Barb’s Race Triathlon Re-cap

31 Jul

Barb’s Race

Women’s Only Half Ironman Distance Triathlon

July 27, 2013 – Sonoma County, CA


My husband and I left for Windsor, CA (which is located in Sonoma County, North of San Francisco) around 9AM from South Orange County.  We figured we had about a 7 hr drive ahead of us including stops (i.e. pee breaks resulting from pre-race hyrdation).  The drive was pretty uneventful until we got North of the city and there was construction on the 101.  We ended up in stop and go traffic for 45 minutes and I missed the 5:30 course talk by 15 minutes and I couldn’t pick up my packet until I attended the course talk.  So we killed 45 minutes by walking the small expo and looking over the course map.  At 6:30 I attended that last course talk, grabbed my packet and set up T2.  Transition 1 would be at the river and T2 and the finish line were at the High School at Windsor.


T2 – Run gear ready to go!

I have raced one other race (OC Triathlon) where there was 2 different transition sites and I was not a fan.  After this race, I am still not a fan. A) I like to keep open nutrition at transition to shove in my mouth while I am transitioning.  I eat a few honey stinger chews at T1 and a few at T2, I also have water there that I can drink at both T1 and T2.  By having 2 spots I have to double my stash and I like to open the packet before the race so I am not struggling with it during transition.  When you set T2 up the night before…you can’t do that, plus what every you leave there to drink will not even be remotely cool when you see it again.  B) You have 2 places to remember. C) I have to make decisions the night before that I usually like to leave until game time.  Like when to put on my socks.  Do I want to wear them on the bike or wait for the run.  These are all silly little hiccups that can cause me great distress and time.

After I was set up, Marc and I went to dinner and I had marginal piece of pizza and salad.  Not great, but it was calories.  Afterwards we stopped at the drug store and I bought to large bottles of water and a Sharpie.  We headed back to the hotel and I got ready for bed.

Barb’s race is in conjuction with Vineman which is a full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) distance race and an Aquabike race (swim and bike only).  So, I felt like a slacker by “only” racing the half.  Since the Vineman waves started at 6:30 and the Barb’s Race and Aquabike waves didn’t start until 8:30, they allowed us in transition after the Vineman waves went off.  Which was great because I was afraid they were going to close off transition at 6:30 and I was going to have to stand around in the cold for 2 hours.  The start was 35 minutes from my hotel and I wanted to get to transition at least an hour before my wave, so I dragged Marc out of bed at 6:30 and we were on the road by 6:50.  We drove up to Johnson’s Beach around 7:10 and unloaded my bike.  This was my first race with Gordy (aka Flash Gordon my new bike) and I was relieved to see many more road bikes at this race than IM 70.3 TX.  Which makes sense, this is a hilly course and TX is pancake flat.

I set up my bike and headed over to body marking.  After my number was written in all the appropriate spots, I pulled out my sharpie and added FOR SUSAN to my biceps, inner forearm and left calf.

For Susan body marking

For Susan body marking

While I was setting up my bike, I met 2 of my Team Tough Chik teammates, Elisabeth and Kristi.  It was so good to see them and get a few tips, both of them had raced the course before.  Both women are seasoned triathletes and super nice people.  My poor husband got off a plane late Thursday night from NY and woke up early on Friday to drive me to the race and woke up extra early on Saturday to get me to the start.  So after I was settled, I gave him a break and let him off the hook.  You can’t see anything on the swim and you can’t tell us apart, so I let him go back to the hotel, check out and relax.  I agreed to carry my phone on the bike to T2 and I would text him when I got off the bike so he could estimate my arrival to the finish. I walked into the water and it felt warmer that than the outside temp!  I put my head under to test my goggles and Ahhhh fresh water!  I am so use to salt water that the fresh water was pleasant surprise.


I have been told that one of the defining attributes of the swim is that it is very shallow, as low as 4 ft in some places.  So if you get in trouble, you can just stand up and walk.  The swim is in the Russian River and is an out and back, so you swim with the current one way and against it the other.  I didn’t notice a current, but I am pretty oblivious to anything but surviving the swim!  I loved the swim!  I have to admit that it was a trip to come up for air and see someone walking next to you.  At the beginning it was pretty crowded, but we spread out fairly quickly.  I swam well, I felt calm and strong.  I could feel the back of my wetsuit rubbing my neck, possibly the velcro wasn’t lined up?  I didn’t want to take the time to stop swimming and adjust it.  After the turn around, some of the men from the Aquabike bike wave caught up to me and they were aggressive.  But in typically lady-like fashion, all of the gals were nice and apologizing for hitting me plus if they bump into you, they move in another direction, not the guys!

Time – 42:21 (7 minutes faster that TX!) 37/62 – not great in comparison to the others, but GREAT for me!


As I ran out of the water, the had wet suit strippers, but the one that was open wasn’t paying attention and chatting to a friend, so I said “screw it” and ran to transition with my bottom half of my suit on.  Our T1 was in sand so my suit was filthy.  I shoved it in my bag that the volunteers will transport to the finish, along with a water bottle and the chews that I didn’t shove into my mouth.  My feet were also dirty and I made a feeble attempt to dust them off and again said “screw it” and put on my cycling shoes.  I was happy that I left my socks until T2.  There is a steep hill out of T1 and most athletes walk it.  I was told to walk it and I was told to ride.  I decided to walk it.  It did raise my heart rate (which was the con of running it) but it was cold and I think that helped it warming me up.

Time – 4:39 23/62

I don't know why they take photos here, but here I am running around the slow pokes.

I don’t know why they take photos here, but here I am running around the slow pokes.


I was very excited for this bike ride. 56 miles through rolling vineyards sounds like a perfect way to spend a morning and it did not disappoint. I played leap frog with a couple gals over the first 20 mile.  I would pass them on the climbs on my road bike and they would pass me on the flats with their tri bikes.  Eventually we were separated, I am not sure who dropped who, but this is my blog so I will pretend it was me!  LOL!  I was riding strong and fast, a few times I would remind myself that I still had 13 miles to run after this and do not leave everything on the bike!  Leave some leg strength for the run.  It was cool, so I also had to force myself to drink and eat.  But I wasn’t hungry and I wasn’t thirsty.  At the end, I almost drank one 24 oz bottle of nuun and ate one bag of Honey Stinger chews, that was it.  Not enough fuel for the length of time I was on the bike.

Time: 3:15:54 18/62 (only 2 min slower that TX and that is with 2,200 ft of climbing)

Sun and Smiles!  I was enjoying myself!

Sun and Smiles! I was enjoying myself!



As I was finishing the bike portion, I was ready to be done…with the whole race.  I will be honest, the run is a means to an end for me.  For the most part, I run to compete in triathlons.  It is my weakest discipline and I was wishing I opted for the Aquabike at this point.  I ran into T2 with my bike and headed to my wave’s racks.  This is were I left my run gear the night before and somehow I got turned around and I was searching for my gear at the wrong end of the racks.  I wasted over a minute finding my running shoes!  UGH!  I had saved half a clif bar from before the race and carried it 56 miles to T2.  As I grabbed it out of my pocket, I flung it out of it wrapper and it landed on the ground.  Crap!   I racked my bike, texted Marc, mourned the loss of my clif bar, shoved more chews in my mouth and washed them down with hot water.  YUMMY!

Time – 6:30 34/62


The run is always tough for me and toss in a few hill and lack of proper fueling and hydration…well that is pretty much a disaster waiting to happen.  Two liars friends told me that the run was “rolling” and “not that bad”.  I am no hill sissy, here is South OC we got a hill or two, so I know hilly and this my friends was hilly.  I am not a fan of walking (not because I am some awesome runner or super disciplined…I just want to get this shit over) and I walked more on this run than I ever have on a run.  To give my friends a little credit, an overpass would have felt like Mt. Freaking Hood at this point.  Our run was two equal out and backs, so every hill you climbed, you went down and then did it again.  I know a lot of people hate this, I don’t mind and in fact kind of like knowing what is coming up.  There were fully stocked aid stations at almost every mile and the volunteers were amazing.  Little kids handing out water with sweet little faces that made you feel bad refusing them.  I wasn’t half way through my first lap and the guy on a bike passed me with a sign “1st Place Male Finisher”, yup the Vineman racers were already on the course.  They had 3 longer out and backs, so we got to turn around and they kept on.  So not only have these folk been racing longer and harder than me but now they are lapping me!  Yes, I was lapped my the 1st place finisher guy.  Amazing, simply amazing.  I drank water at every stop and had my gu and mile 5 and 10.  It was tough and I talked to Susan, hoping that I was making her proud.

Time – 2:22:33 (7 min faster than TX and TX was flat!) – 31/62 smack dab in the middle!

This is the way I want you to think of me on the run...

This is the way I want you to think of me on the run…

But this is more accurate!

But this is more accurate!

Overall Time – 6:35:54 26/62 AG 115/364 Overall

PROS – This race was beautiful and I loved the swim and the bike.  They had HUGE cookies at the end and that can really make up of any hilly run!  Tons of food and support on the bike and the run.  The bike course was very well marked and supported by local PD.  And did I mention it was gorgeous?

CONS – Having 2 transitions is a pain and the run was hillier than I would like.  Heck, I would like no hills!  This is not a spectator friendly race.  For obvious reasons they don’t want folks trolling for racers in their cars as these are small, narrow roads with a very little shoulder is some spots.  Spectators are only allowed for the first mile of the run and Marc couldn’t even find a parking space at the finish (or at least that is what he claimed).  I was okay with it, but if it was my first or I was doing the full, I might be disappointed.  The Barb’s Race branded gear was pretty ugly.  So sorry if that offends anyone, buy it is not my style.  I am proud I finished a HIM and I want to show that off, but I will never wear the free tech shirt in public and I was ready and willing to buy something at the expo but it was just…well…again, not my style.  I guess I will stick to my Ironman gear.

For all the craziness with my move and buying a house and not to mention the month I couldn’t run because of my ankle, I am pretty happy with my results.  So if you do 2 Half Ironmans in 4 months….can you be an Ironman?  Might be the only way I ever get there!


4 Responses to “Barb’s Race Triathlon Re-cap”

  1. tootallfritz August 1, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Great job! Those are awesome times and I’m super jealous of that swim! I need more time to swim! UGH!

  2. Laura M August 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    GREAT race report!! I’m SO very proud of you. Reading your RR makes me want to do Barb’s next year. 🙂
    My favorite line in your report is, “I am not a fan of walking (not because I am some awesome runner or super disciplined…I just want to get this shit over)”

  3. August 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    What a great race for you!! You know how much I loathe the run as well, but I figure SOMETHING has to be considered work out there, right??! Just think how fast you’ll be in Galveston this spring… 😉 heh!!


  1. The Dark Side | Tough Chik - October 3, 2013

    […] over the weekend I had my first brick since Barb’s Race in July.  My husband has been trying to get out and run (although he hates every minute) because […]

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