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2011 Vineman 70.3

I raced the Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman last Sunday. The race starts with an upstream-downstream swim in the Russian River in Guerneville, the bike course then leads east along the river, north over the Canyon Road climb to Geyserville and back south over the Chalk Hill climb to Windsor. Finally the run course is a lollypop from the Windsor Highschool to LaCrema winery and back. This was my third time racing up there, so I roughly knew what was coming.

Despite a couple gaps in my training caused by visiting family in June, I knew I was hitting form fairly well after setting new PRs at the Sprint and Olympic distance at Rancho Seco the weekend before.
I was set to start in the first age-grouper wave, just behind the Pro, at an ungodly start time of 6:38am. At least I could hope to be done before it got too hot and because I got to the swim start early, I skipped the line for the Port-A-Johns… Setting up my swim to bike transition, I engaged in the typical low-balling with my transition neighbors. It was overcast so I put my heat-gear back in the bag and got into my wetsuit.

Watched the pros go off and only did a couple short bursts for my swim warm-up. As the gun goes off for me, the first 100 meters are the typical washing machine of limbs flying. I was swimming head-up again, water polo skills come in handy after all. I was able to find my rhythm fairly fast and settled into finding my own line. My sighting kept me a bit to the left of the pack, and I only bumped into two other swimmers, mainly having open water in front of me, but still pacing of the pack (as I mostly breath to the right anyways). The river near the turn did get a bit shallow, but not as bad as in years past. Right at the turn buoy there was a slight traffic jam and 4-5 guys stood up and waded around. They didn’t seem in a hurry, so I slipped past them, dove back in and quickly had two length on them.

On the way back downstream I got passed by two speedy women from the wave that started 8 minutes behind me. I reached the beach in 37 minutes, not too fast, but just as expected and planned. I actually did manage to avoid the usual slight calf-twitch, taking of my wetsuit while running up to my bike. I lost a few seconds readjusting my helmet, the sizing mechanism must have taken a knock in the morning. Grabbed the bike and out of T1, pushed the bike up the little 100ft. beach hill and clipped in at the top. I guess course knowledge does come in handy as well, Stacy told me later that she saw 3 people crashing right there because of clipping in at the bottom or the middle of the hill, tumbling over or being in the way…

Riding out of town I was feeling good, passed a couple people in my age-group in the first section. I found my legs and soon reached the Sunset Road turn off, a tricky off camber, 130-degree turn into a downhill. After a first big ring climb on the other side, I started into the worst part of the bike leg. The next 10-15 miles have rather questionable road conditions with lots of bumps, potholes and concrete plates. I was jo-joing back and forth with 3 guys in my age-group and two fast women, trading places as the terrain alternated between climbs, descents and power sections. Until my water bottle with my concentrated Iso ejected the first time. Then my flat kit rattled loose. Then my water bottle ejected again. As I approached Healdsburg, I had enough of it. I knew the first aid station was coming up just after the next turn, so I splashed half of my concentrate in my aero drink and hoped that the reduced weight would stop the bottle ejecting. I also stuffed my flat kit in to my jersey pocket.  Slightly aggravated I started off again, figured the backtracking and re-arranging must have cost me 2 or 3 minutes. Thankfully I didn’t get too caught up with that issue and managed to find my rhythm again quickly. Despite this section being a false flat, I was getting some nice speed, kept on top of my nutrition and hit the climb on Canyon road strong, passing and dropping several people.  Right after passing the timing matt, we passed under HWY101 and turned back south towards Chalk Hill. From experience I knew that this is a good section to eat and avoid the bonk, so I forced down my Odwalla bar. It actually started drizzling, giving me a little boost – I like racing in light rain, keeps me cool.

I tried to control myself and stretch, my Canyon is quite comfortable – not even a hint of backpain or tensing two hours in. I must have gone a little bit too hard on the five miles of rollers between mile 40 and 45, followed by a push up the only real climb at mile 45. From there it is a nice fast downhill section and the last 6 miles of the bike twist through the town of Windsor, giving me a chance to pick up a couple more people that burnt too much on the hill. Approaching Windsor HS and the second transition, I saw the leaders of the men’s pro race on the last half mile of their run. Finishing in under 3h50m, wow…

I managed a quick second transition, mentally grateful for the still overcast skies, but still put on my running hat – never know how quick those clouds burn off.  The first three miles were pretty exciting, but painful. I got to see the Pro men (starting at fourth) and women finishing up, trying to recognize them and figure out the ranking in my head. I saw locals Kyle Leto (Walnut Creek) holding on to 5th, obviously having a great race, even in front of Chriss Lieto (Danville) in 7th. At the same time my quads and hamstrings were cramping a bit. All four muscles at the same time. I actually stopped to stretch once about two miles in, and after the little roller I have nicknamed “skunkroad” due to an incident last year, I found my legs and was able to up the cadence. At this point I really started enjoying the run, recognizing course markers, looking forward to the friendly participating neighborhood at mile 4 (a quarter mile of cheering, aid station and gardening hoses). There I also saw local pro Kelly Dunleavy coming the other way. She was rather dark red in the face with purple lips. I guess she took a couple stumbles only a few turns later, but still managed to finish. I made it along the bigger rollers by the Airport, picking of lots of people in their pain cave. I had two guys in my age group in my sights, in really ugly black and green kits making them the perfect (but not pretty) carrots. Coming into LaCrema winery for a one mile loop, my legs acted up again. I checked my watch, saw that I was on a good pace well within the set goal of going sub 2h for the run, so I took a one minute walk break and stretched again. I hoped in behind another tall, but older guy and let him drag me back to the airport. At the aid station I made sure to grab a banana for some calories and potassium against the cramps. Back in the neighborhood, now at mile 8, I switched to taking a cup of coke for some finishing energy. I settled into a good pace again, focusing on my run split instead of trying to do math about the overall. Then I made it over skunkroad again, and let my legs roll on – no more hills now.

Back on Windsor road, with half a mile to go, I caught up to another guy in my age-group. He was obviously aware of me being competition, so we shadowed each other for a quarter mile. As we turned into the highschool campus with a quarter mile to go, I opened up. Careful not to burn out too fast and keeping him in the corner of my eye. I managed to open up a 10ft gap on him, speeding up and trying to inflict some pain. Then with about 200 yards to go, one turn left and the finishing arch in sight, he attacked. I knew I couldn’t let him pass because there was no room left for a counter, so I started speeding up as well. Before you know it, we are both sprinting down the finishing chute. I barely managed to stay ahead of him, going all out and keeping him two feet behind me. They actually listed us with the same exact time, 5h37m40s, but I got the glory of placing in front of him – both of us in the middle of the pack for the M25-29 AG.

As I was panting quite heavily, I didn’t know my time right away. Looking at my splits I was quite happy though, all three went as planned, nothing overly strong, but no weak spot or blow up either. Another personal best, this time by 11 minutes compared to Oceanside in April and quite a bit more compared to my prior Vinemans.

Here are links to the GPS files from my bike and run, although my heart rate monitor was obviously having some accuracy issues:

TdF website

Bill and I talked a bit last night about the Tour and I mentioned that I paid $30 for an “on-demand” /commercial free version off the There are probably lots of websits out there with video feeds but the one demand and commercial free, which is imporant to me. Have fun! Larry

TNT July 7 – bunch it up!

Warmup paceline until 6:45pm, 2 technique sprints, 4 laps of 2 sprints each (corners 4 to 1 and 2 to 3), cornering drill/ bunch up in the corners/ recover, 4 laps of 2 sprints each (corners 4 to 1 and 2 to 3), cornering drill/ bunch up in the corners/ recover, cool down paceline. I hope to see you there. Larry

Team Ride out of Sports Basement in Sunnyvale

July 23, 2011
8:30 amto3:00 pm

Sports Basement, an enthusiastic supporter of the club, and a named sponsor for the racing team, have invited us to ride out of their Sunnyvale store on July 23rd, 2011. 

Location: 1177 Kern Ave, Sunnyvale

Date: July 23rd, 8:30 am.

Sports Basement will provide a 20% discount for any purchase in the store that day. They will also provide refreshments upon your return, available in an area reserved for the club. These will include nibbles, soda’s, beer and some more substantial treats:)

I am working on getting them to open slightly earlier so we can use rest rooms. The last time we tried this, we were not lucky with the weather and the attendance suffered. We should be golden in July, but it would be terrific if some members can volunteer to lead the various paced rides that are planned. Having some named leaders will, i feel, inspire greater attendance. As Jorge says below, we have route sheets for you to choose from, of various distances and terrains, to suit everyone’s differing abilities and time constraints. I will be leading an F paced ride that will travel to the Los Gatos Creek Trial, around Lexington Reservoir, up Old Santa Cruz highway, Mountain Charlie, Summit, Skyline, Highway 9, Mt. Eden, Stevens Canyon, and back to Sunnyvale (58 miles and 4000 feet). I look forward to reading that you will be leading one of the other paced ride options.

Garry Birch

Race Team President Directeur Sportif / Mens Team Manager / Serf / Promoter Team Fremont / FFBC powered by Chipotle

Mt Diablo TTE

July 30, 2011

Mt Diablo TTE

Registered FFRT Atheletes

John Berg M55+
Bill Brier M45+

Leesville Gap RR Report

Race: Leesville Gap RR
July 2, 2011
Results: 9th
Teammates: none
Category: 45+ 1/2/3
Time: 3:00:31

Strava Stats

I’ve done this race a few times before but this year it was one of the toughest most exhausting races I’ve ever completed. This was probably due to the heat and over inflated tires. I don’t know what I was thinking when I pumped 140 pounds in my tubulars but when the rough felt bumpier than I remember I knew why. Basically I got the crap pounded out of me and dehydrated at the same time. In the first bad section I lost a water bottle. Fortunately I had a third bottle in my jersey but even with that I managed to dehydrate and completely run out of gas by the finish. There were a few attacks before crossing Hwy 20 and beginning the tough section but no one got away before the main climb.

This course is one 63 mile loop with a deciding climb about 1/3 into the course. I made it about 3/4 up the mountain with the leaders then  backed off. Not too far that I was alone though so I reached the top with a few others and within minutes a couple more joined us. We were well organized and chased hard catching the leaders before the final climbs. Unfortunately I was hurting bad by then and we broke up on the last climbs. There were probably about three guys off the front this time and five or six of us chasing again. We never caught them. I was having a hard time hanging on so I took very short pulls. On the final 2 mile stretch there was a small attack and a surge which was all it took to drop me. So I finished by myself at 9th place. Next time I’ll use my tubeless wheels as I’ve always done in the past for this race or run much less air in my tubulars.


Sierra Nevada Hill Climb Time Trial Report – Incline Village

Race: Sierra Nevada Hill Climb Time Trial Report – Incline Village
Category: 35+
Position: 9th
Time: 44:32

This race was a last minute decision so I booked a hotel near the start and grabbed the family for a one day trip to Lake Tahoe. We got there in time for dinner and a drive to the top of Mt Rose to see the course. The next morning I rode my bike up a short hill to the registration which was supposed to be in the ski area parking lot. There were two other people there wondering if we were in the right place. Sure enough about 30 minutes later a bunch of cars showed up along with a trailer with two porta-potties. A tent was setup for registration and the next thing I knew there was a long line. The start order was based on registration order.

My start was at 9:07 and 30 seconds behind was a pro. It took him less than 3 minutes to pass me. At first I had thoughts of trying to keep him in my sights to help keep a fast pace. When he passed me so quick that thought abruptly disappeared along with any sight of him. He ended up finishing exactly 10 minutes faster than me. I kept a good pace but did not go too hard. The first two miles goes up Country Club drive then turns on Mt Rose Hwy for the remaining 6 miles for a finish at the 8900 ft summit. The climbed seemed a lot longer when I drove it in the car but the finish seemed to come pretty quick on the bike.

The weather and scenery were perfect. Even at 8900 feet it was warm. I should of got pictures at the summit but I only thought of it on my way down so I stopped and snapped one shot.

Mt Rose Hwy