The Lead In {Ironman Lake Tahoe}

I think that now that I have about two weeks between myself and my first DNF (did not finish), that I am finally ready to talk about it publicly.  So, let’s go with my pre-race report for Ironman Lake Tahoe.  And then I’ll be able to give you a race report for what I did complete.

Thursday – I arrived with my training pals and friends in Reno, NV on 9/19.  This was the plan for the last six months in order to let our sea level loving bodies acclimate to the 6,000+ feet of elevation that Lake Tahoe is at.  We flew, and our bikes hopped a ride with TriBike transport leaving from Armonk, NY.


Arriving to the race venue from out-of-town on a Thursday was a little stressful but not too bad.  We drove from the airport directly to Squaw Valley, which was the home of the finish line and the Ironman expo.  We needed to get our bikes and gear bags back in our possession from TriBike Transport.  From there we headed out to a beautiful mountainside home in Truckee, CA that was on loan to us from a friend of a friend.



A quick glimpse from Kings Beach, CA

I should take a quick moment to say that from the time we drove out of the Reno airport I was amazed.  I knew the Tahoe area was beautiful, but come on.  This was just stunning.  After checking out our digs for the week and dropping all of our triathlon belongings, we headed to the grocery store to get food and whatever else we needed.  With a three-hour time difference and having traveled all day, it was an early bed time for all involved!

Friday – Friday was an early morning as we wanted to head down to the swim start and get in a practice swim.  We had a one hour swim on our schedule, plus I really wanted to see how the altitude was going to affect my swim.  Just for fun, it turned out that Friday morning’s temperature would be similar to that of race morning.  It was in the low 30’s.  Brrrrrr.  Yeah, are you kidding me.  Anyway, I put on a swim suit, sweat pants, a sweatshirt, a winter hat, gloves and a jacket, grabbed my wetsuit and we headed down to the swim.  (Seriously, who in the world wants to go swimming when it’s that cold out?! Not me.)  Once down at Kings Beach it was very apparent that we were not alone and that indeed an Ironman was going to be taking place in just a few days.  There were triathletes in wetsuits everywhere.  This really helped to build my own excitement level… and possibly coax me in to the water.

IMG_4170Post-swim.  Layers, layers, layers…. BRRRRRR!

As it turned out while the beach was freezing cold, the water was about 65 on Friday.  After having swum in 60 degree water in Maine, this didn’t feel so bad.  I wore my long sleeve wetsuit and two swim caps to keep my head warm.  I quickly decided that I would not be sporting two caps on race day as it was giving me a headache.  Well, that or the elevation.   While swimming I only noticed the altitude slightly as I found that I was a bit disoriented until I got a good rhythm going.  Fortunately, my goggles leaked like a SOB so I knew I’d need to remedy that before race day.  All in all the practice swim left me feeling ok.  My time was definitely slower, but I didn’t feel like I was going to die.  Plus.

Notes from the swim:  My feet were going to freeze on the beach race morning.  No two caps.  Fix goggles and make sure you have a good seal.  Take your time….. Get a good rhythm and just swim.

After drying off and changing from the swim, oh and drinking coffee to warm up, we headed up to Squaw to check ourselves in and go to registration.  Olympic village was bustling with triathletes.  We checked in with Ironman, checked out the expo and wandered a bit.


The Olympic Village was an incredible venue for the finish line area.


Welcome triathletes!

IMG_4176And my coveted backpack, earned by submitting my body to all of those hours of training.

After playing around at the expo for a little bit we headed back to home to relax, freshen up and then come back down to the athlete dinner.  I have to say that other than meeting Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, at the dinner, I was left feeling a little unimpressed.  Ironman did not have near enough seats for everyone present, people were bumping into me the entire time and the whole thing was just eh.  I was impressed to hear that there were over 600 first timers attempting to complete and Ironman with me on Sunday.  Again, with the three-hour time difference we were wiped out.  After the dinner and the athlete meeting we headed home for some much-needed sleep.

Saturday – Saturday morning we were supposed to do a 10 mile bike ride and a 2 mile run.  Just to loosen everything up, make sure the bikes were working correctly and get ourselves in the right frame of mind.  Saturday morning was cold, windy and raining on and off.  I considered doing the workout, but I wasn’t willing to get all of my gear that I needed for Sunday’s race wet.  No way.  Oh and the forecast for Sunday would need all of that gear as they were calling for a morning low of 28 with a day time high just over 50.  Layers, layers, layers my friends.

So instead of doing a little work out, I set to work laying out my things and organizing my bags.  This is a daunting and tedious task in the best of weather.  Now imagine trying to pack gear for these race conditions.  I need to be doing a full change at each transition to dry myself off as much as possible and attempt to keep warm.  I need to have plenty of clothes to start that bike ride because mostly likely it will be sub 40 at the outset.  Oh the fun.


Empty Bags

IMG_4211Bag piles

IMG_4214Full Bags… Minus morning, she’s not full.

After everyone was packed up, we loaded all of the bikes and the bags into the van we’d rented and headed down Squaw Valley to T2 first (bike to run).  We dropped off our run bags in the howling wind.  The weather was so yucky that the expo was closed and most of the tents were down.  We then headed down to Kings Beach to T2 (swim to bike) to check in our bags and our bikes.  When we got to Kings Beach the rain was coming down pretty hard and it was so windy.  There were giant white caps out on the lake.  Everyone was smiling and laughing about how ridiculous the weather was being.  Oh and did I mention that as I dropped off my bag in transition, it was hailing. Hard.  WTF…. this weather was really starting to get under my skin.


Bag number 562 in its home for the night.


Please note the lake conditions in the picture.  Yes, let’s swim 2.4 miles.

All of the gear was dropped off, we were cold and wet, but we had one more thing to do.  We had already driven most of the bike course.  However, a section of it goes through a private community called Martis Camp.  Ironman had gotten permission to open it up for a preview for two hours today.  So, we drove there in the rain to check out how bad those climbs would be.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures and even though they let us have a preview they did not allow us to preview the entire thing.  The only words I have are … well, I have no words really.  It looked tough, but doable.  Here I was the day before Ironman knowing that I would need to ride it not once, but twice and at 7,000+ feet.  I was sure that Sunday was going to be interesting.

martis+camp+climbThe climb in Martis Camp

We left and headed back for home to eat dinner, relax and go to sleep early.  We did all of the above, but not before it started to snow.  Needless to say I got almost no sleep that night.  All of this made me extremely nervous and restless.

So that’s the lead in to the race.  I’ll follow-up with the race day soon.  Happy Saturday people!

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1 Response to The Lead In {Ironman Lake Tahoe}

  1. Those conditions sounded so bad, I had to laugh too. I mean, WTF. You had to swim in those waves? Another blogger said he woke up on race day and there was ice on his bike.
    I’m just a marathon runner so Triathlons sound insane to me anyway. But at 6,000 ft and in that cold? Yikes!

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