Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Saturday August 2 was the big day of the Vineman Aquabike and our team was ready.
The day started out well. A cool morning down on the beach and most of us were there to see T1 and Valerie off on the swim for the full distance (2.4 miles). There was steam coming off the river and some smoking fast swimmers. Then the rest of us went off to the gun for the half distance at 8:10am. The water was perfect, not too cold, sweet and narrow so you couldn't get lost.
Leaving the water we all jogged up to the changing area, quickly changed into our riding clothes (all at different times because some were much faster in the water than others, and some changing more modestly than others!), handed our bags off to our noisy, cheering supporting crew, ran our bikes up the short hill and took off on the rise (56 miles for the halves, 112 miles for the full).
The ride was hilly and very beautiful. Mostly vineyards, in and out of shade, up and down short hills except for two long hauls, one shallow and one steep (the infamous Chalk Hill), and for one 5 miles stretch a serious, hot headwind. There were 3 rest stops on the way at miles 18, 29 and 40 with water, Gatorade, bananas and clif bars and the FirstRain support team were positioned along the route with noisy cowbells and networked together by cell so they could keep track of everyone's progress, including YY who was stationed on Chalk Hill to encourage everyone to stay in and finish. And it was over 95 degrees by noon so it got Hot.
All but two of the team finished which was a fantastic achievement. Dave came in first at 4:06 which was great to see given that he had trained so seriously. Valerie was a superstar and finished the full ironman distance - Ana and I stayed to cheer her in to the finish and were suitably impressed.
But nothing is ever simple. I was tracked down for a phone call at mile 40 because my son had been taken to hospital with dehydration. He just needed an IV, although the team members who stopped with me and I lost considerable time there getting him authorized in over the phone. My head was definitely not in the race after that, but we decided to push on and finish, which we did, and he's fine now and learned a hard lesson about needing to drink water in the heat.
Finally we all met for dinner with spouses, friends and the support team for a raucous, carb intensive dinner in a local restaurant. YY had decided on the award recipients, cheesy titles like the "least modest transition" and "queen of the mountain" but also "superstar" and "speed racer" for our fastest members and everyone got a statuette of one kind or another.
All in all it was a fantastic experience for everyone involved. And I raised over $10,000 for CCPY - thank you to everyone who sponsored me and thank you to the 5 kids who came up to encourage me to finish. I told them if I could finish that race then they can finish high school.
I am so proud of the FirstRain team for doing the race and taking on a challenge none of us would have thought possible a year ago. Congratulations!!!
Eugene - a fearless competitor preparing for the swim
T2 transitioning from swim to bike and handing his bag to the support crew