A couple of months ago, Todd and I were planning a trip to Tahoe to visit his folks and hit the trails. After a little too much time perusing races on Active.com during the off-season, it instantly struck me that the timing was right to do the Iron Girl there.
I loved the idea of getting a chance to swim in Lake Tahoe after hearing about Brett Blankner’s endurance swim there last summer. I loved the idea of getting a taste of what it’s like to race at elevation since they introduced a new Ironman event there. Hey, I’m no way near ready to take on an Ironman, but a sprint? I hadn’t done one since before my knee surgery almost four years ago. That I could handle. I looked forward to pegging it in a new environment!
We drove 500 miles straight to the check-in, which was mandatory the night before the race. Then I made a quick change in the car and we strolled down to the lake. I wanted to see if I could tolerate the temp without resorting to wearing a wetsuit. The water was about 65 degrees, maybe cooler. Nothing I couldn’t tolerate for 10 minutes after all the cold-water training I did in Lynne’s unheated pool last winter.
Before the race started as we headed to the beach, we heard the race MC announce, “Now, you’re going to see a couple of ladies without wet suits. Those will be some of the local girls!” Todd and I laughed. No there was one crazy, So Cal girl too. You can recognize her by the blue lips and the goofy goggles on race morning.
The 43-degree air temp was a bit much. Glad Todd stood next to me on the other side of the chute, so I could hand off my sweatshirt and hat at the last possible second.
My first goal of this race was to do it without a wet suit. I had never raced without one, so it represented breaking through a huge mental barrier for me. Taking up swimming late in life made me a little too co-dependent on that thing. It was only a 400-meter swim. I had to go for it. It went well. But I overshot the second buoy. This was the first place where I probably lost a good minute or two.
T1 went well for me. It was one of the longest I’ve ever done.
We had to run up one block around a corner for another block and through the race chute. But it was a long one to do bare foot. Note to self: Next time, bring a pumice stone so you don’t have black feet for the rest of your vacation.
When I got to my bike, I was surprised to see I was one of the first few who made it back to the racks in my age group. Um, that never happens in the races I’ve done the past few years. We raced two loops from the strip to Zephyr Cove. There were a lot of rollers that felt steeper when you’re used to zero elevation and racing at 6,200-feet plus. There were some places that felt so cold that my feet where shivering in the pedals.
I had trouble taking in any fluids on the bike. Not sure if something got wedged on my Speedfill or if I was just too winded from the elevation to draw fluids properly. I’m thinking the latter because I’ve never had issues with my Speedfill before. I had five sips of water the whole 15 miles. Note to self: Buy a normal bottle cage for sprints like this one.
T2 was uneventful. Looked like a few more gals came in ahead of me. I need to work on grabbing my stuff faster. But it was one of my betters ones.
On the first lap of the run, I cramped up badly and walked before and through the aid station. It was pretty bad and not my norm. I’m thinking it was dehydration. Todd found me and looked concerned when he saw me walking. Grrr, I didn’t want him to see that… but his encouragement helped. The second lap went better. I passed a couple of ladies in my age group in the last mile. I went as hard as I could in the last half mile. I finished strong. And then another first – as soon as I crossed the finish line, I puked. I didn’t even know I was nauseous. The poor volunteers stepped back and looked at each other like ‘Who’s going to put a medal on her? You do it!’ And all I could think was ‘Way to impress Todd’s parents!!’ They swear they missed that part. After I made my way out of the finish area, I immediately spotted my enthusiastic tri sherpas. I was so happy to see them and it meant the world to have them there. I knew Todd would be wonderful. I was afraid his folks might be bored there. But it was obvious they enjoyed taking in the whole thing. His mom spent hours making her artsy sign the night before. And they were so patient, waiting for me to check on results and gather my stuff.
I was pleased to find out that I did pretty well. I was 9th out of 64 in my age group; 150 out of 605 overall. I was about 4 minutes off the podium. And you know what? That was just a matter of better navigating of the buoys and better hydration. Woulda? Coulda? Shoulda? No, I’m just feeling like maybe one of these days, it might be doable.
We had a nice celebratory breakfast back at Zephyr Cove. Well, it looked tastey, but my body was only ready for a café mocha. As I answered some texts about the race from friends back in Cali, I heard Todd joking with his parents, “You know I should get Minnow some jewelry one of these days. We’ve been dating for so long, you’d think I would get her something by now.” (Yeah, my guy is amazing, but he is not a shopper.) I may have made a smart a$$ comment back about the fact that grocery stores don’t sell jewelry. Then he said, “I should find her some jewelry and put it in a little pink mesh bag.” And then I thought ‘Wait, where did that come from?’ I looked up and there in front of me was a little pink mesh bag and we all started laughing. Yes, my tri sherpa totally surprised me with an Iron Girl necklace charm. Hey, if I knew that was waiting for me, maybe I would've gone a little faster!