The Vineman event had a big highlight on it for me. I really enjoy the course, I really enjoy wine and I really enjoy tough race fields. Thus, the 2014 edition of this event was ticking all the boxes for me to get fired up.
This last block I focused a bit more effort on high intensity and as a result, packed in a few races to test the ‘fastness’. It started with a strong win in Saskatoon, another very strong day at the XTERRA in Victoria and now for my third week, meant to be the coup de grace, I had 3/5ths of a very strong day. I don’t have any regrets on how I raced in Vineman, I just know I did not have the run I felt I have built in the last few months. However like Tiger Woods said: “Winning is not always the barometer of getting better.” I have consistently been at the front in races this year so it is clearly motivating.
I would like to thank Marc Kelley for being a super amazing homestay and race sherpa. I had the greatest support going into the race including an excellent tour of the course with Silvio, who works with the Cannondale pro men’s team. I like motorpacing on a strong wheel in the days before the race so all of this was lining up perfectly. Thanks so much you guys. Also thank you to Dave and Amy Latourette who make Vineman the pro spectacle it is. Without their amazing support the pro field would not be as amazing as it is year after year so thanks so much guys.
The pro women’s race is really changing. We have more and more strong women and thus the race is becoming more tactical. What is exciting for Canada is we have a lot of very strong cyclists and many of us are getting faster and faster on the run. Leading the charge is Heather Wurtele. For Worlds I think it will be very important for us to work hard to get up to the front. The draft rules are difficult- all the dropping back to stay within the rules slow everyone down and the legal distance is frankly, still drafting. So the front swimmers are legally working together and it will take some smart riding to get them. I felt that while I was in the group and unable to get away I was going slower. Racing has a lot more dynamics than you can see from an armchair. I think there needs to be some thought on what we are doing while we can’t get away from each other to make sure that we at least continue to move forward as fast as possible!
I made a few errors on the day. First is I did not look at how the swim buoys were laid out and did not know that they snaked along the river back and forth. This made for lots of jostling and bumping. Rachel was beside me at the start and I saw her head for the far right to go straight. I should have followed. Instead I got pushed, shoved and at one point, dropped! OMG. Anyways, I managed to catch back up by the turnaround and the pace was very comfortable so I just resigned myself to a fast bike as pulling the swim pack is always dumb. Plus I saw Mel Hauschildt in that group so I knew I would have strong company once we got out.
Onto the bike… the women’s field at Vineman was full of “uberbikers”. A bunch of us are “fastest split” type of girls so it was not surprising that those of us out of the swim had a hard time getting away from each other. I think I was a stronger climber than the other girls but I was riding a smaller cog. This meant I was a pain in the ass on the flats because I was missing the one cog I needed and then would blast past uphill. Or, I am just getting back to the old Mel who used to climb very fast. I am hoping it was the latter but there is a consequence of the fabulously large 28 Shimano 11 speed cassette- you get some awesome gears to stay in big ring all day but you might miss the 11 one the downhills and one of the middle ones on the flats. I found I was stuck between a cadence of 95 and 85 all day and all I wanted was 90 ish. Still, I caught Rachel at the bigger Chalk Hill and we rode together to T2 with a small gap to Melissa. Trek bikes in for 2nd and 3rd!
Meredith outswam us by 2:30 then rode 15 seconds faster so she was clear out in front all day. Domination wire to wire. Nice work Meredith! I only know about the race for second place.
So out onto the run I felt so awesome. That bike was the least taxing I have had all year, my legs were fresh and I was thinking this is the day I am going to run the 1:22 I have been training for. I was so excited. I went out, looked at my watch: 3:45/km. Okay too fast. Slow down. Next mile 3:50/km okay comfortable just settle in. I settled in, eased past Rachel and Melissa ran by. Faster than me but not so fast that I felt the breeze of her wake ripping my shirt off. I decided to attach a visual bungee and keep to my pace. But at about 4 miles I went from all good to legs turned off. Not tired, not heart rate blowing to bits but guts exploding (more lady guts than stomach) and hips stuck. Could not run. 6 long miles of not being able to run, pace dropped by more than 50 seconds per mile and I shuffled along. Then at about 10 miles, legs unlocked a little, I pounded a bunch of Powergels and I brought the pace down 30 seconds per mile again to run it in at about 4 min/kms.
So other than the middle 6 miles of the run it was a fantastic race. The best I could have hoped for would have been to duke it out with Rachel a bit closer so it almost met all my expectations and I am satisfied with that. I don’t know if it was 3 races in a row making it a bit too much racing (my weakness is I would rather race than train) or whether it was just really bad timing of the month. I haven’t ever nailed the exact wrong day before so this was a first with that. Honestly, I think a lot of it was the latter because I had a big, fat, bloaty belly all day and I waddled a bit in the photos. It wasn’t that pretty.
So here we go for the last push of the season. I am going to take some time to really build the engine for worlds, test it at Lake Stevens, then giver to represent all of my awesome sponsors and Canada in Mont Tremblant. Somebody smack me if I try to add any more races please! Thanks for reading and thanks for the awesome feedback on my Vineman soccer video. The pro field is a great bunch of people and I appreciate them making my trip a lot of fun. I like to win the fun-having contest at every event if I can J
Thanks to Trek Bikes for the support, to Shimano Triathlon, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Bontrager, Champion System, Blueseventy, Powertap, USANA, Frontrunners Westshore and Trek Procity Racing Victoria.
I may not have the supermagnum from Vineman, but La Crema was not the only winery I got to visit. I spent an evening with my favorite winemaker, Chris Howell at Cain Vineyards. It is always so interesting to talk with him and the view above the vines is spectacular.
Cain Five is a wonderful consolation prize to a double magnum of La Crema 🙂
Oh and have you seen it?