September 20, 2017

Race Report, Lake Las Vegas Triathlon

If you’ve never been there, Lake Las Vegas is really a great venue for a triathlon. The lake appears to be an offshoot of Lake Mead and is surrounded by two great hotels and a wide range of homes. Silverman will be held there on November 7th.

The hotels are the Lowes and Aston (used to be the Ritz-Carlton). Lowes, the race hotel and location of the start, was about $200 a night and the Aston was about $100 a night. I chose the Aston and the one mile trip to the Lowes. A very small logistical problem for the savings, I think.

Usually this time of year I do the Malibu triathlon but my good friend Mark Arenal was doing this one so I switched things up. After all, an 80 degree lake swim has a lot more appeal than a 60 degree ocean swim!

We got in Friday evening and checked in. We looked at the pre-registered racers and noticed there were only about 75 people total doing the intermediate (Olympic) distance race (they had a sprint as well). We looked through the list and noticed that Mark was the only 50 – 54 male racer and I was the only male 55 – 59 racer! Cool! Looks like we both podium – as long as we both finish (you must NOT stop reading if you’ve gone this far in the story).

We had dinner Friday night at the café at Lowes. Pasta and pizza. Very good, actually. Then to bed about 10:00 p.m.

Got up at 4:00 and did the normal morning pre-race ritual. Breakfast of cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries, PB&J and OJ. Got to the transition area at 5:00 and finished setting up.

The weather was cool and breezy. Some of the athletes didn’t dress warm enough for the cool morning but I had my sweats and gloves on . . . toasty!

At 6:30 we headed down to the lake. Speedos only for me . . . old style! The lake was in fact 80 degrees so no wetsuits were allowed. Good for me because I’m a pretty good swimmer.

The intermediate group was all to start together, again, because there were only about 75 of us. It was a beach start, which was fine, but we had to swim over the swimming area ropes to get into the open water. This was just one of many race organization errors.

I took off quickly and swam under the bridge to get out to the main body of water and around the buoy. I went out quickly but was gasping for breath. Eventually I settled into a good pace and headed out.

It appeared that there were only 10 – 12 swimmers ahead of me but they were slowly pulling away so I let them go. There literally wasn’t anyone around me to draft off of so I just kept going.

Rounding the turnaround buoy the waves seemed to pick up. Then when I rounded the next buoy the waves definitely picked up. I’ll bet I drank 10 mouthfuls of water on the way back.

On the way back I passed several of the swimmers still working away on their sprint swim and literally had to stop cold because one of them was swimming on her back directly in front of me!

Finished the swim without incident and got out. The run to the transition is probably ¼ mile up a smooth blacktop sidewalk. I looked at my watch about ½ way up and was at 33 minutes. I thought I should have been faster but it’s hard to get accurate distances on swim courses, so, whatever.

Transitioned smoothly, but not fast and headed out on the bike. The bike course starts with a good sized climb directly out of transition. Putting your shoes on while still in transition was the only way to go on this course.

The bike course is a very hilly affair that went out toward Lake Mead. The sprint and intermediate courses shared the same bike course, we just went out farther.

About two miles into the bike I noticed a sprint athlete down on the asphalt on the other side of the street. Look like he wiped out. He must have because just about a minute later there were police cars and ambulances on their way. Bummer!

I was picking off the sprint course riders left and right on the way out but didn’t see any international athletes ahead of me. I know they were out there because about 10 athletes beat me on the swim. Eventually I did pass another guy as he nearly cut directly in front of me at the sprint bike turnaround.

Then another rider, not in my age group, passed me on the bike. It wasn’t hot but it was windy on the bike course, making the hills just that much harder.

My goal was to try to maintain 220 watts on the entire ride but I could tell that wasn’t going to be realistic. I did manage to maintain 213 which is 10 more than my Honu average. 5% isn’t too bad, and amounts to about one mile per hour. Cool!

I took in a lot of fluids on the bike along with a couple of salt tablets. I sipped my Infinit and tried something new (I know I said NEVER try something new on race day but this is just a practice race to get ready for Kona), geranium oil.

I read an article a few months back (I’d quote the source but I don’t remember) that was talking about how geranium oil is better than caffeine for endurance athletes. I didn’t have any adverse effects during the race and seemed to have a caffeine-like boost without the jitters. Here’s mine: Professional Supplements, pure DMAA 1,3 dimethylamylamine in 40 mg capsules. Try it for yourself and let me know.

Since I had taken in so many fluids I had to hit the porta potty on the way out on the run course. I have no idea if any other athletes passed me but I figured I was probably in about 10th place overall at this point.

There was a 41 year old guy ahead of me that I followed for the climb out of transition. I eventually passed him after we hit the dirt road before the turnaround. This is where I had my trouble . . .

I got to the turnaround and grabbed some Heed to drink and poured some water on myself. I was so focused that I guess I missed a sign! Oh no!

My pace on the run was good. I’m guessing I was maintaining about a 7:30 pace even though the course was hilly. On my way back I heard Mark yell out as he was finishing thee bike course. “Hi Mark!”

I followed the signs and oddly came upon the finish line. I thought there must be a different path for the intermediate runners and asked the official at the finish line. I asked where the intermediate course was because I’d only gone about three miles. He said he didn’t’ know and pointed me back on to the course.

I ran about ½ mile back on to the course and asked the police there directing traffic. They had no idea. Obviously, I messed up somewhere.

I ran back to the finish line and heard someone call out “Hey Ron!” It was Jordan, an old member of Triathica.

Turns out, the turnaround was only for the sprint course, not the intermediate course. No one at that turn was giving directions so I blew it there. I should have stopped but didn’t have any reason to think I was going the wrong way. I messed up but the race director should have had someone directing traffic as well. Anyway, that was my first and only DQ in my entire triathlon career! I was so bummed!

Mark did great and finished 1st! Way to go Mark (we’ll leave out the part about him being the only one in his age group)!

So there you go, even a seasoned triathlete like me can blow it. I’ll be back next year to rock the course!

Cheers!

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