Deuceman Long Course Triathlon, June 9, 2018
Deuces Wild has long been one of my favorite race venues. Located in the mountains of Show Low, AZ at Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, the venue is challenging with 6300 ft of elevation, rolling hills, and plenty of heat of keep things interesting. The race is put on by the former owners of TriSports.com and they do an amazing job.
This was the 15th year of the Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival, with an Olympic and Half Ironman distance triathlon on Saturday and an Xterra offroad triathlon on Sunday. We have done this race many years where I will race on Saturday while Todd cheers me on and supports me and then he does the Xterra on Sunday while I cheer for him. I have done this race probably 8 times in the last 15 years, both the Olympic and Half Iron distances. The last time I did the half at this venue was in 2008!
This year would be different than our traditions in the past as Todd didn’t come with me. He had his own race in Waco, TX where he was aiming to qualify for Team USA at the USAT Offroad National Championships at Xterra Cameron Park. He traveled there with his buddy Jeff and I went to Show Low with my friend Marisa and training partner Laurie and her family. We got a VRBO close to the race venue, which is always preferable over a hotel room.
Marisa and I drove down on Thursday afternoon. We are both part of the Abq Sole Sisters and we are on the “Desert Divas” team. We joke that we are both actual divas because we are very particular about our needs and what we want. For example, a diva wants to drive down on Thursday for a Saturday race. A diva is very calculated and doesn’t “wing” much. We are both divas and proud of it! Fortunately we are very compatible divas so we had a great time together.
Friday we took a quick swim in the lake, it was cool but pleasant. We picked up our packets and overall relaxed for the day. The Abrams showed up and we all went out for our pre-race meal – steak and potato!
Race day – my strategy going in was to go a bit harder and faster, but stay within my limits. I was to race by feel. For the swim – see what I could do. For the bike – coach gave me the analogy of going 73 in a 65 mph zone. You know you are speeding, and you know you could go 75-80 but you would risk getting a ticket so you back off a bit – just enough to be “safe” but to get to your ultimate destination faster than going the speed limit. The run plan was to take it easy the first 7 miles and then pick it up for a faster 10k at the end.
As a diva I typically like to arrive to a transition area as soon as it opens – both to get a good spot and to have plenty of time to get my things situated. For this race, your individual spot in transition was marked by number, so there wasn’t a need to get there super early to claim prime real estate. We decided that we would get there at 5:30 – one hour before the 6:30 start.
Somehow we didn’t calculate our timing for race morning very well. No blame anywhere, we just didn’t plan as well as our usual diva selves. We left the house much later than expected and didn’t arrive to the transition area until 6:00 AM – 15 minutes before it closed! I believe this was a first. I had intended to ride my bike just a few minutes around the area to make sure my shifting was okay as I hadn’t been on the bike since it made the road trip to AZ, but I quickly realized I would not have time to do that. I put my bike in a good gear for the uphill start out of transition, set out all of the rest of my stuff, and was probably one of the last people out of transition.
There are a lot of reasons that it was great that the field for this race was very small. One is that we were able to park pretty close to transition, and no lines at the porta potty! The Olympic race definitely has more participants, but it started 90 minutes after the half so there weren’t many of them around at the start of our race. We got out of transition and I walked up to Marisa and Laurie and said “I am stressing myself out!”. I was definitely feeling a bit rushed with the transition set up, but once I got there I knew I had time before the start so I could breathe and relax. I put on my wetsuit, ate some Clif Bloks, posed for a couple of pictures, and then it was time for the race to start. The race director’s daughter sang the national anthem and did a great job! Once the men went off, we prayed and it was time for us to get in the water.
“Friends don’t let friends get sharpied” – Marisa hooked us up with Tri Tats!
Swim – 1.2 miles – 33:00
I wanted to see what I could do on the swim, but with the higher altitude I wanted to be sure not to go out too fast. I have had experience at this race going out too fast and then having a really hard time catching my breath due to the altitude. Our wave was relatively small (less than 25 people total) so I put myself in the front left, near Laurie. Laurie is an amazing swimmer – collegiate athlete. I was hoping to maybe be able to hold her feet for a while, but didn’t want to blow myself up doing it. I started out going fairly strong and felt good. The water was around 67 degrees and I was very comfortable, but never hot. I swam strong but at a pace I could maintain and felt good about my sighting.
I typically gain time and overall endurance the longer I go in an event – especially on the swim and bike. The farther the distance the more I gain time and others slow down. I noticed I passed a few women on the long straight stretch and then rounded the last turn buoy and headed for home. This is a familiar course to me so I know where to cut some corners to create a straight line in to shore.
I stood up and hit my watch and the time was about what I expected. There was a woman just a few seconds ahead of me. What I didn’t expect was for the announcer to say that the woman ahead of me was the first one out of the water! That made me #2! Wow. Later when I looked at my Garmin file and compared it with Marisa and Laurie we all discovered that the swim was a bit long. I had 2200 yards vs 2000. According to my Garmin I swam a 1:30 per 100 pace which for open water for me is amazing.
Transition 1 – 2:23
One other reason that I love this race is that they have wetsuit strippers. Basically this means people who will help “strip” the wetsuit off you while you lie down. It is such a nice perk that is typically only reserved for Ironman races. I pulled the wetsuit down around my waist, lied down on the turf and one person on either side peeled the wetsuit right off and helped me back up. Then I ran up to the transition area where my bike was waiting.
I borrowed an aero helmet from a friend (long story for another day) and this one had a built in visor – like sunglasses built in. This is more aerodynamic, but definitely different than I am used to. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to try something new and see if I would want to do it on race day. So I put on the helmet and visor, my socks and bike shoes and headed out with my bike.
The girl who was first out of the swim was right in front of me headed to the bike exit. As I was running behind her I noticed that she had her bike shoes clipped into her pedals. I knew immediately I did not want to be behind her when she got on her bike, as most people struggle to put their feet into bike shoes that are already clipped in (vs putting them on in the transition area and running in your bike shoes). The bike start for this race is also on a bit of an uphill which would make it even more challenging, so I ran past her and jumped on my bike. At this point I knew I was the first woman on the course.
Bike – 56 miles – 3:18:08
The bike course is a lot of fun. Rolling hills. The last 18 miles or so are net uphill, but the first part is very fast. I focused on pushing myself a bit, but not too much, keeping the cadence high, and taking in my nutrition.
Within the first 10 miles or so one woman passed me and she was FLYING. I was so impressed. I yelled out to her “you go girl!” and she was gone.
I stayed in my zone, and enjoyed myself. A few men passed me and I generally try to do my best to encourage anyone who does so. I remember at one point thinking that I was having fun, and it reminded me of some advice Jon Brown gave me many years ago at my second 70.3. As we were getting ready to start the swim and I was incredibly nervous, I asked the man who was like a triathlon “god” to me at the time – so wise, fast and incredibly experienced – if he had any advice for me. He said yes I do, and as I awaited with anticipation for what would be the key to my triathlon future, he calmly said “have fun”. I won’t deny that I wasn’t a little disappointed in that moment, but it turns out to have been some of the best advice I have ever received and something I still think about almost every race!
As we turned onto Highway 277 for the last long stretch of the bike we would have rolling hills, net uphill and a straight headwind. I stayed in the aero position and continued to have fun, enjoying the benefits of lots of practice on hills, work on my cadence, and work staying in my aero bars. I passed lots of men who seemed to be struggling on the hills and trying to force their way up them, and I thought that I was enjoying myself more than they were!
Then I saw her up ahead. The woman that had flown past me on the bike was standing on the side of the road looking at her bike. As I approached her I slowed down and asked what she needed. She said that her chain was broken. I was so bummed for her because she had clearly been crushing it. As I rode past, I knew I was now in first place in the women’s field and I remember thinking to myself “I don’t want to win like this”.
Well, I think God heard me and made sure that wasn’t going to happen! Probably 5 or 6 miles later I heard a hissing noise and quickly realized that my rear tire was flat. I was probably around mile 42 of the bike. I calmly stopped the bike, and even had enough forethought to hit the lap button on my bike computer so I could know how long I would be off the bike changing my tire.
Fortunately Todd has given me many lessons so I am fairly comfortable changing a tire. The rear tire is harder because it is a little more cumbersome to remove the tire with the gears and the derailleur in the back, but I remembered the details of shifting into the right gears for easier removal. I pulled out my tools – I had one spare tube, one CO2 cartridge, some tire irons to help remove the tire from the rim, and one CO2 inflator. I got the wheel off the bike and the tire off the rim and the tube out pretty easily. As I inspected the tire I realized that I had a small slit in the wall of the tire. This is NOT a good thing as it means that anything sharp from the road surface can easily penetrate that slit and puncture the tube. However I didn’t have a patch or anything to cover the slit in the tire.
Todd has always taught me to put a little air into the tube before you put it inside the tire, however I never knew exactly why. I assumed it made it easier and helped you know that you had it fully seated within the tire before inflating the tire to avoid pinch flats. I tried to blow some air into the tube, but couldn’t get it to inflate, so I decided it would be fine without it. As I placed the tube into the rim, I realized that the tube was twisted. I knew this wouldn’t work once I inflated it, but I couldn’t figure out why it was twisted or how to fix it. So I pulled it out again and looked at it, and sure enough, it was still twisted. Then it dawned on me – THAT is why you blow some air into it! A little air would remove any twists and allow the tube to fit nicely in the tire so I could get it seated in the rim and inflate it. With a little wiggling of the valve I was able to blow in enough air to inflate it enough to remove the twist and put the tube in the tire. I got the tire back on the rim and then went to inflate the tube with my CO2 inflator. I’m not exactly sure what happened – maybe that valve was a little off, but I didn’t get enough air into the tube with the one CO2 cartridge to be firm enough to ride on. Now I was in a bit of trouble as I only had one cartridge.
I stood there on the side of the road hoping that a passing athlete would ask if I needed anything. I personally make it a practice to ask anyone I pass who is off their bike if they need anything. I figure if I can help them I want to, and I know these things come back around in the future as well and today I was going to experience that in spades. After a relatively short period of time a woman (who I would later come to know as Fiona) asked if I needed anything. I asked if she could spare a CO2 cartridge and she happily gave me one. I was SO grateful as that gave me enough air to fill my tire. I shoved the old tube in the back of my shorts, put the rest of the tools back in their place, put the rear wheel back on my bike and hit my lap button as I rode away – 11:42. Not bad for all of that!
Shortly after I passed an aid station and was happy to pull the tube out of the back of my shorts and toss it to them (you are not allowed to litter or toss/leave trash anywhere on the bike course unless at an aid station). I continued to ride and a couple of miles later, at approximately mile 46 I heard the hissing again – another flat!
I stopped, got off my bike, hit the lap button, and started walking. I’m not sure what I was thinking, only that I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t going to quit, but I didn’t have another tube or CO2 cartridge and I still had 10 miles to go. I don’t know how long I walked (I don’t think it was very long) but at some point reason kicked in and I decided that I wasn’t going to walk 10 miles in my bike shoes, so it would be better to stop, remove the rear wheel and the tube, and hope that either someone would offer me some of the materials that I needed, or that the race support vehicle would come by and offer assistance. Either way I needed the rear wheel off and tube removed so I might as well do that part now.
Fortunately shortly after I got the wheel and 2nd tube removed, another woman came by and asked if I needed anything. I asked her if she could spare a tube and a CO2 cartridge and she happily gave me both. I was SO thankful to her! She rode off and as I was getting the tube out Marisa rode up and asked me what I needed. I asked if she happened to have anything with her like a dollar bill, a wrapper from a bar or a gel, or anything like that. She pulled out an empty wrapper from a fruit bar she had eaten earlier on the bike and I told her it was perfect! She handed me the wrapper and I told her to “go”!
Last summer we went on a long ride and I had a similar situation where I had a tear in my rear tire that exposed the tube inside. Todd showed me how to create what is called a “boot” with a wrapper. You fold the wrapper over and use it as a barrier between the tire and the tube. This way if something penetrates the tear in the tire, it has to go through the wrapper before hitting the tube. It is effectively a patch from the inside. You can also use a dollar bill – if you happen to have one with you! I was very proud of myself as I used the wrapper to create the boot and successfully filled up the tube with the CO2 cartridge. Once again I stuffed the old tube into the back of my shorts, put the tools away and got back on the bike as I hit the lap button – 7:24. Not bad at all! 19 minutes “down” for the flat tires, but I was optimistic that I was going to finish the bike at this point.
The rest of the bike was fun as I got back into the groove and passed quite a few people coming into town. I started visualizing the next transition and getting ready for the run. My bike time was 3:18. If I subtract the time for the flats I could have had the fastest bike split, but you can’t just do that, AND if the gal who was smoking fast didn’t break her chain she most definitely would have had the fastest bike split, so we will just let the woman who actually DID have the fastest bike split enjoy her moment of fame!
Transition 2 – 3:01
I have had quite a few blisters this spring – both in the marathon training and also leading up to this race. I actually got two new ones the weekend before testing out new shoes on a 50 minute brick run. I really wanted to protect my feet so I decided to put on a pair of fresh, dry socks for the run, and also to take a little extra time and apply some lubricant to my feet to help avoid blisters. I figured it would make for a slower transition, but if I could avoid blisters it would be hugely helpful, not only for the day, but for future training days as Ironman training is in full swing. So my transition was a bit slow, but it was exactly as I planned it.
Run – 13.1 miles – 2:09:18
The initial plan going into the run was to take it easy for the first lap plus and then run a strong 10k to finish. As I started running, I was acutely aware of pain under the 3rd and 4th toes of my right foot. I would later realize that this was my neuroma flaring up – something that hasn’t bothered me in YEARS. I can only guess that 20 minutes on the side of the road in my cycling shoes, along with walking for a ways in them, caused the issue. It didn’t slow me down, but it was definitely uncomfortable.
I was also acutely aware of just how DIRTY my hands were from changing the flat tires! After a few aid stations and pouring water over them I got them pretty well cleaned up.
Quite simply put, the run was hard. It was HOT. It was windy. Running into the wind was very difficult as it seemed to sap any energy or speed right out of you. Running with a tailwind was nice for speed, but increased the heat factor. My plan was to walk briefly through each aid station to take on plenty of water. I stuck with the plan for the first 8 miles or so and then I just couldn’t wait until the next aid station to walk. I started walking quite a bit more after that. There was a lot of mental chatter and dialogue – some encouraging me to keep going and to keep running and some encouraging me to just WALK! Lots of us were suffering, and plenty of people were walking. The volunteers were amazing and my favorite was a woman at an intersection in the campgrounds around the lake who had her boombox on and she was dancing and singing and encouraging everyone. She brought a smile to my face when not much else did!
I don’t remember much remarkable about the run except that it was a sufferfest. Toward the end Laurie’s husband Carl came up alongside me on his bike and gave me some encouragement which was much appreciated. Oftentimes when I am struggling during a run I will take my attention off of my pain by thinking about and praying for other people. I was only moderately successful with that this time. I did manage to pray for a few people and thought a lot about people who would love to be out there but are unable to for various reasons. I thought about my friend Mara who specifically asked for prayer during my next run and prayed for God’s wisdom, guidance and protection for her and her family as she goes through her own personal and physical battles.
By the end I was in a lot of pain. My stomach wasn’t clearing and hurt quite a bit, and my neuroma was very painful. I was also starting to cramp in the arch of the same foot. As I came around the corner toward the finish line I was in so much pain but I knew I could keep going for a little bit longer. I pushed through and gave a smile for the finish line camera. Little did I know it was actually shooting a VIDEO and not still photos. So watch below and you can see me grimace in pain after I think the cameras have taken their photos!
After the race I sat in a chair for a while to relax and attempt to cool off. I had some nice conversations with fellow athletes and when Marisa and Laurie finished we all got a popsicle and headed for the lake to take a dip and cool off and rinse off – this is something I was looking forward to since early in the run!
Post race popsicles! We enjoyed them standing in the lake. ½ of mine became fish food!
The overall goal of this race was to be a test for Ironman Canada and to experiment with a few different items. I learned many lessons that I will take with me into next month and beyond. I still have some things to figure out before Whistler, but I’m so grateful to have had this experience and know that I will be a stronger (and smarter) athlete because of it!
5th overall female (only 17 participants!)
1st AG (out of 2!)
My PR for this distance is right around 5:30. This was not a PR kind of day. My big hairy audacious goal was to PR, but I didn’t really expect it given the conditions. Once I got the first flat I knew that wasn’t going to happen and it was probably good to have any time expectation gone. I also knew that I wasn’t likely to gain or lose any overall spots at the pace I was running, so it was just me and the course – perfect prep for Ironman!
This is such a great race and not a lot of participants. If you are looking for a long course triathlon that is challenging, scenic, and you want a good chance to place well overall or in your age group – this is the one to do! There were only 49 total athletes in this race. We all managed to take first in our AG! They also have an Olympic distance tri on the same day with more participants. Both races are amazing – highly recommended!