A very belated, way too long 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe race report

Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Yeah, I did it in 2013. It is 2014, and now practically a full year later. Wish I could say this report reflects a year’s worth of writing, but it is not. Regardless, perhaps it is useful to an Ironman hopeful somewhere down the line.

Preparations:

I am so fortunate to be friends with so many amazing people, including quite a few other triathletes/endurance folks. A group of us ladies created our own little training group, complete with kits and regular weekend adventures. The IronMinxes trained in Tahoe, Yosemite, Gold Country, East Bay, Marin, South Bay, and the Peninsula. Good times, lots of laughs, many Coca-Colas.

We didn’t train with a coach, but instead used our own experiences (and existing events) to create our training plan(s). All of us finished, and given the high DNF (did not finish) rate of IM Tahoe 2013, I think we did a great job planning! If interested, check out the events I discussed last year, or feel free to reach out via comments if you have questions.

I managed to get up to Tahoe once a month, which helped me get a good grasp of the challenging bike course, and how to calm down my breathing on the swim. Hugely helpful, and my top tip for any local-ish triathlete looking to finish IM Tahoe.

Week of the Race:

Altitude prep –
My iron levels are typically low (borderline anemic), which I don’t think helps my acclimatization. I started taking Mega Food Blood Builder in the spring, which seemed to help. Then in August I switched to Floradix, a liquid iron supplement for the last month. From August 2012 to August 2013 I did have an increase in my Ferritin #s (despite all the endurance stuff), which I credit to these two supplements.

Hamburgers are also a great source of Iron and a lovely Sunday recovery dinner. Props to Kwik Way in Oakland!

I took Diamox on Monday and Tuesday of race week, just to help speed up my acclimatization – note that I had already taken Diamox previously, so I knew how my body reacted to the drug. I got up to Tahoe on Wednesday, super late, but still got in my first night of sleep up “high” that night.
Accomodations –
Squaw. Close to everything race related except for swim and T1. Much thanks to Jamie for making this reservation early.
Day before:
There was a small watercraft warning. The lake had white caps. It poured. The wind was a-howlin. Snow was sticking that afternoon at Donner Pass and Soda Springs.
Still, the storm was supposed to clear overnight, so the race was presumed to be a go.
We double and triple-bagged our transition bags, which were all completely filled with every sort of warm-weather gear imaginable. We covered our bike saddles and handlebars with plastic bags so they wouldn’t be covered in ice. We did not leave any nutrition on the bike, lest it be a target for bears – or a frozen mess.
We ate our pasta and stared out the window at the storm. I thought about my snowboard as snow accumulated on the mountain top just outside our window. Heather, creative genius behind Feather West had the brilliant idea to bring inspirational temporary tattoos from Tattly.
“Everyday I’m Hustlin” tat on my quad, upside down so I could read it.
And… to bed.

Day of:

Conditions: Still cold. Woke up to temps right around freezing, but no rain. So that’s good. Expected to get up into the mid-upper 50s? <- here’s where it would have been useful to have written this earlier.
Morning eats: Perpetuem, rice, peanut butter, banana
Swim: NOT COLD
When I talk about the race now, people usually react by asking about the water temperature. HA! Warmest part of the day, seriously. Thanks to a super hot summer, the lake was balmy. So warm that the cold air + mild water = hella fog, which created some interesting sighting here and there. Sun came out during lap two, was in my eyes for a short time. Overall the clear lenses were a good call.
The rolling swim start was pretty solid. I walked in with the other 1:20-1:30 folks. Minimal contact. I’m not gunning for a qualifying spot and figured that I would either DNF in spectacular fashion, or make the cut-offs pretty easily, so the lost/gained time due to the rolling start was not an issue for me.
Gear: Champion seamless sports bra, swim suit bottoms, wetsuit, double swim cap (goggle strap under the first one), Barracuda goggles – clear, ancient Orca wetsuit. Wool socks that I ditched on the beach <– these were to protect my feet from the frozen sand. They failed.
T1: CHAOS
So the swim was super calm. The T1 tent. It was not. IM Wisconsin was super cushy – indoors, everyone got their own volunteer, plenty of space. This was a madhouse. Some areas were flooded due to the rain, not enough chairs, not enough volunteers, too many people in general. Why? Usually you don’t need to do a major wardrobe change at T1. Here, everyone had frozen hands and feet and needed to fully change. I managed to swing a volunteer (no idea how, just right place/right time) who helped me with my stuff, but it was not pretty. Upon leaving, I saw men fully changing outside of their tent. Later found out that my friend Ryan had all of his cold weather gear lost and ended up wearing a HUGE windbreaker… not ideal for a dude who’s really into being aero.

Wore:

Same wet sports bra (easier T1, not so smart though)
IronMinx Jackroo bike kit
Jackroo arm warmers
Target women’s knee socks fashioned into arm warmers
Oiselle clear run/bike vest
New Pearl Izumi full-fingered gloves
Smartwool short socks
Cannondale neoprene toe covers
Specialized BG bike shoes
Smith sunglasses

Should have added knee warmers, at a minimum. Another outer layer on top would have also been good, in addition to warmer gloves and something else on my feet. And maybe an ear warmer or hat.

Bike: JUST MAKE IT AROUND TO BROCKWAY SO I CAN GET WARM
I knew the course pretty well – it’d be flat/rolling for a while. Some small climbs in Truckee, then around to the Big Climbs at Brockway and Martis Camp. I knew that I needed to get around past mile 40 to the climbs, I would probably make it… as long as I also forced myself to eat and drink – even when it was hard to unwrap frozen Bonk Breaker bars on the bike and I wanted hot tea, not cold Skratch.

Toes and fingers thawed out around the halfway point. I think I ditched my vest at some point because the plastic-y coated fabric was a little too warm on the climbs, maybe also lost the fakey sock armwarmers – kept everything else (there was a drop section where you could get your gear back – special needs bags were not returned).

Saw some friends on the bike – Heather, Ryan, Kevin, Jamie. Lots of great spectators and tons of people I knew! Graeme, Tiffany, Stefan, and Scott in Truckee. Steve was out with his parents – great to see him coming back into Squaw at the end. Matt & Liza were at the swim/bike transition – good to get early love, too. Kate, Laura, and Lara – tutu much! Caren – on Brockway, driving so she could get back to Kevin.

T2: LET’S DO THIS
Compared to T1, T2 was super chill. I had a volunteer to myself, as expected. I got to pick through my gear and select as needed, apply some sunscreen, no big deal.

Wore:

IronMinx (Jackroo) run singlet
Same sports bra
Athleta running skirt
Smartwool socks (perhaps the same ones as on the bike?)
Same Smith sunglasses, eventually stored on top of my visor
North Face Ion Blue run visor
Brooks Pure Cadence shoes
Yanks speed laces
Kinesys sunscreen
Mini Aquaphor on hand for chafing needs
Run: BROTH AND COKE
Started the run with the sun still up, but not terribly high in the sky. Got my butt out there and just started picking off miles. Slowly. Fortunately, no real low points here. I walked the aid stations and started in around mile five (?) -ish on a good Coke & chicken broth regimen. Totally worked. Even if I didn’t want to see Coke or broth again for a really long time.

Grabbed arm warmers, mini gloves, and an ear warmer from my special needs bag early on (you pass it twice on the course). Left the ear thing and the gloves with a volunteer somewhere with about six miles to go since I was nearing the finish and it was clear that someone would be able to use my stuff.

Spectator support was so key! Jenni’s parents were out there on an aid station. Kate and Lara with their light up tutus and Ryan Gosling posters. Steve and Bob. Steve, seemingly everywhere. Graeme, Tiff, Stefan, & Scott found a time portal so they could catch me back-to-back by cutting off a corner in the course. Mary’s mom and her IronMinx/Go!Running poster. AND seeing so many of my Minxes on the out and back part of the run course.

Seriously though, key here was slow and steady, walk through aid and pick up both broth and Coke. Could I have run faster? I don’t know. Maybe… but I also did not blow up at any point along the way.

AND THEN FINISH

!!!!!

And then get really, really, really cold. Steve and his many puffy jackets were true rockstars here. He bundled me up and got me upstairs to our room where I took a hot, hot shower. Got some hot chocolate. And pizza. And hung out on the balcony where we could see the finishers chute! So rad!

The numbers…
RACE SUMMARY
Swim 01:24:03
Bike 07:33:12
Run 04:33:01
Overall 13:50:30

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 47

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 2.4 mi 01:24:03 01:24:03 02:10/100m 47 255 1173

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 33

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 112 mi 07:33:12 09:10:40 14.83 mph 33 178 1028

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 26

SPLIT NAME DISTANCE SPLIT TIME RACE TIME PACE DIVISION RANK GENDER RANK OVERALL RANK
Total 26.2 mi 04:33:01 13:50:30 10:25/mi 26 122 751

Transition Details

T1: Swim-to-bike 00:13:25
T2: Bike-to-run 00:06:49
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