Saturday, April 12, 2014

RAGE Triathlon Race Report - Olympic Distance tri

The Rage Triathlon is put on by BBSC Multi Sport and takes place at Lake Mead National Park just outside of Las Vegas.  They offer a sprint, Olympic, and Half (70.3) distance.  I have not raced with BBSC before, but had heard good things.  I had a couple of friends doing this one, so we made a mini road trip out of it and it was a blast!

Friday morning, Mike, Melinda, Alicia and I all headed south to Vegas for our race.  Mike and I were doing the Olympic distance, Alicia was doing the sprint, and Melinda was along as race support extraordinaire Seriously, these people are a riot!  I had so much fun and laughed until my sides hurt with these friends!  Once we got to Vegas, we went to packet pick up, and got our cool shirts and swag bags.  I like that it is a shirt I will actually wear!  It was also in a very cool triathlon shop and I spent some time drooling over bikes :)  We then did what probably isn't ideal pre-race, and walked the strip.  Hey, you can't miss that right?  We had fun, ate an amazing burger, and enjoyed people watching.

Gorgeous morning for a race!!
My goal for this race was simply to treat it as dress rehearsal for IM StG 70.3, as I figured the conditions and the courses are pretty similar.  I didn't care about time, I just wanted to practice pacing, nutrition and see if my new tri kit will make the cut for StG :)

I actually slept pretty well, and we got up and left the condo to get to the race site by 6:30.  My swim wave didn't start until 7:50.  I was thrilled to be at a start line again, and really liked how BBSC set up transition.  We had plenty of space and it was one very long transition area, instead of the standard rows.  The only draw back to this is that it was a long run to get in and out, but it was worth it for the extra space.

It was already very hot waiting on my swim wave and I knew I was in for a scorcher.  I was glad that I had thrown salt tabs into my bag for this trip and knew I would use them on the bike.  Before I knew it, it was time to suit up for the swim!

My swim wave wasn't huge and it was a deep water start.  I visited with other people and was shocked at how cold the water was!  It was freezing, even with a full wetsuit!  I really wish I would have worn my skull cap under my swim cap, because as soon as we were off and I put my head under the cold hit and I had a brain-freeze style head ache for the first 5-10 minutes.  The swim started off and went to a buoy that was out a ways and involved sighting into the sun.  I had a hard time seeing where I was going and I had a hard time hitting my groove till we past that, as I was pretty disoriented and frustrated trying to figure out where  the dang buoy was.  Even though this seemed like a long time to get where I felt like I was in a rhythm, it was only till that first buoy and the turn there that I felt that way, only 300 yards max.  Once there I was able to find a good groove and it was a straight shot to another green buoy that I could sight the whole time and felt like I finally was where I wanted to be.  I didn't have much contact with other swimmers, the water and area were really pretty and I was happy to calm down, and enjoy the swim.  The water did get choppy at times, but I actually like this for a challenge.  I did take in more water than I would have wanted, but I was still happy with the majority of the swim.  Once out of the water, my final swim time was 32:50 for one mile swim.  Not great, but it was that crappy start that did me in, and also the fact that the timing mats for the "end" of the swim were quite a ways from where you actually exited the water.

As I mentioned before, the way this transition was set up, it was a long row of bikes on either side and it took me awhile to get to my bike running down this giant row to get there.  I had a hard time getting out of my wetsuit and switching to the bike gear, then running my bike all the way down to the other end to the bike mount area.  My T1 time was 4:49, which was average for my age group on this transition.


The bike course was on a hill immediately out of transition.  I hate this because you really have a hard time hitting your groove.  This was a difficult course with TONS of hills.  I did over 75% of this 25 mile bike course in the small ring.  It was a never ending onslaught of big climbs, then a down hill, then repeat, repeat, repeat. I could not think of a better training ride for StG!   It was brutal when you add in the heat of over 90 degrees, absolutely no shade, and wind.  I was glad to hit my nutrition for this ride, I stuck with my Perpetuem, shot blocks, and a salt tab every 30 minutes and water in between.  The hills were fun on the down hill, I finally got gutsy enough to do every down hill in aero.  It was a fun reward for the climbing!  I felt that I had to make up time wherever I could and take advantage of the free momentum!  As hard as this bike was, I felt like I handled it well and though I was tired, I didn't feel like it was killing me, but I was glad to get it over with as well.  My only gripe with this out and back course is the bike aide station wasn't until about mile 19-20 of the 25 mile course.  Really?!?  This meant I was with out water for about 25 minutes.  Why not have it at the turn around?  It made no sense and it was pretty irritating, but I got over it.  Final bike time was 1:40:28, an average speed of 15 mph.  Considering how much climbing was in this course, I'll take it!!

Another slow transition as I had to run forever and get to my spot.  Then, it was a really quick shed the cycling stuff, throw on the running shoes and be on my way.  I did take a pit stop at the porta-potties.  Total T2 time was 3:16.

Man, the first part of this run was bad.  Not one thing good about it really.  This was also an out and back run course and to get to the turn around it was one giant gradual up hill to that point.  Then, right off, the run start did the first mile on a very gravelly and rocky path!  It was awful!  It was pretty demoralizing and I knew I was going slower than a herd of turtles through peanut butter, and it was hot, my body was tired, and I just did not love this first part of the run.  BBSC was good about frequent aid stations on this run, and with the heat they were absolutely critical.  I grabbed a Gatorade and a water at every station.  I only walked at the aid stations but my run was pretty much a granny shuffle until the turn around due to the uphill of the course.  I started to question my sanity of doing StG knowing that it is very much like this course, only longer.  I started to think negatively, beat myself for a crappy run, etc.  Thank heaven it was about this time I saw Mike pass me on his way back in.  He yelled, "Looking strong!" and gave me a high five.  It is amazing how just seeing a friend on the course and getting a little support turns things around for you.  It was not far after that at all, maybe a half mile, that I finally hit the turn around.  That was a "Hail Mary!" moment!  It gave me the mental boost to know that this Death March was half way done, and it was literally all down hill from that point out.  I really hit a good groove on the second half of the run and tried to give high fives and shout outs to the people that were around me.  I dare say I actually enjoyed the second half of the run?!?  I was thrilled to be done though and crossed the finish line to my friends cheering me on.  Final run time was 1:14:24 for this 6.2 mile run, an average pace of a 12 minute mile, but this did include a longish bathroom break.  It is what it is.


The finish line was fun, I got a cool medal (I can now add it to my out of state medal count) and they had the standard water, chocolate milk and bananas.  I grabbed one of each.  Then they had a shaded tent where they did lunch for the athletes of a sub sandwich, chips and cookies.  That was very nice!  Final total time for this Olympic distance was 3:35:45.  All things considered, I am happy with this.  This was the toughest race I have ever done considering the heat, the wind, the constant hills, etc.


I would give BBSC 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I liked the packet pick up, the shirt, and the location, even given the hills.  I liked the frequent aid stations on the run.  The transition area I have mixed feelings about as they do give you a lot of room, but the nature of it is that is makes for long transitions.  I HATED the rocky start of the run course on the gravel, and the location of the bike course aid station at mile 19ish was pathetic.  They needed it much sooner than that.  Also, the lack of porta potties on the bike and run course was sad too.  However, they did well at many other things and I would race with them again.


As this was a dress rehearsal for StG, I took mental note of things to do differently or AHA! moments through out the day:

-Take a skull cap for the swim.
-Add an extra water bottle for cheap insurance on the bike, even though the aid stations by Ironman will be more frequent
-Salt Tabs are your best friend.  Will continue to do them every 30 minutes as needed
-Carry my hydration pack race belt.  The water will be needed, plus it doesn't ride up as bad as my other one does
-DO NOT USE THE SWIFT WICK SOCKS for races.  Great for a short run or ride, but blisters galore and my feet were so on the run.  Sheer misery.
-The new Betty Designs tri kit rocks.  No chaffing on the top, the bottoms rode up a little on the bike, but otherwise it was awesome.
-I survived this course and actually felt pretty good even at the end.  I now know I am ready for StG, and I am so grateful that I did this race to fine tune and few things, but I know that as long as I have realistic expectations and race smart, I will have a good race come three weeks :)


I have my last solid week of training this week then the Salt Lake City Half Marathon next Saturday to start my two week taper till StG.

Happy Training and Racing!

Melinda and I post race.  She rocks, plain and simple :)

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