Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vineman Race Report - Part 1

Alright, here it is. I probably got halfway through writing this race report ten times before scrapping and starting anew. I'm not saying this is perfect, but it's as perfect as my fried brain's going to let me get it. Look for a follow-up post in the next few days to highlight some great memories from this race that didn't quite fit into the narrative. And as always, enjoy!

The morning of registration was chaos. My family had flown into San Francisco the night before, and thanks to flight delays, we weren't able to get to bed until well past 1am. As if cramming six people into a one-bedroom apartment wasn't enough, we found out early that morning that my car had been broken into. While I worked on filing a claim with my insurance, my family helped Kristine finish up the wrapper-counting.
Counting wrappers

Around eleven, we started to mobilize. Alex generously loaned me his truck for the weekend, so the six of us split into two vehicles (my parents had rented a car of their own) and set off for registration and packet pick-up in Windsor.

The drive/registration combo look a whole lot longer than expected. I had to attend a thirty-minute information session, talk to a few race officials and pick up my number. The family helped me unload the boxes of wrappers we'd collected - there were over 5,000! - and turn them in. Cross your fingers!

After registering, I had to take some time to set up my second transition (bike-to-run). I set out my running shoes, a plastic bag containing my Garmin, a small vial of sunscreen and some ibuprofen, my visor and race belt. Then I only had one more thing to do: scout out the finish-line for reasons that may become clearer as we get to the end of this story. Muahaha.

Approaching registration

By the time we were all set and back on the road, we'd missed lunch by a long-shot and were closing in on dinner time. My head was spinning with all I felt I needed to prepare for the next day, so we went straight up to Healdsburg, where we'd be staying that night, and stopped in at the Bear Republic brewhouse for a meal. I had a delicious salad - mixed greens, candied almonds, chicken and fruit - and a small plate of plain spaghetti noodles.

We ate quickly, checked into the hotel and I did some obsessive unpacking and repacking of my gear - laying out the next morning's necessities - until the pre-race pièce de résistance: the shave. I hadn't cut my hair in five months. I hadn't shaved in four weeks. The whole family crammed into the back of one of our two hotel rooms with cameras and big grins while Kristine and my dad took turns with the clippers. It only took twenty minutes, but the change was pretty darn significant!


The excitement finally started to dwindle around bedtime. I had my gear set out and my alarm set. Kristine and I took a few minutes to review the course one last time and then it was lights-out before nine o'clock.

I barely slept. My brain was in overdrive thinking about the next day's race - and more importantly, the end of the next day's race. The week hadn't been kind to me from a stress perspective, so why should that last night have been any different? When the clock finally ticked over to 4:30, I rolled out of bed and got to it. Breakfast was a single Pro bar and a bottle of orange juice. We loaded the car back up and set out in the dark for the swim start at Guerneville.

On to part two.