Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Race Report
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Club Member: Will Mudd
Race: Silverman Half
Distance: Half - Ironman
Race Date: 11/08/09
Submit Date: 11/16/09

Last weekend I did the Silverman Half in Henderson NV, just outside Vegas. It was a great race experience that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys hills and is inspired by scenic views on the course. To make up for all the climbing Silverman competators are well taken care of. The race was sponsored by hammer, so they had those gels to pass out as well as all the usual stuff. There was also coke available on the run which I have found to be very helpful for getting home. Silverman's swag and edibles are worth mentioning. This years race packet included many actually useful and seemingly high dollar items, including a 5 year anniversary backpack, hammer pill bottle full of endurolytes, and many other fun bits for triathletes. The food tent was on this same level serving brunch on Saturday during check in with buffet trays full of pancakes and sausage. There was cereal, yogurt, milk, donuts, bagels and good coffee. The race is also sponsored by the local Granola Girls Gourmet Granola company. They make very tasty and healthy granola. I was told to take as many sample packs as I wanted, and did, and plan to order some when I run out. Yum! The post race fair was more hot trays full of veg or meat pasta, cold risotto and bean salad, pizza, soup, chili, and sweet stuff. The race itself went well for me. It is a seriously challenging course, add 10-40 minutes to your Wildflower time. I was only 7 minutes up on my WF time and see that as a sign of my much improved fitness since May. Race morning for the Half distance competitors was luxuriously unrushed because the full distance wave started first at 7 am. We didn't go until 8:30 which meant that we got to watch the full people start and saw many of them finish all while lazily attending to our race morning set up and bathroom needs. Luckily this year was beautiful weather so we were lounging in the sun waiting for our start. Not so at all last year, so I hear. Start delayed then do to thunderstorms. The swim itself is in Lake Mead, the lake created by the Hoover Damn, which is just down the road. It was smooth water and perfect temperature for us. The only hic up was a tire island (and island made out of used car and truck tires) that had drastically drifted after they set up the course buoys so that the mass start basically got put through a funnel at 200 meters, before we had spread out. Yes it was a mess, sardine city, not fun but not long before we were through and could get into our rhythm. I like to tell myself that the fact that I got the same exact swim time that I got the previous two halfs I've done this year means I'm getting faster in the water....because the funnel thing must have cost all of us that could not sprint to the front some valuable time. Either way swimming is still mine to master. For that same reason I am always happy to get on the bike and this race was no exception. i had traveled out the Henderson a month earlier to preview the bike and run course, glad I did. The entire bike/run is a series of up hills and down hills the only variation being the grade. It is harder to acquire a rhythm riding this stuff. You climb slow and descend fast only to hit another slow climb again. The upside of this terrain is all the beautiful views at the swim start, before you swim, and then the first 30 miles of the bike which was in a National Park. I knew from my pre view the physical challenges of the bike and was gifted the benefit of not having to deal with what I had expected to be the worst mental challenge of the race, the wind. When I pre viewed the course there was so much wind I could hardly stay up right. It was the kind of wind that was stunning, hard to make progress and even harder to stay focused. I did 6 hours in that wind and had to call the brick run off because I was so dazed at the end. I did do the run the next day though and could hardly stay upright then either. I heard on the radio winds were reaching up to 60 mph that weekend. Anyway none of that on race day which gave me a mental boost. I did my first irnoman this year and worked very hard to acquire the proper internal gear to get through an event like that. I did get through it and had actually given it so much attention that I had decided to not sign up for any major races after, not at the time being able to even conceive of life after Ironman. As it turns out life after ironman without other races to focus on is a bit of a let down, hence Silverman. My primary goal for this race was to loose the internal ironman gearing. That is, my goal was to go fast, to push, to let it hang out a bit, maybe not on the ragged edge just yet but much more than you are aloud as a newbie to endurance racing. I tried to go fast at Malibu but couldn't get out of my own way. It turns out that shorter and faster is a different skill, which is nice, all the more subtle intricacies of the sport to get to know. I came into Silverman having done enough speedwork to have given my heart and legs some range. For the first time since I started triathlons two years ago I raced with the confidence that I could definitely finish this thing and the only question was how fast. I felt good to let go a little bit, to work the bike and not hold back, to let my legs burn and my heart race and just held it. I backed off when I had to to recover, then I pushed again. I heard a woman counting off competitors as we left T1, she was around 94 when I passed her. I passed a number of people on the bike in the first 15-20 mile and knew I must be towards the front. Being a slower swimmer I am used to be way back in the pack, fighting through the mane body of competitors for most of the race. This was a small enough event (388 finishers), and I had made up enough ground on the bike that for the fist time I was not in that position. Kind of cool. Kind of different. There was a lot of space between racers now and everyone I caught or passed was of a stronger caliber. I got passed back many times at this point. Coming off the bike I felt good, but a quarter mile in I stitched on the right side. It stuck with me for the first 5 miles and I had to walk the first 4 aid stations. Race experience gained. When you hammer the bike you pay on the run. Of course I knew that intellectually before. Now I have lived it. Later I was told that when your on the limit like that, every minute gained on the bike is two minutes lost on the run. Seems about right in this case. Still hitting the bike hard was fun. I relaxed as much as I could on the run and just let my training take over. I got passed by some guys who I had passed on the bike, lesson learned. One of those guys was simply in a different gear. I love to see that. Me and this 23 year old battled hard on the bike. He finally cracked and I passed him for good giving him words of praise for his strong riding and thinking he was young and had to learn this lesson. He was one of the ones who passed me on the run but he was such a fluid fast runner there was no way in hell I could have ever kept up with him, stitch or no stitch. He showed me something, something I will take with me from this race. He showed me that more is possible. The human body is capable of running really fast, even up hill. A nice moment on the run comes on your way back into town, about mile 9 when you crest a hill and run down the back side. Vegas is directly in your line of sight, way off in the distance. That view really shows how Vegas was set up right in the middle of a desert valley. It looked so remote there on the run, just a bunch of buildings in a basin. I was definitely hurting by the end of this race but my training, and Coke, got me to the finish. I checked the results to find myself 5th in ag. Dang 30 somethings are fast. Talking to one of the other racers in the food tent we found out that he had mistakenly, and unknowingly, cut out a good part of the run. As soon as he realized what had happened he got up to tell the race directors, didn't even hesitate, ya gatta love that. I don't know what his age group was or if there were 30-34 pros in front of me but Monday morning had me 3rd in ag and 19 overall. A very satisfying result for my last race of the season and my first real podium in triathlon. So now for the first time in two years I am not training. Three weeks suggested rest from coach. Sounds good to me. I look forward to next year.

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