The overall weekend was definitely worth the 7+ hours of driving each way!
Here are some of the tips I took away for various parts.
I'm not really a camper, so this week I used the REI voucher to get lots of camping gear from a tent to sleeping bag to eating utensils....Good to road test them out this weekend.
- Temperature: Weather was FREEZING (32 degrees) on Friday night. Need MUCH warmer sleeping and walking clothes. Sleeping bags are being traded up!
- Tent site: No formal camp-site for your tent, you find a spot and pitch the tent....there is not really any FLAT spaces. We chose a slight hill and rolled all night in the tent. Find a flat space!
- Sleeping comfort: Took an aero bed for some comfort but a standard pillow which caused major stiff neck. Try and swim with neck rotation when you can't move your neck...not good. TIP: Take the foam memory nasa pillow I bought for 3 weeks. Might need a bigger or double deep air mattress.
- Food: Planned out easy meals that were just adding water mainly or light cooking and No refrigeration. Most worked well so will be repeating this...oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs in a can, cheese toastie...
- Location: Camped at Harris site this weekend and the actual race is a 30 minute travel (walk/bike with gear on race day) from the race start. Coach Julie has secured spaces in the Lynch camp site right next the start...so many thanks to Julie! Otherwise, plan accordingly...especially with a large hill to navigate with all your stuff.
Saturday morning was the group bike ride. We were warned that the police were actively out on the roads ensuring people were biking single file only. They were issuing tickets of $150 if they spotted you not in single file. I'm sure this is not the case for race day....but did mean that the group ride wasn't really a group thing.
- Music: Practiced thinking of a few songs to use and sing to myself to get me through the bike. I had Love Shack, Black Eyed Peas Boom-Boom-Boom, and Rocky's Final Countdown for the Final 10 miles. Worked well, but I'll write a few down in the bento box.
- Bento Box: I've been using the bento box for tire supplies lately (had a ride last week with 2 flats in 1 hour - great practice and spooks me out now). But I noticed that FOOD is an issue then as not easily accessible. So need to get a repair bag for the back of bike and put food only in bento. Also - pre-cut and open the food.
- Food: I am always hungry on the bike and I've been using the IronMan Endurance drinks, Honey Stingers, and Cola chews. But my body craved (1) a sweeter more concentrated IronMan mix for Bottle #1 (2) Real food as in a Kind Bar or PB&J sandwich by Mile 30. Need to work out how to fit that into the bento box?!
- Best Locations to Do Stuff: I was scouting the route for where is a good place to focus on various activities like fueling, resting, etc..... My notes had Mile 10-15 as good eating, then Mile 28 for a 1 minute rest and recover as a half way point refresher on the top of the hill. Then Miles 30-32 again to eat, and another energy shot or boost at Mile 38-39 to prepare for the climbing. Rest and drink at the top of Nasty grade at Mile 43 before the rest of the climb. Mile 50 needed another boost of fuel (at this point body needed REAL food) to carry me through and start preparing for run.
- Nasty Grade: So when I drove into the campsite I crossed the dam and had to drive up a very steep windy road. I thought "this must be Nasty Grade". So when we were biking we were going up this hard slog of a hill and I kept thinking "man, if this is hard....how am I going to make it up that Nasty Grade windy hill?!". Then next thing I know I'm at a corner station with people cheering that they made it....I'd gotten up the hill and not even known it! It was definitely a killer hill....but completely do-able. I practice a routine now for long hills...pull ups on 1 leg for 8 count, then the other leg for 8 count, then the calf push for 10 counts, then stand up and ride for 4-6 counts. Repeat and vary as leg areas get tired. This keeps me focused on counting and looking down rather than anything else my mind wants to think about and I eventually get up a hill.
- Time: The overall time for the bike was 4:10 hours. The average speed was in 14-15 mph range which seems realistic. I don't think this included the stoppage time (my watch re-set so numbers are off) of which there were 3 - 1 to change clothes and fuel at mile 28, 1 for water after nasty grade at Mile 43, and 1 at the Bee Store for more Gatorade at Mile 50. Would be nice to get in under 4 hours, but we'll see...
Due to the knee, I just didn't want to push the running by testing the whole course. Did a 3 mile t-run after the bike to get the start and feel the jelly legs after a good hard bike ride....
Run plan is going to be a walk-run-walk. Aim is 3 hours....and I'll be very happy with that for this time!
Wish it could be different...but am in this for the long term and learning how to deal with what your body tells you is just part of the deal.
The club did a practice swim clinic on Sunday morning and it was near the Harris creek campground. So it was not the true course, but good enough to understand the water temperature, current, etc...
Some of the tips I got from Dave (awesome coach clinic!) and things I noted from prior experience....
- Lake vs Sea Water: Wow - it was nice to not have a salty taste in my mouth swimming. I did not get as dehydrated as in the SuperSeal swim in the ocean bay. It was not very clear water in the lake, but was good enough to see your hands which helps with a bit of
- Temperature: It was chilly in the water, but after the Friday night / Saturday morning freezing conditions of 32 degrees....the weather was fine. So expect it to be brisk and warm up the ole cockles with a run or something....
- Sighting: The lake has many landmarks which made sighting a little bit easier. Just a little as I seem to have a good angle on my swim that I will need to address one day....Do not Follow me in the water!
- Wetsuit class: A sales rep from another wetsuit brand did a bit at the start about wetsuit fit. It was pretty interesting but I walked away unsure if my suit was ok or not and then kept questioning it the whole swim....trying to tug a bit here and there when we stopped in the swim. Made it worse for me overall....letting me think is not a good thing! I should have counted or done some math to distract myself.
- Vaseline: I added vaseline to the neckline of the suit in SuperSeal but not in this swim and felt the difference in the neckline. ADD VASELINE to race checklist.
- Stiff neck: Camping means you don't sleep well, so a stiff neck meant I could only rotate my neck 1 way rather than both for breathing. And not even a full neck rotation on one side. uuurrrghhh....but this could be the same thing on race day, so gonna have to deal.
- Swim until your hands touch the water: Dave the coach said do not try and stand up until your hands touch the water floor. Tried it and odd, but effective, so will use that one again.
- Wetsuit Removal: hmmm...it was much harder to get the wetsuit off than in SuperSeal. Is lake water different to sea water?
- Time: Today was not a timed swim, but based on the Superseal swim which was a 1500 meter swim and this is 1930 meter (.2 mile), I'm estimating this is a 55 minute swim for me.
Overall - very happy I went and saw and tested out the course. I feel much more confident and absolutely like this is achievable. I will not be at the front of the pack and might be playing against the cut-off time....but that is part of the adventure and learning experience.
Looking forward to the real event in 3 weeks!