Race Recap: Napa Valley Vintage Triathlon

[no_toc] [singlepic id=1550 w=320 h=240 float=left]Finishing was in serious doubt. I was anything but ready, and the Fates had determined that I was going to be anything but at my peak. The challenges of the Napa Valley Vintage Triathlon (½ Iron-Length) stacked up against me:

  • Four days before the triathlon I hurt my back. Not as badly as before, but enough that it was difficult to even bend over. I thought it might be from a long bike the week before. This caused doubt over my ability to finish the 56 mile bike
  • According to my Garmin 910xt, my swim times in open water were too slow to finish within the 1 hour 10 minute time limit for the 1.2 miles. I was going to be about 10 minutes late.
  • Somehow, I have had a “kink” in my neck that no amount of massage can help. This was going to make being aero on the bike… fun.
  • I developed a cough 2 days before the race that was (and still is) probably bronchitis. I couldn’t (and wasn’t able) to take a deep breath without a lot of coughing fits to accompany any fullish attempt at breathing.
  • I got about 2 hours of sleep before the race. By itself, not a horrible thing, but added to everything else…. Even caffeine didn’t seem to help.
  • [singlepic id=1490 w=320 h=240 float=center]In the swim, my sighting skills had gotten lazy, and one of the buoys was directly into the sun. No matter what I did I kept a very wide course. With the wind pushing me left of course, and my natural tendency to drift left anyway, I swam more of a circle than a triangle, adding distance and time to my swim.
  • My right goggle filled with water and no matter what I did, I could clear it. I even stopped and reset the goggle to no avail. This was after a test swim earlier with absolutely no problems whatsoever. This made sighting even more difficult, since the buoys and shore were off to the right most of the swim.
  • [singlepic id=1548 w=320 h=240 float=right]Both transitions took forever due to a lack of practice. Every time in my training plan I had scheduled a day of transition practice life got in the way and it didn’t happen. My organization was poor, my efficiency even worse. My five minutes at each transition could easily be reduced to 1-2 minutes with better organization and practice.
  • I forgot to put on sunblock for the bike, and I could feel my skin baking in the hot sun.
  • I hadn’t practiced enough with the GoPro on my helmet, and although I made a video of it, the extra weight caused my helmet to press on my glasses, which pressed on my nose, which made it hurt, which made me constantly push up the helmet.
  • I used a helmet I normally reserve for My Sweetheart, only because it is newer and “nicer”. However, I never could get it adjusted properly for my head. I should have stuck with my tried-and-true-comfy helmet (even though both helmets are the exact same brand/make of Rudy helmet. The only difference is the color).
  • The speedfil on my bike came lose early on. Consequently, I had to stop and tighten it down so I didn’t lose all my water. In fact, for the first 15 miles, I thought I didn’t have water and that it had leaked out from some unknown damage.
  • The bike course this year was different from last year, and I failed to look at the elevation profile. Vertical climbs were the story of the day, and my muscled were not ready for such challenges.
  • I encountered severe leg cramps at mile 54 of the bike. Everything I tried didn’t seem to help, except for chanting “No Cramps! No Cramps!”. There are a lot of theories as to why the body cramps, but the reality is simply overuse – I had under-trained for the bike portion not in distance, but in difficulties of the hills.
  • [singlepic id=1546 w=320 h=240 float=center]My Garmin turned itself off randomly in the middle of the bike, which just added to the annoyance factor. After some research, I’ve discovered that vibration seems to be the culprit.
  • Cramps slowed my run, and the weather got hot.
  • By the time I was on the run, any cough held potential of barfing, which again limited my ability to breathe.


All these factors were things you just can’t train or prepare for prior to a race. But, if it was easy, everyone would do it, and that’s where the mental toughness comes in. I realize I’m never going to win the race, or even keep up with some of the 70 year olds, but I do want to run a good race within the bounds of what I am capable. The Napa Valley Vintage Triathlon wasn’t my best potential race, but considering the challenges, I feel I did well just to finish in the time I finished.

Fortunately, the race was well organized from a spectator standpoint, and My Sweetheart was able to get many excellent photos. The weather was darn near perfect (if not a little warm), and the volunteers and staff were extremely helpful and friendly (as were my fellow triathletes).

All-in-All, Napa is a great triathlon and Enviro-Sports always puts on a good race. They had their own challenges (the swim course was different than published online – apparently something about a lost anchor causing the need for a redesign at the last minute) but still managed an excellent atmosphere and a fun time.

[singlepic id=1554 w=320 h=240 float=center]Here’s my summary (with Garmin Maps) of each portion of the race:

Chas ‘s Swim workout on Sat, 05/05/2012 at 8:05 AM. He did 2112 Yards in 0:56:55 at 37.1yards/min. MY COMMENTS: Longest swim in about 2yrs! Garmin 910xt only recorded .91 miles, well shy of the actual 1.2 miles. In fact, I probably swim a good 1.4 miles, considering the wind blew me off course, my right goggle kept filling with water, my form sucked, and I had those “race nerves” that throw my form into a horrible condition. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with the time, and glad to know the Garmin is well short on OW swims…

Chas ‘s Other workout on Sat, 05/05/2012 at 9:07 AM. He did 0.00 Miles in 0:05:55 at 0.0mph. MY COMMENTS: T1 Transition. This took a little longer than planned because my right leg wanted to cramp (a foreshadowing of the bike) and I couldn’t for the life of me get the wetsuit OFF. Plus, I spent extra time putting the Garmin on the bike (I really need the quick disconnect) and putting the GOPRO into position.

Chas ‘s Bike workout on Sat, 05/05/2012 at 9:13 AM. He did 56.00 Miles in 3:42:19 at 15.1mph. MY COMMENTS: More problems. My speedfil somehow got lose, but so I had to stop and fix that but couldn’t get the tool out of the water bottle – more wasted time. The wind picked up in the wrong direction, and then my right leg decided to cramp – hard – at about 54 miles on the last hill. The left leg decided to join in, and then the worst part – the 910xt decided to turn itself off – for no reason. I turned it back on but lost about 1 mile and 2 minutes. It’s done that before but never in a race. This is one of the toughest bike-hill races I’ve done – One competitor commented it took them over an extra hour to finish compared to a flatter course. Race directors are evil – but then again, I paid to do it!

Chas ‘s Other workout on Sat, 05/05/2012 at 1:02 PM. He did 0.00 Miles in 0:05:12 at 0.0mph. MY COMMENTS: T2 Transition – I was still having cramping problems and that really slowed me down. That, and failing to practice my transition organization… I had a hard time tying my shoes because my leg kept trying to cramp.

Chas ‘s Run workout on Sat, 05/05/2012 at 1:07 PM. He did 13.10 Miles in 2:22:15 at 10:54min/mi. MY COMMENTS: Again the Garmin under recorded the distance (12.5 miles).This is odd since normally the distance is longer due to me not running a straight course. Either way, the hills were less brutal but after destroying my legs on the bike, proved more challenging than I expected. My goal was to maintain Comrades’ pace, and although I kept it within a finishing pace for Comrades, I thought I ended up too slow – only to find out I actually was much FASTER than Comrades (if the course distance was accurate – which I don’t see why it wouldn’t be).



Race Entrants Finishers 1st Male 1st Female Avg Time
Individual 208 208 04:38:41 05:20:12 06:42:12 VIEW RESULTS
Relay 10 10 04:33:49 06:30:02 06:14:18 VIEW RESULTS
Did Not Complete All Legs 19 0 VIEW RESULTS

of 208 TOTAL finishers.

of 141 MALE finishers.

of 20 M4044 finishers.





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