It's been 10 days since the race, and it's time to plunge head-on into my blog about it. There's going to be a lot of negativity, and a lot of things that I'm not happy with. For this blog, it will purely be a race recap. The reflections will come on my next post. Also, there's a lot of emotion. The readers of this blog know I don't mince my words, and I'm essentially baring my soul to you all.
The days leading up to the race were a typical Vegas visit for us, minus the driving of T's car from Denver to Vegas. The drive was actually pretty cool - there's some really cool canyons in Utah. Plus, we did a small 30 mile drive in Arizona. Driving into Vegas was neat. We were both really relaxed. We pulled into the Candlewood, which is off strip, and has basically become where we spend our first night in Vegas every time we go. This time it had a double purpose. We wanted a kitchen so T could make our rice cake nutrition for the race.
The first night, we played tourist, visiting a food truck expo at a casino nearby and just enjoying ourselves.
The next day, T made the rice cakes, but she struggled a bit because we didn't have a dry measuring cup, nor did we have our Skratch paper to wrap them in. It was possibly an ominous sign, but I was forcing myself to be positive. After the last race, I refused to be negative.
We met up at the Mirage with a couple of our neighbors who were in Vegas as well, then headed to Henderson to get checked in for the race. After that, we headed back into Vegas to get checked in to our hotel, the MGM Grand. We had dinner at an Italian place with our neighbors that night, along with some good conversation.
Saturday morning we did a shakeout run on the Strip. I love running on the strip, and our run went really well. We got a high-five from another triathlete while running (I love these Runners World moments!) and after that, were just on cloud 9. Clearly that had to mean something good for the race, right?
After that, we prepped our gear bags for the race, went and played some pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame (highly recommend you go, it's an amazing place for video game junkies), and headed to the check-in to drop our stuff off.
We dropped our run stuff off in Henderson, then headed to Lake Mead to drop our bikes off and our bike gear. Two different transitions, woo. We drove the bike course as well. We were both a bit nervous about the hills, but we kept our fear in check. I actually got out of the car to ride the bike on one of the stretches. I was doing over 20 mph and thought that bode well for the next morning.
After that, we dropped our stuff off and headed back into town. We found a chain for lunch that sold good soup and sandwiches and salads. Had a good lunch, then relaxed in the afternoon at the hotel. We had a sushi dinner and called it an early night for the race. I arranged for room service breakfast to be delivered at 3:30 am.
We woke up at 3:15 am. Normally when I wake up race morning, I'm not nervous. I'm not apprehensive. When I awoke in the MGM that morning, my heart was racing with anticipation of the race. I didn't like the feeling, and tried to shake it off. Breakfast came (whoa, pricey) but it's kind of cool at the same time. However, neither T or I were really able to eat much, if any, of it. I think the nervousness was affecting us way more than we would have liked. I wrapped some bacon in a napkin to take with us. We loaded up our stuff and left.
Down in the lobby of the hotel was interesting. The club kids were all coming back. That used to be me back in the day, so I know the feeling. 4 am, we're heading out for a race, 4 am, they are heading back in from a night of partying. T said she saw some girl's naked ass; I missed it sadly.
We found a parking spot in Henderson close to where the buses were picking us up. We both hopped on a bus and sat down. T dozed on the drive to Lake Mead while I listened to people talk about the race. A lot of people were talking about the dreaded climbing which I tried to put out of my mind. Maybe I was refusing to acknowledge that I wasn't prepared?
When we got to Lake Mead, I had the bike guys fill my tires with air, as I had drained them the previous night. After that, I just rested in transition. I was scary nervous, and I couldn't get settled down. Truth be told, I hadn't been that nervous before a sporting event since the first time I stepped on the ice for a high school hockey game. T tried to calm me down, but she was dealing with her own band of nervousness and nausea. It wasn't a good pre-race morning for us at all.
They had announced that the race was not wetsuit-legal. Very simply, if you wore a wetusit, you'd start at the back of the pack and not be eligible for age-group awards. That's not an issue for me, obviously. The back of the pack thing made me think. I knew I would go off well after T and we'd have a shot at completing this thing together. However, ultimately, it's our own race. I made the decision last-minute to race in my wetsuit, deciding that I'd feel more comfortable with it and I'd be okay.
I kissed T and wished her good luck, as she went off well before me. I then just waited for my turn to hit the water. I got in and waited for the horn. The water felt nice and warm, but not too warm. I joked with a couple of other guys, and then the horn went off. Redemption time!
It's rare that I get a swim with waves, and this was one of them. The wind was stronger than anticipated, and I had to adjust my sighting. That being said, I swam well. I felt a bit constricted by my wetsuit, and I vowed this would be my last race with that suit. I was doing well for the most part though. Just keep swimming, right?
Towards the shore, we were being yelled at to keep swimming even in the shallows. I eventually did a bear crawl until I hit the carpet and ran into transition. Saw my watch and was a bit surprised at how slow, but didn't worry about it.
Swim time - 45:25
I heard someone yelling my name, and realized T was in transition at the same time I was. That couldn't be good. I also realized we'd be racing the entire bike course together, and hoped that we could do well as a result.
The trans area was at the bottom of a hill, so we rode uphill right away. Terrific...
Both T and I leapfrogged each other early in the race. The wind was already starting to blow, but at least it wasn't hot. The clouds were out, a rarity in Vegas. For the first 12 miles or so, I felt okay, even with the wind and the climbing/descending. Then we hit a stretch of awfulness. Nearly 15 miles of straight climbing. I was averaging maybe 12 mph on this stretch? And the worst part is, I couldn't get my nutrition in because I was breathing so hard on the climbs. To make it worse, the winds were howling, so the descents I was more concerned about, you know, not dying?
It seemed that no matter what I did, I couldn't find a groove that worked, and I was getting frustrated. Around 40 miles in, we began a very serious climb out of the park. I was lucky to average 8 mph on this climb? I also felt my spirit sink as I realized I might not finish the race. Even typing this is bringing tears to my eyes.
The stretches we thought would benefit us were not to be, and the hard stretches? Much harder than anticipated.
There's a road called Gibson Road that takes you up towards transition, about 5 miles out. It broke me. I started crying at one point climbing it. I screamed and cursed and again, this is actually hard to type right now. Oh how I wish I was a good climber. Instead I'm a shitty climber and I paid for it.
Finally, we made it back to transition. Another race, another shitty bike, and another long ass ride. This time, however, I was going out on the run.
Bike Time - 4:33:23
Both T and I were very depressed heading into the run. The clouds had all burned off and it was just hot and windy and miserable. I was very sad knowing that I had an uphill battle to try to make the cutoff. However, I quickly got my stuff on and T and I marched out there for the run.
We knew we had a fight in front of us, and finishing wasn't likely to happen. However, as long as I could put my feet in front of me, we were going, dammit.
The first mile was pretty much all walked. I had very little strength and T's feet were killing her from the ride. We tried to run a bit but we needed to build. There was a brutal climb and we walked most of it, but were able to run down it as well.
On the 2nd loop, we ran a bit more and thought we might have a shot at this thing after all. Then the dreaded climb happened, and I knew our day was cooked. I accepted it. We both talked about how we'd bail before the 3rd loop, turn in our chips, and go to the hotel. Acceptance of failure. However, it wasn't that easy.
The guy running transition didn't let us give up. He encouraged us to keep going. I knew we didn't have a shot, but he refused to let us give up. Okay, fine, we'll humor you. Jerk. Seriously buddy, I'm hurting enough out here, but now I have to save face? Whatever, fine.
Mercifully a sag wagon came and got us, and ended our day about a half-mile out of transition. Our timing chips collected, we went and bagged up our stuff, retrieving our morning clothes. Two 70.3's, and two DNF's on the year. It pains me to write that.
We chatted with a MaccaX teammate who was very nice and encouraging. It was a brutal day out there, to be sure. It was great to meet Milhouse and I look forward to corresponding with him in the future.
Both T and I were surprisingly okay with the decision to not finish. We promised reflection would come later - all we wanted was In N Out. We grabbed our 4x4 burgers, fries, and shakes, and headed back to the hotel.
Two 70.3 failures on the year. My tri season is over without completing a tri. I raced, but didn't finish. Holy shit, that's hard to type.
Reflection will come in another post. Just typing this has made me mad, and I need a ride to clear my head.