SILVERMAN 2010 RACE REPORT
On 11.7.2010 I participated in Silverman for the second time.
Last year I crashed on the bike as my front tire blew out one third into the Government Wash descent, 15 mi into the bike leg. I was grounded for a while maybe 45 min to an hour and miraculously an athlete pulled over and gave me the tube I needed (I had packed the wrong type). Although in a lot of pain I was able to make the 17:00 bike cut-off time and finish the event with a over 5hr marathon.
This year for my third iron event I fine-tuned nutrition, preparation and training was what it was considering we moved to a new house one week before the event and that the year 2010 was very stressful on many fronts. I made it to the start pretty rested and ready. The drive from LA to Henderson was pleasant, the venue hotel near the swim start and T1. Perfect weather with 69F water in Lake Las Vegas, 74F air temp with some overcast. This sounds like a dream of a triathlon day!
Silverman is a pretty well-organized event with dedicated volunteers and support crew. Thank you to all of you volunteers for making this event so warm and fun. Pasta dinner on Friday night, speech by Dave Scott (6 times world champion), presentation of all the Challenged Athletes Foundation / Operation Rebound. All soldiers with some parts missing. Mostly legs. One of them earned gold at Beijing in the hand-crank bike event. Thanks to all of you who donated to the cause. At my table, there were some guys who had done Silverman since the start (their 6th time this year). Remarkable endurance athletes in their 50s. They started triathlon 30 years ago.
Saturday. Checking in the bike and bags was a breeze. By 11:00 I was done with all the prep stuff and I spent the rest of the day doing nothing but a 10 min swim, a 10 min bike, and a 10 min run. Off to bed very early. We were gaining an hour of sleep because of the time change (when did we vote for that?)
Sunday. Awakened right on time. In T1 at 6 am after a brisk morning walk. Just time to check tire pressure put on wet suit eat some, drink some load the bike with nutrition chat with so and so. One beauty of triathlon is the simple connection with others. Everyone looks pretty much the same, do the same. Common purpose makes for easy communications.
Ready to go yeah! They let us 10 min before the 7 am start in the water to warm up. The water feels great, the sky is blue. Everyone seems happy. Someone plays the US anthem on a trumpet. Best so far. The gun goes. I let the big swimmers start first and then I get started. The water feels great until a part of my mind starts freaking out. “Not safe”, “Not enough safety canoes”, “A guy died in Dubai”. I can only breath on the left side for 5 to ten minutes to prevent hyperventilating (or more exactly to indulge in hyperventilating – I usually breath alternatively on both sides). I’m in no hurry I’ve already forgotten it’s a race! I end the swim in good spirits. I don’t carry a watch so I have no idea what time it is!
Bummer the swim is over already! Wet suit strippers take the water skin away. Short run to the bike stuff. Pee stop. You can’t be too hydrated to start a day in the Nevada desert’s 23% humidity. Change into bike clothes (new strategy: wear the same stuff as in training). Hop on the bike. The temperature is perfect and so is the scenery. Soon a guy named Joel who had the same pants, a family doctor from Steamboat CO, pulls up and we’ll ride on and off together for the bike leg. His girlfriend was following him on a Vespa. I thought that was pretty cool.
The desert was beautiful and I was enjoying myself. Chatting with volunteers etc. At mile 30 or so, not far from where I crashed last year there’s a stranded cyclist. Ah! He needs a tube. Same as me last year. Minus the crash. So happy to help him. I have only one tube for Zipp wheel but Joel gives me one of his and I have an extension. I give the guy CO2. Very happy to give back. The guy was from Puerto Rico. On with riding and enjoying the ride. The turnaround is earlier than last year and they paved the road with fresh asphalt. Very smooth riding. Great aid stations. Turn around already at mile 65 or so. I wish we had gone further in the desert. Going to Henderson to start the run. Yeah!
THE SLOW BIKER
After a while at mile 80 I start to get worried about the time I don’t have a watch and there’s no one in sight. By the position of the sun I estimate it’s 3:30pm and I start getting concerned about not making the cut-off time for the bike. I start to push a little more and I leave Joel behind. I catch up to a girl and I ask the time. 3:02! Better than I thought. Shortly after a cop tells me that I’m good. I should make the 3:45 check point. And I do! Yeah!
After that the course enters the area with the most climbing. Successive very steep hills called the Three Sisters. The sun is setting and that creates a 25mph head wind. Thank you Three Sisters… Athletes start to pop off, blowing out on a sister and either walking up or just sitting down exhausted. It’s hard. Grueling. Sickening actually. Total body pain. There’s no word for it. Harder than last year with an injury. Push push push. At mile 105 Joel catches up with me. I mention to him that after the last climbs I wouldn’t mind if I wouldn’t make the cut-off.
In Henderson, at mile 110 I ask a cop for the time and it’s past 5. No run for us. Over. At the T2 entry a guy takes my bike away and tells me I won’t be able to run. It makes me of happy actually. A little disappointed because the run is my favorite part. I am not in it to exhaust myself. So I went to get some food and went back to the hotel and I was in bed by 10pm watching those crazy paranormal shows (I never watch TV so it’s fun to indulge).
So. What’s up with this type of performance? I need to wake myself up to the fact that I should swim a bit faster and not interact so much with others on the bike. After reflection I find that my main disappointment is that I haven’t gotten to run. I look into immediate marathon races and I find the Malibu Marathon. However I think it’s too much effort and driving so I have decided to design my own Griffith Park Marathon and run it myself this week-end. I need to spend the energy that wasn’t spent on Sunday!
Beside that I have refined my race nutrition. Before the swim I eat PowerBar protein chocolate balls with the new PowerBar drink (easy on the mouth). On the bike I have many LoveForce Raw Organic Vegan bars sliced and packed in a ziplock. As always, I drink water from the front bottle that is fixed to the aerobars and one 24oz bottle of Accelerade that I replace with Gatorade bottles they hand at the aid stations.
I refill the front by plugging a bottle of water in it and squeezing (not sure that I should say I ‘save’ time there!). I pop two Endurolyte capsules every hour. This worked great because I was dying to put my legs to work on the run and that’s the whole point of bike nutrition. I had left a bottle of Accelerade for miles 50 (there’s a bag there) but after Gatorade it doesn’t taste so good.
That’s it. Fun times. Even though I still think they should reconsider the cut-off times. They are going to alienate a lot of people. I’m not going back I think. There are many other events out there.