By Joni Blanshard
2013 Ignition Fitness Athlete Team member
This report comes in 2 parts the first one is my personal experience on the race and the 2nd is my thoughts about the competition and the race venue.
Part 1: My Race
Arrived in Las Vegas with Gloria (my mom) on a very hot Thursday. Immediately headed to the expo to get my race kit and get my bike put together by the sponsored bike group. All my races I have basically been able to put the P3 inside the van, don’t even have to take a wheel off (one of the benefits of not being tall!), so my confidence in reassembling my bike was not all there, especially since it is the Worlds! I was very pleased with the bike once it was done. Great group at Bike Tech and Service. We were able to drive the bike course that day, didn’t seem so bad inside the air conditioned car. However, whenever we stepped out of the car I thought my shoes would melt if I stayed in one spot too long! Scenery was basically the same throughout the National Park section which is about 2/3rds of the course… lots of mountains, dirt and tumbling brush. On Friday I ran one loop of the 3 loop run course which I did at noon as this was my expected time to be on the run (Tommy’s suggestion which sounded good till I actually did it as the temperature was 38C! Poor Tommy (I might have said something not too nice). Anyways, got it done and thought okay I can do this run. On Saturday we were allowed to practice on the swim course between 6:30 to 8:15 am so seriously 2600 plus athletes trying to max time in the water proved to be a bit chaotic. The best way to describe the water was THICK. You could not see 12 inches in front of you plus it was very warm. Pretty sure the e-coli count was off the chart which might be why they wouldn’t let us in the water with the exception on the 90 minutes on Sat am. After a warm up ride and run I racked my bike then off to drag Gloria out of the casino at the Westin hotel. She actually won $648! We then drove over to T2 to drop off run gear. Woke up Sunday early (very early) to get out to Henderson to the start and it’s raining. Who would have thought rain in the desert?
Like Syracuse 70.3, I was in the wave immediately following the Pro Females, tough to catch much drafting! It is a deep water start and I realize the big buoys you are supposed to stay behind apparently do not apply to all swimmers. I missed that talk at the athletes meeting! I was 3rd out of the water with a swim time of 35.57 minutes. Got a little off course about 1/3 way down but got back in the groove and was sighting more regularly. First time racing in the Zoot speed suit which I am so glad I bought as everyone wears one of these speed suits at this level of competition.
Bit of a run from the swim finish to T1 and it was slippery on the grass due to the rain, then entering T1 was full of muddy puddles even on the carpet areas. Despite checking my race tires to ensure they were pumped up before the race start I discovered the air was let out of my tires. The only way to get air out of race tires is either a flat or else you need a flat end tooth pick or similar device to deflate. In a panic I yelled for help I needed a pump. Lucky for me a volunteer grabbed one on the outside of the fence that someone had most likely tossed. Got them pumped up which by the way I have never done that fast before and prayed it was not 2 damaged tires I was contending with.
The roads were pretty slick as it continued to rain through the majority of my bike. The first few miles are an uphill exit out of Henderson. Good news is that the tires were still pumped so probably someone took the air out of the tires on me… that is the bad news. I really stuck to the watts Tommy and I discussed in our pre-race conversation. It was tough at times to actually read my power head because of the rain coming down, need to figure out something for that. It was a tough bike course but riding in Muskoka helped me contend with the never ending uphill climbs (there were a lot) and the scary ride down on wet pavement with large bodies of water in the low areas. Deserts don’t absorb rain water quickly! Ten miles out from the bike finish the rain stopped sun came out and the temperature was rising.
Love it love it love it! There are volunteers to grab your bike, makes it so much easier. Volunteer had my run bag ready… quick shoe change and WC break and I was off on the run.
The run was warm and got warmer each loop. Basically you run uphill for about 4 km then turn around and run down for 3 with a small climb in the downhill section, then do it all over again then again. There is a section where they channel you through the expo grounds in a fenced in area which allows only 3 runners wide, lots of unfriendly pushing goes on inside here including an Italian athlete pushing myself and another runner out of the way on one of the sharp turns! Saw my Mom only once despite the fact she was calling my name and waving the Canadian flags at me. With the heat I was dumping a lot of water over me which does cool you off but also gives you heavy wet shoes will take only sponges from now on. Nutrition throughout the race was right on. I had worked on this all summer to get it down right and happy I had no issues with fueling.
Part 2: Thoughts and Reflections on Worlds at Henderson
- Point to point transition venue is a real challenge for spectators. Had to prep my Mom on how to get around (no shuttle for spectators). Caution to others thinking of bringing family to a similar venue
- Now having had to take my bike apart and back together again at home I am more confident with assemble and most likely will not pay the $100 fee the bike folks charged at my next destination race
- The bike and run course were challenging and I did enjoy these 2 parts. I am not a bad hill runner but I will be doing more hill work in the future as it seems all the big races have lots of hills incorporated into the run course. I can shave off time on the hills. I love the swim in a triathlon but this water was disgusting at Henderson
- Not everyone was body marked which I found odd there. You do race differently if you can see your competition. They should make it mandatory. I don’t buy the “it came off in the water” excuse as it took me a lot of scrubbing to get age off my leg!
- The biggest observation I made is that at this level of competition you really need to have your game on. The focus I saw in many of the athletes was intense and admirable (aside from the bad sportsmanship actions that I did see and experience). Each stroke in the swim, each pedal on the bike, and each step on the run was methodical and was made to count, was made to win. I was focused and I tried hard but I believe I need to work on that mental game more to find the sweet spot in my mind to win.
- Hey I was just so excited to be there at the Worlds!