Sunday, 1 April 2012

Leadman Race Report

I had decided a little over a month ago that I was going to do the Leadman Epic 125 in Las Vegas on 31 March instead of Texas 70.3. I had changed my tune-up race for two reasons: cost and course similarity to St George. After having completed the race yesterday I think I made the right choice.

First off that was truly the most Epic race I have ever completed. It was a mental challenge throughout the day and for the first time in a race I was really wondering if I was going to be able to run to the finish.

I woke up shortly before 6 after having tossed and turned for most of the night. The accommodations were great at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, the host hotel for the race. I got up ate a banana and mixed my electrolyte drink mix, Gu Brew – Blueberry Pomegranate. I packed up the few remaining items and headed out the door. I stopped at a local Starbucks to get a coffee, a bagel, and some oatmeal. I drove the last twenty minutes or so to the race venue at Boulder Beach. It was evident that the swim was going to be a challenge as the wind had clearly picked up over night and there was definitely some chop in the water.  I finished putting my bike together before transition opened ensuring I had lots of time to just relax and enjoy racing again. I took a picture of my new Shiv as it would be her first race and only second time on the road!

After checking into transition I still had over an hour and a half before race start. I walked around for a bit enjoying the fresh air and going through the race in my head. I then found a nice quiet spot along the beach and spent some time doing my devotions (reading Romans)…a nice easy way to calm my nerves and remind myself of reality. Shortly after nine I decided it was time to finish the final prep and get a short swim in. I put my wetsuit on, dropped off my post race gear bag, and then headed into the water. The water was brisk, but once in for a couple minutes it was refreshing. I swam for about ten minutes and then headed back to the boat ramp to await the start. 

The race started a few minutes late with my wave leaving at 1011hrs vice the posted 1006hrs. It was a water start with less than fifty metres to the first buoy and then a turn left. That first fifty metres was chaotic, with hands and feet flailing, and a kick to my face that just about knocked my goggles off. After the first buoy things settled down as the next turn buoy was not for another 800 or so metres. It was an easy relaxed swim as the wind was coming from behind and providing that little extra propulsion. At the corner it was difficult to locate the next buoy…it was easier to see the stand-up paddle so I swam in his general direction until I located the next turn buoy. At this point we were swimming almost directly into the wind with small swells of 1-2ft. They were not big swells but there appeared to be no rhythm to the motion.  It was extremely difficulty sighting this long leg of over 1km with only one buoy in the middle one at the end. I had to stop a couple times to pick-up a reference point on the mountain range so I could site the general direction. After what seemed like an eternity I reached the corner buoy turned right once, swam another 100m and turned right for the last time. A couple hundred more metres of swimming and I was at the final left turn that would lead to shore. With 2.5kms completed it was time to move on to the funner aspects of the race.  I scrambled up the boat ramp, glanced at my watch only to realize that it was completely fogged. Swim time 53:47…that was the toughest swim I have ever done.

It was a fairly routine transition with strippers assisting with the wetsuit removal and then me fumbling to get my socks and shoes on with not so agile fingers. Once on the bike it was a couple hundred metres of climbing from transition and then I was off. I was so happy to be on the bike as in my opinion the race had finally started. It was a very tough ride with continuous climbs and descents not including the 30-40km/hr winds. I just hung tough and continued to monitor my power output trying to ensure I was below 250W on the climbs and attempting to maintain 220W on the flats. The turn-around just couldn’t come quick enough…at ~1:40 I finally reached the turn-around. At this point in the bike I had yet to be passed, but had completed numerous passes myself. Shortly thereafter I was passed for the first and only time during the race. I just kept pushing through the bike enjoying the scenery, yah right like I actually had time to do that. I was more focused on not getting blown off the road. The final 15kms back up Lakeshore drive were by far the worst with ridiculous crosswinds that kept almost pushing me into opposing traffic.  And finally I reached transition…109.5kms(though I had 113kms on my GPS) in 3:28:38.

I knew I was not in good shape coming off the bike. It was a quick transition, a brutal climb to the top of the hill, and then a left turn straight into the 40km/hr wind. It was the first time in a race that I actually wondered if I would be walking to the finish. I saw one of the Female Pros, Charisa Wernick, just ahead of me though at the time I did not recognize who it was. I decided that I was going to just keep running and hopefully catch her. After arriving at the first aid station I put a Gu Gel downrange, grabbed a cup of coke, HEED, and water as I realized I was dehydrated and almost bonking. I walked through the aid station to ensure I got some calories into me. As soon as I was through the aid station I started to run again, all I could think about was that I was going to run to the finish. I kept reminding myself of Philippians 3:14…I press on towards the goal… I took it an aid station at a time stopping to get more calories down range and ensuring I didn’t bonk. Charisa and I kept switching the lead…I was extremely thankful to have someone to keep me running. At one point my right quad seized up. I stopped, rubbed it a little, started walking and then back running again. The miles slowly ticked by and each one gave me more motivation to finish strong. The last mile was by far the hardest a steep climb into Boulder City and finally the arrival at City Hall! The epic 125 was completed in 5:32:15, but I was happy to just be done.  I finished 14 overall, 6th Amateur, and 2nd in my Age Group.

It was truly an Epic Race. I would like to thank:
my Coach, Brian Grasky of Grasky Endurance, for his encouragement, workouts, and of course support
Compressport Canada for the awesome Calf Sleeves and Socks.
Charissa Wernick for pushing me through the run! You rocked it girl!
My truly amazing wife and kids for the daily support, encouragement, and the time required to train.