Race Date – September 8, 2013
This race, despite it being a championship event, was really just one step in my journey towards Ironman Arizona in November. I went into the race feeling pretty well and for the most part rested and ready to go.
Race morning presented something nobody was really expecting….RAIN. Looking back at the 4-5 days we were there, Las Vegas got as much rain as they had year to date. That being said, there was still plenty of hot, dry weather that made the other activities around race weekend enjoyable.
In T1 and ready to roll
T1 was not in an ideal spot for all the rain that was falling that morning. It was sort of at the bottom of a small hill that surrounded it, and the rain made for a very messy and muddy transition zone. As seen in the picture below, the entire transition zone is surrounded by mud.
Race organizers for some reason decided to close transition a full 30 minutes before the pros went off, so this meant I had to be out of transition an hour before my start time of 7:28. This meant a lot of standing around in the rain watching the pros and various age groupers start their races.
Eventually, 7:28 am came around and my wave got into the water and made our way over to the starting line. After a bit of treading water, the horn sounded and the race was on!
The water was very dirty and I found it very difficult to find people to swim with, during the chaos of the start. I wish I could say I felt great and found a great rhythm and some feet to get around the course on, but I would be lying. It wasn’t a struggle, but I also didn’t feel like I was going very fast. Being a non wetsuit swim didn’t help things either.
I came out of the water in 34:40 which put me in about 90th position in my age group out of 239 other athletes. Obviously not great, but is the worlds, and the swim is my weakest discipline. The run to transition was fairly long and it was very slippery/muddy, so I had to take my time a bit. T1 took 4 minutes as it was also a pretty long run out of transition before we were able to get on our bikes.
Starting the ride, the rain was still coming down pretty steady. It was very difficult to even see through my sunglasses, so I had to push them up until they cleared up a bit. Without the speed of the open road, they were pretty fogged up.
The first several kilometers of the bike were basically around the resort area of Lake Las Vegas and then uphill to the main highway. I tried to keep the power in check, as it would have been easy to blow the entire race by killing this part of the ride. Everything went according to plan, except for the fact I lost my salt somewhere near the start, which sucked, but in the end, didn’t cause any issues.
Once on the main highway, the rain continued to come down, but at least I could see through my sunglasses, which was completely necessary, due to all the spray coming off the bikes in front.
Overall, the bike course was really fun. There was really nothing about it that was flat, but instead, had many super fast and intense downhills and many long grinding uphills. None of the hills were very steep, but many were long.
I basically got into a good group with a few guys and worked the different parts of the course. I found that I was strongest on the “flatter” sections and downhills, and would lose some time on the uphills. Not sure if this was because I was just doing a good job of not over extending myself on the climbs or because the other guys were just stronger in the hills.
At about the 70K point of the bike, the rain basically stopped and the sun started coming out.
Once we got back into Henderson (T2 is not where T1 was) there was a super fast section where I was able to get the cadence up and freshen up my legs. Unfortunately, the last 10K of the bike course has some substantial climbing, so that took a bit of snap out of the legs just before starting the run.
I finished the bike, which was 56.6 miles (91.3K), due to logistics in 2:34:25 and moved up to 46th in my age group.
After handing off my bike to one of the great volunteers, I made my way through the sea of red transition bags and eventually found mine and went into the change tent to get ready for the run. T2 took 1:56, which again wasn’t super fast, but I made sure not to make any mistakes or forget anything.
The run course was much like the bike course. There was barely a flat section to be found. You immediately start running down a slight downhill to the first turn-around at approximately the 2K mark. Then you turn around and run back and past transition to another turn around point a few K past the transition/finish line area. It’s basically a little over 3K to the second turn around, which is pretty much all gradually uphill. Then it’s almost 2K back to the transition zone to start the next lap.
The run consisted of 3 laps of this course. I felt pretty good through the first lap, getting in all my nutrition and salt as required. On the first lap, I actually passed Leanda Cave, the female pro who won this race last year. She wasn’t having a great day, so this isn’t saying much.
Overall, I felt like I ran a pretty steady race. I tried pushing the pace a bit more on the downhills to try and make up for some of the time I was losing on the uphill sections.
By the time I reached the third lap, I was starting to get pretty tired, but continued to push to the top of the last turn around knowing I had a nice downhill finish. After reaching the top, I was able to find another gear for the last kilometer and a half to the finish line. During this section, I started passing a lot of runners (many of them still on their first or second lap) as I was easily doing under a sub 4 minute kilometer pace.
Eventually I hit the finish with a final run time of 1:33:12, which was pretty good given all the hills and the heat and humidity that had shown up for the run.
After the run, I had moved up a bit more to finish in 36th overall in my age group and 301st overall in the race out of over 2000 participants. Finishing 36th put me in the top 15% in my age group, which isn’t bad, given these are the best 70.3 athletes in the world on that day.
So overall, I was happy with my result and look forward to my preparation towards my A race this year, Ironman Arizona on November 17th.