We had heard rumors of Lake Mead being as warm as 80 degrees. When the water is warmer than 76 degrees, wetsuits are not legal. I brought mine anyway, and when I heard the water was about 75 degrees, I was glad that I could wear my wetsuit to give me more buoyancy and therefore a bit more speed.
My wave, women 35-39, was one of the first to start. I started in about the second or third row of women. About halfway through, in my full-length wetsuit, I felt really warm. My mouth was dry. And I was worried -- did I just overheat on the swim and blow my entire day? Fortunately, I didn't. I drank quite a bit in the first few minutes of the bike and in transition and I was fine.
I'm going to digress for a minute -- I had a side bet with one of my teammates Kosha. He is an amazing athlete, former college football player, blazing fast runner, and awesome cyclist. But on the swim, he and I are pretty close. At Vineman, he was 23 seconds faster on the swim, and at Malibu he was a couple seconds faster also. We made a bet over a shot of tequila over which one of us would be faster. In this race, finally, I outswam him -- by 7 seconds, with a time of 38:33. But, a win is a win, and he had to do a tequila shot. And I joined him in doing the shot, because truthfully, it was an amazing swim for both of us.
My swim: 17/70 women finishers in my age group
This was a hilly bike. Not just hilly, but basically no flats. We were either going up or down, but mostly up because the point-to-point course ended us at a higher elevation. And no shade from the elements. It got hot fast, like over 90 degrees.
There's an interesting psychology to where one starts in a race. In Malibu, when I'm in one of the last waves, I get to pass a lot of people in front of me. But, at Silverman, when I'm one of the first waves, I get passed by a lot of people. I have to not get demoralized, remind myself that most of the people passing me are men, that I'm not getting passed by (many) women, so I'm staying ahead of my competition.
The wind was a factor also. I have a disc wheel in the back, which makes me even more susceptible to wind. On some of the downhills, I felt pretty unsteady and found myself gripping the brakes.
The biggest challenge for me on the bike was mechanical issues with my chain. Whenever I would try to shift to my smaller gears, the chain would fall off. It fell off four times, necessitating me to get off my bike and put the chain back on. That wouldn't take me more than 20-30 seconds and a little lost momentum each time, but it did give me a brief chance to stop pedaling and stretch.
My legs were tired. I'd say about 20 miles in, I thought to myself, how am I going to do this? It's hot. My legs hurt. And I have 36 miles to go. In my head, I broke it down. Let's get to the turnaround. Then, let's get to the gate at the exit of the park. Then, let's get onto that next turn, let's get over that big hill, and let's get to T2 and start running. Yes I'm getting passed, but those are mostly men.
I stayed well hydrated, which is important on a hot and windy day. After finishing off my two bottles of coconut water, I relied on one bottle of Ironman Perform (yuck) and then some water. I had a couple of mini-Bonk Breakers also. I don't love gels when I'm on the bike; solid food just makes me happier. And the aid stations are just fun. I yell out what I need, put out my hand, fly by on the bike, and grab the bottle or the Bonk Breaker or banana or whatever it is.
I arrived at T2, the second transition area, to find very few bikes, which was reassuring, and indicated that most of the other women in my age group were behind me.
My Bike: 3 hours and 24 minutes. 14/70 women finishers in my age group.
Three loops. Well over 90 degree weather. More hills. My run was more of a shuffle. I felt like I was barely moving. But, my strategy is always to run everything except the aid stations. Because, no matter what speed I'm running, it's faster than any walk. And if I stop to walk, I won't want to run again.
Again, awesome volunteers with lots of goodies at the aid stations. At each station, I took a cup of water and drank it. I took another cup and poured it over my head. Then I'd swig a cup of Ironman Perform (double yuck) or some Coke. And then I'd grab another cup of water to douse my head.
To keep cool, some women were handing out zip lock bags of ice. I grabbed one and stuffed in the top of my tri-top. When the ice melted, I'd refill it with more ice.
Running with bag of ice stuffed in my top
I can't say I felt great. The heat took a lot out of me. I stopped looking at my watch because I just didn't want to know how slow I was running. But yes, I was running. Not walking. It was a slow run. How was I not getting passed by everyone? My coach Gerardo who was running as part of a relay team, breezed past me, He reminded me to run tall and take smaller steps going uphill.
Is this over yet?
Sometimes I put a mantra into my head. I saw people walking, and slowing to a walk was all too tempting. I kept saying to myself, "What are they doing? They are walking. What am I doing? I'm running. So I'm going to keep on running." Kind of silly mantra, but it kept me going.
What made this event nice was that there were so many familiar faces on the course. About twenty of us from Fortius Racing were there, and a bunch of others from LA Tri Club who I knew. It always helps to cheer people on or to get some words of encouragement, and on a day like this, a few "Go Heather!" 's can make a huge difference.
My Run: 2:23. 17/70.
Overall Finish time: 6:33. 17 out of 84 women finishers in my age group.
My slowest 70.3 all season, BUT my best finish. 12 women in my age group didn't finish the race.
I'm so grateful for the success of this race. I stuck around toward the end for the rolldown for Ironman 70.3 Worlds, with a chance of a rolldown slot to compete at the world championships. I didn't get a spot, but to think I even had a chance, was just a cool feeling!
I'm happy to finish the season well . I'm taking a few weeks off and then will start marathon training. More about that soon.