Featured photo for Vineman Triathlon
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger

Vineman Triathlon

Two-thousand four was supposed to be an off year training-wise, and my goals for this race were modest: (1) To better my 2003 Ironman Coeur d’Alene time and (2) to actually run the entire marathon leg instead of walk, limp, or hobble.

Sharon drove me up to Santa Rosa the day before for registration, and we had dinner with Russ, his wife Yvonne and his son Brian at Carrows. Then, after watching a bit of the Bob Costas-described “dramatic” opening Olympic ceremonies, we retired for the night in our rather noisy Motel 6 room (which, according to Sharon, some people were cursing each other right outside our door at 11:00 p.m. and saying things like “Hey, that’s my car!”) that I nevertheless slept entirely through.

I got six hours of sleep—probably a new record for me before a race. We then carpooled with Russ early in the morningĀ and were down by the Russian River for the first wave (out of three, staggered by five minutes) scheduled start of 6:45 a.m.

Race Report

Excerpts from an email sent out after the race:

Another day off for me. (Last one in a while though, oh well) So here is the Vineman report.

Anyhow, so the race was on Saturday in Napa Valley, and I am done, done, done! I was pleased with how it went… my swim, as usual, was amoeba-ish (well, that is insulting to the amoebas, when in fact I was probably slower than them), and then I had a rather comical transition, in which I got confused and had to run back into transition to drop off my wetsuit bag, and then I couldn’t clip into my pedals (sand in my cleats), so I had to dismount and clean them. Not to mention, after… Mile 2, I already had some back pain during the bike leg, and I don’t think I was fully recovered from the double century the week before. But I got no flats and did a good job conserving energy on the bike, such that I was able to run the entire marathon leg afterwards without walking. In fact I was feeling better during the run than on the bike, not that I was Speedy Gonzales or the Road Runner or even Wile E. Coyote & friends, but it was a much different experience than last year’s Ironman (which, after going way too hard on the bike could have been best described as “death march”…)

Sharon came to watch, offer moral support, take pics, and in general just be a wonderful person (even drove me home), and there were a handful of spectators who were very supportive too (“go #34! Keep on smiling!”) And the announcer was the best. I’d come into the transition area, and the announcer would say things like, “And… it’s Felix, the pride of Fremont, California! Remember, folks, this is the ONLY Felix that’s in the race… GO, Felix!”

So I had a fun time. My race time was 13:13:xx, which is hardly record-breaking (99th out of 200 or so who entered), but at least good for top 100 (sounds better.) Russ finished too, which was more amazing, considering he had some gastro-intestinal issues even before the race began…

Now I can relax and be a bum again (not that I have much of a choice, as I can hardly walk.) Right now, I am baking a cake.

Race Data

  • 2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike + 26.2 mile run
  • 6:49 a.m. mass start, 8:02 p.m. finish— 13:13:35 (13.2 hours)
  • Splits: Swim 1:51:49; T1 0:04:06; Bike 6:28:45; T2 0:01:55; Run 4:46:59
  • Official Results



  • Scenery: 4
  • Support/Organization: 4
  • Food: 3
  • Weather: 5. Just a tad chilly in the morning with overcast fog, but otherwise near-perfect this year.
  • Relative Difficulty: 2. Flat course with some rollers.
  • Overall Rating: 4
Photos not created by Felix Wong may be subject to copyright.
Sweet Sharon drove me to/from Santa Rosa, and we were able to scout the run course the day before the race.  The run course--much improved over the previous years (when people got lost)--would pass by some very nice homes in meandering, rolling countryside.
[Swim Mile 0] This is it... time to sink or swim!  Well, sort of... most sections of the Russian River were so shallow that in some places my hand would brush the bottom as I stroked along slowly, slowly...
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Swim Mile 2.4, 1:51:xx elapsed] I actually felt good on the swim, though... just slow!  Here I am emerging from the water... the purple swim cap signifies that I was part of the under-40yo wave.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Bike Mile 0, 1:47:xx elapsed] Despite starting in the wave 5 minutes after mine, Russ emerged from the water way before I and was already on his bike before I finished the swim.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Transition #1, 1:51:xx elapsed] Here I am running to my bike!
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Transition #1, 1:53:xx elapsed] I would have had a quick transition, if I had known what to do with my wetsuit!!  I thought I was supposed to drop it off but didn't know where... turns out I should have just left it on the ground.  Instead, I ran out of transition with it, and had to run back.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Bike Mile 0, 1:57:xx elapsed] As if that wasn't bad enough, then I couldn't clip in to my pedals!  Here I am dismounting from my bike, trying to clean my cleats.  Wow, what an unsmooth transition!
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Bike Mile 57, 5:08:xx elapsed] I didn't feel spectacular on the bike, but the important thing was I conserved enough energy to set me up for the run.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
The run would go through some "under-construction" muddy areas, but most of the course was paved with a few short, but not trivial, hills (not shown).
[Run Mile 8.6, 9:50:xx elapsed] Energy conservation on the bike paid off!  Here I am after the first loop (of three), able to (slowly but steadily) run the entire marathon without walking.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger
[Run Mile 8.6, 9:58:xx elapsed] I would see Russ a number of times, who finished as well despite battling some gastro-intestinal problems all day.
Photo: Sharon Schneckenberger