Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Race Report: Wine Tasting

The real reason I went to California...the wine.  Aside from seeing my Mom, of course.  The day after Vineman 70.3 we made the trip back over St. Helena (curviest road in California I think) and visited Sterling Vineyards, had lunch in Calistoga, and then toured/tasted at Castello di Amarosa ("The Castle").

My parents are members of the wine club at Sterling, so we were able to get free tickets for the tram, sit in the reserved tasting room, and had access to some of the reserve wines.  The tour here isn't super fabulous, but the views are amazing and you can learn quite a bit about the wine making process.  Just be sure not to walk and drink at the same time.  Right, Jenn?  :-)

Riding the tram up to the winery:
The views from their outdoor area:

And enjoying ourselves in the tasting room:

I've been here before, and remember being very much impressed by the architecture and attention to detail in building the castle.  And being very much not impressed by their wines.  They have improved over the last few years.  Enough that I paid full price for a handful of bottles.

Some of what you'll be treated to if you take a tour:

Race Report: Vineman 70.3

As is typical these days, I have let too much time lapse between a race and when I actually sit down to write a race report.  So I'll hit the highlights as much as I can recollect.  This pretty much sums it up:

We (Jenn, The Hubs, and I) drove down to Cali, had an awesome visit with my Mom, raced, drank wine, and came home with 6+ cases.  Okay, but seriously, back to the race report.

Race: Vineman 70.3
Date: July 18, 2010
Swim time = 42:35 (pace = 2:13/100m)
T1 = 2:54
Bike time = 3:25:59 (pace = 16.3 mph)
T2 = 3:58
Run time = 3:19:34 (pace = 15.2 min/mi)
TOTAL = 7:35:00

There are two things very interesting, if not slightly disturbing, about those paces.  1) I have been in the pool about, oh, 10 times since Ironman.  LAST NOVEMBER.  Really.  But, my swim was only a few minutes off of my normal half-ironman time when I was swimming 3+ hours a week.  Lesson learned = quit wasting money on a pool membership and wing it.  I'm not joking.  2) Despite running a ton this year (by my standards), this was my worst 13.1 miles ever.  Apparently I need to up my standards.  In my defense, I was coming off an injury at the time.  But I can only use that excuse for so long.

We had stayed at my Mom's house in Hidden Valley Lake on Fri night, but wanted to be closer to the start on race-eve and moved home base to a hotel in Santa Rosa.  On Sat we did a practice swim in the Russian River (warm, calm water!), went through the athlete meeting and packet pickup (boring), set up T2 (getting tired now...), went for a quick practice run (HOT!  REALLY HOT!), lounged at the pool, finally got checked in, ate dinner, and got our bikes ready.  Nothing like being on your feet all day, running around like a crazy person, and getting sunburned the day before an event.

The morning of the race we hit the local Starbuck's, Ken dropped us off near the beach, and we did our pre-race routines.  I never saw Jenn after we entered transition, and since it was her first half-ironman, I spent a lot of time looking for her and telepathically sending her all sorts of good juju.  Then I hung out with my Mom and Debbie, got ready, and meandered over to the swim entrance.

This is the first race that I wasn't nervous as all get out right before the gun went off.  I think I knew that I was horribly under prepared, and therefore didn't have any pressure on me to perform well.  I said a quick prayer to the tri gods for me to remember how to swim, did a goggle leak check, warmed up the river, and waited for my wave to start.  Bang!  The swim itself was uneventful.  Although, it was really curious to see people walking the swim.  The river was really shallow in places so sometimes I would turn to breathe and be staring at someones knees.  At least no one was in jeopardy of drowning at this race.

After I got over the shock of being under, like, an hour for the swim, I got down to my usual transition rock-starness.  I was fast enough to be happy with my time here, especially since I stopped to say hi to my family, ran down the incorrect bike aisle (thanks a lot Mom!), and had to take the time to bag everything up.

I love my Cobb saddle.  Love.  I love it so much that it's pretty much all I could think about during the ride.  Because I was so shocked at how much I loved it.  I'll be doing a full gear review on it soon, so stay tuned.

The Vineman bike course is truly gorgeous.  Some of the most stunning views I've seen from my saddle ever.  Vineyards, hills, rivers, wineries, forest.  It's awesome.  And NOT hilly.  Seriously people?  I was so freaked about this race after reading all the hype on the forums about the "relentless hills" and "super challenging bike course".  And I am so not a climber at all.  Chalk Hill was notable, I'll give y'all that much, but it still only lasted less than 5 minutes.  All that being said, my pace was slow compared to what I'm usually capable of, so maybe it really was hilly.  And I just didn't notice because I was LOVING my saddle so much.

As a bonus, I got to see my Mom, Debbie, and Ken somewhere near Healdsburg.  Clearly, I wasn't taking this day too seriously.

Gah!  Did I have a picnic or what?  Slow!  It was a long transition I suppose.  My favorite part was getting to see my little brother Joshy-poo and his wife Heather.  Very cool that they came out to cheer!

One word: HOT.  Okay, two words, because it was also: SLOW.  The views sort of sucked too.  Not even close to my favorite run course.  The volunteers were pretty fantastic though.  My biggest regret was not figuring out that my sports bra was the perfect ice holder...until mile 11.  My Mom was waiting somewhere around mile 10 or 11 and ran/walked back with me.  I don't think she was very impressed with my race strategy of "run the downhills and walk everything else".  I, of course, thought it was genius.  Joshy ran with me for the last 1/4 mile.

I was so happy that it was over.  HOT!  It was really fun to see everyone at the finish line too.  Jenn was still smiling and we were able to take some finishers pictures together.  After rounding up our gear, we headed to Bear Republic to join some fellow finishers and enjoy yummy Racer 5 IPA.

And, more importantly, the wine-tasting race report will be posted next.