Wednesday, July 20, 2011

West Coast Swing

The trip to NoCal was a great success all around. Travel to and from the Bay area went smoothly. Sonoma County and its acres of vineyards were amazing. Beth had a successful race (1st female amateur). We crashed all weekend at a timeshare condo 3 minutes from the finish line thanks to Cary (who also rocked her age group), a big step up from our usual Econolodge/Motel 6 lodging. We met up with Barb, Beth & James W, who also had great races.

As usual, I didn't get many pictures because I just get caught up in the race. I did snap a shot of the swim start.

The bike was a point-to-point through the vineyards of Sonoma County, meaning I had to leave T1 and head over about 25 minutes to the T2/finish area. Once there I parked the car, went on an hour run (in 50 degree weather in July!!!!), and snapped a few photos of the finish line and waited for Beth to come in off the bike.

She came in first in her age group off the bike and I gave her the news she had a 3+ minute lead on 2nd place as she left for the run. When mapping out the spectathlete strategy prior to the race, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to see much of the race. However, Cary (veteran of 7 or so Vinemans) helped us scout out the run course and determined a way to get out on the course. Since it's an out & back, I would then be able to see her 4 times on the run. The challenge was I had to do 2.5 miles in the time she had to do a little under 4 miles (see the map - Beth is yellow, I'm blue). Challenging, but a good tempo workout.

While waiting for Beth to come by, defending Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae zoomed past in a blur, or shoddy camerawork. She's fast--a sub 1:20 half marathon taking her from 8th off the bike to 3rd!

While I was out at the mile 4/9 area I also saw more pros, then Beth (who was now 5 minutes up on 2nd place), then Beth W, Charisa, and a very excited Barb once she found out that she was running in 5th place in the AG (and ended up passing one more before the finish line to earn 4th). One thing that was great in New Orleans, Eagleman, and Vineman was having the android and being able to access the live results on It sure helps with trying to figure out who is in what place.

When Beth finished the race and was hanging out in the athlete post-race food and recovery area, I notice that she's talking with an older guy with a notepad and figure he's maybe from a local paper and wanted to get her name since she did well. 10 minutes later, I'm still hanging out there by the fence and wondering what interview could possibly take this long. When she left the area and came out to me, she told me how the guy was nice and was asking about what she thought about the region and what other things we were going to do in California and other stuff that she **THOUGHT** was just small talk.

After some more upper 50's running for another hour on Monday, we packed up and went back down to the bay area. On our way out of town, we filled up with gas and grabbed a local newspaper to see its coverage of the race. We thought they may mention Beth since the reporter was talking to Beth.


Timeout from the story to take a multiple choice quiz about this article on the race (take the quiz before reading the article).
Which one of the following was NOT mentioned in the article:

A) men's pro champion Andy Potts who set a course record
B) women's pro champion Melissa Rollison who also set a course record
C) Beth, the female amateur overall champion
D) Me, the "marathoning husband"
E) Tim Lincecum, all-star pitcher for the SF Giants
F) The drastically improved Pittsburgh Pirates

That's right, this article about the Vineman 70.3 triathlon did not include....B!!!

Here's some of the article:

Beth Shutt, 32, of Pittsburgh, Pa., said she made her first trip to Northern California just to bicycle past vineyards and wasn't disappointed.

“It's almost surreal,” she said. “I've never seen anything like it.”

Shutt finished in 4:38:57, tops among women age 30 to 34.

She and her husband, Oscar, who runs marathons, are staying in the area until Tuesday and plan to see the sights in San Francisco, including a Giants game at AT&T Park.

Her hometown Pirates were in first place on Sunday, “unheard of because they usually stink,” Shutt said.

Asked who she knows anyone on the World Series champion Giants, Shutt said, “Tim Lincecum, that's about it.”

Journalism at its finest....

With it being summer and not having to rush back for school, we took an extra day and explored the region. However, it easily could've been another 3-4 days. So, we did mostly a driving tour. The color-coded map details our lap around the bay.

1) We stopped off at the Golden Gate Recreation Area overlook of downtown San Francisco. First of all, the roads were pretty steep and twisty and I was getting a little nervous driving up to the lookout (this coming from someone who gets squirmy driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge--not a fan of heights).

However, the view of downtown was amazing. To put it in perspective for Pittsburghers, it was like looking down at the 'burgh from Mount Washington.....but times 10. Amazing.

You also can see Alcatraz in the picture. This next photo is from a boat tour of the bay that I 'borrowed' off of fb from a teaching buddy who happened to be out in San Francisco the same weekend. Of course, seeing The Rock prompted me to recite quotes for the next few hours from the similarly-named movie starring Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. This movie holds significance for me and my best-man J as it was in the movie theater back when we worked at the Carmike Cinemas in North Huntingdon. Ah, those were the days.

We crossed over the aforementioned Golden Gate Bridge (6 dollar toll?!?!?) and drove through the city. Some of the roads are sooooo steep!

2) We then continued southward down the 101 to Palo Alto to check out Stanford's campus. Another amazing place. We drove around campus and stopped at the track and athletic gift shopped and picked up some t-shirt souveniers. I went the traditional "Stanford XC" shirt, while Beth went for the "Fear the Tree" theme. I'll let her show you a picture of it.

3) Crossed over another bridge and went back up to Oakland to our hotel that was across the street from the airport (early flight on Tuesday). We dropped off our stuff and then went over the Bay Bridge back to San Francisco and parked inside a pier and went to the Giants-Dodgers game.

4) The park was very nice (almost as nice as PNC Park, but I'm baised). I knew the Giants and Dodgers had a rivalry, but wow, I didn't realize how intense it was. 90-95% of the crowd was decked out in black and orange and many had Giants jerseys. The remaining percentage were brave Dodgers fans proudly displaying their Dodger blue. Then, there was Beth and I trying to play the role of Switzerland, but were cheering when the Giants did good things for fear of having the "Beat LA" chants get directed at us. When the starting lineups were introduced, the fans booed every single Dodger. Wow, it was like being at a Steelers-Ravens game.

Now we're back in the burgh and I'm back to XC practice. I'm getting my mileage in and need to figure out which November marathon I'm going to do. Oh yeah, and the Pirates were in first place the last few days. I'll have to get in a blog about that.


Beth said...

Wait...the Pirates are in 1st place?!?!?! :-)

runningyankee said...

awesome trip. i think you are truly the elite of spectating. truly! glad you had a great trip. go bucs! oh and stillers too... i hear dronings of a deal today :)

Barb said...

Ha, I was pretty excited huh? Thanks again for cheering and I am glad you guys had fun exploring San Fran!!

JPH said...

Front pew, right leg...