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Race Result

Racer: David Glover
Race: Vineman Full
Date: Saturday, August 14, 2004
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 9:28:58
Overall Place: 2
Age Group Place: 1
Comment: My gamble paid off....

Race Report:

I really love this race. Besides having a beautiful venue in Sonoma Country (the heart of California wine country), a relatively small field, incredible volunteers, boxed bottles of wine for awards, and a top notch race production, where else do you have a race director who tries to grow giant 1,000 pound pumpkins in his backyard?

At the pre-race meeting this year, Russ Pugh, the race director, talked about his hobby of growing giant pumpkins. His prize pumpkin was already almost 500 pounds and on pace to grow to 1,000 pounds. Russ wanted it to grow even faster, so he applied a very powerful fertilizer (0-0-25). The fertilizer worked too well and the pumpkin grew an amazing 25 pounds in 7 hours. Then the pumpkin cracked. Russ had become too greedy. I drew the analogy that racing an Ironman was like growing pumpkins: be patient for the long haul and don’t be greedy; otherwise, you might just crack.

This past Saturday marked my 3rd time at Vineman and 16th race at the Ironman-distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). I had just completed Ironman USA in Lake Placid, NY, three weeks prior in a respectable time of 9:49, finishing fourth in my age group and qualifying for a Hawaii slot if I had wanted one. Yet, I was somewhat dissatisfied with my performance and very frustrated with nutrition problems. I was still hungry to prove to myself that I could pull together a faster race. I chose to race Vineman. Were three weeks enough time to recover physically and mentally?

Last year, I raced the Great Floridian Triathlon only two weeks after racing and winning the Duke Blue Devil Triathlon. As it turned out, two weeks was not enough time to recover as I painfully found out on both the bike and run. I was physically and mentally fried.

I was taking a risk with Vineman, but I was also optimistic.


About a week before the race, I found out that I was “Brad’s guy” in the Vineman office pool. Bradford Rex, who works for Vineman and announces the race, was “betting” on me against Russ’ Scott Erba (Vineman course record holder) and volunteer coorinator Dave Latrouette’s Peter Traylor (top US amateur at Hawaii in 2002 and recent second place finisher at California Man…with two flats!). Great, more pressure on me. I decided I should probably tame Brad’s expectations and told him about racing Ironman USA three weeks before. “But, I feel great,” I said.

At registration, I found out that was racing as racer number “2” since I had previously won the race in 2001. Now I was also a target.


The swim takes place in the Russian River in the Alexander Valley. The river is dammed so the flow is negligible. Because the river is relatively narrow and shallow, it makes for an easily navigable and safe swim.

The weather was cool on race morning (mid 50’s) and water temperature was perfect for a long john suit. Getting body marked and setting up my transition area was a breeze. I talked briefly with the folks around me at the back racks then headed down to the river. There were roughly 100 triathletes in my wave.

The swim was a little chaotic but quickly thinned out. I tried to draft off a big, tall guy (remind me of my Clydesdale friend, Mike Guzek) who seemed to stroke almost effortlessly but he was fishtailing quite a bit so I was getting a marginal benefit. I found out later that Peter Traylor was on my feet for the first loop but I had no idea who it was at the time. I passed the big, tall guy near the end of the first lap then spent the second half of the swim by myself in “no man’s land.”

“Breathe. Focus. Relax,” I told myself as I swam. This exercise lasted for 20-30 seconds, until my mind wandered. I pulled my thoughts back in again and refocused. This repeated itself for the rest of the swim.

I quickly exited the swim, dropped my wetsuit, grabbed my arm warmers and headed out on the bike about five minutes behind Scott Erba who was now leading. My time was a little slower than expected, but I was in a good spot, much closer to the front than I thought I would be.

Swim split: 1:00:30


The bike starts with a lollipop stem then takes you on two loops to finish up at Windsor High School about 15 miles away from the swim start (separate transition area for Bike to Run and finish). The course has rolling hills with two climbs of note: Canyon Road and Chalk Hill with a total elevation of just less than 4,000 feet. The weather stayed cool due to cloud cover so the arm warmers were the right move. I passed a few folks near beginning then settled back into a steady pace.

About 10 miles into the race, Peter came flying by me on his bike. At the time, I was riding well behind but pacing off of another rider who Peter also quickly overtook. I matched pace and watched my heart rate surge: too high. My original plan was to keep my heart rate around 160 bpm on the bike. I started on the high side knowing that I would inevitably back off some on the second half of the course. “Stick with your plan. It’s only the beginning of a very long day,” I thought to myself as I watched both riders slowly pull away.

After nutrition “challenges” at Lake Placid, I had a more formal nutrition plan this time. More water, less Gatorade. Dilute the calories coming into my stomach. The weather was cool, so I did not carry more than a bottle at a time between aid stations. I ended up picking up a new bottle of either water or Gatorade at each aid station, dumping half of it into my aero bottle then tossing the half empty bottle. Every time I ate, I chased it with water. I carried most of my calories with me (2 flasks of Hammer Gel, Fig Newton’s and gummy bears), but occasionally picked up bananas at the aid stations. Throughout much of the bike, I also think I experienced a caffeine headache from no morning coffee. My only coffee option at 4:45 AM in Santa Rosa that morning seemed to be the gas stations which I decided against.

It always amazes me how many feelings that I can go through during a race. I sometimes feel like I’m on an emotional yo-yo as I bounce from intense highs to intense lows and everything in between sometimes in matter of minutes. Early on in the bike, I was six minutes back having lost some time. Toward the end of the first loop, I was feeling really, really good and had made up two minutes. I also think that this was the point that I realized that there only two riders were ahead of me: Scott (racer #1) and Peter (racer #3). I was in contention. Stick to the plan.

I spent most of the bike by myself with nobody around me. I kept meaning to count the number of wineries that we passed (I’m guessing 20+), but forgot to start my count. My heart rate dropped some on the second loop as my paced slowed a little. This was to be expected.

I passed Scott around mile 85 and we exchanged words of encouragement.

About five miles later, I started to feel really bad. The good news was that it was 90 miles into the bike (not 70 like at Lake Placid). The bad news was that I threw up everything that I had eaten and drunk in the last hour. I managed to stomach a few gummy bears then ran out of calories. My plan quickly changed to, “Just get to the end of the bike then get some

Bike Split: 5:07:10


The transition went smoothly. I started the run 11 minutes back behind Peter Traylor. Patience would be key. “I can reel him,” I thought to myself. “He expended a lot of effort.” Game on.

I almost always feel good at the start of the run and will usually try to hold a 6:30 pace. My goal for the past few years has been to run a sub 3 hour marathon at the end of an Ironman. I have come close several times with an IM marathon PR of 3:10. I figured that Peter could probably run a 3:20 so I would need to run a 3:10 today to catch him. I set out running 7 minute miles. No problems. I felt smooth. I felt good. Now, it was just a waiting game

The course was out and back three times so I could gauge if I was moving up on Peter. After the first out and back, I was only 5:15 back. “Pass him at the start of the third,” I thought. Scott Erba seemed to have recovered from the bike and was about 4 minutes behind me. He was running very smoothly.
At the half way point, I was only 3:30 back on Peter. I was still making up time. I did not see Scott any more.

At mile 14, my world imploded. I started heaving again. This time it was the Cola and water I had been drinking. I bonked hard. I staggered dizzily and started to shuffle. My splits went as follows: …7:06: 7:16, 6:58, 7:53, 9:38 and 10:30. Like Russ’ pumpkin, I had cracked. Maybe trying to race Ironman races only three weeks apart was being too greedy.
My goal simply became survival. Get to the finish line. I remember thinking to myself that I had come so close, but fate had cruelly stuck a thorn in my side. I would still finish but planned to walk the last out and back on the run. Somehow, I made it the end of the second out and back, grabbed some cola and water then headed out back for the third out and back.

I began to feel a little better and my splits started dropping: …10:30, 8:50, 8:07, 8:25 and 7:52. At about five miles out, I began to think that I might just have a chance to still go under 9:30 but it would be close. There was a $2,000 prize purse to be split amongst any male athletes who went under 9:30 (similar purse for any women going under 10:30).

There was a defining moment when I had to choose: dig deep or just finish second. I chose to dig deep.

I do not remember much about the last five miles. It hurt. I was counting precious seconds. At about a half mile to go, Russ, the race director, came riding toward me on a scooter. He slowed down he saw me, excitedly said something about me flying on the run, then turned around and sped back to the finish line.

In the last stretch, I realized had about a minute and a half to spare. I savored the finish, flashed the victory sign, and walked across the finish line.

Run Split: 3:18:21

Total Time: 9:28:58


I stayed around until about 10:30 that night, just standing by the finish line and watching the finishers. It was impressive. I could only admire the courage of the athletes going out into the dark and the cold to start their last out and back. I enjoyed just standing around talking to spectators.

I walked away with my hunger satisfied, two boxed bottles of wine and $1,000 in my pocket.

I look forward to returning next year.


1. I still need to work on nutrition. I seem to be becoming more sensitive to the stuff in my gut over time. Too much concentrated sugar and absorption stops.
2. My pacing was good. I had a plan, and I stuck to it. I made a conscious choice to not chase Peter Traylor when he passed me about 10 miles onto the bike. Maybe if I was 100% fresh, I would have (and could have) stayed with him. I think my plan for the run was still valid, but I just need to figure out the nutrition (see #1).
3. Thank every volunteer. It’s a long day. They make the race.

RACE STRATEGY (previously written)

I thought I would take a different spin on writing a race report and put together a pre-race strategy. Plus, it forces me to sit down and write something up rather than just think about it. I'll follow up post race with a race report and an assessment of the plan and my race (what worked, what didn't work, etc.).


This is my strategy to race Vineman Full Iron-distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) in Santa Rosa, CA, on Saturday, August 14, three weeks after racing Ironman USA.


Week of:

My plan for race week is to relax, reduce stress, stay off my feet as much as possible, and get lots of sleep. I cleaned my bike on Sunday and verified that everything works by riding it on Saturday. It's boxed up and ready to go.

Two days before (Th):

Weather conditions in Santa Rosa are expected to be warm with low humidity (mid 80's). I'll start ingesting a little more salt in my diet and drinking more fluid. I will stay away from anything spicy or acidic (e.g. tomato sauce) foods or anything else that might upset my stomach. One beer only at dinner.

I usually have trouble sleeping the night before a race so I will try to get AT LEAST 8 hours two nights before. I'll probably catch some sleep on the plane as well.

Working out will be an easy swim and run to keep my muscles loose (20-30 minutes each).

Day before (F):

I'll hydrate with Gatorade/Cytomax, etc, not just plain water. I made the mistake of drinking all water the day before at GFT a few years back and had problems race day, I believe, due to flushing out/diluting the electrolyte balance in my body. I will snack all day but eat in moderation, avoiding any heavy, spicy, creamy or high fiber foods. Lunch and dinner will be complex carbs and some protein. Subway would be good for lunch and broiled fish with rice would be good for dinner. No beer.

Working out will be an easy swim, bike (need to test reassembly) and run to keep muscles loose (10-20 minutes each).

Not much to do other than register, attend the pre-race meeting, prepare transition bags, and drive the bike and run courses. Driving the courses helps pass time plus it gives familiarity and confidence.

I plan to be in bed by 7PM (shouldn't be an issue with time zone change).

Racing morning:

1. Get up at 4am, ~3 hours before race start (should not be an issue with time zone change)
2. Eat oatmeal with raspberry jam, a cup of coffee
3. Drive to swim start.
4. Warm up for a few minutes in each event (if possible).
5. Eat a PowerBar / banana later in morning if needed.
6. Take some Hammergel 15-30 minutes before the start.


Ultimately, in my view, the race is not against the other competitors, but against myself. I have no control over anyone else's race, fitness level, etc. At the end of the day, I want to be able to know that I gave my best. It’s easy to get caught up with someone else’s pace, but this can be risky. I want to run my own race but may try to leverage the others to push myself. There are two competitors that I know of in the field that can go low 9's: Scott Erba and Peter Traylor. Scott is a very fast swimmer. Key will be to not try to chase them down too quickly. It's a long day.


Expectation: 56 +/- 1 min

The two loop swim takes place in the Russian River which is dammed so there is very little flow. The river is narrow so it's very easy to sight and swim a straight line. First loop will give me a gauge of total time. I intend to push myself but at a reasonable pace. My goal is to not slow down more than a minute on the second loop.


Expectation: 5:10 +/- 10 min

Bike is two loops on a reasonably challenging course. Lots of rollers and one big climb near the end of each loop. My intent is to maximize sustainable power. I will use perceived effort and heart rate to monitor effort and pace, targetting an average HR of ~160 bpm. I did a ~5:05 on this bike course in 1998 and a ~5:20 in 2001 (with flat tire) so this should be reasonable.

Nutrition/Hydration: I will start the bike carrying a weak mix of Cytomax, 2 gel flasks, fig newtons and gummi bears. Carrying some of my own food allows me to be selective in what I pick up on the course and gives me options if my stomach gets upset with aid station food. I expect to go through a bottle of fluid about every aid station (every ~10 miles or half an hour). I will alternate picking up Gatorade and water at a ratio of 2:1 so that I can dilute the Gatorade. Plus, I want to chase the Hammergel with water. I'll use the fig newtons and gummi bears as a back up and for a change in taste and texture. As weather warms up, I'll start taking salt tablets every 30-60 minutes depending on my sweat rate.


Expectation: 3:15 +/- 15 minutes

The run will be the wild card. I think this is where I will most feel the effects of racing Lake Placid three weeks before. I've run a 3:16 at this race previously although the course has changed somewhat (3 x loops in this year vs. 2 x loops previously). My plan to set a reasonable pace and maintain. This may change depending on where I am placed starting the run.

Nutrition/Hydration: I will carry a gel flask with meon the run. I have had pretty good luck drinking water and flat Coke at the aid stations without too much stomach problems at Lake Placid this year and previously at Duke. I'll add in bananas/oranges as needed. The weather will be warm so I'll likely need continue taking salt tablets.


Ingest carbs and a little protein immediately after finishing. Drink fluid. Eat pizza. Get an IV or two.