Place: 228/239, 4:45:28
Swim + T1: 0:27:29, Bike + T2: 3:50:35, Run: 0:27:24
Course: 750m swim, 31k MTB, 5k run
I was not ready for this, it was too cold, and overall not an enjoyable experience. Had I been more than a novice MTB’r, and had the weather been like that of Sunday, I probably would have enjoyed the race. However, between the weather and my poor performance, I’m disappointed in the race for myself. I’m not sure whether I will do this race again next year, but if I do, it’ll only be if I train considerably more than I did this year.
I got roused from bed at 10pm the night before by Amanda for good reason… it had started to snow (see the pic above). What a great way to start a race. :-/ Fortunately, one of my co-workers had forewarned me of the possibility, and I had stopped at REI on my way to race day and picked up $200 of cold weather gear. If not for this, there would be no way I would have even finished.
The morning of the race was freezing, as expected. Reading race reports and hearing from friends, it was still sub-30 degrees when I got out to the venue (6:30am). The night low was 20 degrees, and the day high was 52. Ugh. Getting ready, my feet and hands were already going numb, which isn’t a good sign. Just look at the ice collecting on my bike seat while waiting.
The venue, Incline Village NV, was great. It’s close to some perfect MTB trails, the beach access was good, and while the distance from beach to transition was long, for a MTB venue, it’s a great spot. Go figure, since it was picked as a championship venue. Our cabin was only two blocks from the start, so it was perfect for walking to and from the venue as needed.
When the water in Lake Tahoe is warmer than the air, and you’d rather stand in the water than on the beach, something’s a bit wrong. It was actually painful standing barefoot on the wet sand, and I was amazed that the warmup swim was more enjoyable than standing around waiting.
The great part about the swim is the water clarity. When diving Tahoe, I’ve seen vis >200ft, the maximum distance possible in water. For swimming, this meant sighting was a breeze; I could see the swimmers 10 feet in front of me. It also meant that an no point in the swim could you not see the lake bottom. A bit eerie at 50 feet, but I really enjoyed that part of the swim!
As far as swim results, the lack of T1 separation, the extra time in T1 to ready myself for cold, and the run up the hill in shoes that didn’t work mean I really don’t know how I did in my swim relative to my expectations. It felt fine, not a great performance, but altitude breathing was a factor, and I think my time was adequate. I’d expect 15 minutes for myself, and add in the run and T1, and I probably did 18 minutes.
Here’s where it gets sketchy. For those that don’t know me, understand that this was my fourth mountain bike ride… ever. Lesson 1) road biking does not equate to mountain biking. My legs were far from ready for the constant and persistent climbing from the lake to above the tree line. I rode most of the first climb, but the next three major climbs were more hiking than biking, and one surprise hike after some downhills cramped my quads so badly that I had to stop to stretch them for five minutes. Lesson 2) if you can no longer shift because your fingers are so cold, and you worry about losing finger tips to frostbite, it’s too cold to ride. I bought the most cold-weather gloves Pearl Izumi makes, leg warmers, arm warmers, ear warmers, toe covers, and borrowed a friend’s wind breaker (thanks Harry!). Most of that gear was enough to survive and stay reasonably comfortable, except for my hands, which made me miserable and feeling unsafe. There was snow across almost every inch of the course, except for the final ride down the flume trail, and the area above the tree line.
I did find that I had less problems with my cleats and pedals than most other walkers. I could knock enough stuff off of my cleats in one smack against my pedals to clip in every time. That’s one nice thing in favor of the Candy’s (that and I use them on my road bike, so I didn’t have to learn to clip in/out).
The course was beautiful, the views, amazing (as long as you didn’t get distracted and fall off the cliff). In the picture to the left, you can see the trail we rode across on the far left. The picture was taken the following day, so imagine this same trail covered in snow, and this was the first portion of the ride. Beautiful, scenic, and a bit scary.
In short: I was not ready for this bike, and it shows. I did average on everything else, but was 7th to last in the bike for the recorded finishers. All I can say is that I DID finish, on the course that’s for the pros, in weather that was extreme.
Not much to say about this. Running is my favorite sport, the course was nice, though quite a tease as they took you near the finish, then off for another half mile before you actually finished, so I really enjoyed this leg. My pacing was not great for me, but okay (just under 9’s), and I enjoyed finally warming up my numb and cold body. I actually threw on my glove liners and ran with them to try and gain feeling back into my fingers as I ran.
It was a fun run, a great short course, and part of me wishes I had done the 10k trail run and just that.
And yes, I did sport STC colors 🙂
The Nitty Gritty
Excuse my geekdom here, but I need some relative results, absolute numbers are not enough…