Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Iron Girl Lake Tahoe, Pre-Race Decisions

On Saturday, after Friday's unexpected turn of events at the Reno Air Races, hubby decided to head up to Lake Tahoe with our daughter Asa and I. It was really good for him to be able to get away from Reno, from the televisions constantly showing the Youtube videos of the crash, and the fact that the NTSB crash investigators were staying in our hotel. Tahoe is such a lovely place, and we got a beautiful hotel room to stay in (a lucky last-minute find for me) at the Mariott Lodge at the base of the Heavenly gondola. As you can see, Asa was jumping for joy at the idea of a weekend at the lake (yes, the girl loves water as much as her mama!)

After getting registered and checking my bike into transition on Saturday, I listened to the course talk, a wise decision since this course is a bit unusual. For one thing, you can't even see the lake from the transition area, it's quite a ways down the road and around a couple of corners. So they have a special "shoe transition" so you don't have to make the whole run barefoot. I got to meet up with Laura, the winner of our Irongirl race entry giveaway here on the Ironmom Blog, and her husband. This was a real treat since Laura is about the nicest athlete you could hope to meet. It was great fun to have someone to share the experience with, especially coming from so far out of town. Not only was she awesome and fun, but check out her pro-quality transition area: neat, and well-organized with just the right amount of gear. Very impressive!

After saying goodbye to Laura and promising to meet up in transition the next morning, I headed down to the lake with my family. The main decisions I needed to make were:

1. Wetsuit or not? It was only going to be a 400 meter swim so a wetsuit would give me a negligible speed advantage. The water temperature was given at 67 degrees, very doable without a wetsuit. However, the air temperature on race morning was predicted to be in the high 30's, which meant that coming out of the water chilled might be a bad idea. Then there was the problem of the 1/3 mile run to T1, which could be awkward in a tight wetsuit.

2. Shoes or not? Should I stage some shoes at the lakeside to wear to the transition area - how bad did the pavement look for running in bare feet?

3. Wear my regular bike helmet or the Pointy Helmet of Speed (which I have previously referred to as the Helmet of Ultimate Dorkitude)? In a race that's mostly tailored for first-timers, I hate to wear that silly helmet, I think it looks kinda presumptuous. However, in very cold air, it has the added advantage of covering my ears and keeping them from getting chilled and ear-achey, something that they're prone to.

I decided to swim the course and make a call based on that. Getting in, the water felt decidedly chilly but not unreasonable. The lake was choppy with the afternoon wind, but beautifully clear. I swam the course with no trouble. However, when I got out, even with the afternoon sunshine streaming down, I quickly became very chilled. It took over an hour to warm back up. That did it, my decision was to wear a wetsuit.

On the shoe front, I decided that the road looked too rough to run in bare feet and decided to stage some shoes, along with a small towel to knock some of the very coarse sand off.

And yes, I went with the Pointy Helmet of Speed. When I got out of the lake, just the afternoon breeze was giving me an ear-ache after that cold water. I figured I would look ridiculous, but I'd be happy if my inner ears did not feel like someone was stabbing them with ice picks.

Tomorrow I'll post my race report and let you know how those decisions worked out on race day!


michelle and murph said...

Greetings! I am 44 and have always wanted to do a triathlon. I thought I couldn't do the swim so I never tried. Well that has all changed! I finished my first (yes I plan to keep on doing it), a sprint,last weekend. I swam without a wet suit, ran barefoot (well, with my 5 toe shoes) and finished in under 2 hours (my goal). Next time I will get faster. Thank you for your inspiration, I enjoy your blog and it is a big reason I started running barefoot and signed up for the race. OH and we are unschoolers. Cheers, Michelle

Robin said...

That is awesome Michelle! Congrats on your first triathlon, that's a very exciting accomplishment. I've never done a race in my FiveFingers only because I have a hard time getting them on when my feet are wet. How did you find putting them on after the swim to be? All the best in your training, and make sure to let me know if you have any training questions!

michelle and murph said...

Robin,the shoes were more difficult to put on but I dumped a bunch of baby powder in before attempting. Since seconds really don't matter to me it was fine. I would never run without them! www.mmsranch.blogspot.com