This is the race write-up for my second 70.3 race. The first one was in 2014 the first year I started racing triathlon in Austin Texas. Other than the time of year which is still hot in Texas anyways the biggest difference in the two races is that Austin is hilly which I was not prepared for and Galveston (This race) is windy on the bike course.

Race Prep:


I decided to try a new preparation strategy after spending most of the night checking and re-checking my gear before IM Austin 70.4 in 2014 and getting very little sleep. So I started preparing early and I’m sure Aimee thought I was nuts. My new strategy was to lay things out as I remembered them and obsessing over how I was to organize the nutrition so that I wasn’t up all night Saturday trying to figure it out with my sister-in-law’s dog trying to eat it every time I turned my back. This worked great. I laid it out and bagged everything based on where it was to go so I just had to drop it there and not worry about taking my run nutrition on the bike like I did in Austin. I put the dry powder in the bike bottles pre measured so I just needed to add water and shake.

I bagged my swim gear separate since Aimee was to be there at the start this time to hold stuff as needed. Done

Breakfast 850-100- cal

Bike 400-500cal/hr

Run 90cal/hr to carry plus pickup (didn’t really grab anything other than water, some Gatorade and red bull on lap 2)

Day Before:

I already had everything ready to go. Drank lots of water. Had a soccer game for my son in the morning then headed out for bike drop off with the family to meet me at my sisters-in-laws later that night in league city. The volunteer at the packet pick-up did give me the wrong packet and I didn’t see until she put the blue band on. Make sure you check it first. She had reversed two of the numbers.


Race Day:

The morning started like any other calm collected morning in the Vignocchi house. I was up and ate my breakfast (2 Chocolate Chip Cliff bars and a Chocolate Ensure Plus, 850 Cal) and was dressed in my tri kit with a hoody and long pants over and my cheap flip flops that I keep in my bag for use at the gym.

Then the fun started of waking Aimee and all three boys, getting them mostly dressed and carrying them to the car.

Plan was to arrive at the start of transition being open to give time to visit the blue house etc… With all the kids we were about 30 mins behind and got a great parking spot right at the bike out next to transition.

With such an awesome parking spot Aimee and the boys stayed in the car to get some additional sleep. I pulled my swim gear out and left it in the back. (everything was packed up in the wet suit bag with a separate must have travel caddy made out of a united airlines bag that I picked up one some random flight overseas)

On my way in I was body marked and began my setup. I had no bikes on either side of me so I had some extra room but didn’t really need it. It mostly kept me from knocking my stuff over later during the race.

Here was my basic race setup:

Bike prep:

Stinger Waffles (x3) cut in half in a baggie (160 cal each, total 480 cal) : placed these into my bike bag which had a baggie with the top rolled to give it some shape to stay open and easier to reach in without looking.

Stinger Energy Chews (x3, 160 cal each, total 480 cal) into the back storage section of my aero bottle (any that wouldn’t fit got dumped with the waffles)

Fluids: (Thanks Emilia for sharing your stash) 1×24 oz bottles pre mixed the night before. 1x 36 oz Nalgene bottle also mixed the night before. The 24 ox bottle was dropped in the bottle cage on the down tube leaving one empty in case it was needed for pick-up during the race the 36 oz bottle was dumped into the aero bar bottle. (400 cal total)

Bike nutrition (total 1,270cal = 423 cal/hr)

Glasses placed on aero bottle and helmet strapped over aero bars so it could not blow off in the wind.

Shoes were on the peddles and tied using floss. This did not work as I expected because the wax covered floss just pulled undone when I grabbed the bike later. It was not an issue because I wasn’t planning on a flying mount anyways just to keep the shoes from dragging as I ran from one corner of transition to the other later on.

Note: I did not wear socks during the bike because I forgot the kind I like to use when my feet are wet and figured I’d be fine. I did Austin with no socks… wear socks when racing someplace with sand. One of my toes got a little chewed up. I haven’t been training with no socks. It also makes your shoes stink bad. This goes to show that it’s a good idea to train how you plan to race and don’t change it race morning.

Run: shoes with socks ready to put on.

4 gells (about 90 cal each) I used 3 gels for 135 cal/hr on the run

1x small pickle juice

Visor on top of shoe with Race number belt over my shoes with the strap tucked under so it would not blow away.

Nutrition plan was based on the info in the book “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink.

I was all set and headed over for a team photo and was ready to race.

I returned to the car to wake up Aimee and the boys. Get the stroller and setup for the race start.

I applied body glide on all the common wetsuit chafe spots. Put anti-fog in goggles. I use a product called “Cat Crap”. It’s a wax base and you buff it out. Don’t use a cotton shirt. Use something like a tech shirt of chamoi like it suggests or you rub it all off. If applied correctly it works great. Not this time. Though.



My strategy was to stay to the outside of the crowed and start near the front of the wave. This worked pretty well other than the fogged goggles and the occasional gulp of water (usually when I hit someone from the earlier waves)


I rolled up the wet suit and dropped it and my goggles into my open gym bag. Put on my helmet and glasses. Tried to put on my arm sleeves to help keep the sun off and ended up  spending too much time with this. I never practice trying it wet and it was more than I anticipated. I attempted to each an energy bar for a boost (Larabar 200cal) ended up taking too much effort to chew and get ready so I stashed in in the bike bag to finish later.

Lesson learned: the only photo Aimee got of me in transition was with a cheek full of larabar. I may never live it down.


After the 200 meter dash with my bike I got on with my feet on top of my shoes and put them in while I was peddling out. The wind was strong but steady and I kept my cadence around 90-95. heading on the out and back course was was good with a cross wind coming in at about 9:00 to 9:30 (relative direction). My heart rate was higher than it should have been but progressively lowered on the way out and then dropped into a solid mid zone 2 (custom zones)

At the first water station I didn’t pick anything up because I was still well stocked. I also had time based alarms set on the Garmin to eat and drink at my set intervals.

On the way back the wind was still a cross wind with a slight push. This allowed my HR to lower a bit and my speed to pick up while still feeling like I was holding back some. In the end I averaged 20.9 mph (that last coast into transition dropped it from 21 mph) I did have 2 points where my stomach was acting up. I want to believe it was due to the salt water consumed during the swim but it could have been the nutrition. There is protein in the Infinite mix and I have read that could upset the stomach but I also like to believe I have an iron stomach so who knows.

On the way back I finished my bike bottle and picked up who additional water bottles. Both went directly into the aero bottle and I didn’t need to put anything in the extra bottle cage.


I racked the bike and dropped my helmet into the gym bag. Sucked down some more of whatever was left in the bike bottle. 2 gels each into the side pockets of the tri shorts and the pickle juice into the back pocket. Remembered my race bib…YAY put on my shoes and visor and headed out for the half marathon.


My plan was to run a 10 min pace and hold steady with the occasional walk at the water stations. I was well ahead of the planned overall time and as I often do I ditched the plan (I mean modified to suit). I kept a steady pace and more or less held an average of 9 min/mile for the first loop and a half. Then slowed a little on the back half of the 2nd loop. This is where I took the pickle juice (tasted bad, not sure if it did anything but I’m cool with the placebo effect) At the last 70.3 I did it was hilly and hot and I had experienced hard leg cramps at mile 10. I was worried of having the same experience so I worked on keeping it steady and slowing for water and cold sponges which I kept getting wet and keeping on my shoulders. I consumed 3 of the 4 gels mostly even intervals just before water stations to wash it down. Except the first one when the water station was not around the corner like I thought. oops

In the end I had a strong finish that I was very happy with. 5:19:50