I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2009. It was one of the first 70.3 races I ever raced and I had a rough go at it. I remember a few things. One, a tree fell on the course at mile 7. It fell on three competitors and one of them broke their back. The race was stopped and we all piled up, and when they cleared the way and we got to go it was a crazy large pack draft fest. Two, I met Audra Adair on the course during said tree incident, and we remain friends to this day. I went on that day to melt on the run, and she went on to run her butt off and qualify for Clearwater 70.3 champs. Ahhh, back in “the day.”

This go around, 6 years later, I was excited to be racing this iconic course again. We drove down in Muddys truck, traffic was smooth, and we did the expo business dropping our run shoes off, attending the meeting, picking up odds and ends, and making friends!

IMG_4094

Two highlights here, you know, besides the Mark Allen one of course! First off kudos to Jasmine, who is a mama to 5 beautiful kiddos and was racing her first 70.3! I met her in line at packet pickup and she was just such a bright light! I had a bit of a girl crush on her! She finished in flying colors! I made her and the kids do jumping photos at the finish line, and then I made everyone else standing around get in on it too!!

IMG_4099

And also Shannon, who I have vaguely known electronically, but now know personally…I love that! Great Job Shannon finding that finish line Sunday! Rockstar!

IMG_4096

We ate at the Black Bear Diner and stayed at Motel 6. It was all very ghetto fabulous, but because we had met up with Ron (AKA Punky) life was good. He may see me as his annoying coach (or bratty little sister) who makes him wear a HRM and never lets him train as much as he wants to, but to me he is family and I always feel more happy and silly and at ease around him. We happened to find ourself at the Walgreens late at night buying snacks…no ice cream…sad.

Race morning arrived, 4:40 alarm went ding, and I was up and excited. Calm, and tired…but excited. We loaded Ron, Joaquin, and I’s stuff into the truck and Muddy drove us to the start and dropped us off.

IMG_4112

My wave was really late in the day so we got to stand around and watch the PROs start…and finish the swim leg. I had a very sweet conversation with Magali Tisseyre’s mom during the PRO womens swim, beautiful woman, wonderful mom. Finally it was time to mosey on over. I met up with Christine, and Hailey, and I met my Coeur teammate Lindsey for the first time. We got ourselves into the water and I got in a short warm up before it was go time.

IMG_4138

I never really stopped to think “wait how do i do this again?” I just got up to the front line and when the horn sounded, I started swimming. Pretty hard. I wanted to snag some feet. I always want to snag some feet. I watched Christine and Hailey disappear quickly into the distance, I knew it was them, just knew. I was rusty! I really banged into quite a few girls, not because I was being overly aggressive, but because I was being dumb. A few times I ran into someone and was like “Oh that was rude” in my head and then 15 seconds later “oh crap, I did it again”. I really DO NOT swim straight when I am trying to swim hard and after brutalizing this poor woman about 10 times I finally clued in and just got on her perfect feet and followed them. If you are in Womens 35-39 and you had to roll over a douchebag woman about 8 times out there….I apologize, that was me, and I think I owe you a bottle of wine, better yet, lest get on one of the best limo wine tours in the valley.

Vineman is special in that it is VERY shallow. You can stand up pretty much the entire swim. At the turn buoy you can actually walk. I remember people walking in 2009 and this year, I decided to give it a go. I always like to try at least SOMETHING new each time I race, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I stood up and I walked and I waded and I made a few friends, and we laughed and I looked around at the view, which is STUNNING, and I stretched my arms a bit and then when it wasn’t walkable any more I dove back in and kept swimming. The lady that I brutalized and then was drafting off of was swimming this whole section right next to us walkers and by walking I lost about 1-2 feet on her. When I dove back in I jumped out a little bit and was right back on her feet. She took the most amazing line towards the right hand shore all the way back and delivered us right onto the shore with perfect accuracy!

In fact…there she is…right there behind me in the photo, I think…. If you know this girl, hook me up so I can send her a care package!! Also, I look really sad here…and tired, and old. Triathlon is glamorous. Go Roka!

1097_001014

I ran to my bike and right as I got to it I saw Hailey running out of transition along the outer path. I felt good about that because I knew that she had probably stuck on Christine (super swimmers) feet and would have swam fast. Being one transition behind her I felt was pretty good.

I was sure to step right in a big puddle of mud before I got to the mount line, you know, just to make sure the interior of my shoes were coated in mud the entire ride. Winning!

There is a steep little hill right out of transition. I had my shoes clipped into my pedals. I was rusty, there was some fumbling, and muddy feet, but I did tell myself to keep calm and just get my feet on my shoes as efficiently as possible. If you ever go to a triathlon to watch, go to the mount line, it really is the most hilarious part of the race. People, myself included, do all sorts of silly stuff. You will be laughing for days! Go Quintana Roo! Love my PRSix!

1097_013229

And…finally I’m on my bike and rolling, whew. Heart rate check in…174. Genius. Okay, that’s probably not maintainable. But the bigger problem. My legs. Oh my legs. How can I accurately describe my legs. Well, they were a sort of mixture between the feeling you get when you are walking down the stairs the day after a marathon, and the pain you are in when your favorite PT gets out that metal tongue depressor thing to do “graston.” I remember thinking at one point, “I might actually be breaking them” Soreness, pain, sharp pain, resistance, anger, not happy, my legs were NOT happy.

1097_009484

From mile 0 to mile 56 I managed the angry legs. Because I like to be honest, and because it’s kinda funny looking back, I will share with you some of the thoughts that my brain decided to come up with while I was out there.

  • Oh lordy, they are broken
  • this is not any fun
  • this is sub-fun
  • why do I do this shit?
  • you are screwed for norseman
  • you are never taking time off again
  • screw muddy
  • F$%k muddy
  • damn you muddy
  • god this hurts
  • maybe i should quit
  • this can’t be good for me
  • sheesh this course has a lot of shifting
  • why did I ride so hard on wednesday night?
  • can’t we just ride straight for a little bit, preferably down hill?
  • is that wind?
  • it doesn’t even matter
  • oh my gosh they hurt worse
  • how is that possible?
  • is it my bike fit?
  • why did I let muddy convince me this was a good idea?
  • you are so screwed
  • how are you going to run?
  • there is no way you are going to be able to run
  • you are never taking time off again
  • muddy lied to you

Yea, that’s some of the fun stuff the brain likes to bring up. BUT, luckily, I have tools and adversity is what the tools are built to withstand, so every time these thoughts came, these are some of the other thoughts that came behind them. Granted, these new thoughts are choices.

1097_026630

Choices to NOT go down the rabbit hole. And choices I can only make because I meditate and I practice recognizing when I’m thinking unproductive thoughts. I’m actually getting really fast at identifying “not helpful” and reshifting. But the whole darn bike was like one long painful meditation session of refocus, refocus, refocus. Over and over and over, AKA, fighting the good fight.

  • getting in shape hurts Sonja
  • you won’t die sonja
  • push pull push pull
  • doing your best isn’t always fun in the moment
  • remember what Kona felt like
  • Muddy knows best
  • push pull push pull
  • 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8
  • trust your coach
  • hard work always pays eventually
  • relax your shoulders
  • today is not Norseman
  • point your toes
  • engage your butt
  • is this the best you have right now?
  • what doesn’t hurt?
  • push pull push pull
  • my nose doesn’t hurt
  • my toes don’t hurt
  • dang my shoes are full of mud
  • push pull push pull
  • head down chin up
  • lean into the pain
  • relax your jaw
  • trust your coach, trust your coach, trust your coach
  • race your race, push pull

At that was how it went. I didn’t pass anyone in my AG and only a few men passed me. It was kinda lonely. Towards the end I was passed by two women in my AG and that was helpful because it gave me a nice little dose of adrenaline and competitive spirit rather than brain/thought/leg/pain management. I was able to use that pass to REINGAGE! hahaha! Joaquin would be proud.

1097_023477

Coming into T2 I spotted Muddy from a mile away on the side of the road. It was so good to have him out there screaming up storm like he likes to do. He gave me some good splits and I was happy to hear I was actually IN THE GAME, in the HUNT, in a podium position. Coolio.

There was a really long narrow run into T2 and it was slow going as many of the waves were mixed up so some people were walking that section and we had to weave our way around them, which is totally cool, just takes a little maneuvering. I ran to rack 9 where I put my shoes and a few of the ladies in my AG couldn’t find their shoes. Apparently someone had moved their shoes overnight! They were screaming and freaking out big time. Can you imagine being in the hunt, podium position and then your shoes aren’t there. I remember having no T1 bag in Kona that one year, your brain is already in fight or flight and something like that really illuminates how you handle adversity. Most freak out! It’s the normal human reaction.

But I knew that I couldn’t get wrapped up in their drama, my shoes were right where I had put them, so I immediately encapsulated myself in a big Glenda the Good Witch Bubble…you know what I’m talking about, the pink glittery one, and I sat down, put my socks, shoes and race belt on, grabbed my stuff and got the heck out of there.

Running the first mile is always a joke. Usually too fast, sometimes too slow, feeling wonky, it’s never an indicator of the day. But I know one thing, my legs did not hurt like they did on the bike, not even close. So that was good news. Around mile 1 I saw Muddy and he said I was in 3rd. I knew that 1st and second had to be Hailey and Christine, two of my closest friends in Cali. I got this big smile on my face, because it was the three of us, and that felt special! Already a win win!

I caught Punky somewhere in here and asked how his knee was holding up. He said it was okay, but I could tell he was battling with it. We haven’t been able to run him in two weeks, so this was a big wait and see. He said there were two girls ahead, both in pink. I asked if one was in the same kit as me and he didn’t say yes. So that confused me a little.

It wasn’t until several more miles when I caught up to Christine. She was running really strong and smooth and in control, she looked great. We ran together a few seconds, exchanged “I love yous” and “your ass looks HAWT” and then I pulled ahead and kept charging. I didn’t look at my watch the entire run for some reason. By mile three I was feeling really strong and steady and beast-like and I didn’t want to look down and see a split that was slow, so I just decided not to look and to continue feeling good about myself! Haha! Matt Dixon even said I looked good, and in my head I was like “RIGGGGHHHHTTT OOOONNNN.”

1097_055127

Mark, Hailey’s hubby (the guy who thought Princess Kitty was a bear….skoff) was out on his bike. And of course he’s in his Dodo Case kit! See, on the Coast Ride in January, Mark is my favorite wheel to ride. Yes, I love Hailey’s husbands wheel. I know that 95% of the time that’s her wheel to ride, but sometimes they ride side by side, in which case I can be found on Marks wheel. So, the Dodo Case kit to me is a symbol of comfort: steady, strong, ease for me, and he was in THAT KIT. BAM, loving the symbolism!

Hailey was up the road, beyond sight and Mark was there on the side when I went by. Possibly to get a split for Hailey, but I just pretended he was there to help me. Again, I could have gone either way in my brain, but I was into optimism. I asked how Hailey was doing, and he said “good, she’s a little over 4 minutes up.” I got a big smile. Four minutes is legit, she was racing great, I was happy for her.

Then he told me I was in second, but I just felt I was in third, so I told Mark “people are telling me I’m in third” and he asked about the number ranges. I had noticed at check in that some of us had numbers in the 200s and others had numbers in like the 1200s or something. So I told him that and asked if he would investigate. Sure enough a few miles later he told me that Jen was about 1 minute up the road in pink.

For some reason, that information combined with how strong and steady I felt just lit the fire under me. I had been running with a guy named Alex (I think) and chatting and the chatting ended. I had no fear, it was just “what can I do to try to close that gap?” I looked down the road and knew exactly who it was because we she was who passed me at the end of the bike and we had introduced ourselves to each other out there. I had no idea she got out of T2 ahead of me and she was running fierce!

Into the Vineyard I ran as hard as I possibly could and whenever I could see her pass a pole or a tree I would take a split on my watch to see if I could run that section faster to close the gap. Then another split and another attempt to put just a little more into each turn, cut each tangent a little tighter, stand a little taller, move the legs a little faster. Out of the Vineyard Mark was there again and told me I was 30 sec back. I clocked it at 28.

We were getting to the turn around around mile 8ish and we are close to the turn and I see Hailey! I did not expect to see Hailey at all. I assumed she was past the out and back before I even got on it. And right behind her is Jen. Now all of us are within about 40 seconds with about 4.5 miles left to race.

And honestly, I think because it was my first race back and I had nothing to lose and nothing riding on it, I got super giddy. It was all just so much fun that were were all out there racing our butts off, and that we were strong women, friendly on and off the course, but getting the best out of each other. I usually would be a little nervous with things close like that, but I wasn’t, it felt like girl power. I tell ya, we ladies provide some entertaining racing!

Jen put the hammer down to pass Hailey and then she ran like a boss! I caught up to Hailey and we ran side by side for some time. I had it in my head that when I got to Hailey she would magically just run side by side with me and we would run down Jen and it would be a sprint finish and we would all end up falling over at the finish line from exhaustion and racing and awesomeness.

But no. Eventually I pulled away from Hailey and set my sights on running the remaining hills on the course to the best of my ability. Jen continued to gap me and increase her lead more and more. I was running as hard as I could and my form was as good as I could get it. At mile 11 Muddy was there on the side screaming at me how proud he was to which I screamed 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8…which means…engage! Then he said “I told you so kid” to which I yelled the F word and the YOU word. Not my finest choice of words, but it was more of a “damn you were right.” Then I told him about my legs on the bike and how horrible they felt which felt good to get off my chest.

The last two miles are mostly downhill and I could see Jen up there, but she was UP there. I tired to run with all I had, but I wasn’t able to pull her back at all. I fought, but she was the better woman on the day, and that was 100% A-Okay! Hailey came in just a tiny bit behind me. All three of us, pretty darn close, some awesome racing out there. It was an honor to be a part of it!

1097_059697

All in all, for me it was a great day out there. I was floored with how good my legs could feel running after they felt so bad on the bike. Joaquin had the same exact experience, to a T. So that was interesting as well. It was a good confidence boost for me going into the next few months and it feels fantastic to have that SPARK back in me. Motivation is high! Okay, one more time, cuz I bought the silly photos!

1097_062710

Huge thanks to the ladies I raced against for your great sportsmanship, you all are class act. Thank you big time to Coach Muddy, Coach Barbara, and to Joaquin for being my family the last three weeks and also to Troy and Annie for letting me get away to work on my hobby. Also, Thank you to YAY (you have to have a good attitude when your kit says YAY on it), Quintana Roo (PRSix rode so great), Tribella (thank you for the constant help and advise), Coeur (for the sisters, the teamies, the kits, the training clothing, and for Hailey/Kebby/Reg), OSMO (I could not have gotten through 3 weeks and this race with out PreLoad, Active, Recovery, and Stacys advise through the years), Smith glasses (my new fav sunnies), and Punk Rock Racing (where I get my spunk).

Swim: 29:07, T1: 1:36, Bike: 2:39:25, T2: 3:19, Run: 1:34:46, Total: 4:48:13, 2nd in W35-39, 4th Amateur.

Next up, August 1st….Norseman!!! Bring it on!

Keep abreast of the happenings with my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching by signing up for the newsletter here. New fun goodies are rolling out over the new few months and I would be so honored if you would sign up for notifications!

Also the Facebook Page is picking up lots of steam since I post fun photos and ti-bits of knowledge every day! Liking the Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching Facebook Page would make my heart sing! 

Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments

  1. I love your yellow Go Sonja hat! Congrats! Always love reading your race reports. So inspiring

  2. Awesome race report Sonja! Cracked up at the train of thought section and could totally imagine the moment of timing splits between the poles. Looking forward to your next report.

    1. Thank you Steve! I was GOIN’ FOR IT! I love racing! Especially when your body is feeling pretty good and you feel like the world is full of opportunities! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Dear Sonja: I enjoyed reading your race report – I’m from Texas, but doing the Vineman Aquabike this upcoming Saturday, and so looking around the internet for some insight into the course and the overall experience, and you sure gave it! I really enjoyed your listing of thoughts – positive/negative – and really inspirational to me, because we all have those same sort of musings while out there. Definitely not at your level, but it’s always an honor for me to hit the same course as the pro’s and super amateurs, and do my personal best. Good luck in Norway – I recently lived in southern Norway for 3 years, and have hiked Gaustatoppen – it’s wild to me that’ll be your third leg – I know you’ll do great, and look forward to that race report then!

    1. FRANK!!! Thank you for such a kind blog comment! You are going to LOVE the Aquabike on Saturday, the course is beautiful, so don’t forget to look around and take it all in. We all have those crazy thoughts that come through our head, I like to think they are there for a reason, but I like to make sure I’m still focused on the task at hand. It’s a balance I think! That’s really awesome that you lived in Norway, I can’t wait to get there and take it all in, this is such a huge exciting trip for me!!! Have a great race, stay strong, fight like hell!!!

  4. Your spirit is so contagious! You crack me up with all the thoughts in your head and I so admire your skills that redirect and refocus you. I’m in awe that you got out of Sonja shape and have figured out how to reengage. I would like to reengage too….still figuring out what is holding me back. Hmmmm…
    Thanks for sharing your spirit, it touches my life in a very positive and helpful way.
    Go Sonja!

    1. REENGAGE!!! It’s like the best word on the planet. I’m coming to see the gifts in it, but also admitting that the process was painful. It’s like bodies at rest like to stay at rest, and bodies in motion like to stay in motion!

  5. I literally almost fell out of my chair from laughing so hard at the listing of your thoughts during the bike. I did a sprint tri after my last big weekend of training for IMLP on Monday night and yes…all of the above. And like you, I was shocked by what I pulled out on dead and “so painful I think they’re injured” legs, which was a two minute PR. In a SPRINT. Stupid coaches always being right.

    1. Fantastic PR Veronica! It’s crazy what the brain comes up with, but man, we are capable of so much more than we think! Sounds like you are locked and loaded for PLACID! Whoop! Have a great race!

Comments close 20 days after the post is written, thanks!