If that’s any use to other long course triathlete here a not-so-brief account of Silverman (http://www.silvermannv.com) in which i raced on sunday.
After that, bike drop off at the lake. It always feels weird to leave a race bike in the middle of nowhere overnight! Quick swim in the lake. The water was SO awesome! 68 degrees, clear, flat. Basically like the pool or even better the pool with a wetsuit! I saw fishes and I had sushi on the beach before going back to the hotel for a short run and stretch.
Off to the shuttle at Sunset Station. I did walk there the night before to identify the shortest route. If you go from the Hilton to Sunset Station hotel don’t go through the casino unless you are wearing a hazmat suit.
A nice big bus was waiting and it was fun chatting with other athletes. I was sitting next to a young german guy from Texas. Chatting made the trip to lake mead much shorter.
Swim start! Yeah! We were allowed to warm up on the course 30mn before the start which was cool since we were not allowed to swim the course the day before. The water was awesome! You’re hearing from someone who 2 years ago was a zero of a swimmer. Because of the limited amount of athletes (200 i think) the swim was pretty smooth. There was some shoving, grabbing and pushing but I find that fun. Great swim. I did 1:16 on my watch which is 10 mn better than last time. So encouraging. I had a good time and I couldn’t wait to get on the bike! I was whistling! (USAT hasn’t outlawed that yet). Beautiful Desert mountains here we come! The ride started like a dream, the weather was ideal and the roads pristine and smooth and I started to overtake some people. I had stopped the whistling by then. Rolling hills, no nasty climbs so far! Yoohoo we’re flying!
At mile 15 I was whistling again especially on those intoxicating downhills. At a place called Government Wash my front tire blew 100 yards in the downhill and all aero and clipped I slid on the road on my left side! A crash oh no! I hadn’t reached full speed yet, the road was pretty smooth there so I didn’t rip much skin.
My left butt seriously hurt and my hand was bleeding. what to do now? I went to the side, i thought it was funny that the place was called Government Wash and looked at the bike which seemed totally fine except big scratches on handle bars and pedals. There was a white suv parked there and a woman gave me some wipes which stopped the bleeding. Technically not supposed to receive help from someone outside the race but whatever I had just crashed.
I saw that overall it was just a flat. I decided to go on. I took a new tube out and realized I had packed one with a 60mm stem (for a 404 front wheel). I needed a 80mn or a valve extender. I also didn’t pack any valve extender. The valve of the deflated tube was also broken so no glue work today! Nothing! It was obviously over so when the Silveman truck came about I asked for the shuttle and waited. They didn’t have those types of tubes. I was waiting and a mini van came by and asked if I was OK and I said yes. They didn’t have any race officials marking and it’s not allowed to accept help from outside the race.
Then, a cyclist from the Half stopped and asked if I needed anything. I said that I needed a 80mm tube and he offered one. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to receive help from a racer. And he had two so he wouldn’t be left without one. I remembered the incident with Wellington in Kona so I took it as well as his bib #. Al was his name! What sportsmanship man! #457!
In a minute I was back on the hills with a rattling derailleur which I couldn’t really fix without tools (forgot that too). So the big cassette I had for the occasion was kind of useless in the hills because I couldn’t engage the top gear. By the time I made it to the turn around they had removed the mat! So I asked around about cut off times. Mile 93 at 3:45 and bike finish at 5. So I pushed harder and passed some guys. One guy looked like a corpse. He had blood on the corner of his mouth. I got concerned about him but he said he was fine. Still looked like a zombie to me. I passed him and many others.
The weather had become overcast but not cold although I wore a jacket the whole time (same bike jacket on the run!). It was lonely and beautiful on those desert roads. Aids stations every ten miles with great supplies and outstanding volunteers. At the end there’s the nice surprise of the Three Sisters, steep short hills, nothing killer though.
Running felt so good after the bike! I was hurting from the bike crash but not unbearably. I started passing people and the field got interesting. Some people walk, some people run-walk, some people run. I ran for about 14 miles then I started walking through the five-star aid stations then I started chatting with the amazing volunteers who man the aid stations and I also walked with a couple of walkers and ran with a couple of runners. I was having fun and I didn’t looked at my watch once. Just my HR which stayed in low Z2.
Two loops through really nice suburbs with lots of hills. First class aid stations every mile. Then the finish. I saw the clock from a distance and it read something like 14:59:14. So I sprinted and the announcer called my name and commented that I was apparently in a hurry!
Done! What a day! I couldn’t believe I actually made it. I was down fixing and waiting on the bike for one hour. Barely made the cut off and could finish. In a way this made the day a better experience than if I had pursued a PR. I was going for a PR after the swim (I had a PR on the swim) but then crashed and had to give up and let go of the race and start again within an hour. Stuck in Government Wash! Saved by Al! And the run was a great social experience meeting people from all over. Again this race felt like every one was doing this together vs individually. The police of Henderson also did an awesome job of controlling traffic.
Like Macca said “you do what you can do at the moment and you don’t look ahead”
This was a great race. I’m signing up right away for next year. I learned a lot about iron distance racing, about people and about myself. i occasionally felt proud of some races like a marathon pr or my first ironman, this time all I feel is gratitude. I’m grateful for what that day brought me and took away from me.
RECOMMENDATIONS + ROUTINES
Desert race: bring chapstick. My lips were getting chapped. I used some vaseline form the aid stations but it’s better to carry chapstick. drinking a lot will not change that. the lips get dry because of breathing dry air in and out.
- Night before – whole wheat pasta and chicken and bananas. I’m sick of this. Race after race i gets really tired!
- Swim – I use the advice of my pal Stuart and drink hot tea before the swim. I bring it in a thermos. I also eat PowerBar Oatmeal Energy balls.
- Bike – EFS Shots every two hours. Awesome stuff. Organic bar every two hours. Accelerade (protein 4:1). Tons of water at the aid stations (desert) – FRS Chews.
- Run – Power gel every 3 miles (better than looking at the watch) – alternating with and without caffeine. FRS Chews. Water. Cola at the last station. Same as marathons.