19 July 2009: Victory in the Vineyards!!

Quick post cause I think a glass or two of local wine is in order pretty soon!! Had a good result here today at Vineman and one I felt I personally needed after last weekend. It was a pretty stacked and large field here and although I was excited and looking forward to racing I went in with not too many expectations. Vineman is a race that I have wanted to get to for several years and for various reasons, season timing, injury etc had not had the chance until now. I had heard good things about the race, the course, the setting and none of these disappointed today - definitely a race to mark down for a return visit......

After an ordinary to OKish swim (pro men and women started together and I managed to get myself drilled at the start - thanks guys! - and caught up in a bit of a slower pack......thats racing) I was determined to have a good 90km. I felt great on the Kestrel with the new (now not so new...4 weeks) position (thanks Mr Cobb) and really had a lot of fun out on the bike course. Joanna Zeiger (reigning 70.3 World Champ and super fast across the board) smashed the swim and had about 30 seconds on me but I caught sight of her at about the 30km mark on the bike and then really tried to put the hammer down. After that it was pretty lonely with no one else in sight - the scenery was great though and it was a really fun ride. In fact at times I had to remind myself I was in a race and not out on a hard and enjoyable training ride. Coming into T2 I had no idea of who was behind me or where but felt I had ridden well. Onto the run and I got a bit of a visual of where some girls were at as they headed in from the bike and heard a time split of about 2.30 back to second. I felt comfortable but also wanted to be conservative for the first half of the run - having not seen the course I had heard it was hilly and it was also starting to heat up pretty quickly. I knew I needed to respect those elements as well as the quality of the field that was chasing me from behind. At the turn around I saw the gap back to second was probably about 4 minutes and I felt comfortable until about mile 8, good in fact, but still knew that 3 miles can be an eternity sometimes especially at the end of the race. All of a sudden I started to feel not so great and was counting down the miles one by one, and hill by hill, as the sun started to blaze down. And I started to lose time by the bucket load - at least I felt like I was - I actually had no idea of where anyone was at that stage - when you are in first you don't get any time checks especially when it is a one lap run. With a mile to go I was really hurting but thought surely I could make it home from there. Unfortunately with about a half mile left a got a sudden and extremely painful cramp in my calf and almost stopped cold. I don't know how long that hobble home took but it wasn't pretty and the finish line could not have come sooner. I am pretty sure the finish photo is not going to be great - a big grimace and limp more than a smile I think!!! I found out after that with 1.5 miles to go I still had over 4 minutes lead - by the finish I think it was only 2.30 - so yes that was a struggle!! I also heard that apparently I was pretty close to the course record - some more incentive to return next year though!

I have to say a huge congratulations to everyone that finished today - it is a tough course and the heat was pretty brutal for much of the day - lots of admiration for those out there in that heat that got through. And also a big thanks for all of the support that I received pre and post race and on course - yes it does make a huge difference even if I did have my head down in the land of pain and looked as though I might not have heard you, I did and it was an appreciated boost.

For now though I think a recovery drink is in order - I am surrounded by beautiful vineyards and anyway I am pretty sure that wine is the best recovery drink??? Oh and the trophy today? - a 3L bottle of Chardonnay from La Crema Winery (the run turnaround point)! Nice.