For anybody who just found this post and is reading about Vineman, I've also done a "Vineman 70.3 Tips Part 2" that you can read here when you're done with this. Good luck!!
So...Vineman 70.3 is nearly here!! I know a bunch of people are racing it. I wrote this up for people on a Fitness Journal discussion board, so I thought I'd post it here, too. It's my take on the Vineman 70.3 course from doing it the past 2 years (and riding the roads all the time)...feel free to add any tips/advice if you've done it!
Day Before: Pick up packet, drop off your T2 stuff. When I have a two-transition zone race, I make a list of everything in T2 and double-check that I have everything so that I'm not panicked the night before or morning of that maybe I forgot to put something in T2. Most important things you need: Running shoes and a hat/visor (the sun will be beating down...), probably a couple GUs or whatever nutrition you like on the run.
Swim: If you can, stay more to the right on the way out. There is a TINY current that is stronger to swim against up the middle, so if you stay more to the right, you'll have slightly less to swim against (and less people to run into...arrrrgh...). Then, on the way back, scoot into the middle and use that propulsion to go a little faster coming back. Or if you're like Jim and can't swim...just walk it.
T1: You have to put all your crap into a bag so they can bring it back to the finish for you. This won't be your quickest T1 time ever, which is all the more reason to not waste time. If you have a friend/family member who is standing right there outside the zone and you want to hand them your bag, that can be really helpful so you don't have to worry about it after the race is over. T1 Vineman isn't really the place to do the hop-on-the-bike-with-shoes-already-clipped-in trick. You've got a nice steep little (LITTLE AND SHORT) hill, so REMEMBER to put your bike gear into a nice low gear (not all the way down, but probably 2 up from your lowest) so you're ready to hop on and get up that hill.
Bike: While the Vineman course is undeniably one of the easier courses out there, don't let that fool you. It will be warming up quickly out there so it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that you have your nutrition down and you don't forget to drink, drink drink. Salt tablets too, if you take them. Also, there are rollers on Westside road. Not hard ones, but my personal opinion is to conserve a tad up until you get to Dry Creek. Use Westside to spin, warm up, and find a nice pace without powering too hard over the rollers. You need your power in the second half. Once you hit Dry Creek, it's all flat except for two hills: Canyon (not a big hill - starts very gradual and has a little more steepness at the end) and Chalk Hill (small, SHORT hill that a lot of people would probably classify as medium, but compared to other Sonoma County climbs...it ranks small in our book; that said, you will still likely get down to your 25 or 27 to spin up it and may even stand up at the very end of it). In any case, besides those two, it's pancake flat. So use that power you've built up along Westside, get into that big ring, into those aerobars and take it away! You'll love zooming past the vineyards along 128 through the Alexander Valley. Remember to take it all in and enjoy the beauty of it - I always feel like it is unlike any other place I've been.
(Top of Chalk Hill)
So you're coming into Windsor, ready to get off that bike. If you know the hop of the bike without your shoes trick, this is a good place to use it. I still need to get that down. You'll have a long run from the dismount stop back to T2, so like I said...if you can do it barefoot...you'll save time and your cleats.
T2: Drop the bike, get the shoes on and go run!
Run: It will likely be very warm out by the time you begin. My advice for people not used to running in warm weather is to stop at every aid station and drink. Last year I found that I was drinking Gatorade at every stop and around mile 7 I realized I just needed water, not Gatorade. Try to keep that in mind - it's all about keeping your electrolytes in balance, so you don't want too much water and you don't want too much Gatorade, but you DO want to stay hydrated! As far as the run itself - there are two real hills, neither TOO long, but both a little steep. The first is right around mile 3-4. I say shorten your stride, keep your cadence high and run up it. It's not long enough to walk and not so steep it will drive your HR way up to run. The second is a little longer and steeper around mile 5 - if you're not a hill person, perhaps walk up this one, otherwise just back it off a little and get up there.
Mile 6 is La Crema Winery - the turnaround. There are misters there, which is always something to look forward to. I like to take a 3 second walk break through the misters just to briefly recharge and then pick it up again.
I think Vineman is a run where you could do a negative split because it's an out and back and mostly flat; so again, like the bike, if you go out a tad conservatively on the run, you can leave La Crema feeling good and ready to go finish strong on the second half. Use the first half to judge how you're feeling, to get your running legs, to stay hydrated (I'm not saying go slow, but just to stay within yourself) and then, if you feel great after mile 7, GO GO GO!!!
The first year I did it I went out a little too hard and by mile 10 I was just dying. It hurt so bad. It is very unforgiving out there because of the heat.
One word of caution as you come to the front of the high school: people, in their best effort to be helpful, will be saying "WAY TO GO, YOU'RE THERE!" If you're not feeling your best...you're not there, and you still have a little ways to run. I'm just saying...if you just want to be done...you're not there. You have to run through the parking lot to the BACK of the high school and still a ways further down to the chute. If you feel great, it's nothing, but if every step takes effort...it's a long stretch.
Finally, as you go that final mile, whether you're hurting, happy, strong, dying, upset, elated...think about how awesome you are to have done it. Think about all the beautiful scenery you passed today. Think about what you just accomplished. Think about all the training you did to get to where you are. Think about all the people who've supported you along the way. And remember that no matter what the outcome is, there will always be more races to be raced, and that today, you gave your best. That today, you came out and experienced, performed and learned and you will take that with you wherever you go. Even if it hurts, put a big smile on your face, and be proud as you run through that finish line.
Happy Training, everybody! T-6 weeks!