BBSC Endurance Sports gets it. Like really gets it.
For a mere 160 bucks, I got to participate in the most idyllic, yet challenging, half ironman-distance event I have done to date.
Being a poor future-grad student, I appreciate not getting gouged on entry fees. Or on anything that goes along with racing. (Please, oh please stay down, gas prices!)
Coachubby and I picked the RAGE Half in place of Wildflower. Both courses are known to be difficult. But Wildflower has not only a longer drive, on top of a whopping $270-ish entry fee, it costs the most money an athlete could ever pay to sleep on a patch of dirt and share a few bathroom stalls with thousands of people.
For $50, we stayed 3 minutes away from RAGE's race start in the Hacienda Hotel and Casino, allowing for a little nappy nap after a 4:15am shove-breakfast-down-the hatch call.
A quick little descent led us to the freakishly long transition area, where about 100 of the 800 people there were setting up to do the Half. (Other options: Olympic and Sprint triathlons. Fun for the whole family!)
The charmingly humorous announcer guy then said something that cracked my cloud-9 feelings about RAGE: "The water is a lovely 56 degrees, folks!"
56! That's colder than it was at Coeur d'Alene...and I wore booties! Coachubby, did you hear what he said?!
"He said 65, right?"
I prayed the announcer was verbally dyslexic, not coachubby. But one toe in the water, and I ran back through the tall and skinny transition to grab another cap.
The start was chill. (Pun intended.) We all rounded one green buoy, then took the announcer's word for it that there was another green buoy out there marking the turn around. My inability to breathe to the right was rewarded, as the buoys had to stay to the left, and the chop created from the wind would've only flooded the mouths of right-side breathers. Sorry coachubby!
Just when I got sick of swimming, it was over. And I wasn't a frozen Erincicle. In fact, the air temperature was so pleasant, I couldn't have have been happier.
I set out on the gorgeous bike course, ready for the advertised 6000+ feet of climbing, with my original Ironman motto humming through my brain: Just chill. Add a little "spin to win" and that's pretty much all I thought about the whole way out.
I saw coachubby was in 5th place. Apparently I was, too. When I saw other women on the "back" section of the out and back, I wanted to get 'em. A few had passed me, but I wasn't about to blow my motto in an effort to catch ladies who may just blow up on the run as a result of pushing too hard on the bike.
Another woman passed me on the way into T2, so I threw Pinky on the rack, shoved my feet into vaselined running shoes, and bolted out ahead of her.
This is where the magic happened.
A 42 year old member of the Las Vegas Triathlon Club, whom I will 95% positively identify as one Geoffrey Clark (in case he Googles himself, as James Vicente did last week.), ran next to me at a pace I felt was perfect.
"What pace you goin'?" he asked.
I saw he was pacing himself with a Suunto.
"Don't tell me! I don't want to know! I go by how I feel!" I exclaimed like a psycho.
"This is a good pace," said Geoff.
Then I proceeded to run a few paces back of him for approximately the first 6 miles uphill. Geoff made conversation, and flexed his biceps for all of the middle-school girls womaning the aid stations, until coachubby ran the other way.
"That's my husband!" I exclaimed.
Coachubby told me I was in 5th place.
"Does that mean I'm fourth woman?" asked Geoff.
He took off a little faster. Then, right at mile 6, he told me to go forth and conquer. "If you shave :30 off of each mile back, you'll catch them!" he said. Then, according to his race results, he died, while I powered on, knowing gravity was on my side--it was mostly downhill the entire way back.
I crossed the line in my best half-ironman time to date, only to find out later I went 2 minutes slower than I had thought, because, according to the timing people, "the clock isn't synched with the chip system. It's just an approximation." Quelle bummer. It was still my best half time, even with 2 added minutes, and my best half-marathon ever. (In all fairness, the bike course was really more like 53.7 miles, not 56.)
Free massages awaited broken people at the finish. As did the most massive blisters known to mankind. Yes, foregoing socks was a brilliant way to get into the top 5. But now I'm paying for it. I couldn't walk right after I finished because of the massive blisters on my left foot.
I only realized yesterday that the blisters, once popped, were not to blame for my lame footedness.
I broke my foot.
Not broke broke. I fractured--hairline fractured--a sesamoid bone. It was evil enough to make my foot swell, and hurt to walk, and to make me go to the doctor to get an xray so I could see the tiny white line in the bone.
I believe the closest thing to what I've done is called "turf toe", only I did it without turf, cleats, or any football maneuvers.
So just after my most glorious run ever, thanks to the pacing efforts of Geoff, and the most beautiful, engaging run course known to mankind, I can't run anymore. At least, not for a while.
IN CONCLUSION: Do RAGE. Just make sure to bring your own Gatorade, because they use HEED on the course, and if you've ever had HEED, you probably know it tastes...unforgivably disgusting. Barf-inducingly disgusting.
If you have gastrointestional issues race morning, you'll be happy to know there was never, ever a portapotty line.
And they had very cool technical race shirts...unfortunately they ran out of my size before I arrived at packet pick up. I am eternally bummed. Normally, I'd think, "who needs another race shirt?" but these were truly neat-o.
And if you're really, really into awards ceremonies, you'll be gravely disappointed. The "ceremony" was conducted when only 5 people were still around to receive awards. However, the age-group awards (if you're coachubby and you get 3rd overall, you get a big ass trophy), are marvelous vouchers for a personalized plaque--complete with your choice of photo, your name, place, and time. Snazzy.
The course is stunning, the people fun, and the run course is fabulous. You'll run on what used to be an old railroad track, through several tunnels, and have great views of Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains.
And when you're done, you can ice bath in the freezing lake, then take the fam to see the Hoover Dam and the crazy bridge they're building just South of it.
Wishing you fractureless racing fun this season,