Vineman full-iron, yo. Pretty tight. Haven’t done this multi-sport thing in two years. Appeals to the ADHD me. Also to the Zone-3, no jump in me. 8th/79 in age-group, 45th/527 overall. The 4-hour marathon deal at the end has me pretty amped. Put in some serious work there. Here’s the breakdown:
Drove from Portland to Oakland two days before. Fun and beautiful. Stopped in Ashland, Oregon, recently voted best trail-running city in the country where, fortunately for me, hung out with a new trail-running friend I met at the Badwater Ultra-marathon when I was there as an official. Unfortunately, Lacy and I didn’t have time to go running with her, so we did the next best thing which was hang out at the Ashland Food Co-op. Another city, another vegan donut.
Sonoma County hang- I’ve some family in Sonoma which was our base. Three kids under 11 to keep me busy. An important note: Don’t try backflips on a trampoline if you can’t do them well. Hurt my neck and it bothered me all day on the race.
Dinner in Oakland- Ate dinner at Manzanita, which another friend described as Food Not Bombs food for $20. I was into it. Quinoa, miso soup, delicious salad. Perfect pre-race.
Up at 445. Made a french press. Drank coffee on the way. Start was mad crowded, parking, blah blah blah. Set up my ‘transition’ with my bike stuff, which is always exciting. By the time I see it again, I’ll be so fucking stoked to finally ride. Putting on my wetsuit: way less exciting. If I’m lighter than I’ve ever been (er, well, close) why is it tighter than it’s ever been? Haven’t worn it since this race in 2008.
In the water, ready to go, pre-whistle. A first. I started to get nervous which made me think tardiness is a response mechanism to nervousness.
Harder than it sounds. Having breathing issues. Wetsuit felt SO TIGHT. Gnarly. Took 20 minutes for me to calm down. And for my dumb goggles to quit being foggy. This has never happened to me! The swim is two laps in a river with very little current. By the start of the second loop I was feeling a rhythm. Swimming is difficult to tell pace; I often didnt know if I was passing or being passed or if I was swimming straight. It’s also very shallow, which means you can stand if you have to (which is why Jeff and Megan call this Styrofoam-man!).
Still I paced, slowly. Got out in 1hr22min, 10 min slower than past race. I’m cool with it. Arms are tired. Wonder why?
I passed my pink backpack and wetsuit over the fence to Lacy with a big smile on my face. Cycling. Hell yes. I go hard straight away. Stomach is weird so I don’t eat for about an hour. That’s 2.5hrs now on a small banana. It’s fine. Passing hella people and being super polite and stoked, but others aren’t being so! (No Meat Athlete just talked about ettiquete for these races).
The course is rolling hills and it’s overcast and chilly for the first 50 miles. I love it. I’m feeling strong through the first 70 then I’m less stoked. I notice because I’m getting angry at dudes with Zips and discs passing me on the flats. ‘I’m being passed, wtf?’ Reconsidering the offer to borrow Zips from a friend. I hesitated cause they are tubulars, but that 8-10% speed improvement sure sounds nice about now.
I stop and pee. Eating more. Feeling good. My average speed is dropping below my goal of 21 MPH. Usually my strength is in the last half of the bike, but lack of recent long rides is showing.
Finish at 5hr30-something minutes. About 10 minutes faster than last time; making up the time lost in swimming..
Yeah, running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think cycling is the perfect warm-up for running. I feel great. It’s getting warm so I slap on sunblock, drink some cold water, dump some on my head and run out with the goal of a 4-hour marathon.
Boom. Three out-and-backs loops with rolling hills, turns, spectators and aid every mile. I head out strong, I think, trying to figure out my pace. I’ve no watch and there are no time clocks. I ask some dude with a fancy watch his pace. 9min07sec miles. Perfect. He then says that’s too fast for him and backs off. Then someone says, ‘Yo Matt!’ A dude who lives in Pasadena and has ridden Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer is on his first iron-distance. He’s killing it. We chat awhile and then my pace is a bit faster so I split off. Straight away I’m chatting with a dude from Bogota who speaks no English. We talk about running, cities and Ciclovia. He says, ‘this is hard’ and then runs away from me. I see Lacy at the end of my eventful first lap. Stoked. Run through the transition/finish and see the clock and do the math. My goal is three 80-min loops to equal 4 hours. I did 76 minutes. Boom. Drink some tea (thanks girl!), head out for lap two.
This is the toughest part, mentally. My brain insists on tricking me to slow down. Stop to pee! Put on sunblock! Walk this hill to conserve energy. I do the first two, but not the last. I endure. Passing folks which feels odd and exciting. I’m using the Hydra pouch cup system; no paper cups. It holds 6 ounces of liquid that fills in one second. I’m eating only pretzels and clif blocks. I must have eaten $20 worth. Falling into that tunnel of only feeling my legs moving. I barely comprehend the people around me. Occasionally someone yells, ‘Go Swarm!’ and it feels like they’ve given me everything they have. A simple cheer feels like a lifetime of support. I see Lacy at the end of lap two and she runs along with me. I see people smile and that makes me smile. Ask for the rest of the tea and some ibuprofen. She quotes me later as saying, ‘This is getting hard.’ I do the math on the clock and it was an 84-minute lap. Shit. I blame peeing and sunblock, but really my feet are burning and quads aren’t stoked.
Almost done. Well, 8 miles til done. My mantra is ‘run to the next aid’. Head down. Trying to keep pace, have no idea. I see people heading back on their last lap running a pace that seems impossible. I get to one of the two bigger hills and push. Everyone I see is walking, but I refuse to. I crave the change in muscle use. At the turn around I think, ‘Just run back. That’s all you have to do.’ My feet are destroyed. I stop to drink two cupfulls and have to hold on to the pop-tent cause the motion of putting my head back makes me a little dizzy. A volunteer says she thinks I should sit. ‘No way I’m sitting down, sorry!’
On a downhill about 2 miles from the finish someone catches me. Straightaway she says, ‘I’m on the relay, don’t worry.’ I try and hold her pace. We chat. She’s super supportive. I can barely talk. I think we’re doing 9 minute miles but it feels like a sprint. We both jog through the last aid and I refuse to give up her pace. We start to catch someone I’ve seen ahead of me at every turn around. I push. Drop her. Catch him.
The last half mile is painful. Did I go too hard too soon?
Cross the finish with the same Black Power salute I did in 2008, but this time the clock is one hour earlier.
Try to keep moving. Head cloudy. Feet burning. STARVED. Lacy finds me wandering in circles. I sit. Stretch. Snack. Get bike. Get food! Yay veggie burger with pasta salad on it. Whatevs. Tons a fruit. See the Pasadena dude and someone I randomly met at a wedding last year. Congratulations all around.
We hear about a local, sustainable, vegan restaurant in the tiny town of Graton and head there. Ends up they are promoters of the first two, but haters of the latter. ‘We put cheese in the polenta because it tastes better.’ I knew it was too good to be true. Damn ‘local’ restaurants and their total disregard for animals. We eat at the Mexican place next store that gets it. Yum. See some folks who were at the race and my hobble gives away that I was there.
So. Yeah. Was high on this for a few days. No photos, unfortunately. There are the official ones, but I couldn’t figure out how to pull them.
Soon, the fall: More mountain bike racing and then Furnace Creek 508, again. See you out there. Keep at it, whatever it is you do. Here are some applicable Buddhist quotes I stole from famous artist, Lacy J. Davis.
In this life, concentrate on achieving what is most meaningful.
Don’t expect any applause.