I’ve never been shy about expressing how I feel about Las Vegas, quite frankly, I’m not sure why it’s never appealed to me. It’s not that I’ve spent too much time there, or had a bad experience visiting while I was a student at Arizona State. If I gambled and lost, it was never much, and there’s certainly been no “Hangover” type moments.
Qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships changed things, briefly. For once, I was actually looking forward to being there! Not having to deal with the Vegas Strip, where all of the “crazyness” allegedly happens didn’t hurt. How did I qualify? Well, as people say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good (or something along those lines). My qualifying race was Vineman 70.3, which had over 200 30-34 athletes. With only 2 LVQ spots, I wasn’t expecting 10th place would get me there, but it did. I like to think it was some sort of birthday present (Vineman fell on my birthday this year), thanks, those of you who declined your spots.
Leading up to the race:
After a 10 hour drive on Thursday, and a couple of pit-stops on the side of the highway (I must have over-hydrated) I arrived at my hotel in Henderson shortly after 1am. It was perfect, a Residence Inn with kitchen, couch, etc. Yes, I know it’s Vegas, but this was just what I was looking for, no need for the dog and pony. I had a few long days ahead of me, I headed to bed soon after unpacking.
Friday and Saturday were the typical pre-race routine kind of days. Check out the expo, register, pick up this, that, the other, and anything I forgot. I said hi to a few people and ran into my friend Jason (from Cervelo/Domestique Sports) who was my personal mechanic for the weekend. Thanks Jason!
T1 and T2 were pretty straightforward. One of the great things about WTC races, is that there’s typically a great deal of organization in the transition areas. T1 was pretty empty when I came by to drop off my bike, which I kind of enjoyed as I didn’t have to maneuver around too much. Due to the threat of rain, there were quite a few bikes with plastic bags covering the saddle, handlebars, and some even the derailleurs (really?, it’s just water!). I decided to take my helmet and shoes back to the hotel with me, as I wanted to be sure they were as dry as possible come Sunday, and also to make sure I had the right helmet on race day (I had a vented option, and an aero option).
After all of the build-up, training, and excitement leading up to the race, it was finally time. Susan had made the trip the day prior, which of course was great. I still don’t know how she puts up with me and this whole cycling and triathlon stuff, she’s even really good about pretending she enjoys it.
The swim: Undoubtedly the worst part of the race for me. I’m a horrible swimmer, and quite frankly may be beyond help. Being that it wasn’t a wetsuit race, I knew it’d be spending quite a while in the murky waters of Lake Las Vegas. As it turns out, apparently the swim was a bit longer than 1.2 miles… oh well. 41:49 was my time, a bit over my goal of sub 40 (I know, quite ambitious). On to the bike.
The bike: A long transition run was quite nice for getting the legs moving since I’m not much of a kicker when I swim. The fact that it was raining was great as it meant temperatures were quite cooler than expected. I’m also quite comfortable riding in the rain, however, I knew I’d have to pay more attention to those riding around me. The LV70.3 WC bike course is fairly challenging, off the bat, there’s a couple of risers as we go from the Lake Las Vegas resort area onto the main part of the course. Once we head down and back from the Lake Mead Recreation Area, it’s never really flat, just constant rollers. My goal for the bike was to try and stick to my power numbers and keep from spiking much above those. Unfortunately, in order to avoid some of the drafting packs, I had a few too many spikes and ended up cramping towards the end. Luckily, even as we climbed back up to T2, there were a few areas that I could coast and stretch out my quads. 2:30:17 was my official time, which I was pretty satisfied with given the circumstances.
The run: Running has been what I’ve worked on the most over the last year, and find it quite enjoyable now as a result. Needless to say, I had big expectations. While not an easy course by any means, it wasn’t killer either. The big unknowns were going to be how my effort on the bike would make my legs feel, and also how the heat (and now humidity) would affect me. The first mile came and went fairly quickly, I was more preoccupied with getting my number and watch on, but could still tell that I wasn’t running as well as I did at Vineman. I figured it may take a mile or two longer, but that I’d hopefully find my rhythm. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, whether it was my training, the heat, the humidity, etc. the run turned into what seemed like a death crawl. The course is mentally tough as it makes you run by the finish twice (really 5 times) before making that final turn, and it was especially on this day. Even though 1:39:42 (and 4:57:12 overall) wasn’t what I thought I was capable of, not every race will go according to “plan”. I’m not much for excuses, so I’ll just be looking forward to Oceanside, when I have another crack at the 70.3 distance.
Hearing the news that Sebi had repeated as World Champion immediately made me feel better. I was glad I had a chance to talk to him briefly on Saturday as I knew it’d be hard to after the race.
After a shower and some downtime, I was quickly reminded that there’s no disappointing result a margarita, some guacamole, and good company (Susan of course) can’t help you forget. While I’m glad I qualified this time around, I can’t say that I’d accept my slot if I got the opportunity again. Definitely not if the race was held in Vegas, but perhaps Mont-Tremblant will be different. I guess the best way is to find out. We’ll see!
If you want to get in touch feel free to comment below, or just drop me an email. Also, I’ll be posting some pictures of my equipment (I love gear) over the coming days (stay tuned).