Expedition Man Race Report

What a whirlwind of a race weekend, but oh so worth it! 

This race report starts with a new job.  I began planning the logistics of this race about 5 weeks ago.  Why does it seem that every year, there is something that comes up that threatens my race day?  Oh well, I have become very good at overcoming obstacles to make sure that I am in the water on race morning.  No way I’m letting 6 months of training be in vain! 

This years race was threatened by several things out of my control. 

Problem 1:

I started a new job on 8/12/13.  The training for this new job consists of 1 week at home, then 2 weeks in Southern California.  Look at your calendar – that put’s me in Southern California on race weekend!  No biggie right?  Wrong, the company was going to fly me to Southern California.  I put in a request to drive (almost 1,200 miles) to Irvine, CA and be paid mileage instead of flying.  The company approved it!  Problem 1 averted – I could now take all my triathlon gear with me to California.

Problem 2:

Irvine is 8 hours away from Reno, NV.  I had to be in Reno no later than 6:00 p.m. to pick up my race packet.  I emailed the race director to see if there was a way to work around this.  When I hadn’t heard back by Thursday, I began to freak out.  (Turns out he had emailed me back, but I didn’t see the email.)  Not knowing that I had a solution to the problem of not being able to make packet pick up, I emailed my trainer and asked begged her to let me out of class on Friday, so I could drive to my race.  She emailed me back and said as long as I bring back a top 10 finish, I could have the day off!  So far, I’m loving this new company.  Problem 2 averted!

Problem 3:

The smoke hanging over Lake Tahoe

The air in Tahoe, Carson City, and Reno are thick with smoke from the California Wild Fires!  This problem is completely out of my control, and the Race Director was watching the air quality report closely.  If the air got any worse, they were going to cancel the race.  I would not know the verdict until race morning.  This made sleeping a little difficult.  After all I have gone through this year just to get to the race, it would have been horrible to not get to race.  “Oh well” I thought, nothing I can do to control that, so might as not worry about it. 

Race Report:

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. Race Day and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I think I finally fell back asleep at about 4;30 a.m. – and my alarm went off @ 4:45!  Up and at ’em!  

I stepped outside and the air was thick with smoke.  A quick check of the website, and the race was not cancelled!  I packed up the car and headed to Lake Tahoe.  I arrived at T1 and got my body marked.  I had the body markers add “R4HG” to my arms as I was Racing for Heather Grand.

I made my way to the waters edge and watched as they set off the wave for those doing the full 140.6.  5 mins later, I entered the water to do my warm up.  I instantly regretted drinking that extra cup of coffee in the morning.  I ended up doing something I never though I would do.  I PEE’d IN MY WETSUIT!  I’ve have not even done that in my scuba diving wetsuit.  Don’t judge me, I couldn’t help it…. I really had to go. 

The Swim: Met my goal

Before putting on my wetsuit

The swim starts and I had another first.  Somehow I got tangled up in a group of swimmers at the front of the pack!  I was getting bumped a bit, but worse than that – there were slower swimmers in front of me that I coudln’t get around!  Uggghhhh – know your abilities people!  If it is going to take you 45+ minutes to finish a 1.2 mile swim – DON’T GO TO THE FRONT OF THE PACK!  I finally just stopped swimming – treaded water and waited for them to get ahead of me a bit – I swam to the outside, and then passed them all.  Finally, clear water and no one around me.  I settled into the swim. 

My goal was 35 mins – I swam it in 37:33.  According to my Garmin, I swam 1.35 miles – so I was very pleased with my swim.  As is normal – I started out pretty fast, but settled into my “happy pace” of about 1:35 per 100 yards.  No issues with sighting.  Great swim overall. 

Transition 1:  Horrible!

Out of 36 Half Iron Competitors, I was the 21st fastest slowest with a time of 5:26, and I was trying to go fast!  Time to work on Transitions. 🙂

The Bike: Totally F*cking Awesome!

This has to be one of the best 1st 12 miles of any bike course in any race!  It starts with a roughly 5 mile climb out of Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe – but then you get to descend 8+ miles!  Talk about a speedy start to a race!  I averaged over 41 Mile Per Hour for my 5 mile split!  Pure adrenaline baby, pure adrenaline. 

I finished the bike in 2:52:15 – 6th fastest out of 36 competitors.  I rocked the big climb at the beginning of this ride.  My climbing has improved immensely over last year.  I also kicked ass on the flats.  I didn’t feel like I was putting out a lot of effort, but my average speed on the flats was definitely faster than last year as well. 

Overall, I was more than happy with my performance on the bike. 

T2:  Worse than T1!

WTF is wrong with me?  My T2 time was 3:36 – 24th fastest slowest!  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never ever practiced a transition!  🙂  Considering that the fastest T2 transition was just 36 seconds (you read that right) – I think I will consider practicing transitions in the future! 🙂 

The Run: 1:00 to 1:30 per mile slower than normal but……………………

As soon as I started the run, I could feel that my legs were not going to give me my “normal” race pace.  I quickly adjusted my goals for the run.  Goal #1, run the entire run.  After seeing my 1st mile split of 9:47 I set Goal #2:  All miles sub 10:00. 

Tony and I at the finish line

One of the things I love about doing triathlons is the support you get from all the competitors.  As I approached mile 8, I was about to pass a runner.  It turns out that Tony is one of the nicest guys.  I was hurting pretty bad at this point, and I told Tony this.  You know what he did?  He offered to pick up his pace and “get me through mile 10.” Tony and I ended up running all the way to the finish line.  At one point (about mile 11) I was hurting pretty bad.  I felt nausous and thought I was going to be sick.  I told Tony that I was going to have to walk.  I started to walk, but then all of a sudden, I got my second wind. I walked for maybe 50 feet, but then was able to run.  In hindsight, I think I was at the beginning stages of heat exhaustion, and I think the smoke was finally getting to me.  Tony carried my water bottles for me, and kept dousing me with water.  At about mile 12, Tony and I passed another runner we had in our sights for a bit.  Turns out it was another relay runner.  Tony told me that I helped him pick up his pace.  He said that without me pushing him, he would never have caught that runner.  I’m equally sure I would not have been able to run the entire thing without Tony’s help and support.  I love this aspect of racing.  I had a similar experience at last years race also. 

I didn’t think the smoke was affecting me, but when I crossed the finish line with a 2:06:21 run time (7th fastest of the 36 competitors) I started coughing like crazy.  This was a deep cough, that hurt my lungs.  I coughed off and on for 15 mins after the race was complete.  I’m quite sure that the smoke had an effect – and looking back, I think my bike split could have been even faster. 

My finishers medal, and 3rd place award

Overall, I’m very pleased with my race.  I only missed my goal by 15 minutes.  Considering all the obstacles, I couldn’t be happier.  I took 5th place overall, and 3rd in my age group!  My first podium!  Granted, my total time of 5:45:13 would not be a podium at most races, but I gave it my all, and I am very proud.

 

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