Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vineman Training Weekend in Sonoma: The HEAT IS ON!

So this weekend was important for the team. We drove all the way up to the site of our race in Sonoma to do a little swimming, biking and running and familiarize ourselves with the course. I can sum up the weekend in one word...HOT!

Saturday June 27, 2009

Bike 112 miles
Time: 7 hrs 55 min (which includes 50 minutes of multiple breaks to stop in the MAD HEAT..ugh)
Avg=15.4 mph
Max=35.7 mph

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and headed to the start of the bike course. The race course consists of two 56 mile loops which we would complete today. Forecast for the day was 104 degrees so all of us were ready to tackle the heat and see how our bodies would hold up in these conditions. I started the morning great and felt like I had lots of energy. Rule number one for ANY endurance event is not to go out too fast. I've known this rule for years now as part of my marathon running but for some strange reason...I don't always follow it. Today I went out too fast and hard on the bike. I KILLED the first 56 mile loop. Why did I go out so hard? Honestly...I don't know. It was a mistake. Once I begin the second loop the fatigue started to set in and the heat began to affect me. Around mile 70 I had to stop and just catch my breath. I was feeling a little bit lightheaded. I could feel the energy oozing out of my body. The bottles of PowerAid that I carry on my bike were now BOILING hot from the sun and tasted like DIRT in my mouth. It was awful. From about mile 70 to 100 I stopped multiple times. Anywhere that I saw shade I stopped on the road just to stay cool. A few teammates of mine and I even found a local convenience store along the way and stopped inside to buy COLD water and Gatorade to replace the boiling bottles we had been using. It was a huge struggle to stay cool, hydrated and energized during those miles. Around mile 95 we hit the infamous part of the course called Chalk Hill. By this time I had stopped to rest so many times and had cooled myself down enough with the new water and Gatorade and I got a bit of a second wind. I finished the ride. It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.

Writing about it now, I feel it is difficult for me to convey the actual PAIN and EXHAUSTION I felt out on that course. You kind of just had to endure it yourself to truly understand. The heat added a TOTALLY new element to this ride and I can 100% say without a doubt this 112 mile bike ride was THE TOUGHEST AND MOST GRUELING PHYSICAL EXERTION OF MY LIFE. I remember during one of my many stops around mile 80, I was all alone on the course, the sun was beating down on my skin and I was completely depleted. I remember the thought that creeped into my head was that on race day I would STILL have to run 26.2 miles after this type of bike ride. On this day I asked myself if I thought I could run a full marathon after what I was feeling on this day and the honest answer was "I don't think so". I had one of those "low" moments when your mind starts to doubt that this can even be done. I quickly shrugged off these doubts and pushed forward. It is in the tough moments that I tried to remember WHY I am doing this and remember that the pain I am feeling is just temporary. I think about my friend Javier's mother who is battling Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I think about our honored teammate Kyle who has battled cancer four times. I am reminded that what I am doing is tough, but no where close to what others have to endure.

In summary, the toughest training day of my life was a success. I learned a lot about my body, how it is affected by heat and many things I can improve on for race day. Official temperature for this day ended up being 104 degrees. On race day we expect similar temperatures.

Sunday June 28, 2009

Swim = 30 minutes


Run = 17 miles
Total run time = 2 hrs 50 min

Sunday we woke up and headed down the where the swim portion of the race starts. It is in a beautiful river with amazing scenery. We did a quick 30 minute swim before heading out to the start of the run course.

Temperature today was a tad bit cooler...about 96 degrees. The run course consists of 3 loops of about 8.5 miles but today we would only run 2 of the loops. Even though I am a strong runner, today's run was tough. Again, the heat played a major factor and basically I just felt much more tired and much more fatigued sooner than I normally do when I do this type of mileage. I ran the entire course with my buddy Allan and we stuck to our 8:1 intervals. Run for 8 minutes, then walk for 1 minute, then repeat. Final run time was 2 hours 50 minutes...a SUCCESS when you factor in the crazy heat we had to deal with.

Well...the end to a hectic, HOT, and productive training weekend was completed. I learned a lot. I made a lot of mistakes. I tackled heat. I had highs. I had lows. I will definitely be better prepared when I return to this location for race day on August 1st. WATCH OUT!

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