Back in late March, I raced the Oceanside 70.3 triathlon and earned a qualification slot to the World championships this September. The communication to Geoff went something like this: “Um, hey Honey, I, um qualified for the World Championships which coincides with our wedding anniversary so we are going to, um, VEGAS…..? I knew what Geoff was thinking….Sin City sans the “Sin”….what a buzzkill.
I arrived in Vegas the Thursday afternoon before the race. I had lived briefly in Vegas back in 2008, so the heat was not a surprise. It was windy and well over 100 degrees. I might as well have sat down in a convection oven. I was tempted to run over to Whole Foods, grab an egg, and crack it on the asphalt-I like them sunny side up afterall.
Friday was business as usual; a half an hour swim and a jog of almost 1 loop of the run course (about 30 minute). It was already 95 degrees by 7:15 a.m. I hit the awesome Henderson Whole Foods twice (not to buy eggs but to indulge in one of their 6 green smoothie choices–healthy eating heaven)! Geoff flew in Friday night and we stayed up until 10:30 socializing with some other racers I hadn’t seen in years. Did enjoy a couple of glasses of wine……….
On Saturday, I did the requisite bike-and-run equipment drop. There were two tranisitons spaced 12 miles apart so logistically this was a little more of a pain than usual. I heeded to the advice of my coach and had a “no-salad and vegetable” day. Well, almost…….I *heart* kale.
Leslie Myer’s Beige Food Day (Saturday’s pre-race food intake)
- 3 extra large cups of Green Tea with Steamed Soy Milk (throughout the day)
- 29 Rice Crackers (or some high random number like that)
- 2 handfuls of quinoa flakes
- 1 Rice Cake with a little Peanut Butter
- 1 Pure Fit bar
- 1 GF waffle with Maple Syrup
- 1.5 Cups Quinoa with some Gimme Lean ground taco “meat” stuff
- 1 Kale and Fruit smoothie (from Whole Foods)
- 2 GT’s Kombucha
- 2 Sushi rolls with GF tamari and wasabi—did you know that Nori is a great source of potassium?
- 2 rice cakes with strawberry jam
Race Day Up at 4:00 a.m. I sat on the floor and ate 3 GF waffles with VT maple syrup and a cold baked potato which I had pirated from the welcome dinner on Friday. I followed my usual prerace ritual of a popping an Immodium (to counter all of sure-to-be forthcoming GI stress) a hot bath and leg shaving. I shave my legs everyday—for me it’s like brushing my teeth as I feel icky when I don’t. I wondered if anyone else ever finds that one stray ½ inch long hair down by the anklebone that manages to elude the 28 or so passes that I’ve made with a razor over the last month…..Anyhoo, enough random thoughts. At 5:00 a.m., Geoff drove me down to the transition area. There was not one time during the pre race or race for that matter that I was nervous. Hung out in transition; let about 6 other racers use my headlamp; chatted up some people; got some sunscreen slathered on me; used the portapottie and dropped my morning clothes bag. All and all pretty uneventful.
Swim 34:05 The swim went off with out a major hitch. I did a little “Tour de Lake” and towed a couple of gals with me. One had really long scratchy fingernails and she kept hitting my feet. I wanted to stop and give her a pair of nail clippers. I did manage to run into one of the bridge pilings on the way back. Got out of the water and ran (what seemed like) a ½ mile transition run. It was pretty slippery and I’m sure that more than a few racers wiped out—can’t WTC pony up enough money to cover the entire grass area with indoor/outdoor carpeting?) Got out of transition as fast as I could. I was 10th out of the water which wasn’t too bad but I was hoping for about 1 minute faster. Shouldn’t hit the bridge…LOL
Bike 3:0xxlong No, that is not a typo. Maybe I should have added “to the nth power” as my bike took forEVEH! I was pedaling pretty well for the first 40 miles; staying aero, etc, and my power output looked good. I was thinking to myself that Kurt would have been so proud! A mile or two before we headed back out of Lake Mead, my power dropped by about 15-20 watts. And, considering that my power output is low to begin with, that is a lot. Dang. As I entered onto the highway, I thought that I had a relatively flat road to make up some time. WRONG. My left upper leg and hip was so stiff and sore. For the next 12 miles I was pedaling slow and getting up out of my aero position and stretching. I was trying to think of what I could do in my future training session to keep my entire a$$ from always hurting on the bike! WTF, stay in the moment, Les. I finally snapped out of it by mile 52 (but not before getting passed by 6 or 7 gals in my age group). I cruised in with one of the slowest bike times I’ve ever ridden in a half Ironman. I had dropped to 20th place. The only good news was that I managed my fluid and caloric intake well. I had about 180 ounces of fluid and about 900 calories.
Run 1:46:05 The run course basically consists of 6 uphills and 6 downhills over 3 loops. Each loop was about 4.4 miles. I was so nervous about feeling crappy like I did in Ironman Lake Placid that I took it easy the first loop. Probably too easy. But the good news was that I felt great. And that feeling continued during the entire run. So many athletes were literally withering away in the heat. The most humorous moment of the day took place when I was cresting over the back of the pavilion at the end of the first loop. Dave, the announcer, was apologizing to the crowd for the ATHLETE TRACKER going down on the Ironman.com website. I started laughing hysterically because I’ve never been online tracking a race when the Athlete Tracker HASN’T crashed. C’mon Ironman.com, get your I.T. s*&% together–it’s 2012. At each aid station I grabbed water, stuffed ice down my shorts and top, and took a big swig of cola. I took in one energy gel about ½ way. I did manage to pick off a fair number of women in my age group. I only had one negative moment; there was a guy on a bike pacing another runner. I caught up to them and asked him if he was a course official. He said no so I told him to get off the course and to stop pacing his athlete. He said that he wasn’t pacing so I replied (well, yelled) something to the effect of “get off the course, D-BAG!”. Seriously….
In hindsight, if I am able to yell at someone on the course at mile 10, then I am not racing hard enough. I finally picked it up to a 6 minute mile for the last downhill mile. I ran myself into 7th place. Not bad; a top 10 and top 10% of the field finish (I was hoping for top 10), but I honestly felt that I could have run another 13 miles. I’m not trying to play the coulda-shoulda-woulda game. I had some gas in the tank left and that is not proper execution. I’m filing this away for Kona in 5 weeks where hopefully I will finish fast and on just this side of the medical tent.
I was shuttled through the food tent by the volunteers, but wasn’t quite ready for Krispy Kreme donuts and pizza. I found Geoff and we made our way over to the massage tentwhere there were a ton of massage therapists on hand. I had not one, but two therapists working on me and they were GOOD. If you are in Henderson, go see Albert at Massage Envy. He’s got the hands, baby! It was a PG-rated “Happy Ending” to a solid race.
Geoff and I had a good time afterwards. We got cleaned up and went to the pre-awards dinner. Which at best was a poor showing of culinary execution—WTC, can you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give me and Foodsense, Now the food contracts for these events—I promise you that the food would be racer-friendly and SO MUCH BETTER. Geoff basically had chips and guacamole for $30 because the food was so horrendous. We sat with 2nd place finisher Kelly Williamson and her family-they were really nice and tons of fun.
On Monday we asked for a late checkout; got massages and took our time getting out of town. I was in true Americana spirit and went to the breakfast buffet (although I took in my own maple syrup for the French toast because the Log Cabin stuff just wouldn’t cut it). I topped off my day off of not-so-healthy eating with “vegetarian” In and Out Burgers and Fries oh-so “Animal Style” (“vegetarian” meaning everything but the patty) and a couple of high octane brews at Stone Brewing Company.
Here’s are some thoughts on Vegas 70.3 Ironman World Championships
- Not sure why they hold a race in September when it is predictable that it will be around 100 degrees. Race Directors have been cancelling marathons all year as venue thermostats were predicted to hit 15 degrees lower.
- The venue, while okay for racers; is horrible for spectators insofar as there is no respite from the heat. I can’t imagine hauling a family around while watching a racer on a day when it is 105 degrees.
- Finishers’ shirts and awards are unimaginative and look the same as they do for most WTC events–how about something a little more germain to Las Vegas?
- Need an air-conditioned tent for post race food and relaxation. Nobody really felt like eating immediately after crossing finish. Let us gather our breath, maybe a massage and then enjoy some food. In a cool spot.
- Need more aid stations on the bike. I barely, and I mean barely, had enough fluid from station to station. And I drank a flippin’ 160 ounces of fluid
- The awards dinner food was sooooooooo bad.
- Hotel rooms are cheap and plentiful
- The Henderson Multigen center is a great facility—the pool is awesome
- Whole Foods Henderson is one of the best. I shopped there 6 times in 3 days.
So it is on through the last 4 week push until Kona. I am procrastinating the workouts today but I’ll get them done. After Kona I’m going to focus on some strength and running a few winter races. And most likely a cookbook.