A few weeks ago (April 24th, to be exact), I participated in the RAGE Triathlon. This race had 3 different distances to choose from, as well as relays for each distance. The distances were sprint, Olympic, and half iron. I opted for the half iron, as I am training for an Ironman in June. It took place in Boulder City, NV and looked to be a pretty tough, hilly course. Perfect for training!
We arrived on Friday afternoon and quickly headed over to registration, which turned out to be about 15 miles or so away from the actual race. When we got there (Old Wise One and myself), we found the registration process to be quick and painless, and the expo to be lame and limited. In fact, there was a total of 3 tents set up. No worries though...I never buy anything anyway. After we were all registered, we headed back to our hotel, which was only a mile or so from the actual race. We rallied to troops and headed out for a light pasta dinner.
The start time for the male half iron participants was 6:35 am, so I was up pretty early. We made our way down to the transition area to get ready.
|A quick photo before the long, hot day begins!|
The transition area ended up being a long, long chute from the edge of the water and up a slight incline for a couple hundred yards. I didn't think this was a big deal at first, until I realized that my bike was going to be the absolute last bike, which meant I would have to run through the entire narrow transition area, and up this incline, all the way to my bike once I finished the swim. Oh well. I racked my bike and got my little transition area set up just in time to head down to the water.
|See how far away the water looks? Yeah, it was a looooooong transition area.|
I got my wetsuit on, and stepped into the water to see how cold it was. Surprisingly, it wasn't cold at all! As the group of us stood in the water, awaiting our start, we were given instructions from a race representative. They had realized that their buoys were near invisible with the glare from the sun, and it was very unclear as to which buoys we were supposed to follow (all race distances were using the same swim course, just paying attention to different buoys). After the course was explained about 5 times, it was time to go!
|You can see everyone pointing and trying to block the sun to see the buoys|
The swim went a little slower than I had hoped for, but I made it through and felt great. One thing that was awesome was that I could actually see in this water! The only other open water swims that I've done have been in Arizona, and have been in quite dirty water....you basically can't see your hand if you extend your arm. But in this lake, I could see other athletes!
I exited transition and made the long haul up to my bike, which was pretty annoying. Not because it was so long (which did suck, but oh well), but because all of the other athletes from the different distances were now in the transition area. I basically played my own version of Frogger throughout the transition area, yelling "coming through" and dodging people left and right. I had tried to unload some fluids during the swim, without success, which meant that when I got to my bike, I thought about hopping into the port-o-pottie quickly. I decided to pass on this opportunity and pee out on the bike if I needed to (since I'm such a pro at this now! Ha!).
The bike course was tougher than I expected, with there being basically no flat portions. It was either up or down the entire time. I decided to push pretty hard, just to see where I was at in my fitness. I actually felt great during the entire bike ride and only started to get a little antsy and the very end. One thing to note was that the aid stations were exceptionally weak during the bike ride. It was advertised that there would be 3 aid stations. The first aid station I skipped, as I was still doing good on fluids. The second aid station had 2 kids at it that were goofing off and after I yelled for some Gatorade about 5 times, finally looked up and scrambled to get something, which ended up being water. I yelled Gatorade again, but by the time I got to them, they didn't have it ready. So I ended up skipping that station too. The last aid station was about the same as the second one, but I grabbed the water that they offered up and refilled my aero bottle. All together, I was very happy with my bike performance, seeing as I don't really have any hills to train on regularly and I still felt pretty good.
|Coming in off the bike|
This time, transition was great, because my bike was now the first bike! But, this also meant that I had to run all the way back down transition to start the run. Which would have been fine, except there was, again, a ton of other athletes who had finished the shorted distances or were waiting to start and were not paying any attention whatsoever to those of us trying to race. Oh well. Anyway, transition was quick and painless.
|A quick picture before I head out on the half marathon. Still feeling good!|
The first mile of the run was on pretty big, jagged rocks. I have a tendency to roll my ankles easily, so I was pretty cautious during this portion. The next 3 miles were on paved road, which I was really enjoying. Then from there, it was hiking trail until the turnaround. My goal on the run was to go out a little slower than my planned pace, to make sure that I could get my legs under me. I seemed to have come out too early during IMAZ last November, so I wanted to make sure I started slowly. I also made sure to walk at every aid station while I took in my fluids. At mile 4, I had to stop moment to figure out where the course went. Really, this is my fault for not knowing the course well enough. I had 3 options: left, straight, or sharp right. The girl immediately behind me opted for the straight. The guy behind her decided to wait with me, and the next guy up the course said we were supposed to go left for sure. So we started going left and I saw a gel on the ground which meant we were on the right path!
This is where the aid stations really got out of hand. There was supposed to be an aid station every mile, which there was a tent/table every mile. However, they were manned by one person during the first 6 miles, and then for some reason on the turnaround they all abandoned their stations. At one aid station, the kid apparently took the lids off the water jugs and left the cups out so the athletes could just go ahead and scoop out some fluids. I chose to wear my water belt during the run, which ended up being a good move. I talked to a few athletes who said that the aid stations actually ran out of fluids, which is not good on such a hot day. Also, the gels at the aid stations were not easy to spot, as some of the kids had them on the ground, others had them in a close box, etc. Pretty crappy aid stations, in my opinion. But, the race must go on!
I wish I had some pictures of the run, because there were some pretty cool views, and we actually ran through some old railroad tunnels, which were nice and cool. I made it out to the turnaround and headed back in. The second half of the run was going to be much faster, since it was basically all downhill (figuratively and literally!). With about 4 miles left I decided to see what I had left and pushed pretty hard. I felt great during the entire race and wanted to finish strong.
|At about mile 11 and feeling strong!|
|My daughter looking out to see me coming in for the finish|
|A high five for my daughter as I passed her just before the finish|
|Cooling off in the lake after the race|
I really had no idea how I had done, other than what my Garmin told me. I kept trying to look at peoples bib number to figure out where I was placement-wise, but could see most of them. After a long wait, and then some more waiting, it was time for the awards ceremony...
So what happened with 2nd and 3rd place? Well, 2nd place was about an hour after me, and 3rd place was not even close to second place. And as crazy as that may seem, the guy who was first overall finished just over an hour before me! THAT's crazy.
I ended up setting a new PR of 5:20:08. On a course as hilly as this one, and not to mention the temp which apparently reached 102*F that day, I'm super excited with that result! This course was actually great training for my upcoming Ironman Coeur d'Alene race as I did almost exactly half of the amount of climbing on the bike that I'll be doing come June.
And with that, it's time to move on and focus on the A race of the season! Sorry if this recap came off a little negative. I just want to be honest about my experiences! Thanks for reading!