Las Vegas… what a week. After a week in the Alps including some snow on top of Glandon (more on that later), The Dutchman and I hit Las Vegas and walked into a wall of heat. Talk about extreme’s! Emma-Kate had warned me it would be hot, but this was something else… it was 8pm and still scorching!
We decided on a few days checking out Las Vegas itself and almost had the Mandalay Bay casino on its knees with us doubling our money and walking away with a whopping $12 with our roulette efforts! I also took the opportunity to do some training in the heat ahead of the race to see how I would handle it. Having had a terrible race in Kona at the Ironman World Championships a few years ago, I’d learned my lesson well in terms of taking the time to acclimatise.
I headed out to ride the bike course which was really beautiful through the Lake Mead National Park. I was surprised at how undulating the course was; perfect for me though as I wanted nothing too steep so that most of it was possible with the aero bars. I took a shot of The Dutchman’s Garmin showing the temperature to be 45.2 degrees…at 11am.
Come race day I was fit and raring to go, having done all of the bike course, some of the run and participated in the practice swim. I was going to be doing two things in this race that I had tried in training but not in a race. I swear they ‘saved’ me from the heat on the day. First up was my new Speedfil Hydration System. I had set up so the straw so that it was less than 1cm from my mouth, enabling me to keep drinking without even thinking about it. I went through close to four litres of water and energy drinks on bike alone. The second thing I did was wear RecoFit Armcoolers. I’m fair skinned so decided that regardless of what cooling benefit they provide (they claim around 5 degrees Fahrenheit), it was wise of me to try and cover up my skin as much as possible. (it’s also why I wear the Zone3 Aquaflo Tri Suit – it covers my back and protects my skin from the sun). The trick with the arm coolers is to keep them wet and although they were dry by the time I rolled into each aid station, a good dousing set me up for the next stretch.
The course had a unique structure as it was split transition. This isn’t unusual in itself but the fact that T1 and T2 were around 25km apart was a new experience for me. It also made it very difficult for the Dutchman to watch the race as he was trapped on the single road leading out from T1. It took him two hours to get over to T2, which meant missing most of my run which was a shame and also meant that my chief photographer and cheerleader was tied up…
By the time I hit the run, the temperature was over 40 degrees and it was only just after 11am! Every aid station I was tipping cups of water over my head, gulping down coke and tipping ice down the front and back of my trisuit. In Vegas, it’s probably more normal to find $5 bills stashed in various bits of clothing, but for me it was High 5 gels… I’d stuffed a few down the front of my tri suit in T2 and had a nice little surprise at one point when I pulled a High5 gel out that had been in amongst the ice. Who knew an ice cold gel could be so refreshing?! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, triathlon is not exactly a high glamour sport…!!
It was hard work, especially the long uphill section but I smiled throughout the race loving the fact that I was at the World Championship! I made a point of thanking the volunteers (when I was capable of speech) and giving the crowds some small waves of acknowledgement for cheering me on.
My goal going into the race was to go under 5:30 hours which was going to be a new PB for me on a Half Ironman distance and a bit of a stretch on a tough course in the heat. Sooooo, I am so pleased to report that I fell over the finish line in a time of 5:29:33! Yep, I had a whole 27 seconds to spare!
Though I must admit that there was less smiling in the last 3km when I knew it was now or never to up the pace and really go for it. I was 37th in my age group and 728th overall. Both much better results than I expected. Next up Nice triathlon and my triathlon season finale, The London Triathlon. Bring it on!