Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2015 Race Report

"Your biggest challenge isn't someone else. It's the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells 'CAN'T", but you don't listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper “CAN”. And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are."
- Unknown

Ironman Lake Tahoe has been on my list of “A” races to do since its inaugural day in 2013. It’s a beautiful venue with spectacular views and warm welcoming people. The best part is its challenging course! Earlier this year I raced Ironman St. George 70.3 as my race leading to Lake Tahoe. Although I didn’t register for the full until 2 days prior to race day, I knew I was going to at least do the half.  We arrived Thursday evening and planned an early morning swim at Kings Beach at 7:00 AM and bike ride to acclimate to the elevation and extreme temperatures.

Day 1:
We arrived at Kings Beach around 7:45 AM and swam 700 yards for 15 minutes according to my Garmin data. It was difficult to breath at an elevation of 6000 feet and needed another day to acclimate. We headed back to the house to prep for a short ride from Squaw Valley to Kings Beach. We ended up not making it to Kings Beach and rode for an hour for 20 miles.

Day 2:
Bike Check-in was at 10:00 AM and we decided to head to Kings Beach early for another swim to acclimate then bike for 20 minutes to test for proper functionality. I felt a lot better in the water today and swam 20 minutes for 1000 yards.  Good thing we checked in early because the traffic was horrible heading into Kings Beach from Squaw Valley.

I slept for a good 7 hours on and off the night before and  got  up at 3:30AM to prep my nutrition and reassure my Morning, Bike, and Run Special Needs gear bags were ready to go. I hopped on the shuttle to Kings Beach to drop off my nutrition and water bottles filled with Vitargo and water. As the clock neared the start time of 6:40 AM my blood started to rush through my veins increasing my heart rate.  I was still in the port-o-potty line as my fellow teammates waited for me.  One of the volunteers stated to us that transition has been closed and to head to the swim start immediately! 

Self-Seeded Rolling Start! My strategy as usual on the swim is to take it easy until I got into a rhythm. I headed towards the start and searched for the pace time slot of 1:15 to 1:30 and rushed through the crowd to squeeze in.  I started my Garmin and walked into the water and headed for the 1st yellow buoy for a clockwise swim. I tried to swim as close as possible to the buoy’s but I ended up in big crowds bumping into each other so I chose to swim a little wide. I finally got into a steady rhythm at the number 6 buoy and started to increase my swim stroke for 2 loops. On the final loop and turn, I felt really great and comfortable in the water and started to swim a little harder knowing the swim finish line was in site. Despite the freezing water temperatures and high altitude, this has been my fastest 2.4 mile open water swim. I glanced at my Garmin and it read 1:11! Actual time from Ironman was 1:13:53.

I’m not fast in transition and take my time to get changed. I finished T1 with 15:00 minutes and jumped on my bike. The bike portion consisted of 2 loops from Kings Beach and then ending in the Squaw Valley parking lot for a total of 112 miles and elevation gain of 5,972 feet. From Kings Beach we would ride the rolling hills of N. Lake Blvd. through Dollar Point and head north on Hwy 89 to Truckee then 267 South towards Kings Beach. My strategy on the bike was to take it easy so that I can have more energy for the run portion. I stayed on track of my plan and felt great keeping my heart rate between 135 and 145 bpm’s and my cadence of 90 rpm’s to save my legs for the infamous climb up Brockway for a total of 1500 feet gain from Truckee to the top of Brockway Summit at 7200 feet elevation. The temperature increased as the day went by and on the first loop through Brockway I averaged 6 mph and then 4 mph on the second loop.  I set my Garmin to notify me every 30 minutes to intake my nutrition and on the second loop climbing Carnelian Woods by the Bike Special Needs area, I noticed my system would no longer accept my Vitargo nutrition and felt like regurgitating.   I grabbed a bottle of Gatorate from the volunteers and filled up my bottle on my aerobar and took several sips. I thought to myself that this should be no concern since I ingested majority of my nutrition and 3 bottles of Vitargo on the ride and then half a 4th bottle after climbing Brockway for the second time. After riding the 2 and half loops my legs felt great and no fatigue noticed at all. I was ready for the run portion! I finished the bike portion with a time of 6:27:36. Not bad for almost 6000 feet of elevation gain!

After mounting off the bike in T2, I handed my bike over to the volunteer and grabbed my bike gear bag and headed for the changing tent. After 8 minutes in T2 and waiting in line for sunscreen, I headed up towards the finish line in the village to start my first loop. The run portion consisted of a full marathon of 26.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 857 feet around the trails and roads of Squaw Valley according to the athlete guide! Haha! Yeah right! My strategy for the run was to take it easy for the first few miles and then get into my rhythm for a 5 hour marathon. For the first 2 miles I was on track to reaching my goal taking it easy on a downhill trend towards mile marker 3. With the temperature increasing and the sun behind my back I started to feel nauseous so I slowed down and tried to ingest some nutrition. My system would no longer take it and started to feel like vomiting. I started walking so that hopefully I would feel better. That didn’t happen at all. I continued to try to sip some nutrition and solids as I reached the aid stations but nothing would hold and I vomited whatever I ingested. I thought to myself, “Oh no! will I finish?” I looked at my clock and there was plenty of time to finish. It was just before 4:00 PM and if I walked the entire 26.2 miles, I would make it across the finish line just after 11:00 PM. I continued on and for the next 6 miles I felt even worse. My body temperature felt high, my stomach was making all sort of grumbling sounds and I felt like quitting. I said “No! I can’t quit I have plenty of time.” So at the next aid station I took a break and asked the medic to take a look at me. She took my temperature; it was normal. I told her that I can no longer ingest any food so she offered some chicken broth and chips. Those went down slowly with success. I remained there for roughly 10 minutes with another athlete having the same issues.  After resting, we got up and continued on our journey to the finish line. At mile 9 at one of the aid stations it started to get cold and I tried to take in some chicken broth and a small piece of Cliff Bar and they immediately came right back up. I stopped on the side of the trail to vomit and anther athlete checked up on me to see if I was ok.  He then offered me some ginger candy to chew on and said it would help with my stomach, which it did. After walking another few miles, I made it to the Run Special Needs area and picked up my cold weather gear, headlight and sat down to rest again. I tried to ingest my spam musubi but was unable to. The volunteer offered me some Ensure and I carefully sipped my drink to see if it would hold and it did. I continued to walk towards the village stopping at aid stations for some chicken broth. I started to feel better as time went by and started to run and walk to speed up time. Before reaching the Village, I stopped at our FilAm Tri support tent and requested some soup to help me get through the night. David ran with me and brought me some warm soup as I continued to the village to start my second loop. I continued walking and jogging one foot in front of the other! With my GI and nutrition issues, I made it across the finish line just before 11:00 PM with a total time of 16:13:47.

Here's me crossing the finish line.
Now that it has been officially announced that this year is going to be the last Lake Tahoe race, it was a pleasure to be a part history and race with many friends. 

Here are a few photos from the event with some teammates and friends.

 Getting my pre-race recovery for my legs with Normatec
 A few of us checking in to pick our race packets

 It's Official! Registered for Full Ironman Lake Tahoe

 The famous marathon runner Nadia Ruiz and I

 Lunch at the Irish pub at Squaw Valley Village

 Local newspaper

Dropped off my bike in Transition 1

 Race Morning at the swim start in T1 with some friends

Wearing my new Ironman Lake Tahoe Finisher jacket

Photo of my medal with Squaw Valley Ski Resort in the background

Saturday, November 19, 2011

San Francisco Wedding: Heidi + Justin

Last month was an exciting month for Heidi and Justin. I packed up my gear and went for a drive up the coast to San Francisco to shoot their wedding. It was a perfect day to get married, beautiful church, and best of all - a beautiful bride and groom. They stated their vows at the The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in the city. Along side me photographing their wedding was Rosaura Sandoval of Rosaura Sandoval Photography. She was a very exciting photographer with so much energy. It was a pleasure to work with her. Congratulations Heidi and Justin!







Sunday, March 21, 2010

Los Angeles Wedding: Laura + Ben Join together in Marriage

Laura and Ben celebrated their wedding in Los Angeles at the Park Plaza Hotel. With the presence of a live band playing music, they started a new beginning as they say I do atop the grand staircase of the hotel. Photographing their celebration was a great experience! Here are some photos from their wedding.





Saturday, January 9, 2010

Los Angeles Wedding: Shemane and Melvin

I recently shot the wedding of Shemane and Melvin in Los Angeles and finally set some time aside to write about it on my blog. They were a great couple to work with and were ready for anything! It was like they had everything planned out for taking photos. They knew what poses they wanted, where to stand and when the right moments to laugh, smile and giggle! I was just amazing how easy it was working with them! Shemane and Melvin exchanged their vows at the beautiful St. Columban church in Los Angeles. Shooting along side Aileen Secord of Aileen Secord Photography was a great learning experience! Here are some photos from their wedding.









Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maternity: Desiree

Desiree and Mikey (AKA Paul) will soon be welcoming their first child and I had the pleasure to take maternity pictures of the proud parents to be. It was alot of fun to shoot the proud parents to be. Complete NATURALS!! I can't wait to meet little Chloe! Congrats again Desiree and Mikey! I hope to be part of the many memories captured by photo with the new angel!

I had great time working with Desiree and Mikey. Thanks for having me photograph your maternity session. It was definitelly my pleasure. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy.