Vineman Ironman 70.3 - July 18, 2010

This was to be my first full long distance triathlon since my bionic transformation in June '07. Well, Ironman St. George in May was actually to be the first, but I missed the cutoff and wasn't allowed to do the run. No such worries here. I'd done the first Vineman Half Ironman way back in '91. It's become a much bigger race, and one of the most popular in the country. Still on the Russian River - home of many great childhood vacations - with beautiful riding through vineyards and past wineries, and a relatively forgiving course compared to most I seem to tackle. Heat would be one issue, but since successfully doing Ironman Canada in '96 where temperatures reached 104F on the bike course, heat just doesn't scare me any more. I'll be prepared...

I was hoping to do this race with my good tri buddies Dave Delucchi and Rick Ferrell. But Rick's recovering from knee surgery and although probably ready to do this, he wisely decided to heal a bit longer before doing another half Ironman. So, it was me and Deluch - on a California adventure!


Plan B for where we'd stay was at my grandfather's cabin, now owned by my Uncle and his family, built in 1929, and where I spent most of my summer vacations as a child. A place with many fond memories. It's on the Russian River a few miles upriver from Guerneville. After we'd checked in to the Motel 6 in Windsor, gotten our registration material and enjoyed the expo, I drove us to the cabin - a place I hadn't seen in some 30 years, just for some tripping down memory lane and for future reference. My grandfather named it - the Pergola.

In the 60's, grape vines from below grew up and over the open redwood lattice and made a Bacchus-like ambiance. I remember lazy days in the old orange hammock, reaching up to grapes hanging down

My grandfather's name was Rudolf. Rudy, Robert, Richard - 3 generations of R Nolthenii!

A very cool photo!

After the cabin, we continued on to Guerneville and scouted parking possibilities, and checked out Johnson Beach where the swim would be held. Then back to Windsor, and off to Mary's Pizza for dinner. Then to the motel...

Tomorrow, this gravel will be tough on your feet, Rick.

Back at the motel - the ritual begins. Afixing race numbers, packing fuel, pumping tires...

Enough with the camera, Nolthenius!

Pouring my Metabol Endurance Formula. Last thing before bed

4:45am... OK, what am I doing? why am I up?

oh yeah, putting on my sunscreen

Packing the car, and off to Guerneville...

At Johnson's Beach - Dave waiting to get numbered

I'm getting my leg numbered here

The two smiling faces are Dave and John Anderson. The guy in back of Dave - not so happy

self-portrait at my transition spot


John came out to support his wife, Karen

Dave's wave start. We swim upstream for 0.6 miles, then downstream for 0.6 miles.

See Dave there? He's the guy in the yellow cap.

I brought my little Lumix F3K pocket camera with me on the bike and run. Here, coasting downhill, heading north towards Geyserville

Coming in to Windsor High School, where the run starts

Dave and I pass each other at mile 2 (his 11) on the run going opposite directions. A little slow on the shutter button, unfortunately.

My back, above the hip on the right side, took a beating on the Markleeville Death Ride a week before, and it flared up beginning at mile 2, slowing me to a walk periodically. The sun didn't help. Note that as I did my transition, I forgot to grab my visor - bummer.


Mile 4, my left psoas tendinitis adds in

Mile 6, at the winery. No shade. Pretty hot now; 90F. There was a little tunnel of spray water which gave some relief.

At the turnaround, my left upper calf, strained at the Death Ride trying to get up those long steep mountain passes in big gears, seriously joins my back and psoas in a growing symphony of pain.

Mile the wheels, one by one, come off the Nolthenius Bandwagon...

The run turns to a power walk, then to a walk and occasional jog

Mile 10, Cooled off with some icewater over the head, I'm joined by a new friend, who flew up from Mexico with his family for the race. We spent a mile together before he speeded up towards the finish

My view of the finish line, dead ahead, so to speak

A Grimace for the Finis

Where's the beef? A hamburger-less hamburger as they ran out of meat.

We'd arranged for Dave to take the athlete bus back to Guerneville and pick up my car while I finished the run. Thanks, Dave!. Thus, we were ready to head home after the post-race formalities. A good thing! I slept well Sunday night...

Dave Delucchi had an awesome race: 5:33:27 was good for 73rd in his tough division of 193 racers, and 414 out of 1261 overall. My race was... an education. My first completed long course race since my hip replacement surgery. The imbalance between my atrophied left leg and my good right leg (amped by lots of one-legged mountain biking during my 10 years of cripple'dom), is clearly going to be a much bigger challenge to correct than I'd first assumed. My DC, Tom Smith in Santa Cruz, is helping me with this, to good effect! My results: 37:21 and 19/50 finishers (65 entrants) in 55-59 age group swim, 3:37:50 48/50 bike, 3:35:11 49/50 run. But I love this sport and am eager to rehab smart and continue my comeback.

Notes for reference on nutrition:

breakfast at 4:30am: 8oz of fresh blueberries, 2 apricots, 2-egg burrito, 1 cashew/date Larabar

Just before race start: 1/2 of a 10oz Ensure

On bike: last half of Ensure bottle first on bike, 1 cashew/date Larabar, 1.5 bottles of Metabol Endurance formula in H2O4U water, gatorade endurance formula 2,3 times (2 squirts), water, 3 or 4 S!ceed capsules, 1 ibuprofen, 1 pee break

On Run: I ate at every aid station after mile 3, mostly handfuls of pretzels, and oreo cookies. I was already powerbar'ed and gu'ed out. I also had icewater at every stop, nursing it along as long as possible till the next station. 2 pee breaks

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