Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2003 August 3: Half Vineman Triathlon

My second triathlon! And my first triathlon on my new triathlon
bike, a Softride Qualifier. Info on how I did is here.

Because the bike shop only had time to get my bike put together on the
Friday before the race (which was on Sunday), this was really my first
ride of any sort on my new
bike, other than 2-3 miles I put in on Saturday to try to tweak various
aspects of it and make it comfortable. (If I were a more
reasonable person, I wouldn't have ridden a completely untested bike in
a 56-mile ride as part of a triathlon. But I'm not a more
reasonable person.)

Lauren and I drove up to wine country Saturday afternoon. We
encountered heinous traffic, both in San Francisco and north of it, and
so the drive took way way longer than it should have. In fact, I
started getting somewhat nervous that we wouldn't arrive in time to
take care of the registration paperwork.

We finally got there, though. Outside the registration room there
was a table where you had to check in by showing some ID and your USA
Triathlon card; another guy arrived there just before I did. He
told the woman at the table that his name was "Paul somebody-or-other" (I didn't catch
the surname at the time), and the woman responded with, "Oh, any
relation to Chris?"
Paul replied, "I'm his older and slower brother." When Lauren and
I heard that, we started mouthing at each other, "Chris Lieto?!"
It turned out that, yes indeedy, this was the brother of Chris Lieto, who won both the
Half Vineman and Ironman Wisconsin in 2002. Further observation
revealed that Paul Lieto was in the same age group bracket (33-34) that
I was in. Very exciting!

Well, on to the event at hand. Such is the popularity of the Half
Vineman that unless you book accommodations for yourself many months in
advance, you won't be staying very close to the race start.
Indeed, Lauren and I had a 30-minute drive to get to the start.
Now, in all the written material for the race-- and in the athlete's
meeting the night before the race-- the race organizers stressed very
strongly that you should only park exactly
where the official race parking is, and that it would be well-marked, etc. We drove through town,
and there was no marking whatsoever. I don't know if there had
been signs earlier in the day, or if the official parking lot filled up
and the organizers decided that latecomers were on their own, or
what. But we parked where we could (it wasn't a huge problem),
and I was rather irritated with the organizers about not following
through on something of which they had made such a big stink.

There were some hefty lines for the Porta-Potties, so I barely had time
to take care of my "pre-race prep" before it was time to get in the

The swim was pretty uneventful. The race started with "waves" by
age group (instead of a gigantic mass start), and the start waves
weren't too big, so I had a reasonable amount of water to myself for a
lot of the time. That was a nice change from the Wildflower (which had also had start
waves, but they were really big or something, and I was never alone in
the water).

After the swim, I left my wetsuit and goggles by the bike rack, put on
my bike stuff, and started riding. An interesting thing about
this triathlon is that the start and finish of the bike ride are in
different places, so that while you're biking/running, the Vineman
people transport the stuff you leave at the first transition area over
to the end of the race. (Alternatively, you can throw it to a
companion who's spectating. I should have done that, as it turns

The bike ride went well. It was hot, but flat and fast. I
kept an average speed of almost 21mph, which was pretty good for
me. I thought I was doing OK, drink-wise, but I had occasion to
change my mind later in the day. Still, I finished the ride in
good-ish shape, and somewhat looking forward to the run.

It turned out that the bike ride got me more wasted than I had
thought. Not too long into the run, I was feeling pretty
tired. Fortunately, it was mostly easy rolling hills, and so I
managed to muddle through without walking. It felt pretty slow,

All in all, the triathlon was a lot of fun. When Lauren and I had
had enough of the food at the finish line and wanted to leave, we went
to pick up my bike and transition stuff, including the stuff (wetsuit, etc.) I had left in the first
transition area. Curiously, the stuff from the first transition
area wasn't there! On Monday (day after the race), I told the
Vineman folks about the missing gear, and they told me they'd let me
know if it was found. The fact that they hadn't found it yet
worried me, though.

A few days later, someone contacted me. Apparently, some friends
or family of his had picked up his stuff without his knowledge, and
then when he went to get it, the volunteer on duty at the pick-up area
had given him my stuff, instead (his number was similar to mine,
evidently)! So we made arrangements for him to drop the stuff off
for me, and I got it all back. As a bonus, it turned out that a
buddy of his had taken some pictures of our swimming wave, and he sent
me the pictures, which are below. Because a big chunk of the back
of my Xterra wetsuit is yellow, you can actually identify exactly who I
am in them! (I'm at the very bottom of the second picture.)

Me swimming with a bunch of nameless people

Me swimming some more with a bunch of nameless people


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