Good Times in the Vines

This weekend was the Lake Berryessa Half Ironman in Napa Valley, a low key alternative to Wildflower, and perfect for an early season fitness check. More significantly, it was also my first long distance race in a year to the day after last year’s forced hiatus. For me, this event was to serve as a chance to shake off the cobwebs, feel the distance again, and celebrate the fact that I was at the starting line of a race—something I was only dreaming about a few months ago! Was it good to be back? I don’t think you could have wiped the smile off my face if you tried: )

The day started off pretty perfectly. A calm lake and wetsuit swim set my mind at ease, and I felt a balance of nervous excitement as we entered the water. After the usual jostling, I found some feet and settled into a good rhythm for the two loop swim. . .perhaps too good. Rounding one of the buoys on the second loop, I lost the feet I was following, but sighting some more yellow caps ahead, followed their line. Suddenly, I’d caught the pack of what can only be described as “struggling swimmers” and realized these were people completing their first loop—NO!! lifting my head, I realized that the exit ramp was behind me. . .I had started my third loop! Doing a quick 180, I sprinted for the dock in an attempt to minimize the consequences of my “bonus yardage”. Once back on shore, Andy did his best to cheer me on, but judging from his expression, I was sure that any hopes he had ever entertained of a successful The Amazing Race partnership had just been erased.

Although frustrated with my lack of navigational skills, I settled into a good rhythm on the bike and quickly caught two of the three girls I knew were ahead of me. The ensuing miles ticked by quickly, and I was able to focus on gathering heart rate data (after 7 years, I’ve finally given in), nutrition (1.5 blueberry Clif bars, a vanilla Clif shot, and some Luna sports drink), and picking off the guys ahead of me (one of whom mentioned: “I’ve really got to pee, and it’s REALLY pissing me off!!”. . .Umm, OK.) This course was no joke, and on the final climb back into transition, my legs were definitely talking to me.

Entering transition, I was re-energized as I saw Christine Fletcher, the first place female, heading out on the run. I did a quick mental replay of my conversation with Coach Paul, the Clif notes of which were: “This is not a race to take chances”, “You’re not really racing the last 10 k of the run” and “I’d like you to negative split it”. Although the heart rate and energy were fine, it seemed I’d left my legs in San Diego. I dialed it back a bit for the first lap—which was not to say I was going easy—I was hurting and the absolute lack of flat ground wasn’t making it any easier! The “fake it till ‘ya make it” approach was in full effect, though, and by the second loop I was feeling good and pushing the pace, giving it what I had. On the day, my effort was good enough for 2nd place, an awesome workout on a beautiful but challenging course, and lots of confidence that things are on the right track!

The only thing left to do was a little post race wine tasting.


8 Responses to “Good Times in the Vines”

  1. Janet Nielsen Says:

    Hey Katya,

    Awesome job on your first race back!

    Miss you tons! I hope you can come over to Victoria after the Vancouver race!

    Happy Training,

    Luv Janet Nielsen.

  2. AJ Foster Says:

    Congrats on the 2nd place finish on your first HIM of 2008! Despite the “oops” in the swim, I am sure you are extremely pleased with your efforts and this is a great way to start your come back year! I’m pretty jealous though that you got to do some wine tasting afterwards… talk about a good way for a post race cool down 🙂

    Take care,

  3. Bree Wee Says:

    Oh yeah, knew you had it in you! Glad you are updating this blog of yours!
    AND glad you got your nutrition in line so you can kick some @$$ on this long stuff you are so good at!
    Cheers to a GREAT 1/2 and many more to come… so happy you are getting better every day!

  4. Jennifer Cunnane Says:

    Hey – great race Katya! I did not realize until the end of the race who you were and then immediately recognized you! I was the one huffing and puffing up those hills who tried to yell words of encouragement your way. Not that you needed any – you looked STRONG! Like you said, there were not flat portions on the course to keep one feeling good yet it looked to me like you were doing 400 meter repeats up those hills! Wasn’t it a great race? I thought it was a challenging course and filled with fun and supportive athletes. Great job and looks like you are off to a great season!

  5. Christopher Crouse Says:

    I’m so proud of you! 2nd place in that race is very strong, and it sounded very challenging. Remember the first 5K you ever ran? I remember slowing down the last mile or so just so we could finish together. Wow how things have changed! If we raced now you would finish and then already be showered with some good food and wine in your stomach and probably would have taken in a good movie before I even crossed the finish line.

    Well, I am doing a lot of training these days. I’m still a personal trainer in addition to being an M.D. and am looking into starting a wellness center with everything from sports medicine to a weight loss clinic. It gets more and more exciting the more I plan for it.

    By the way, if you are looking for a partner for “The Amazing Race” then give me a shout cause I’m mad about that show. How cool would it be to race around the world? I’ve thought about applying many many times.

    I’ll be in southern Cali a lot during this next year. I have quite a few clients that I’m training there, and I’m starting to miss it more now that I’m no longer there for school. Give me a call Katya and we will find a local 5K to get all nostalgic over. Again, kudos to you for your hard work cause it really is paying off.

  6. beth Says:

    hey! so nice to meet you this weekend- looks like you kicked butt in Napa too! james was so funny after the race, i was like, “thanks so much for sticking around so long for the awards, etc” and he was like, “no problem- i felt like the man- taking pictures with the two hottest girls there….” so cute.
    a swim and a run will definitely be in order sometime soon. i hope your 6 hr. ride went well, i thought of you as i did an easy spin on the trainer 🙂

  7. Addison James Says:

    ok…im in a slight state of shock…u kick ass girl…that’s so awesome. thats amazing that you are doing triatholons. i feel like i need to go workout now, ur non-chalant blog about abusing the competition and finishing 2nd is inspirational hahaha…wow.

  8. Kevin Lewis Says:

    Hey Katya!

    It’s Kevin Lewis…your old (and feeling older after reading about your adventures) friend from Russellville. I stumbled on your website about a year and a half ago, and check in every 3 months or so to see how you are doing. Always fun to live vicariously through those who are off doing triathlons in Austrailia with Ann Kournikova when you are married and living in the suburbs. 🙂

    In any case, it is great to hear that you are doing well. We are just now expecting our first kid, so check out our blog if you get the chance.

    Keep training… there is a lot of pressure on you now being the most famous person from Russellville in our generation. 🙂

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