Last week Adelaide and I fled the first taste of Boulder’s fall and retreated to Henderson, Nevada to race Silverman. Adelaide came to cheer me on and help out. It was hot, sunny, and I soaked up the good weather as much as I could. I’m an endless summer type of person. If it’s below 80 degrees, I’m grumbling. I’m usually grumbling if it’s over 80 degrees too, but that’s because I’m a jerk.
Our hosts, Ron and Julie, gave some tips about the course and also lived a convenient four blocks away from a 38-mile-long bike path that looped through the desert, which is where Adelaide and I headed the next morning. Here are some pictures of us before we parted and Adelaide got super lost and almost died of dehydration in a multitude of CVS parking lots.
We went for a swim that afternoon after Adelaide straggled back in from the ride. I did a 100 in 1:11 without too much difficulty. A few days before I did 1:09, which for me is blazing fast. Previously, my fastest 100 yards was 1:18 going all out, and a 1:22 was usually all I could muster on a good day. You can probably tell where my brain was going after seeing such a big improvement—into super, ultra, over-confidence mode. Shit, I probably wouldn’t even have to try in the swim.
Side note: the fast guys can do two miles at a faster pace than I can sprint 100 yards. Also, this race probably had the deepest field that I’d competed in. I knew this, yet I still thought I’d do well in the swim and win the overall race.
Two days later at the crack of dawn, we started to a gun shot. And within two minutes I was dropped from all but one guy. There went my good swim. Despite having clear skies and clear water, it felt like swimming in the middle of a storm. Calling it “choppy” doesn’t do justice. The wind was tearing across Lake Mead from the south, creating one and a half foot tall waves.
The water was so rough that for a moment I began fearing for other people’s lives. I couldn’t imagine things going well for the 50+ age group women trying to swim through this and the chaos of 1,600 other people. I legitimately thought that someone would drown. Though to be fair, up until recently I was getting passed by 50+ year-old women at the rec center all the time, so maybe the fear should have been saved for myself.
I gasped for air in the chop, trying to stay on the feet of my buddy. My form went to complete shit. It was as if I’d forgotten everything I’d learned in the last six months. There was too much to concentrate on. I’d forget to kick, which meant my feet would begin to sink and drag. This was the first non-wetsuit race I’d done, which made kicking all that more important. I’d notice my feet dragging and correct that, but then lose sight of the guy’s bubbles in front of me and frantically try to chase back on to his draft. Then I’d miss a breath and gulp a mouthful of water. Then I’d realize that I was just bulldozing through the water without any body rotation or bend in my arms or wrists. For me it’s hard enough to focus on good form in a pool, let alone a lake with that kind of chop. About 10 minutes in, my lungs began cramping from breathing so hard.
By the half way point the lead woman passed us like we were standing still. Five minutes later a large pack of women blew by. I tried to get onto the back of them but they were way too fast for me. I did make sure to sprint around the other guy a hundred meters before the finish so I wasn’t last out of the water.
With a time of 35:55, I was 11 minutes slower than the first guy out of the water. Some spectator told me to “just calm down and take a few deep breaths” since I was gasping for air like a 12-year-old giving birth.
After crashing into some barriers coming out of T1, I finally got clipped in and began doing what I know how to do. Sort of. Actually, even riding didn’t feel good. I couldn’t get my power even close to what I’d hoped for and my weak glutes were soon destroyed. And that was just getting out of the parking lot.
As I neared the turn around, I began counting how many guys were in front of me. 26. There had been 30 starters. Things did not look good. The wind continued howling on the way back into town and I caught a few more guys with legs even more pitiful than mine. I passed the lead woman at mile 40, not having been aware that she was still ahead of me from the swim. Whatever. I chalked it up to a small victory since that meant I was now 24th on the road.
I came into T2 pretty destroyed. Despite only averaging 270 watts, I was hurting something fierce. The wind and 5,000+ feet of elevation gain had only prolonged the agony. I’d originally picked this race out as one that I’d do well in since the bike leg is one of the most challenging in North America, but some days you just don’t have it, and you can’t fake it in triathlon. My swim was awful and my ride was weak. The only thing left to redeem myself was the run.
I gave up about a mile into the run. I didn’t full on quit, per say, but I slowed down to a “comfortable” pace and held it there for the duration, averaging 6:13 per mile. This excellent decision came after I realized that I was 20 odd minutes behind the leader and 10 or so minutes behind 10th place. The race only paid eight deep, and I didn’t have the mental fortitude to continue killing myself for 13th or what have you. What I’m trying to say is that I’m weak-willed and only in it for the money.
Despite caving, I was happy with myself for not getting too upset about being so slow and throwing a temper tantrum. I had fun during the run, if that’s possible, and made faces at Adelaide whenever I saw her cheering me on from the side. Plus, look how color-coordinated I accidentally happened to be. I mean, come on. I looked goooood.
I came in 17th and Adelaide and I both got a free massage and lunch. Plus, like every Ironman race, I got a sweet mesh backpack, hat, shirt, and a finisher’s medal that weighs 18 and a half pounds. None of that will go directly to GoodWill, I swear.
Next up is Los Cabos. Adelaide is doing the full and I’m doing the half. Redemption is just three weeks away. Time to remain utterly serious.
Dear Ironman, please send $10 to reimburse my entrance fee into Lake Mead so I that was able to get to the race start. I prefer paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for not being cheap,