by Steve Strickland
I started out thinking this would be very brief. Then very unlike me, as many of you know, I just couldn’t shut up. I won’t be offended if you don’t read it…
I’d done 2 half Ironman distance races previously, but they were late in the season and I never focused on training for the distance. I’d mix in a few longer distance workouts into my training for sprint/Olympic races and rely on my base to get me through to the finish. This year I decided back in November when I signed up, that the Vineman 70.3 was my A race for the season and all training and shorter races would be in preparation for July 22.
Originally, my buddy Chip, my wife Nancy, and I decided to do the race. Unfortunately Nancy had a bum knee all season and had to withdraw a month before race day.
So Chip, his wife Karen, Nancy and I arrived to San Francisco the Thursday before the Sunday race to leave plenty of time to pickup our bikes from the local bike repair shop where we shipped them to, and make sure they were in working order and then plenty of time to relax before race day. We even found time to make one quick stop at one of the wineries for a little pre-race tasting.
Well after all the training, it was go time.
With the time change, getting up really wasn’t too difficult since KC time it was 2 hours later. We made our way to Guerneville, about a 40 minute drive from where we were staying in Bodega Bay, to where T1 was located. T2 was located 15-20 miles away in Windsor.
We got down to T1 (in a gravel parking lot) for body marking. Not too bad getting through that as they had recommended people in later waves to come later, as the transition area did not close. There were a total of 18 waves every 8 minutes starting at 6:25am.
I head to the bike racks for my heat. With the 30-34 age group being so large, my wave was broken down to 30-32. I find an open spot and realize it’s going to be a tight squeeze when trying to leave with my bike between the racks. In some spots there was just over a foot between the bikes on racks across from each other.
Knowing the 1.2 mile swim is pretty much my warm up for the race, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry getting ready. I went through the normal progression of preparing my T1 spot. The pros went off at 6:25, meaning I had 45 minutes until my 7:10 start. Plenty of time.
So I’m talking to Chip and few others, make my way to the edge of transition to talk to Nancy and Karen. Then start to get my bottles ready on my bike, organize my bento box with goodies, etc…
Next thing I know I have about 10 minutes before I start and I still need to lather on the body glide and put on my wetsuit and get over to the starting corral. I hear 4 minutes until my wave starts. I’m making my way through the long transition behind others not in much of a hurry. I’m trying to stay on the narrow carpet as I have wimpy feet that would prefer not to walk barefoot on gravel. I get down to waters edge and hear 3 minutes until start. I’m know I’m on time, but not much to get a feel for the water and stretch my arms a bit. Oh well, I hope do about 15 yards then hang out in the back. Then I see Chip just getting into the water as well. He had been waiting in line for the 24 port’o potty’s they had for 2000 people. He never got to take care of the necessary business before we started. We gave each other a fist tap, then I moved up a little and the horn went off.
It was a foggy morning and by race start it had decreased, but the fog settled to about 2-3 feet above the water. So sighting was a bit difficult the entire swim. After a couple hundred yards things started to spread out and I began to settle in.
I got to the turn around point, meaning just over half way through and as I sighted, I saw people walking in front of me. I knew the water was supposed to be 4-7 feet deep and I could understand if someone needed to stop and stand for a br