Who would have thought I'd be writing about a second DNF? Not me, that's for damn sure.
I'll lay it out on the line - I may have decent mileage this year, but I am NOT race prepared whatsoever. I've trained, sure, but has it been with a purpose? No. Therefore, I guess I shouldn't be surprised with this. Annoyed, sure. Pissed, definitely. But surprised? Probably not.
That being said, I tell stories with race recaps, and I'll do the same with this one.
We signed up for this race way back in ... March, I think. We were still living at the apartment, I know that much. It lingered in the back of our minds for most of the year, but we never really had a sense of urgency regarding it. That's probably our first sign of pending doom.
We took a decent couple of days off for this trip. Race day was October 4th, and we left on October 1st. Like the crazies we are, we drove to Nevada. Parts of Utah are really cool, I will say.
We got in the afternoon of the 1st and did our typical Vegas trip first night stay at the Candlewood off strip. We usually do this because it's easier when we fly in. However, we decided to do it this trip because Candlewoods = kitchens, and I had rice cakes to make. We grab dinner, drive around, play tourist, go to bed.
We wake up the morning of the second and grab breakfast at a fantastic diner. We go to prep for the rice cakes ... and I realized I forgot the Skratch paper for wrapping them at home. Eff. Off to Target ... no foil/parchment hybrid paper or Martha wrap. Off to Albertson's (a ghetto, sketchy Albertson's that we're pretty sure had a drug deal going on in front of it). Still no dice, so we had to decide between straight foil or straight parchment. We figured the cakes might melt in the foil, so we went with the parchment, as I found smaller pieces specifically for cookie baking.
Note: If you're in this situation ... use foil. The stuff I used was a giant fail. Or just don't forget your materials at home.
Back to the hotel. I made the bacon at home, but we brought a giant mixing bowl as well as rice, eggs, salt, soy sauce, a baggie of brown sugar, and chocolate chips with us. Scrambled the eggs just fine. When it came to the rice, though ... the Candlewood had a wet measuring cup, but not a dry one (and yes, there IS a difference). So ... I made do. It worked, or so I thought ... until come race day, and the rice is all grainy and ... not good.
Makin' rice cakes!
Eventually, I had something resembling rice cakes, and they would just have to be good enough.
We checked out, met up with some neighbors of ours who happened to be in town as well, and then drove to Henderson to check in for the race.
(In the parking lot, we actually saw a Colorado car that we'd been leapfrogging with on the drive there.)
We got checked in, made a rookie mistake of buying merch beforehand (luckily just a coffee mug and stickers ... related: anyone want an Ironman Silverman 70.3 coffee mug?), and then went to check in to our actual hotel, the MGM Grand.
Saturday the 3rd, we did a shake out run on the strip, grabbed breakfast, prepared our bike and run gear bags,
played pinball (Pinball Hall of Fame. It's the best.), and then drove back to Henderson to drop off our run gear bags. Silly two transitions ...
Farewell, shoes, visor, body glide, sunscreen, race belt skirt, and socks! See y'all tomorrow.
We then drove the bike course to Lake Mead and the bike drop off. We noticed that yes, it was a tad hilly and that it would probably suck the next day. We were trying to stay as positive as we could, though, although it was rough.
The initial plan was to ride bits that looked terrible, but we didn't end up doing that. Brandon did pop out on his bike for a quick mile or so for his own piece of mind and said it was doable. Good enough. We rolled into where transition was and checked our bikes and bike gear bags in.
Sweet Cheeks with Lake Mead in the background.
Back to the hotel to rest for a while, eat sushi for dinner (reviving an old pre-race tradition), and head to bed.
Due to the double transitions, we were to park at T2 in Henderson and we'd be bused to Lake Mead. Buses left from 4:15am to 5:45am. We scheduled a room service breakfast for 3:30am so we could try to eat something (the most expensive fail ever) - that didn't really work so well.
We stumbled down to the car probably just before 4am. Let me tell you, 4am in the lobby of a major Las Vegas hotel is a very interesting place. Our day was just dawning, while many people's days were winding down. I legit saw some girl's half-naked ass, as her dress had ridden up that much. If she had underwear on, it was some very skinny thong. Not pleasant.
Drove to Henderson. Parked. Caught a bus. Pretty much fell asleep on the drive to Lake Mead, but I did that purposefully as I felt like shit that morning.
Got to Lake Mead. Had the bike tech guys fill my tires with air (used the ol' IMAZ trick of letting some of the air out overnight). Attempted to eat the expensive room service bagel - that didn't go so well. Pretty much laid down on the mat next to my bike and stared up at the clear sky, feeling like (although I don't like the movie,) Rose floating on the board in the ocean in Titanic.
(In hindsight, this was fitting, really, given how the race went.)
Eventually I got up and started to get all my stuff ready, delaying dropping off my morning clothes bag until the last possible moment. We were told it would be a non-wetsuit legal swim, although you could still wear one if you wanted; you just wouldn't be eligible for awards. Given that I hate my wetsuit, I was fine with this news. Brandon hemmed and hawed on whether he would wear his; wearing it would put him at the end of the swim waves and therefore behind me (as opposed to 15 minutes ahead of me) which would give us a chance to complete the race together. I didn't want him to sacrifice his race for me, but ultimately he decided to wear it as he felt that it would give him the most confidence. (I'll let him explain more about this in his own recap.)
We stayed together as long as we could and before I knew it, I was in the actually relatively warm water of Lake Mead ready to swim.
Hooray! Another swim NOT into the sun!
I actually felt really good swimming in the lake without my wetsuit. I felt I sighted really well going out and that it took a while for people to pass me and that other white swim caps were near me instead of nowhere in sight, like usual.
We turned, and the swim started to drag a little. I was having some mucus issues, but I was also able to catch on to some feet and boardshort/draft a little.
We turned again, and I felt my neck chafe, which means that is NOT a wetsuit problem. More experimentation needed.
The sun was on my breathing side, and it made sighting slightly more difficult. While I felt straight and awesome on the way out, the way back ... not so much. I saw a wetsuit pass me and I thought it was Brandon for a second, but when I managed to catch up to it, it was not Brandon.
The end of the swim is stupid shallow, but they don't let you stand up until a certain point. "Float in on your belly," they tell you. Riiiiight, because you can do that while still making forward progress. I sort of used my hands to walk my way in very awkwardly.
I exited the water ... with my slowest 70.3 swim to date.
Time: 1:07:23 (1050th overall, 263rd gender, 34th division)
While the wetsuit I saw in the water was NOT Brandon, Brandon was in transition, so he beat me out of the water anyway. I got my shoes on, struggled with my cool wings, got my sunglasses and helmet on, shoved my swim crap in my bike bag, and got the hell out. I actually think I beat Brandon out of transition.
We started uphill, and I felt the wind. Great. Brandon and I stayed together that whole, horrible ride, flip-flopping and probably at some points illegally drafting each other (okay, him illegally drafting me, as I'm too paranoid of a rules follower in tris).
There's not much I can say about the bike except:
It was hilly.
It was windy.
It was hot.
I tried eating the rice cakes - there weren't many good places to eat; not the easiest eating on a fast decent and I need all my breath power up hills - and learned that the rice was not cooked well. Stupid Candlewood and their lack of a dry measuring cup. Stupid me for not getting one at Target.
We learned later that the winds that day were around 30 mph and I believe it. There was one descent where I probably should have been going at least 30 and I saw my speed just drop - 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19 ... I had to shift to an easier gear on a downhill! What the hell? Story of the ride ...
My feet started overheating early, so every aid station I doused them with water. I also grabbed water at every aid station to douse myself and I grabbed a banana to eat.
I'm very happy I'm confident descending, as I made up a lot of ground on people on the downhills. I feel perfectly fine going 44 mph down a hill ... until a wind gust threatens to kill me.
Riding in Lake Mead National Park was pretty awful, though. Neither of us were enjoying ourselves - at that point, triathlon was not fun. The ride back to Henderson was mostly shitty. There was a stretch on Warm Springs Road that we got some speed back on ... but I was in such pain (feet, lady bits) that I couldn't even take advantage of it at that point.
The uphill on Gibson ... oh god, I think I wished for death. I got off my bike to walk before hopping back on realizing yes, it is actually faster to stay on the bike. I think I was going about 4 mph at the time.
Eventually, we slogged back into transition. We didn't think a bike could get worse than Harvest. We were proved wrong with a horrible vengeance.
Time: 4:34:01 (1014th overall, 241st gender, 33rd division)
Use the melty Body Glide on my feet, change into my socks and running shoes, put on the Race Belt Skirt, put on my visor, grab my bottle of Rescue. Meet up with Brandon and hobble out. Get some sunscreen on the parts of my back that fried last year and have the volunteer accidentally get my chafed neck. OW.
As miserable as we both were, we wanted to still try to finish this damn thing. So we got on the run course. Running ... really wasn't happening. We tried here and there, but weren't really successful at getting anything going until a couple miles in.
I had a massive headache at this point, so I was grabbing oranges, bananas, and pretzels at the aid stations, trying to get myself back in control ... not to mention ice and water. We encountered another one of our TriSports teammates who we'd had some back-and-forth on Twitter with leading up to the race.
We began loop two, and were able to run a bit more. Maybe things were looking up.
Then we got back to the awful uphill-into-the-wind section, and it about cooked us. We knew, time-wise, that there wasn't much of a shot of finishing. We were reduced back to just walking at this point - running was painful for both of us; a bit moreso for Brandon I think - and I think we just wanted to leave on our own terms.
At the turn to the finish or loop three, the volunteers said we were still good to keep going, so we went. We tried turning in our chips at transition, knowing how much time we had left, but the very insistent volunteer captain shooed us down the run course, saying there was totally a shot.
Okay buddy, I appreciate your faith in me, but there's only a shot if we can run, and we ain't running right now.
Not too long after we started loop three, the sag wagon came around and talked to us. He said we could try to finish if we wanted but ...
The "but ..." told us all we needed to know. We said that we had tried pulling out a bit earlier; he said he'd take us back if we wanted. Our day was done; the former World Championship course had defeated us. We got about 8.5 painful miles in, but no more.
We went into transition, collected our things, and walked back to the car. A small bright spot was seeing MaccaX teammate "Milhouse" as we left transition. We'd been wanting to meet him for a while, so it was super cool being able to meet him and chat with him and his wife Lisa. Milhouse, you rocked it out there, and it was awesome to meet you!
Back to the car, on to In-N-Out for two 4x4's, fries, and chocolate shakes, and back to Las Vegas.
Two DNFs like this, back-to-back, mean serious reflection. We let ourselves do it for two days - Sunday, and then Wednesday on the drive back home. We decided we don't want to quit the sport - good, because next month's credit card bill has two very expensive registrations for IMCHOO on it - but we do need to give it the respect it deserves. We did not do that this year, with either of our 70.3s.
As I alluded to in my September recap post, October 8th became a January 1st of sorts for us. Time to stop making excuses. Nothing changes unless you change, and we need (and want) to change.