Thursday, September 26, 2013


The inaugural IMLT took place September 22nd, 2013.  I flew down the Monday before the race, in order to get acclimated to the elevation (6250 ft).  I live outside of Seattle, in the suburb of Sammamish (so basically sea level).

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with my brother-in-law, who lives in Incline Village, which is 4-5 miles from King's Beach (swim start and T1).  T2 is located up at Squaw Valley, about a 40 minute drive from Incline Village.  Huge thanks to Ryan Adamson to putting me up for the week!

The first thing I did Monday after getting settled was head down to the beach at Incline to get in a practice swim.  I wanted to check out the water temperature, as well and get a sense of how the altitude would affect my swim.  It was in the high 70s Monday, and I swam late afternoon.  The water temp was excellent and I didn't feel any altitude affect, to my surprise (having swum at altitude before, I knew it could be a factor).  I met a nice lady from the East Coast on the beach, who wished me luck on race day. 

Tuesday I drove up to 8,000 feet, just shy of Mt. Rose.  The plan was to run at Mt. Rose (9,000), but due to the high winds I felt it prudent to head back to the valley, where there was another hiking trail (Tahoe Rim Trail).  It was a cold morning, but beautiful.  Running on the flats was fine, but any incline was immediately difficult.  Bonus to altitude - Garmin finds satellites really fast.  Here is a picture of my run:

Wednesday was another swim day.  I went early in the morning, to simulate race day as best I could.  The wind really picked up Tuesday (there was a wind advisory) and the temperature dropped.  I knew all the churn would affect the water temperature.  The Wednesday swim was cold.  The air temp was around 40 and the water temp low 60s.  Swimming in the clear water with the sun shining was beautiful, despite the cold.  I did 3125 yards in 50 minutes and was pleased with how I felt.  Here is a pic of me post swim:

I had a mild headache all week, but a little ibuprofen and a lot of hydration (water, coconut water and Nuun) helped with that.  Thursday I could finally pick up my bike from Tri Bike Transport.  I headed to Squaw early, to get in line for athlete registration.  It went quickly and I had an opportunity to talk with other athletes and check out Ironman Village.  I found a booth selling Aquaman wetsuits and fortunately they had swim booties.  My biggest issue Wednesday was cold feet in the water, not to mention the cold sand.  Best purchase ever, but more on that later.  Picked up my bike from TBT and rented some Zipp wheels.  During the wait for the wheels, I took advantage of the massage table. They were doing ART (Active Release Therapy), which felt great on my calves. (See previous blog post about my Plantar Fasciitis and recovery).  Did a little shake out ride, to make sure everything was in working order.  I didn't ride too long, as it was hot out and I had a pretty bad headache. 
Friday.  Up early to ride, again simulating start time on the bike.  By this time everyone on social media was concerned about the predicted cold temps on race day.  Some people thought the swim would be cancelled.  There was a storm predicted for Saturday - rain and wind- which was supposed to clear sunday.  I had anticipated a cold bike start, and layered up for my ride.  10 minutes into it I flatted.  I have never had a flat tire (except on the trainer) in my entire life, and I have biked a LOT.  Luckily I was within walking distance of the condo so I clip clopped my way back and called my coach, Brandon Wood from PRS FIT.  Brandon has been coaching me since spring of 2011 and he knows how my brain works.  I told him the situation, and that I wanted my regular wheels back.  He said, absolutely, go back and get them.  He knew I would worry the entire time about flatting again on the Zipp wheels.  So I loaded my bike back in my brother-in-law's car and drove back to Squaw.  The guys at Zipp were fairly understanding about swapping out my wheels and giving me a refund.  The lost time meant I couldn't practice at race time (approx. 8:30am) and test out my gear, but I am glad I flatted on a practice ride and not on race day.  I did brick run as well after I rode later in the day.  Still felt the altitude, but not as much as on Tuesday's run. 
Friday was also the athlete's dinner and mandatory meeting.  I had a great time talking with other athletes at the dinner and listening to the speeches.  The race director and course directors did a great job at the meeting, emphasizing that the temps would be cold and to dress accordingly on the bike.  Got back about 8:30pm and was very happy to see my husband and kids, who drove down that day. 
Saturday was windy and rainy as predicted.  Did one last short bike ride and then took my bike and gear bags to be dropped off.  The bike gear bags were left outside, so I duct taped the closure and put the bag inside a clear plastic bag.  Also put a plastic bag over my saddle.  Drove up to Squaw to drop off the run bag, which was inside, thankfully.  We picked up the VIP bracelets for my husband and kids (thank you coach Jeff!!!).  Everyone was worried about the temps.  I talked to coach Brandon one more time and got some much needed reassurance that all would be well.
Race day.  Woke up to clear skies and below freezing temps. My brother in law has the most ridiculously awesome espresso machine I have ever seen.  You just pop in a little K-cup (although these were imported) and it makes one cup at a time.  Had my pre-race go-to fuel of a banana, Adams peanut butter and greek yogurt.  Filled up my hydration for the bike and we were off to the start.  I had fleece pants, top, plus a wool hat and gloves.  We scored a parking spot right across the street from King's Beach.  Dropped off my special needs bags, then went through body marking and to check out my bike.  How to be popular in an Ironman:  bring a bike pump!  Made some new friends, then brought the pump back to my husband, who was just outside transition.  I told him how to get to where my bike was (at the northern most part of T1), so he met me and talked to me while I lubed up and put on my wetsuit.  Here is what it looked like before the swim:
Said goodbye to my husband and went with the other athlete's to wait in the Event Center, a heated building just next to T1.  It was nice to warm up a bit and get some water.  Finally we were called to head down to the swim start.  Dropped off my morning clothes bag on the way.  The sun was finally coming up and there was steam rising off the lake.  With the snow-capped mountains in the background, it was quite breathtaking.
The start was a self-seed, based on predicted time.  I seeding myself conservatively, in the 1:10-1:20 group.  I knew I would swim faster than 1:10, and in hindsight, I should have gone with the 1:00-1:10 group, where I really belonged.  I ended up passing a lot of people during the first part of the swim.  The corral system worked great.  I whipped off my old socks that I had over the booties and tossed them with everyone else's stuff (sandals, socks, gloves).  I was grateful for the swim booties, as my feet weren't feeling the cold sand at all.  Lake Tahoe is quite shallow for a ways out, so we all had to walk out to where it was deep enough to start swimming, and where the timing began. 
It was cold in the shallow water at the start.  But quickly warmed up to about 61 or 62 the deeper we got out.  I was feeling great.  I LOVE open water swimming.  I swim late spring through early fall outside.  I know my coach would like it if I got in the pool, but I have all winter for that.  I am good in the open water - it is my strength.  I can swim straight, sight well, and I don't mind the grabbing/whacking/bumping that goes on in a big race.  I am in my element in that environment.  When I get grabbed or bumped, it just fuels the fire.  The swim was crowded, and the steam made it tricky to sight, but I was in the zone and having the time of my life, and with comfortable toes thanks to the Aquaman booties.  The swim was 2 loops, with no leaving the water, although it was quite shallow getting to the second loop.  Most people were trying to walk/wade, but I kept swimming, as I know I can swim faster than I can walk in the water.  The second loop flew by as before I knew it I was out of the water.  Again, I swam until it was too shallow to do so.  I saw my husband and gave him a thumbs up signal.  It was quite a shock hitting the cold air - I ran and grabbed my bike gear bag, then into the women's change tent.  Pandemonium!  Everyone was shivering and shaking.  The volunteers were amazing - they were getting the athletes chicken broth and warming them with towels.  A wonderful woman helped me get my wetsuit off (I skipped the strippers, who were outside) and helped me dry off with a towel.  The woman on the chair next to me was in bad shape - she was sitting there, getting rubbed down, so cold she couldn't move.  I worried about her (but happily I saw her later on the run course so I knew she was okay).  My T1 time was 17 minutes but that was the best I could do. I layered up on the bike - toe covers, leg warmers tucked under bike shorts, jersey, arm warmers, full gloves, vest and a SmartWool headband under my helmet.  I downed a Genucan and was off.

The first 20 miles were a blur.  Its a slight downhill until about mile 30.  We were in the shade, and it was about 37 degrees.  I was happy for my layers.  I LOVE Genucan, but it tends to go right through me.  The downhill was a great opportunity to pee.  Nice that it was warm, but it cooled off quick, adding to the cold feeling in my legs.  I never pee on the bike during training rides, but always during races.  I can't stand the feeling of a full bladder in aero.  Not to mention, if I don't pee, I won't want to hydrate.  And at altitude, hydration becomes even more important than usual.  On the bike I had Perpetuem in one bottle and water with Nuun in another bottle.  Also was popping Endurolytes.  Started hydrating soon into the bike and started the Perpetuem about 1:30 into the bike.  The bike:
This pic is late in the race after I took off the arm warmers and switched to my fingerless gloves, at about mile 85.  I am coming down Brockway for the second time.

This pic is at mile 50 (taken by a teammate - thank you!).  Seriously, look at the scenery.  How can you not smile on a day like this??  By the way, this Brooks vest I am wearing is the same one I wore for my first marathon in 2007 (Seattle Marathon).  I love this vest. 

A word on the bike course.  Its 2 loops, each with 2 gigantic climbs (Martis and Brockway, which are back to back).  The third section is from King's Beach back to Squaw Valley - and has a nice semi-descent where you can spin out your legs and prepare for the run.  The bike profile lists the elevation gain at 6550 feet.  Starting at 6248 and ending at 7228.  So there is 1000 feet of altitude on the bike.  My Garmin profile shows a slightly different elevation gain of 8360.  Other athletes are reporting 7400 to 7500 of gain.
I ride a lot of hills, living where I do, and really enjoy them.  Its the flats that get me, so this type of course is great for me.  The key is to spin easy up the hills and stay in zone 2/low zone 3 as best you can.  My pace was about the same as everyone else, although I did pass a few people, notably a some guys with disc wheels attempting to go aero up the hills.  Occasionally I would get passed by someone mashing up the hills, breathing hard.  I wanted to say "Stop doing that!  Save some for the run!"

Stopped once at bike special needs to grab my second set of fuel and hydration and to down another Genucan.  This attempt was a little messy and I ended up with Genucan down the sides of my face, which immediately got me thinking about that scene in the Hobbit where the dwarves are drinking beer and its running down the sides of their beards.  But I digress.

The second loop was a bit warmer than the first. I rode even splits, which made me happy.  It was a great ride - challenging but so incredibly beautiful.  At mile 100 I started to prepare for the run.

T2 was quick and easy.  Volunteers take your bike and another volunteer has your run gear.  Again, the volunteers do their job talking to you, assessing you, and dressing you!  I did another complete outfit change.  Running shoes, new socks, Nike running shorts and my trusty Sugoi tri top (with arm warmers tucked in the back just in case).  It had warmed up to 60 by then.  Perfect.  Hit the porta pottie and had a volunteer rub me down with sunscreen.  I was off.  And BOY, was I off!  I started running and felt terrific.  No brick-y feeling in my legs AT ALL.  I was thrilled.  Running is my first love and I was so glad to be there.  My plan was to walk the aid stations but the old legs didn't agree with that plan.  I stayed in a steady zone 2 the entire run, with the exception of a couple short but very steep hills when I did walk (in an attempt to stay out of lactic).  The run leaves Squaw and heads up a steady incline towards the river trail.  Then you go down a short trail which leads to the paved river trail.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I was running well and feeling good.  Didn't have anything in my mind, other than just gliding along.  No rock songs, no mantras.  Just executing the plan.  My stomach was little tight, so I didn't take in anything on the run other than chicken brother and an occasional sip of  water or sports drink.  Here I am early on in the run:
I stopped at special needs to pick up my Sugoi long sleeve top, SmartWool gloves and SmartWool hat.  I didn't put these on right away, but I knew I would need it all eventually.
Smiling and happy to be running.  There were lots of people walking.  The marathoner in me was like, oh, yeah....I am runner, baby!  Except then my husband took this picture:
LOL!  This picture cracks me up!

Later in the run I looked like this:
Giving my youngest a high-five.  My husband, kids, and in-laws (who live a couple hours from Tahoe) were hanging out, just after mile 1.5.  As this is a 2 loop course (yes, you have to go back through the Village and by the finish line on the start of loop 2), I got to see them 3 times.  It was GREAT to have them there.  I had a great run in general.  The only time I felt a little dark was starting the second loop.  It was tough to go back through the Village and out again.  I saw the family for the last time at mile 16 or so.  My husband said "see you at the finish line."  8 miles to go.  The mental "dark" cleared at about mile 20, as the sun was setting.  I caught a second wind and was able to run strong the rest of the way.  Plus at mile 23 it occurred to me that my coach would make me take some time off, so I better enjoy the run while I could!

Words cannot express how exciting it was to come up to the finish and run down that finisher's chute.  I saw my in-laws first and waved to them.  Right towards the finish I saw my husband and ran over to grab hands with him and my kids.  I threw my hands up in the air and a feeling of total elation came over me.  I heard "Rebecca Adamson, you are an Ironman!"  This was one of the greatest moments of my life!

1:08 swim  7:04 bike  4:26 run.  Total with transition:  13:03 for 15th in AG. Currently, according to, Ironman Lake Tahoe had a dropout rate second only to St. George 2012, with 1719 finishers.  21% DNS and 20% DNF rate. 

Many thanks to everyone who helped me get here!  To the love of my life, Matt Adamson and my wonderful children.  Thank you for being there and for all your support along the way.  Thank you to coach Brandon and coach Jeff from PRS FIT for all your guidance and training.  Thank you to all my teammates at PRS FIT!  You guys are awesome and motivate me every day. Thank you to Dina at Fuel4mance for helping with race day nutrition. And special thank you to Acupuncture Clinic Northwest - without you I wouldn't be here! 

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