Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Auburn World's Toughest Half Triathlon / Napa Valley Vintage Half

May – Half Iron Distance races

Napa Valley Vintage Half Ironman – May 3rd
World’s Toughest Triathlon – May 18th

My Bib number was 44 in both races! What are the odds of that happening?

Napa Vintage Half Iron Distance race: (Swim 1.2 mile / Bike 56 miles / Run 13.1 miles)
When Padma mentioned she was going to be doing the Napa half I immediately decided to jump in and kick start my training season. Padma graciously let us share her hotel room which turned out to be a real blessing.

Renuka and I drove up later in the afternoon and after getting lost (Google maps suck!) we finally made it to the room at 9:30. Thankfully Madhavi & Padma had brought back some leftovers from their dinner. After vacuuming the pasta we had a fitful night – four of us cozied up in a small room. This was Padma’s first Half Iron distance race and she was pretty confident – (though she had niggling worries about making the swim/bike cut-offs.) The morning was pleasant – I opened the room door and I was in the transition area…AWESOME! We racked our bikes and headed for the swim, Superman Chakri drove all the way in the early hours to cheer Padma, what an amazing guy!

(which direction are we going?)

We had decided to swim together, but so much for plans – within 5 mins I lost Padma in the sea of back wetsuits. Since it was a relatively small event <250 participants the swim was pretty smooth – it also was about 300-350 meters short! Started the bike – saw Padma just after the first turn around and she was all smiles – the course was not easy – not very hilly - but it had that irritating grade where you just cannot get into a decent cadence. Got off the bike & proceeded to the run – it was warm (low to mid 80s) – the course was gorgeous, and I stopped to take in the views of lake Berryessa – beautiful course.

(How beautifully the blue of the Porta John stands out against green trees - oh and the Babe in grey track pants is gorgeous)

Padma called out as she ran by, she was all smiles and wearing her trademark panama hat and carrying her (ultra runner) bottle in hand – she was in her element – this girl loves to run and it shows on her face.

Chakri ran the second lap with her and she came in to finish at a fantastic 7:51:20 –Except for a mini GI meltdown on the bike she had a good race. Padma is in great shape for Full Vineman triathlon in August. Her Splits – (Swim 00:38:33 / Bike 4:17:23 / Run 2:44:11) With 11 mins in transition.
I finished in 6:33:34 (Swim 00:34:25 / bike 3:33:27 / Run 2:13) with about 12 mins in total transition!
BIG thank you to Madhavi, Renuka & Chakri for cheering us on.

Auburn - World’s Toughest Half Iron Triathlon: (Swim 1.2 mile / Bike 56 miles / Run 13.1 miles)
This race certainly lived up to its name. Six of us were planning on doing this race – Vinod unfortunately got injured and had to drop out. Tandy was doing the Olympic Distance, Doug, Abhijit, Stan & I were doing the half iron distance. This was to be Doug and Abhijit’s first attempt at a Half Iron Dist race. The drama started on Friday when Brad Kerns (Race Director) sent out an email saying that they expect 105F temperatures on Race Day (Sunday) so he was planning on reducing the run to 9 miles. By Saturday Morning the race was back on with the normal distances (by popular demand by the athletes!) Saturday Morning – after the Asha long run Renuka and I headed for Auburn – Abhijit drove in with his Mom and friend Ashish, Crazy Stan drove alone in his car without the AC. The temp was 102F and rising – We got into Auburn, registered and drove to T2 deposited our shoes etc. and checked in at the hotel. Met up with Tandy & Doug. After a nice dinner we called it a night.

Pre-race Dinner

5:20am - we left the hotel – Big thanks to Ashish and Renuka for driving us to the swim start. The place got really crowded as there were 4 races (International/Half Iron/Duathlon and a relay)

Before the race - Stan is missing as he was warming up

Which direction do we swim? As we were walking to the swim start I realized I had not looked up the course…had no idea where the buoys were – so I decided to follow the crowd. For some reason the crowd decided to leave me behind…darn I was just hoping I could keep sight of the swimmers past the half hour mark as that was when the International distance swimmers started – the last thing I needed was to follow the wrong crowd!
After a rather long swim (which seemed uphill!) I was out in 0:54:09 (Pathetic!)– Abhijit, Stan & Doug were there – so off we all went – Stan seemed to have the quickest transition. I saw Mouli and Veena who came all the way to cheer us on – such wonderful people (Thank you, Thank you).

Chicken on a slow roast: That is what I felt like on the bike. The bike course was HARD – it was HILLY and then some. The volunteers were great and it was amazing to see that they were still full of energy after almost 3-4 hours in that heat – IT WAS HOT! The reports had the temp anywhere between 93-102F (My car gauge read 77F at 5:30am and 102F when I finished!) The slow grind up the hills in those hot conditions were painful! I had managed my fuel intake pretty well so I had no cramping issues – just energy sapping climbs. Got through ~3.5 bottles of Sustained Energy (mixed with Succeed) and 3 eGels – aprox 1,200-1,325 calories just about enough for the 4:22 bike ride (a stellar 12.81 mph! I should retire! Steve Larsen, the winner, finished the entire race in 4:48:20!!!) – But wait, I have my excuse figured out. I did notice a lot of Cervélos flying by me and after doing a quick check I realized it was my glove buckle that had come unvelcroed (is there such a word?) – I was sure that this little flap was causing excessive drag - I quickly fix that – the next few Cervélos…went by much slower…but by then that drag had cost me the race. (How drool - what a drag)

New Shoes attract trails: The run was off-road through the trails starting from the Dam Overlook (this is the same section I paced Rajeev Patel during his 2006 RDL 100 miler) – All these years I’ve been running in trail shoes and doing road races – last week I bought my first pair of road shoes in years and ended up in a trail run. Well I really don’t like trail running – my low foot lift makes me kiss the earth more often than I'd like. Five minutes into the run...crash... I kissed the earth...a protruding root was the root cause of my fall, not to be routed by the route and after a routine dust off I started again. The down hills (well it was all downhill for me) were bad...boulders, holes, roots it was conspiracy. Finally we had a section of gravel road and regular good ol’ black tops. The volunteers were great, the cheering folk were fantastic, lots of bikinis around...(got to love summer.) I saw Abhijit on his first lap – he was in fine form – unfortunately both he and Doug would not be allowed to finish the second loop due to the time cutoff. They both did 64 miles of a 70 mile race in grueling conditions – and in my mind they are finishers. The run was done in 2:36:06
Total time: 7:52:32
Stan finished in 6:57:32 and came in 5th in his age group. Way to go Stan!
Tandy finished her tough International distance race in 4:21:38

Stan & Doug waiting & waiting for me to finish

Madhu, Shridhar, Dhvanee drove up all the way from San Jose to see us finish – thanks a million guys! I finished too late and was too tired to take you out for a decent lunch – but I’ll make it up to all you wonderfully supportive folks.

I look forward to racing with Doug, Tandy, Abhijit, Stan, padma and Vinod – Vinod I hope your injury heals quick – we need to resume our pre-race Beer tradition :-)

(Pix for the Auburn Tri coming soon)