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Race Report
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Club Member: Peter Brantley
Race: 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe
Distance: Sprint
Race Date: 09/22/13
Submit Date: 10/02/13

Race Report Ironman Lake Tahoe Sept 22nd 2013 Stats: AG 45 - 49 Swim 1:36 / T1 35:03 / Bike 7:55 / T2 12:31 / Run 5:15 I am writing this race report to journal my experience in preparing and completing Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 (IMLT). Please note I am not going to use the term racing in this report, because that is NOT what I was doing even though I was in a race. I will not discuss racing details (my wattage plan in detail I had one, but it is not that important). My competitor in this event was me, my ability, the course, the environment, and my sense of humor. The goal of this report is to put my thoughts of the day on paper for myself, and to share with them others. Hopefully this will entertain and perhaps help someone else prepare for this event or another triathlon. But mostly in the future it will be something I can review when I am doubting myself in any kind of a challenge I face in life, and know that I can overcome it. Background: I signed up for IMLT after secretly hoping it would sell out, before I could get to Active.com. I had already done 2 Ironman's and said never again. Too long, I am too slow, too much time, and I like to feel like I am racing in a triathlon. However, I had knee surgery in June 2012 and I did not get to race any big events (Wildflower, Honu 70.3) that I was signed up for. IMLT was announced at the right time and the right place. I spent a lot of time skiing in Squaw Valley as a kid, so it was a VERY special place to me. With Kimberly (my girlfriend's) encouragement, ( and several other friends who we supposed to talk me out of it Oscar G and Rob A) the credit card came out and I signed up at 8 pm. I was excited to go do another Ironman, and the journey to get to the starting line. The Journey: So with me signed up, Kimberly and I planned a vacation to visit Tahoe and take a look at what I was getting myself into, and plan accommodations. * A place in Kings Beach close to the start would be the best option for race morning flexibility. This trip uncovered what would be a tough, but very manageable bike course. Big temperature variations from morning to evening 30s to 80s and back again to 30 at night. However the big problem was SWIMMING at Altitude. I was swim fit, but could not swim more than 50 yards continuously without having to rest. So as usual swimming would be an issue (I am a late in life swimmer). * Training started seriously in Feb 2013. Masters swim 4 to 5 days per wk, running :30 5 to 6 days per week, and then a long bike on the weekends. A last minute trip to Wildflower showed NUTRITION would be an issue and I needed a plan to frame my training. Even though I had raced a dozen 70.3s, I had cut nutrition to such a minimum I was close to a serious bonk at Wildflower. I would need to address this for a 13 to 17 hour day. I bought an off the shelf race training plan from Jim Vance, for a high level athlete that I could cut down to my life schedule and enjoyment of training. 15 to 22 hours per week was what I completed when it was all said and done. I should have run more, but with my time constraints and worry for over use running injury I couldn't. CRASH: A mid June training weekend at the Big Bear Triathlon (SWIMMING at Altitude) resulted in my first bike CRASH, and the result was a dislocated SC Joint (Collar Bone by the Adam's apple) and lots of road rash. The unknown happened, another big race (Vineman 70.3), I could not compete in. IMLT probably not, as I could not lift my arm, SC Joints take a long time to heal. Would I be afraid to ride again? How much training would I miss? Overcoming ADVERSITY, was added to the list of challenges. As an athlete one should always have a SUPPORT SYSTEM because stuff happens. I have a great PT in Julie Guthry Synergy PT in Westchester, Ca who put me back together, and I was swimming in 5 weeks. Because my shoulder was an unknown, my first swim was in Lake Tahoe in July (SWIMMING AT ALTITUDE), and I started very slow as I did not want to hurt it. 2 things happened: I was swimming slow with no pain, and most importantly I was at a pace that allowed me to start SWIMMING AT ALTITUDE . IMLT Prep week: So if you are still with me you will see how I built a list of challenges to overcome for a successful day. I arrived in Kings Beach on Saturday a week before the race, so I could SWIM at ALTITUDE and settle in to prepare for IMLT. The swim scared the S--T out of me. The week was a good vacation from work, and allowed me to play Triathlete. I knew the weather would be a variable so I brought 3 kits lots of arm warmers, cycling booties, knee warmers, 2 cycling jackets (more to wear around town than for IMLT), 2 pair of glasses with 7 lenses. However, the weather was wildly variable 75 with a thundershowers when we arrived, 70s and sunny Sunday, then cold wind and choppy lake Wed and Thursday. The lake water was just plain ass cold, but I was SWIMMING at Altitude. Since Kim was coming up on Thursday, I asked her to bring MORE spandex: Full Leg Warmers and another pair of arm warmers and my old backup wetsuit as my current one was leaking and not fitting right, and I bought a Cycling Beanie. The wetsuit ended up getting replaced BEFORE the race (THANK YOU XTERRA, and several friends with influence in the tri community). Equipement Check in day Saturday: Windy Lake (So no Swimming at Altitude today). Double bag all items in separate bags (Bike: Shoes 1 bag, kit 1 bag, etc) (Run: Kit 1 bag, gels another, shoes and socks etc). Regardless of what the weather is I do this to Keep things out of my race equipment! Since it was raining cats and dogs outside this was an even better idea. IMLT Day: I awoke at 415, had a breakfast of 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 bottle of ensure, and a banana. I didn't count the specific calories but I wanted to get about 1,000 calories in for NUTRITION start on the day. Kim drove us the 1/2 mile to the start at 515. My bike was covered in frost on the seat and brakes. Bag drops took a bit longer than planned, but the Close to the start made this less of an issue, and all bathroom issues were resolved at home (no pre race porta potty lines). Because of the cold, I gave in and put booties on. Gave Kimberly a kiss and got in line to SWIM AT ALTITUDE. The Smart Swim start was great, compared to the mass starts of my previous Ironman CDA in 2007 2008. There was very little contact, and certainly not a log jam at the turn buoy. Kudos to Ironman for this. Swim: The swim is a 2 loop drunk rectangle. 900 down 200 across 900 back 100 across. I choose the 1:20 to 1:30 group, and we walked into the lake and started the swim at our own paces. For me to SWIM AT ALTITUDE with success I must start easy and slow and then build when I find my own pace. Then I can swim hard (I am slow, but I still have different gears and effort levels). The lake on race day was chilly, but not take your breath away cold. The conditions were flat to a bit of chop at the turn buoys. I could not see the buoys on my left very well because of the steam coming off of the lake, and I breath right. However, I could see support on my right so I just followed them as if they were buoys. Unfortunately I started getting hamstring cramps around 400 yards in. I was warm enough so I removed the booties (NOTHING NEW or DIFFERENT ON RACE DAY), as they felt like they were causing additional pressure even though I kick minimally. Within a minute I was holding on to a support Stand Up Paddleboarder and the booties were off and so was I. I am not sure this could have been done with a mass start. I felt much better with the booties off and even though the crampy feeling was there I did not cramp. So lesson learned (NOTHING NEW or DIFFERENT ON RACE DAY). I know you are thinking: well what about the wetsuit??? I have had the same model wetsuit for the last 5 seasons. So it was new, but NOT DIFFERENT. The suit fits me great, and there is a reason I choose an Xterra Vector pro and it is not because they pay me to. The rest of the swim was GREAT, snow capped mountains, sunshine eventually replaced the fog, clear water, and the best part the further away from shore the warmer the water got. However, coming back towards shore it got cold again. Kind of tough on a 2 loop course. T1: Although wetsuit strippers were onsite, I have learned NEVER crack the seal on a wetsuit in the cold until you are truly ready to change. Otherwise instant shaking and cold hands that do not work. The changing tent was VERY crowded, because of the cold weather more people were changing to dry clothing than at most Triathlons. In fact it was packed, but patience and finding a friend who was on the way out, got me a seat quickly where I dried off completely. Those who did put on proper clothing were probably very happy they did. Since I get COLD easy, there was no way I was riding in 37 degree weather wet with lots of skin exposed. That would be miserable and I would burn too many calories trying to stay warm. Since completing and "FINISHING" IMLT was my goal, being warm and comfortable on the bike was important. Original plan over dress. get core temp up and drop extra's at the drop point at Squaw (IMLT officials added a drop point because of the cold weather to encourage people to put on the proper clothing, not that many listened and shivered the rest of the day). I wore cycling bibs, full leg warmers, full booties, 2 pair of arm warmers, 2 base layers (1 was an UnderArmour cold weather gear), a vest and a long sleeve jersey with wind stop, finally topped of with cold weather cycling gloves. Then last I ate a homemade rice cake with 2 eggs, bacon and potatoes before I got onto the bike (NUTRITION). BIKE: Yep IMLT has a long Flat 1.5hr stretch to Truckee (ok there are a couple of bumps), then it is climb for 1.5 hours. Rinse then repeat. If you are a weak cyclist find a different race or train for this. Do Not Ask them to change the course. You CHANGE your training. Brockway Pass was a tough climb, but very manageable. Martist Camp, was not anything like what I expected (3 visit to Lake Tahoe I should have gotten back there somehow someway). PREPARATION! Martist Camp was a series of short climbs that stair stepped up Northstar Ski resort. Rollers, Pitchup, Switchbacks it had them all. Fortunately they were short and not sustained climbing. The bike path out of Truckee also had a short steep pitch up. Hilly or not, the bike of choice should be a tri bike for IMLT. As yes "BRING THE DISC IF YOU HAVE IT" NUTRITION was homemade rice cakes (Rice, Dried Cherries, Chocalate, Craisins), 2 bottles of ensure. At Special Needs I got an extra bottle of Ensure and another Rice Bacon Egg and Potatoes rice cake like the one in T1. I ate every 20min and took a pull off of the ensure throughout the bike. I was never cold on the bike. I did not do the clothing drop until the second loop because I was comfortable. I unzipped the jacket and vest during the climbing in Martist Camp. On the second loop I dropped the beanie, jacket, and gloves. I kept the leg warmers on just folding them down on climbs and pulled them up for the big decent to Kings Beach. I rode with a Power Meter .75IF felt good on the first loop, .80 to .90 IF on climbs . Slow but good, until I finished the first loop. When I got back to Kings Beach my legs started to cramp a bit. So I went to .60IF made sure to climb very easy. I was NEVER out of breath the whole day because I was "Finishing" not racing. Racing this bike course would not have looked much different because of my ability, but it would have crushed my spirit 1 climb at a time.. REMEMBER there is a marathon after this. What I did not understand was why I had to pee so many times 3 to 4 times per loop, with a stop on the final 1/3 of a loop as well. The bike was not soiled, and I stopped. Run: Or 26 1 mile slow repeats was my plan. The reality was I was prepared for 14, 1 mile repeats, some walking, and then some shuffling, then more shuffling to stay warm and get this thing done. the course is along a bike path from Squaw to Tahoe City with an out and back around Squaw Creek resort. Not super hilly, but not flat either. I am not a long distance runner. I do not run marathons, and I no real interest in running marathons. Just like in triathlon, I like "half" marathon. Just like I like "half Ironman" distance races. However, it is part of "finishing" an ironman. So I did it. Since I knew I would be running at night, I had another clothing change to be PREPARED for a tempature drop into the 30's. A dry 1pc desoto tri kit. arm warmers, baseball hat. In special needs I kept another UnderArmour Cold Weather gear long sleeve shirt. Gels every 2nd add station and warm chicken broth was my NUTRITION. I did not have a time goal but I figured I should do about 4 to 4.5 hours. However, I should have PREPARED better by running more. The 4 weeks I could not run due to the crash would have been the big ramp up weeks to build the bridge from 13 miles to 20 runs. In training I was only able to build up to block of long runs of 18 19 and 20 miles run during 40 to 45 mile run weeks. That would have saved me from a 5:15 marathon. However, I completed my goal of finishing IMLT with a BIG SMILE on my face. OVERALL: I loved IMLT 2013. It is a great venue, it is a VERY tough bike course, the scenery is spectacular. The tough bike sets up the run to be a long tough slog if you are not prepared. The weather will almost always be a challenge, and a part of the preparation. Expect all of the following: Rain, Cold, Wind, Choppy lake condition, Hot Sun, and Dry Low Humidity, mixed with Altitude. This will present challenges to both the "participants" and the "Kona contenders" racing hard. I really hope they do not change a thing about IMLT. However the risk for this event is VERY HIGH financially. I am sure individual finances (participants) and corporate finances (WTC, Lake Tahoe chamber of commerce, Squaw Valley and their sponsors). This may force changes because the risk of holding an event with questionable weather and a hard course will keep people from spending several thousand dollars to get a DNF or worse DNS. Thanks for reading, Pete

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