Why are you here?

That's a question I often ask myself as I'm about to start a race.

In the past, I might have answered that question by quietly whispering inside my head -- "I am here to impress the people on the Internet."

70.3 World Championship Run

The problem with trying to impress others is that it sometimes gets in the way of making the right decision.  If I'm concerned about what others think, I'll worry about failure and I might be unwilling to take chances when taking chances might be the right thing to do.

Pre-Race

As I stood in line waiting for my wave to start at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, I asked myself that question as I always do and my answer was -- "I'm here to win."

Winning is a term I frequently use but its definition isn't literal -- it's my version of winning.

In Vegas, winning meant finishing in the top ten of the age group.

In the days leading up to the race, I was afraid of the race.  With the heat being what it is in the middle of the desert in the early fall, I was more concerned about the event than I was of my fellow competitors.

Fear lead me astray momentarily as I thought about playing it safe but as I entered the water, I swam up to the line and I noticed two groups of people.

[This is how I see it.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I don't think so.]

Group One:  Athletes sitting on the bank and on the bridge, playing it safe instead of looking for a good starting position.

Group Two:  Athletes treading water at the line, waiting for the start and I believe it's in this group you will find your top ten finishers.

I positioned myself at the front of group two while waiting for the gun to go off.

Bang

The race started and despite the hot water, I swam hard.  For the pace, it felt harder than it should have but the water temp was doing a good job of cooking me.  I didn't care though -- I knew it would be over quickly.

A little past the turn around, a young stud from the last wave swam past me like I was sitting still.  I'm convinced he was the fastest amateur swimmer of the day -- his gap was huge over everyone else in his group.

Out of the Water

As I exited the water, I was pleased with my swim time.

It wasn't fast, it wasn't slow but it was a solid start -- all that it needed to be.

The transition area is on the other side of the lake.  So after a quick run through the snaking corral which lead me into soggy grass and eventually to transition, I grabbed my bike and ... [Hey!  Wait a minute!]

Rewind

I totally spaced.

Race morning, I get up at the crack of dawn because transition opens at 4:30am instead of the typical 5:00am .  4:30am to a 7:55am start is a LONG time but I wasn't sure how the parking situation would work out so I wanted to be safe.

When I arrived in transition on race morning, it was still night time (pre-dawn... whatever) and I walk over to my bike to inflate my tires and...

Scooby Doo

... flat tire.

"Don't panic", I think.

With hours before the start of the race, I was a little excited by not much because there were plenty of options available to me.  The most obvious being "bike tech" which was only a few feet away.

I rip the wheel off the bike and stroll on over to the tent.  After waiting in a short line, I was helped by "Jenny".

While Jenny was fixing my flat, I grabbed my bike from the transition spot and racked it on the stand in bike tech.

As I just finished placing it on the stand, Jenny had just finished attaching the tire to the rim, turned to put the wheel on the bike and that's when the cassette flew off of the wheel.

I was mildly excited with the flat but I definitely moved up a few notches when the cassette came off.  Fortunately, it wasn't the lock ring which means the cassette remained whole.  And more fortunate than that, the issue was / is something minor and common with that particular hub -- a problem that I had previously experienced but had forgotten about.

Fast Forward

[I grabbed my bike and ...] I ran up the hill like a rat working its way out of the maze in search of cheese.  I eventually found the (cheese) mount line, mounted my bike and began riding on one of my favorite bike courses, Silverman.

Technically not the identical course but a good portion of it is the Silverman course which isn't surprising given that the race director for both races is the same guy.

The Bike

Right from the start, my heart rate was high.  Much higher than it should have been given the output (or lack thereof) but the heat was already starting to impact me.  Actually the heat was impacting me as I sat in line waiting to get into the water.  I don't recall the temperature at the time of the start but it was hot and as the day moved on, it only got worse.

My goal on the bike was to remain conservative for the leg out but once I hit the turn around, I lifted the effort in order to reel in my fellow competitors.

With an elevated heart rate, I maintained Ironman watts (instead of half Ironman watts) hoping that I could pull off a solid run.

Off the Bike

Despite feeling strong, the heat was blistering and I knew it was going to be a tough run.

"We are all dealing with the same conditions", I thought as I ran into T2 snatching my bag and running into the changing tent.

As I exited the tent, I spotted the sunscreen crew and I stopped to be sure my upper body was completely covered before my departure.

They did a fantastic job and I exited T2 looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Stay Puft

It Resembled Running

What happened next was a downward spiral and honestly, not surprising given my heart rate throughout the day and at the start of the run.

"It's only thirteen miles", I thought but with the heat, the lack of airflow through certain sections of the course and (practically) hot water being served at the aid stations, I unraveled with each passing mile.

"Everyone is suffering", I thought as I ticked away the miles, albeit slowly.

"I'm still in the game", I said inside my head but when I started cramping, I knew I was out of the top ten and I started thinking about damage control.

Kona is one month away and if I'm going to suffer for no reason, that's the place to do it.

Over the remaining miles, the cramping slowed me and even stopped me a few times but in the final stretch, a downhill run, I thought I was home free until I cramped inside the finishing chute.  I literally stopped just feet away from the line because I couldn't move.  Moments later, my muscles loosened up and I was able to get across the line.

It wasn't my finest moment but I got it done.

Dear God,

First Boston, now Vegas.  I know I'm not supposed to ask for trivial things so I won't ask for good weather in Kona.  I won't.  I'm not asking.  [wink]

Some pictures from the trip in no particular order:

Roadside Art...

Nevad Roadside Art

Desert Mountains...

Mountain

I frequently visited the Whole Foods salad bar...

Whole Foods Loves Ironman

After the race, I had a number of cravings:  Falafel, curry chicken, regular chicken, Caesar salad, ham, potatoes and a number of other items.  It just seemed like the right place to cover my cravings! ...

Whole Foods Salad Bar

Pics of the lake after my practice swim...

Lake Las Vegas 01

Lake Las Vegas 02

Lake Las Vegas 03

T1...

T1 01

T1 02

T1 03

T1 04

Vegas Strip...

Vegas

I'm trying to be artistic...

Palm Trees

Friday night I showed up at the hotel to discover a country and western concert.  Fortunately it was only Friday night.  It could have been ugly had it gone on for two nights...

Music Stage

Another for the collection...

Ironman 70.3 World Championship Finisher Medal