Arrival. We arrived in Nevada 10:00AM and got settled. Got the rental car and finally grabbed something to eat after the extra long 5:30 flight. After we ate we decided to drive the course to get a feel for the terrain. I knew the course was going to be hilly, but I didn't realize how tough it was going to be until after driving it. It's either up or down, and there's a whole lot of up!!
After driving the course we headed to the hotel to check in finally, we hit the treadmill for a quick run and called it a day.
at the hotel
Day 2: Went for a ride down to the registration pickup when we got up. I decided to bring my bike to see if there was someone who could give it a "once-over" since I don't travel that much and I'm not used to putting my bike together. It turns out that I had some sort of headset issue that was caused by the plane ride. My headset was so tight it was hard to make turns left or right.
My Branding for the week
After having it looked at I decided to see if I could ride the bike in the condition it was in. Once on the road for about 5 minutes I knew there was no way I would be comfortable riding this bike on the course I just drove. I was having a hard time keeping the bike in a straight line and to top it off there was 30 mph winds that made riding a disc oh so much fun. I climbed to the top of the resort complex which was about 2 miles, and attempted the descent back to the hotel. This was a terrible idea as it completely spooked me. I spent the next 10 minutes holding on for dear life and praying I wouldn't crash. Not exactly the ride I was looking for.
I decided to go to the Team USA mechanic first thing in the morning to see if he could fix it. After waiting on a short line it was my turn. He spent about 45 minutes on it until he finally suggested I take it to Las Vegas Cyclery which was about an hour away. I took the bike there now panicked at the thought I wouldn't be able to race because nobody seemed to know how to fix my headset issue. After about an hour of toying with different things the mechanics over there fixed it. My bike was ready to ride! We spent the rest day on that side of Vegas before deciding to head back to the hotel. That afternoon I took my bike out to test ride it. Once again I climbed up to the top of the hotels and took the descent. This time I was fine coming down with much less trepidation than the first time. I was still slightly uneasy but planned on one more ride before the race. It was great to catch up with my Mom &Frank who I hadn't seen in awhile at the parade of nations dinner. it was really cool seeing all the different countries carry their flags. It seems this race is a much bigger deal internationally than we make it in the US.
Parade of Nations Dinner
Day 4 (t-1 till race day):
I decided to take my bike out one last time before the race to see if I could get more comfortable. The only problem was that the winds were once again on high alert and the only rear wheel I had was a disc. I decided to head out and ride the first part of the course. Riding up the hills I was fine, but once I got to about 20-25 mph I got uncomfortable. I know it was all in my head at this point, but I just couldn't get over it. As I headed down the descent to lake mead a crosswind blew me clear across the road. I literally went from the white line on the left to almost to the center-line. That freaked me out enough for me to call it a day.
I spent the rest of the day trying to relax and take in what Vegas had to offer on the strip including the Beatles cirque du soleil show. During the show in which these amazing performers are throwing themselves every which way from the floor and the ceilings I'm freaking out to the point where I don't know if I'm going to be able to start the race. I kept going back to me not being able to control my bike and then getting blown across the road. I had how to psych myself back up to be ready to race. Erica noticed I was a little more tense than usual and kept asking me what was wrong but I told her I would just tell her after the show as I didn't want to ruin her experience. The longer I sat there the worse it got. She tried to calm me down but to no avail.
We got back to the room at around 9:oopm and I got my final race prep done. I was freaked out and still not sure I was going to be able to start in the morning. I thought to myself I fought too hard and too long to get to this point, but the overwhelming fear was just too strong. I attempted to sleep it off and see what the morning would bring.
Off for my final pre-race ride in my EFRT Kit
As I mentally prepared myself to attack the race after a rough night I was informed in the elevator that the swim had been cancelled. The swim had been cancelled at nationals in Myrtle Beach because of ecoli, and the now the swim was being cancelled at the world championships? I couldn't believe my ears and I had to find an ITU official to confirm. I was both shocked and a little relieved. When I had gotten up the air temperature was 38 degrees with a real feel of 30. I couldn't imagine getting on a bike after swimming in 55 degree water when the high for the whole day was going to be 50. I most likely wouldn't have had an issue with temperature regulation because I am bigger than most triathletes, but having the swim was going to put a majority of the field in jeopardy of hypothermia. They instead decided to delay the race until 7:45am and have us go off in 5 second intervals in number order. Which with approximately 1000 racers would put everyone on the course within 1 hour and 24 minutes. It was still cold and I was still contemplating what to wear as I was shivering with my race kit, a shirt, and a jacket on. I went back and forth about what I should wear and ultimately decided as I was headed up to the start to throw my shirt to my mom as I passed and keep the jacket. It seemed like a good idea at the time as I was shivering but eventually this turned out to be a mistake. It was cool that the race director Frank Lowery was there at the start shaking everyone's hand as they went off, I''m not sure if he would have been able to do that if the swim wasn't cancelled, but it was a nice touch.
I approached the start line and 3-2-1 go. I was off and still scared out of my mind. I'm usually pretty confident in my abilities and this course was no more technical than the riding I do at home, but the fact that my bike wasn't working properly and I had gotten blown around the day before wasn't sitting well with me. The ride started out with a 2 mile climb out of the resort and on to lake mead parkway which would lead us to the park. I spent the first 15 miles or so riding very timidly even though I had driven the bike course twice. I just couldn't get over my early week bike mishaps and it was clearly showing. Since this was the world championships I expected I would be passed but not in the manner that it had started off. I was getting passed left and right because I just wasn't comfortable riding my bike. The decent down to lake mead wasn't terrible technical it was just the same place I had gotten blown across the road the day before and I was riding scared. I finally snapped out of it about 12 miles into the bike but the damage had been done, I had ruined my chance to keep my speed up on the fastest part of the course. We were still going net downhill but there was a massive headwind and I actually had to work to keep speed. I was starting to get hot and was contemplating leaving my jacket at an aid station.
After the decent down to the lake you turn around a little past the gate and then started the climb back to the top of the park. The first section once passing the south gate was actually pretty fast as we had now had a tailwind and a slight downhill. I had managed to average 19mph for the first hour but I knew it was only going to go downhill from there. However now I was back in the game and passing riders once again instead of being passed. I still had the occasional rider pass, but for the most part on this section I held my ground. I was actually surprised how quickly I made it to the top before we had to make the turn on to north shore road. This section was quite a bit hillier than the last one and when I drove it seemed to be the most challenging part of the course. It was another out and back so whatever we went up we had to go down and vice-versa on the way back. I was still passing riders and now passing them on the descents, seems that I wasn't the only one who had acquired a "fear" over the last few days. Riding a disc wheel I did get blown around a bit, but not nearly as much as I had Friday and I was able to control it. This allowed me to continue to pass riders but I was continually getting more and more heated. The temperature couldn't have risen to much above 40 at this point but I was really feeling the heat. Winds were picking up and riding through them seemed to be getting harder. It was still an effort to go downhill, and the tailwinds didn't seem to be helping on the uphills! It really seemed like no matter which way we were riding there was wind making the course that much more difficult. As I hit the second turnaround which was approximately 42 miles I was still averaging around ~19mph which I was content with. I thought if I had a great race I would be able to average 20, but 18 is where I thought I needed to be to run well if I was having a mediocre day. As I headed back I was still picking off all the riders that had passed me early one by one, for every 5 riders that I passed I would have 1 pass me who had started behind me. I hit the final swooping decent on the way back up to lake mead parkway and started the climb. My legs were feeling the combination of the winds and climbing, and possibly from me pushing a little to hard to get back to my rightful position. From here we had about a 500ft 4 mile climb into the wind and it sure felt like it. I was glad to hit the top of the climb where I could see the lake las vegas highway and the slight 1 mile downhill that lead back to the river mountain trail.
Once back on the river trail I was anticipating what they call the 3 sisters. They placed these hills about 54 miles into the ride to add to the torture. The 3 sisters are consecutive hills that go up to 18% grade and are a staple of the full Silverman iron distance course. These were definitely tough. Here is a quick link to a video shot while riding them Three Sisters Youtube. After I hit the top of the 3rd sister and went down the back side I cracked. My whole left leg decided to lock up on me and boy was it painful. I tried to change positions, stand up, nothing was working and I was in some serious pain. I went to grab my bottle and I realized it was half full. It had been so cold that I had done nearly 56 miles on a 1/2 of a 300 bottle of and 200 calories from my EFS flask. This is where I noticed wearing the jacket was a mistake, I needed to catch up and drink. Because I was wearing the jacket I was overheating and because of the feel of the cold and wind on my extremities I wasn't drinking what I would normally drink on a normal day.
The next 20 miles were the toughest for me as my leg was going in and out of usefulness. I started to get passed once again and this time there was nothing I could do about it as my left leg just wasn't having it. After about 20 mins and downing a bottle as fast as I could I started to come around again and ride more normally but the only place I was making up time now was the run. The rest of the course was mostly uphill. We stayed on the trail for about 10 miles until we finally had some "steps" of hills and we made a right hand turn into a short decent finally. I stopped at the port-o-johns again (I almost never do it once, let alone twice) to stretch and relieve myself. I was passed by a bunch more here I'm sure. The rest of the course was mostly rolling except for a nice 2.5 mile downhill section that gave us a nice break, after we hit the highest elevation of the bike course, but we still had to climb 3 out of the last 4 miles to get to T2 and back to the run.
View from the top of the 3rd sister
Me suffering climbing the 3rd sister!
Finally off the bike and into the changing tent!
I went into the changing tent and took off my jacket immediately. I couldn't wait to get that thing off. Next was my helmet as I sat down for a second to catch my bearings and hope that crampy feeling would go away. Put my shoes on and off I went.
I started the run aggressively as it started off with a downhill. I was passing people left and right only to have my left leg once again tell me it wasn't happy with me! I immediately went from a 6:50ish pace to a dead stop. My leg had locked up again and I had no idea how I was going to run another 18 miles like this. I started to walk about 6 minutes in and I was having a hard time keeping my head in the game. I've done long course races before I know there are highs and lows, but this low just didn't seem to be going away.
Coming out of T2 ans already hurting!
The run course is 4 loops and like the bike course its pretty much either up, or down, there is not much flat. After a 2 minute break I was able to pick my pace back up for about 15 minutes or so. From here I would go in and out the entire race with my leg locking up. I tried to take advantage and make the most out of the downhills since the lockups would happen mostly on the uphills for the rest of the race. Looking at my splits I wasn't consistent at all like many of my races this season. My fastest mile was a 7:28 at mile2 and my slowest mile was a 10:57 at mile 16. I never really got in to a rhythm and it showed. So much for having my A race at the world championships!
One good thing about the course is that you passed through transition 8 times or so, so I got to see my Mom, Frank & Erica and they always kept my spirits up. I kept running as best I could but my cramping/leg lock issue was getting the best of me. I finally came up on the final lap and was happy to be running up the hill for the last time! I passed through the fan zone one last time and told the family I was almost done and to meet me at the finish. This time I fought off the leg lock issue as much as I could. I passed a bunch of people on the way to the finish and had one more in front of me in the chute. As I went for the finish kick my leg immediately told me bad idea and I pulled up right before the finish and ended up with a finish time of 7:01:09. I was happy to be done. Immediately after finishing my left leg locked up again! I'm glad I was able to pull though and have a decent race, but looking back I didn't race anywhere near my potential. Mental skills and self confidence are just as important as physical training, and now its time for me to work on those.
Glad to be done!
Another Leg Lock!
I want to thank everyone for their support all season and especially Endurance Films for putting together such a great squad of athletes. We were all close on day one and we continue to get closer as we learn more about each other and psuh each-other to achieve our own goals and accomplishments. I am looking forward to another great season in 2012!