Vineman Full Race Recap from Greg Bailey - Congratulations Greg!
At the mile 18 aide station I looked at the assorted drinks and foods, the encouraging volunteers, the other racers, and couldn’t rally. The people and the race nutrition were a blur and neither of them I could imagine ingesting.
I signed up for the 140.6 mile Vineman because I thought it would be an “easy” flat course and the half ironman was already sold out. Not a problem, with a great tri coach and 9 months to prepare I should be able to knock it out without a problem. I learned that no ironman race is easy (especially the first one) and the Vineman was anything but flat. This Vineman was their biggest ever with 1100 entered in the event.
The Vineman swim was in the Russian river composed two crowded laps of athletes from the full, the aquabike, and the woman’s only half called Barb’s race. It was the first time I couldn’t get clear and just swim but at least the water was a perfect temperature, fresh water, and no waves. I finished the swim at 1:17 well below my goal time of 1:30. Everything was good including my wife Colleen who had volunteered and was at T1 to help me out of my wet suit. Could this race be this easy?
The bike was a 112 mile two loop course of rolling hills including climbs over “Chalk Hill”. The roads were rural and very rough with potholes and raised fissures. Seven hours of constant shifting, grinding uphills, and dodging road hazards had me mentally and physically tired. Finally the thoughts of an easy race went out the window the second time I saw Chalk Hill. I did stay on plan with 2 liters of water/Gatorade and Hammer nutrition, food was much harder and getting my calories with liquids was the way to go. Rolling into T2 exhausted I had some serious doubts about a finish but Colleen was there to keep me focused.
One of the big mistakes that I made on this race was that I never laid eyes on the course and really didn’t even look at an elevation map of the run. This run course had hills and I left my climbing muscles on the bike. Gatorade, Coke , water, pretzels then run at each aid station. After the first 8.5 mile loop I was optimistic again. I looked at my pace of 5.5 miles per hour did some simple calculations and believed I could actually finish the marathon in 5 hours! By the middle of the second loop my pace was down to 4.5 miles per hour and I was hurting. Colleen wasn’t at there at the end of the second loop and I was seriously done.
Running/shuffling now at 3.5 miles an hour I just decided that I would go to the 20 mile marker, then 21 through 24 passed by in a daze. When it hit me that I had just a couple miles left I started sprinting at a blistering pace of 3.3 miles per hour. Colleen met me with one mile remaining and ran with me all the way in to the finish. The rush of emotions crossing the finish line was amazing and it actually made the hundreds of hours of training a small price to pay.
I’m so proud to be an ironman athlete and so grateful to Colleen, Cyndee, Madison and everyone that believed in me.