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.
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 –
Hamburgers are also a great source of Iron and a lovely Sunday recovery dinner. Props to Kwik Way in Oakland!
Swim: NOT COLD
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
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
Run: BROTH AND COKE
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!
SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 47
|SPLIT NAME||DISTANCE||SPLIT TIME||RACE TIME||PACE||DIVISION RANK||GENDER RANK||OVERALL RANK|
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|
It was about time I had a really crappy race. Big picture, this wasn’t even that bad. I just have certain expectations for myself – and those expectations were not met out there on May 4.
- The fast swimmers in the wave behind me didn’t catch me until I was halfway through!
- Very little freak-out, breathing was much improved over my Olympic in April
- Since it was fast approaching 90-100deg F and had been all week, the water was not cold at all
- Rumor is that the swim was a wee bit long
- Poor sighting/judgement on the second half – seemed like the crowd was swimming closer to the shore, I was trying to follow them, but also stay along the buoy line. Should have just picked one and stuck to it.
- Crowded finish with the mountain bike sprint fast swimmers coming in around the same time
- Felt great up to about mile 30. Average speed was good, enough to carry me through Nasty Grade and still maintain a pretty decent overall average. That’s until mile 30.
- Nasty Grade, Heart Rate hill. Not bad at all. I had done Mt Diablo x2 the weekend before, also in the heat. Definitely made these shorter climbs seem like nothing.
- They repaved the descent off Nasty Grade. So. Much. Better. (Even though I didn’t know this until I was already on it and taking it way easy.)
- The mountain bike sprint started 15 minutes after my wave. So in addition to finishing up the swim with these guys, I had to start the bike with them. The first couple miles are all together, which was seriously not fun. Men doing a mountain bike sprint + 35+ y/o women on road bikes + bike relay folks = a major cluster fuck on some roads that are pretty twisty.
- First bottle exchange (mile 25?) I did sucked. Got a bottle of Gatorade. Put it in my bottle cage. Leg is getting wet. Huh? Oh yeah, the cap was off and Gatorade was sloshing all over. Tossed the bottle. Sticky leg, lost hydration + electrolytes. Le suck.
- Later, when I tried to get a bottle of water, I ended up with a Gatorade squirty bottle that was too small for my bottle cage. Had to take a gulp and toss it. Also not ideal.
- Crushing headwind that started at mile 30, and sucked away my hard-earned mph
- HOT. Headwind was like a furnace
I found out later that they ran out of water at the top of Nasty Grade. Total BS. I really feel bad for those riders, mostly women, who were there after me. Shame on Tri California. They’ve put on this event for over 30 years. They should be able to handle this heat better. Other stories of half-filled bottles (because some riders “just squirt it over their heads anyway” – um, as a way to cool down…) also made my blood boil. Made my unscrewed lid bottle seem like nothing.
- I seemed to be faring better than a lot of the other people out there… tough to say if was a good thing.
- Love for the crowd support, help from aid stations, all of the people who did their best to try to cool us down by spraying water on us. I did manage to run through the tri club cheer area, which is always a blast. Props to Steve for chasing me down and spraying me with more water.
- The “Jiffy Lube” aid station at mile 8. COKE. OMG. COKEILOVEYOUCOKE. And Vaseline for my hella chapped and dry lips.
- Furnace temp winds were still in effect through some sections, almost lost my visor a few times.
- Usually I run everything but the super steep section of the hill at mile 4. There was a LOT of walking.
- I wish I had brought salt tabs. My hamstrings were on the verge of cramping for about 75% of the run. I have never had this problem before in training or racing. Yowza!
- They ran out of cups at mile 6. Weren’t sure if there were cups at future aid stations, so I ran with a used cup in my pocket for the next couple of miles. Gross.
- Never wanted to DNF so badly in any other race. Miserable. Absolutely not fun.
What?!? Yes, that’s right. I raced. Let’s discuss.
- Water temperature pretty cool (I’ve read water temps were either 53 or 63, going with 63 – cold, but not miserable). Lake was fairly calm, some breeze.
- Some wind on the bike – was hoping for more of a tailwind on the way back. Of course, that never happens!
- Air temp was probably in the low to mid 80s. Warm, sweaty, but manageable for a shorter race.
Potential race/event list for 2013…
To date, I’m only officially in for the NAPA HITS Olympic in April and IM LT in September, but here’s how I’m potentially filling up the rest of my season:
Sunday, April 14
Napa HITS Olympic tri
* Training day! Goal – get back into triathlons after my hiatus in 2012.
* First triathlon since IM Wisconsin in Sept 2011
* Weather may be an issue (rained in 2012)
* Get to race with three other friends 🙂
* Registration was super cheap before 12/9!
Saturday, May 4
Wildflower Long Course
* Nervous about doing a tough course early on, particularly with my plans to enjoy the snowboarding season
* REAL test of where my fitness is at, since I’ve done this race twice. I hope that I’m close to my times in 2010 and 2011.
* Travel is kind of a PITA, race is expensive… but so much awesome crowd support and a great time to see other SF Tri Club folks and cheer them on, too!
Link, 2011 Race Report
East Bay Triple Crown Challenge
* I did this series last year (on minimal training) and really enjoyed these low-key (mostly trail) races. Great to get to know my EB parks better and get in some runs where I don’t have to worry about route finding, water, etc.
Sunday, May 19? (not posted yet)
Tilden Tough Ten
* Mostly road, with a short trail section
Sunday, June 2?
Lake Chabot Trail Challenge Half Marathon
* Super fun. Mostly trail. Hardest hills are early on in the race, giving you plenty of time to recover. Write up from 2011 race here.
Sunday, June 16?
Woodminister Cross Country
* Great trail run. Felt awesome until I got to a long hill with a LOT of people walking. I just about stopped in my tracks when I heard there was a mile of hill left to the top. Ouch. Nine miles with 1.5 of straight up.
Aside from regular biking, maybe find a fun century for June/July?
Sunday, July 28
Donner Lake Half (?) Ironman Triathlon
* Altitude practice with a $200 price tag that goes up after 12/31/12. Boo. But maybe necessary.
Saturday, July 27
Vineman Full Aquabike
* Distance practice for swim and bike, maybe a little too flat for real training purposes. Likely to be lots of SF Tri folks out there, would be nice to cheer them on as they finish the run part of the full IM distance.
Sunday, August 4
Mount Shasta Summit Century
* FML. I friggin hated this ride in 2011. All the more reason to repeat it in 2013. Altitude, hill climbs, general suffering = preparation for Tahoe.
Fri – Sat, August 23-24
Hood to Coast!
* Fun relay running event with a lovely group of friends. We didn’t get in to the event in 2012 and are psyched that we were selected for the 2013 event 🙂
Maybe find an open water swim to fit in here?
THE BIGGIE… Sunday, September 22
Ironman Lake Tahoe
* WTF altitude.
Wow. Busy, expensive season. At least I already have most of The Gear (super interested in trying out some compression stuff for faster recovery), so it’s just race fees, transportation, and some lodging.
Please let me know if you want to join me or have any advice on my event selection!
The race. It was long and so is this post. Get comfortable.
|BIKE SPLIT 1: 54 mi||54 mi (3:06:05)||17.41 mi/h|
|BIKE SPLIT 2: 94 mi||40 mi (2:30:32)||15.94 mi/h|
|BIKE SPLIT 3: 112 mi||18 mi (55:54)||19.32 mi/h|
|TOTAL BIKE||112 mi (6:32:31)||17.12 mi/h|
Rank – 1270 overall, 44 AG
|RUN SPLIT 1: 8.9 mi||8.9 mi (1:41:06)||11:21/mi|
|RUN SPLIT 2: 13.2 mi||4.3 mi (44:57)||10:27/mi|
|RUN SPLIT 3: 21.95 mi||8.75 mi (1:32:42)||10:35/mi|
|RUN SPLIT 4: 26.2 mi||4.25 mi (41:46)||9:49/mi|
|TOTAL RUN||26.2 mi (4:40:31)||10:42/mi|
Rank – 917/2797, 30/145 AG
Ironman Wisconsin Race Report (part I)
Boring stuff here, mostly… but potentially useful if you’re thinking about doing an Ironman yourself, or going to support a friend.
Wednesday, September 7. Early morning flight, barely four hours of sleep. Steve and I managed to pack my bike into Darin’s bike case and keep it under 50 pounds. This was not easy. Also, I had no idea what to bring with me – or rather, I knew that I wanted to bring EVERYTHING with me. Clothes for training rides and runs, clothes for rain, sleet, snow, sun, more sun. Sunscreen. All the CliffShots in the world. Many water bottles. I ended up flying with pretty much all the clothing I wanted, but decided to buy most of my bars/gels when I got to Illinois.
Arrived at O’Hare around 1pm on Wednesday and was picked up by my mom, sister and my sister’s dog. Wonderful to see them and get to spend time with them – they had no idea what all of this was like and so it took a lot of explaining about all of the steps and the importance of various parts of the weekend. Still, they’re family, so they went along with me and my crazy plans. We stopped at REI for the bars and gels and then took my bike over to a shop that an old friend of the family had recommended. They promised to have JB cleaned up and ready to race by noon on Thursday.
Big scare on Wednesday – got a call that my bike chain was really worn. Worn to the point that I needed a new rear cassette. WTF? This bike is only 18 months old! My old bike’s (a triple, not a compact double, used for centuries, but only used for sprint & Olympic distance tris) chain seemed to last for close to three years before needing a new chain. Guess I rode a lot. Um, okay. Fix it. And replace the new cassette. This was a really tough call because I wasn’t really having issues shifting, but now that they told me that it was in need of repair, I’d be stressed about it. Of course, they only had a Dura Ace rear cassette in stock. Rad. I always wanted a super high-end rear cassette. And have loads of money sitting around for one. Oh well.
Thursday, Sept 8 – picked up the rental car, picked up my bike and headed to Wisconsin. Managed to get up there in time to be the LAST PERSON to go through registration. Weighed in at 125.2 pounds. Not the 120 I originally planned for race day. Again, oh well. My mom was very patient while I went through all the steps and then at the very end, Cara Peck, one of my best friends, was waiting for me! (She and her boyfriend were visiting Wisconsin for a wedding and football game and stayed an extra day to cheer for me on Sunday. Awesome friends.) Pretty chill night. Short 30 minute jog along the lake. Mom and I went on a walk. It was warm, but in the 80s – not the 90s!
Friday, Sept 9 – Went to the Ironman store and spent too much money (for a bike kit that kind of looks like it’s for the Texas Longhorns, not so much IMoo) and waited in a long line. Met up with Cara Peck, who supervised me while I enjoyed a swim in the lake. Mom and I drove the bike course and I got out and did a little ride, just to stretch my legs, go through my bike gears and test some of the hills. I had hoped to do a longer ride on Thursday (per coach’s recommendations and based on what my friends did at IM Canada), but didn’t have enough time. Regardless, the drive gave me a pretty good idea of the course – some really nice roads, some crappy roads, lots of hills, no mountains… AND WITH COWS!!!!! HOLLA!
I missed my training buddies and thought about how different it would be to have a house filled with other Ironman hopefuls. I imagine that it could have been kind of stressful – lots of nerves in one place, everyone wanting to make sure their stuff is set up how they want it… but then you don’t feel bad about dragging someone out for a long drive to see a bike course, or for your constant need for small snacks, or all the waiting and preparing of gear bags and figuring out how to freeze bottles in a hotel room (enough racers and you can rent a house), etc. You also get to get a table with all your friends at the pre-race briefing (boring for those not racing) and pre-race dinner.
Mandatory pre-race briefing & dinner –
Pre-race briefing – safety, course outline, drafting rules. Pretty normal stuff. Good to get it all tucked in the brain, even though I’m going to need all of the help the volunteers can offer when it comes to what to do in transition so I don’t get lost in giant Monona Terrace!
We were treated to some great speakers during dinner, including the announcer who tells everyone “You Are An Ironman” as they cross the finish. Interviews with the oldest and youngest racers and a couple who does the whole thing together.
And – we finally learned how the race director was going to handle the fact that this race is on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. All first-responders (police, fire, emt, military) were given VIP seats at the dinner. They also got special bibs so they could be identified at the race with special bike racks just behind the pros. Additionally, they auctioned off, at $4000, a poster that was signed by all the pros and first responders. Money went to a charity associated with the Madison Police Department. While I’m sure there were other people commemorating the day in their own way, a local fire fighter who helped on 9/11 was very public about his cause – does races in a normal wetsuit, then changes into an orange polka dot bike jersey to remind Wisconsinites about organ donation (that’s the symbol on the WI drivers license) and then runs in his FULL fire uniform. Which weighs 100 pounds. WOW. For more info on Robert V and Code 3 for a Cure, click here.
Overall, a very positive way to remember 9/11 – by giving thanks to those who helped, instead of those who did harm.
Saturday, Sept 10 – Woke up to a farmer’s market right on the capital square! Walked around a little, had some breakfast and realized that the weekend was heating up. I had high hopes for a low-80s kind of Sunday. Oh well. I forced myself to drink lots of water on Saturday and kept my bottle close by as I did the last few Ironman tasks before Sunday – needed to drop off my bike and my transition bags at Monona Terrace.
Monona Terrace is this giant, Frank Lloyd Wright designed (but not built until after he died) convention center, conveniently located near Lake Monona, one of the three lakes in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital. At IM Wisconsin, your transitions do not happen outside in a tent, parking lot or field – it’s very civilized. You go INSIDE to one of the many big conference rooms, get your bag, then go to another room (men/women) to change. Head back outside and get on your merry biking or running way. Still, seeing thousands of these bags covering the conference rooms was mind-blowing. Overwhelmed, I went back to the hotel to take a nap.
The rest of the day involved very little walking, just some prep for Sunday – bottles, special needs bags, and then an early dinner. My latest pre-race dinner has been some sort of non/low gluten noodle/grain with meat/turkey + marinara sauce. Gnocchi totally fit the bill and I was magically able to score us a table for 4:45pm. After a nice walk back to the hotel, I sent my mom out to the casino with her friends and tried to get some sleep.
Steve, my boyfriend, who had to attend a funeral in Utah on Saturday, managed to just wake me up for a second when he arrived around 2am. What a sweetheart.
Race day report to follow.
Real race report to come. I was fortunate to take a post-Ironman vacation to Maui with my boyfriend and his family. I mostly unplugged from electronic devices and enjoyed the outdoors with some snorkeling, canyoneering, hiking and swimming. Nice way to come off of the IM high, for sure (though next time I’d add some more “beach-laying”…Steve did *not* just do Ironman and had plenty of energy for adventures).
A few things to leave you with…
- Finished in 12:52, had kind of thought that 13 hours sounded like a good target, so that’s pretty great
- Told myself I didn’t want to do another
- Now considering St George
- Also considering sticking with 70.3 distance races, maybe shorter stuff
- I’m not quite sure what to do for now – I want to maintain some of my fitness and I like being active, but I’m debating jumping right back in to full-on triathlete mode and switching gears to do Crossfit and climbing and maybe masters swimming (I kind of laughed at a friend’s suggestion to go to spin tonight, guess I’m not ready for that one)
- If you’re considering Ironman, give it a shot. It’s a tough road of training. Really tough. There were plenty of days that I did not want to train. I couldn’t skip out every time I wanted a day off. But I’m really happy I did it anyway.