We planned to have 2 days in Sonoma before the race and two days after the race. As my friend Chris said to me, “It’ll be this totally awesome vacation with one sucky day in the middle of it.”
2 days to Vineman: On Friday, we drove the race course. These are winding, country backroads and Steve was in love with them. He wanted to ride all of them. The bike course was a lot of rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Chalk Hill Road, which I had worked up in my head to an epic mountian climb, was nothing more than a mile long hill - challenging, but within my ability. There were also a few sharp, technical turns. In fact the course was so bendy it took us several hours to drive the 56 miles. We also drove the run course which made me far less happy. It was rolling hills, but overall it was an uphill climb for the first 6 miles. Not happy with that. Not happy at all. I was stressed out but no worse than I’ve been for the last few weeks - a combo of worried and teary.
1 day to Vineman: The day before the race I was nearly sick with stress. I wanted to vomit. Constantly.
We planned to drive over to the transition 2 area to pick up our bikes and my race packet. Vineman is a logistical challenge for participants because transition 1 is roughly twenty miles from transition 2. That means you need to set up T2 the day before the race and get to T1 with your wetsuit and bike on race morning.
Steve planned to go for a bike ride while I went to the mandatory participant meeting. At the last second, he decided to go the participant’s meeting with me. In the meeting I had the completely stoopid moment that I have before every race where I think, “I’m too fat; everyone else is fitter and better prepared than I am. I don’t belong here.” It’s idiotic. I trained my chubby butt to be here and I’m ready.
We picked up our bikes and I did my check ride. I was less than a mile into my ride when I threw my chain. Fixed it; threw it again. Fixed it again; threw it again. Fixed it and, threw it a fourth time. Finally nursed it back to Steve and Karl. Karl is the owner of Velotranz, the company that shipped my bike. Karl is also a master bike mechanic. He spent the entire afternoon adjusting the shifting on my bike. It was a series of fixes check rides and chain throws, complete with me being teary and sick. (Oh, the fun!) He stuck with it and he got my bike fixed.
At some point when Steve and Karl were working on my bike I headed in the T2 zone and dropped my gear in a pile. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to race and just dropped whatever I had in my bag: running shoes, a few Gu’s, my water bottle...I don’t know. Frustrated, frightened, and bikeless is no way to set up your transition zone.
Finally, we grabbed some dinner and headed home. Ready or not, race day comes.