Spinning Head

Usually, my body is sore and I'm physically spent after a Saturday brick workout. Despite the heat and a nearly three-hour time time trial, it's my brain that hurts the most right now.

Don't worry, mom, I didn't crash!

Following our weekly Fortius group training session, Coach Gerardo led a Vineman 70.3 pre-race preparation discussion with Richard, Ann, Mike, Karen and me.  He's a great resource considering he has completed the Vineman course four times, and Mike has done it before too.

I think my head is spinning even more than my legs did pedaling up Mulholland Drive this morning!

I came home and am blogging almost immediately to capture as much information as possible.  In fact, before the "pretty" form you see here and below, I literally brain-dumped out as much as I could remember.

I'm labeling it as Pre-Race, Transitions and Race for those of you also preparing for other Half-Ironman events -- at Vineman or elsewhere.


  • Bring a second pair of socks
  • On Friday, get to the beach by 4 p.m. before it closes.
  • Running bag needs to be delivered on Saturday and should contain salt tablets, fuel belt, extra gels and bars, hat, extra sunblock and extra pair of socks.
  • Bring bike to packet pick up to bike the run course.


  • Put baby powder in my shoes and on my feet, along with generous helpings of tri-glide to avoid blistering
  • There's apparently a 30% grade coming out of the T1 chute.  Gerardo is suggesting clipping the shoes on the bike to ensure a safer run up the hill and putting on the shoes either while moving on the bike or at the mount point. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this since I haven't practiced those kinds of transitions.  That's something I need to do in the future.
  • Don't fill water in my fuel belt water bottles until the first aid station, where the water will be cold and help me avoid cramping.


  • Knock off a little of the pace on the bike to preserve for the run
  • Avoid people hosing you down during the run as much as possible.  Keep feet dry.
  • If warm out, wear arm coolers under wetsuit during swim.  If not, save for T1.
  • Eat breakfast at least 2 hours before your wave time.  Make sure you consume at least 600 calories.  Considering I burned 1,500 calories in just shy of three hours today in 80-something degree heat, I'm surprised it's not even higher.  Then again, we should be eating and drinking throughout the bike ride.
  • Red-tinted or clear-tinted sunglasses will be most effective dealing with the sun reflections on the bike at the race.  I have neither. Hmm.  Dark glasses will be the worst.  Those, I have.
  • Pace your own race.  Don't get caught up in competing with others.  This is going to be the most difficult thing for me to avoid.  I need to find a way to control my competitive urges.  I'll have to focus on looking at my watch, not others.
  • Watch the hills on the bike and don't be over-aggressive on climbing them.  Save your energy for the run.

Overall, the three most important tips are:

  • Knock a little off the bike race pace to conserve energy on the run.  Same goes for the swim.  It's better to lose a few minutes in the water and on the bike rather than up to an hour on the run due to dehydration.
  • Race nutrition is everything.  I should basically be drinking a full water bottle per hour on the bike, and possibly an added bottle if it's hot.
  • Run your own race.  Stay within yourself.  Pacing!  This is not a sprint or Olympic triathlon.  According to Gerardo, a Half-Ironman is the most difficult race to get right when it comes to pacing and proper nutrition.  It's a very fine balance between pushing too much and too little, and the consequences are severe when doing the latter.  Since this is my first Half-Ironman, I'm especially nervous about learning about this point the hard way.

I'm sure I forgot more than I remembered.  But this should help keep me on track during the race.  Not mentioned today but rather during my swim this past Thursday is to focus on flow and not mechanics in the water.  If I can keep my breathing in check, that should help a lot.  I found a real good breathing cadence during my 1,000 yard time trial, which netted me a personal-best 18:27.  My pace per 100 yards is now 1:52, down from 2:05 in the pool when I first started.  This also came less from worrying about my stroke and concentrating more on my breath.  My new swim PR time led Gerardo to predict it should take me roughly 37 minutes to swim 1.2 miles at Vineman.  We'll see how close he is.  So far, every time he's predicted a pace result for me, he's been pretty much right on the nose.

I hope he predicts a 5:30 Half-Ironman!  Though I suspect I'll be in the 6:00-6:30 range depending on the heat.

OK, I'm heading into the final week of Half-Ironman training.  I'm physically ready.  I'm mentally prepared.  The waiting game officially begins tomorrow, during my first weekend non- pre race off-day I can recall since joining Fortius.  I'll spend it with family, watching Le Tour and Spain vs. Netherlands (Espana wins 2-1, btw).  Along with sending Mike off in style for his first Ironman, Lake Placid.

Now, it's time to enjoy the rest of my day and night, which consists of today's Tour stage, burgers and beer with my buddy TJ and Predators.  My kind of night.

And a welcome distraction to take my mind off all these mental checklist items for next week!

133 days and counting.