Tahoe Training Weekend Wrap-up

This past weekend the Ironteam went up to Tahoe for a training weekend.  I managed to swim 1.4 miles, bike 91 miles, and run about 14 miles and I was really happy with my performance.   This was the first chance for most of us to get a really accurate look at what we’re going to be doing exactly 3 months from right now and it was exciting to work out on the actual course.

The family and I took a couple extra days off work and headed up early to get some actual “vacation” time in before the Saturday/Sunday combo of workouts and I’m really glad we did that.  A 5 day, 4 night trip starts to actually feel like a real vacation!  I sneaked in a single loop of the bike course Thursday morning but Thursday afternoon and Friday were all about family time.

We swam and did two loops of the bike course on Saturday and then we did a shortened version of the run from Squaw on Sunday.

Here are links to my swim, bike and run on Garmin Connect:

I think everyone who participated learned a lot, about the course or about themselves.  Here’s a partial list of what I learned:

This course is hard! If you thought this bike course was going to be easy then you either didn’t read the course description or haven’t been to Tahoe before.  It’s not “Death Ride hard, but this course has got a lot of hills.  Each lap has a pair of climbs that deliver a one-two punch, plus a ton of other climbing along the way, just because.

I think we did about 7,500 feet of climbing on our 91 mile practice ride Saturday so I’m going to guess there’s at least 8,000 feet of climbing for the whole thing.  The pair of climbs through Northstar and over Brockway summit takes about 70 minutes, including 8 minutes of descent where you give up 600 feet of elevation only to turn around and re-climb it.

There’s no such thing as an “easy” Ironman, but I think this one will go on to be known as one of the harder courses.

The run is not as flat as I thought. I thought the run was going to be really flat, but it turns out there are more undulations on the bike path from Squaw Valley to Truckee than I had realized.   I don’t handle running up steep hills very well, (or down steep hills either, for that matter) but this isn’t that bad.   Not like Wildflower-steep or anything like that.   Just enough to let you know that there are some ups and downs.

Those “undulations” might feel like mountains on race day though!

I’m going to be ready.  This bears repeating:  I think I’m going to be ready for this thing.  I rode the bike course three times this trip and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to do each loop in about 3:20, which gives me an estimate of 7:45 for the whole bike course.

I’m pretty confident about that number based on my current physical condition and we’ve got 3 months left to train and optimize.  Of course anything can happen so this number could slip if it’s really hot on race day, if it snows on race day, if I have mechanical troubles, nutrition troubles, etc.   But 7:45 is a good number to use for my spreadsheet.

I’ve got 1:40 marked down for the swim, based on my times in the pool.  Not sure how much time I’ll shave off because of the wetsuit.  I don’t trust the Garmin for great open-water swim accuracy on a multi-loop course, but it thinks I did 1.4 miles in 49 minutes which would predict a time of 1:24 for a 2.4 mile swim.   We’ll say 1:40 to be conservative.

The run is the real wildcard, because I’m so bad running off the bike.  I was averaging a 10:30 pace on the run Sunday but that’s certainly not indicative of the real thing.  My Wildflower runs are always around 3 hours, feeling stronger after the first part.   So perhaps 6 hours?

If you add all those numbers up and add some time for transitions you get a predicted finish time of slightly after 11:00 pm.  That’s cutting it close, but I’ll take it.  Anything could happen on race day but it’s reasonable to predict I’ll be able to finish before the midnight cutoffs on race day.   3 months is a long time to train and there’s a lot of improvement to be done that will only increase my safety factor.  I feel good about this.

This course is stunningly beautiful. The swim is pretty, with the clear water and the neat shades of blue and green.   The bike route goes along the lake, down the Truckee River corridor, and through old-town Truckee.  The run is along the meadow in Squaw Valley and along the Truckee River.  Pretty much A++ scenery the whole way.  (Okay – the climb up Brockway has some ugliness to it, but that’s about it)

The altitude isn’t so bad. This was a nice surprise.  I’m sure I could pore over the data and correlate heart rates and power outputs, etc. and find a quantifiable difference but overall, it wasn’t that bad.  The only time I ever really noticed the altitude was in the first couple minutes of the swim and the first couple minutes of the run. Nothing too bad, and it seemed to go away.

I plan to have a full week up there before the real race, and that’s about the best I can hope for.

Squaw Valley is a really nice place to stay. The Village at Squaw Valley is really nice.  Heck – I wouldn’t mind owning one of those units!   There are a lot of hotels right around there that look really nice too.  Unfortunately they’re all booked up for the actual event so the family is going to be looking for a house somewhere else.  Probably in the Truckee or Donner area.   If you have a place we could rent from you, please let us know!

Northstar can suck it.  We stayed at the original Northstar Village buildign for two nights because Team In Training got a discounted group rate.  I don’t have the mental energy to rehash all the reasons why, but suffice it to say that they’re charging WAY too much for a really tired property.  We got a one bedroom apartment with a full kitchen at Squaw for less money than a run-down hotel room at Northstar.   Never again.

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