

The water was REALLY shallow (shallower than normal) nearing the turnaround - perhaps you've heard something about the California drought? - and the vast majority of athletes just started walking.  For a few hundred meters.  There was no way I was walking, so I kept swimming.  I had to change my stroke as my hands were dragging along the river bottom, and again weave through basically walls of people walking together (maybe there should be a separate lane for walkers?), but after a while on the way back the water got deep enough to swim normally again.  I just kept going and soon enough was at the finish.  I heard Candace yell my swim time to me as I ran up the beach, and yay - it was under my goal time.  (33:38, and turns out 2nd fastest in my AG).  

I was kind of surprised by the wetsuit strippers - I missed that memo - and kept running right past them.  My wetsuit was almost off by that point, so I kept running the looooong transition area to my rack, and I'd placed my bike at the end of the row, right by the run out.  I hopped out of the legs of my wetsuit, brushed off my feet (lots of mud from T1 on them), put my bike shoes, sunglasses and helmet on, and I was out of there.  T1: 2:55.  I had my bike in an easy gear for the steep hill out of transition (there they had a separate lane for the walkers), and I found my rhythm pretty quickly on the bike.

Out on the course - Alexander Valley I think.
I love the Vineman bike course.  Lots of corners, lots of rolling hills, lots of vineyards. lots of flat stretches, some hills... it has everything.  Jason had challenged me to stay aero on the rollers - where I would normally sit up and spin, he wanted me to stay in my aero bars and only pop up to power over the top.  I did, and I passed heaps of people on the uphills.  Something that never happens... why did it take me almost 20 years of racing to learn that trick?  

The bike course was going by quickly, and Candace was out cheering (i.e. yelling as loud as she can, which is really loud) in several different spots.  Another girl and I kept going back and forth for probably 60 kilometres, and finally she said: "Where do you live?  We should ride together!"  She was local though, too bad as yeah we were pretty evenly matched!

The temperature was climbing (according to my Garmin) but I wasn't noticing the heat.  One thing I've learned about myself is when I don't feel the heat racing, that means I'm prepared for that race.  My Garmin by the end of the ride was saying it was 37 degrees C (over 98 F), but the only time I was remotely aware of it being hot was on Chalk Hill.  In fact, I lost quite a bit of time on that section of the course.  I was riding easily under 3-hour pace until that climb, and quite frankly there was still a lot of elevation gain afterwards, that I didn't remember, before the finish.  But the good news is, I know what I need to work on for the future - my long rides need a big climb towards the end.  I worked a lot on short climbs this year, not so much on long ones.  Add that to the list for over this winter!

Once I was headed into the airport area of Windsor, I knew I had to kick it up a notch to make my time goal, so I absolutely hammered the last 10 km.  Lucky I wasn't running after!  I came across the finish line with a bike split of 3:03:06 (5th fastest in my AG).  My total time was 3:39, so I stuck around until results were posted as I knew last year that time would get me on the podium.  And the Vineman podium = wine!  But I was fourth (12th overall)... which is awesome of course... but one out of the wine.  No worries, as I bought myself some that I preferred anyway! :)

Coming into the finish.

As a reward for making my goals, I bought myself a new Betty Designs kit.  (As Jason said when I got home: "yeah, you really needed another kit" - picture that being said in the most sarcastic way possible!  Hey, when you're a Betty, you have lots of cool gear!  But this one is particularly cool, as it was a custom kit done for HERevolution bike shop in Solana Beach, and my friend Heidi is a member of their tri team.  I got to meet the owner of the shop, Darcy, and she and I had a good time chatting and laughing all while trying to stay in the shade.

New kit!

Take a look at the Half Vineman Aquabike results... of the top 15, 11 of them are over 40.  I'd say us older chicks are coming into our own!  I had a great time at the aqua bike, and would really like to return next year.  Candace and I spent the next day on a wine tour, and then hit up the Oregon sand dunes for some fun on our way home.  See you next year, Windsor!

Where Am I?

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Tim was in the Okanagan and sent me some pictures. I had to identify where the pictures were taken and if correct, I'd earn a bottle of wine. I got all 7 pictures correct, but I'm not sure if the game was for one bottle, or one for each picture. I guess we'll see if he shows up with a case next time I see him.

That inspired this post: where am I? I am not offering any wine for correct answers unless you want to come drink it with me, but I'm hoping you'll play along and try to figure out where I am.




Road Trip Tom Foolery

Put four girls, four bikes, and lots of snacks in a mini van, drive through three states, and what happens?  Lots of good times!

We wanted to find a swimming hole on the way to Boise,
so googled a few places and thought we'd found a good one in
Ellensburg WA.  We arrived at a fast-flowing,
freezing cold river.  Oops.
Sign where we first stopped.  BTW - we eventually
did find the swimming spot, just down the road.
It was idyllic!

Corinne and I on a warm evening in Richland, WA.

Post century ride dinner in Boise.

Evening crit - Boise's twilight criterium.

Back on the coast - Catherine photo bomb.

Michelle practicing selfies.
On the way home.

The national puzzle champion hard at work on the ferry home.

Quick ferry pit stop in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island)
before arriving on our island. 

100 Miles in 100 Degrees

Last weekend Corinne, Catherine, Michelle and I drove to Boise, ID to participate in the Goldilocks Ride (terrible name, so we were calling it the G-Cent) women's only century.  It was fun, flat, and fast (sort of...), and hot!

Being a women's only event, it had a good mix of tough (riding 100 miles) and girly (necklaces, pink porta-potties, pictures of Ryan Gosling out on the course, etc).  One thing I noticed about having no guys there was how clean the porta-potties were!  There were the odd male out on the course, volunteering (patronizingly called "papa bears" - most things about the event I really liked, but not that).  Sure enough, we were making fun of the need for the papa bears, until of course we needed one!  Corinne's tire blew (literally - it made a gun-shot sound and scared the crap out of us) and needed to be replaced, and a nice papa bear brought a spare tire he had in his garage and gave it to her.  While we spent over 45 minutes at an aid station waiting, it was worth it as she got to continue with us.

Corinne's tire - not even a boot could help that!
Pretty thankful to the guy who brought us
a tire so we could continue on together.
We were riding near the front before the tire mishap, but still rode a good pace for most of the rest of the ride.  The heat definitely affected some more than others.  The course was flat and fast, but we chose to ride together so didn't always take advantage of how fast it could be.   Worth it though to finish as a team - we were the only 4 people from Canada in the event (out of about 500) and got a lot of cheers as "the Canadians".

The Canadian train.
The weather was off the charts in terms of record heat, and according to my Garmin topped out at over 42 degrees Celcius (107 degrees F).  Yikes!  However, the heat didn't bother me at all.  The wind (oh how I love Boise winds) didn't pick up until after 9, so we got a lot of miles in before we had to deal with head- and cross-winds.  Here's what I did to stay on top of my nutrition and body temperature for a long ride in the heat.

Time doesn't include rest stops...
we spent a long time at mile 45 waiting for a tire!
I started the morning (it was an early start - 6 a.m. so really early dark-thirty wakeup) with a light breakfast of a banana and an Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookie.  I drank a cold bottle of Vega Pre-Workout Energizer on the way to the start, and ate a package of Clif Blocks right before we started the ride.  I had two bottles on my bike (kept in the fridge overnight so they were nice and cold) with Vega Pre-Workout Energizer and two scoops of CarboPro in each (so around 300 calories).  Because it was so hot and dry (for this coastal girl anyway), I was drinking about one bottle per hour.  I had in my pockets two baggies, each with two scoops of CarboPro and a Nuun tablet (electrolytes).  Once I finished that, I switched to Gatorade which is what they had on course.

In terms of solid food, I didn't have much as I do well with liquid calories.  I did have a handful of swedish fish and pretzels at each of the 7 aid stations, and a Honey Stinger waffle at mile 60.  Also at mile 60 Corinne located us each a can of Coke.

Most of the aid stations had ice, so I'd fill my bottles with ice to keep my drinks cold for as long as possible.  I'd also dump handfuls of ice in my bra, which cools the blood in my heart and then cool blood is delivered around the body.  I highly recommend this technique anytime you're racing in the heat.  It's also handy to grab an ice cube from while riding if you want to snack on one. :)

Pouring cold water on the back of your neck helps too.  Don't pour it under your helmet, as it needs to evaporate to get the cooling benefit.  We also all reapplied sunscreen at each aid station, and despite a long day with no shade, there were no sunburns!

At the finish.
We got tonnes of compliments on our kits all day!
Corinne, Catherine and I are water babies so once our ride was done and we were back at our hotel, the three of us decided to rent tubes and raft down the river.  Perfect way to end the day!

Tri of Compassion race report

Sunday's race went pretty well; I felt good all day and turns out I finished in 3rd place in my age group!

It was a 500m pool swim at the Esquimalt Rec Centre, which is the warmest pool in Victoria (about the same temperature as bathwater), so I was not expecting a good swim.  There were also 5 people in my lane with varied swim times - not sure why they set it up like that - but lucky for us one didn't show.  I started off strong and held on, even though at 350 meters I thought I was going to overheat.  But the super-short swim was over quickly and I finished in 7:59, first time breaking 8 minutes for 500 meters!  

I ran to my bike - BTW my hot pink Betty Designs saddle makes it REALLY easy to spot on a transition rack - and was out of transition quickly and on to the 20km bike course.  It was three loops so I got to see Jason, Tiki, and my friend Candace a few times as I went around through residential areas and a navy base.  I was pushing hard but riding comfortably, and came into transition in just under 38 minutes.  I think - because in the official results they combined T1 & T2 times with the bike time (total 41 min), and I forgot to hit stop on my Garmin or have it on auto-pause.  Also, that's one way to render a power file absolutely useless - oops!

Putting my sock on over my broken toe was a bit of a feat, but soon enough I was out of T2 and on to the run.  I haven't been running that much lately with the whole knee thing, but felt good... of course the first half of the course was downhill so that's probably why.  It went down to the ocean from the rec centre and around McAuley Point - a really pretty run course - and then back up.  I just put my head down and kept running, knowing it would be slow but I didn't really care.  Run time was 35 minutes.  Not my best, not my worst.  But good enough for 3rd in the end.

It was a fun race, very low-key, and a fundraiser for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre so a good cause.  I plan to do it again next year!