The morning of Silverman is much less stressful than that of an Ironman race. There are only ~250 people total racing the full distance (including relays), versus the 2,500 racers in an Ironman. This meant that there were no lines for body marking and timing chips. There were quite a few athletes racing the half distance at 8:30 am so I think it was a little busier for them. Race morning weather was fantastic, partly clear skies, and a high of ~25 degrees Celsius for the day.
I lined up at the front of the swim, and waited for the official race start. As soon as we were off I stayed glued to a relay swimmers feet for the first 1000m of the swim, and then we hitched onto a group of 5 others to form a great swim pack. I stayed near the back of the swim pack to save energy for the rest of the race. Whenever I looked back I couldn't spot a single swimmer so I knew that if I lost this pack I wouldn't have any other swimmers to join in with. We came out the swim at around 57 minutes for the 2.4 mile course. This was the end of the flat portion of the day.
After the swim I ran passed all the wetsuit strippers (they were all busy with the pack that I came in with). I ripped off my suit quickly and ran through the uphill change tent. On my way out of the change tent I noticed that most of the folks from my swim pack were only just entering the tent. I like having quick transitions.
The first few km's of the bike are relatively easy. And my plan was to ride as conservatively as possible for the next 112 miles. It's around mile 11 where the bike course starts to get difficult. Around 20 miles into the bike course I was blasting down a hill at 45-50km/hr when suddenly it felt like I had a rear tire flat. This feeling lasted about 2 seconds before I knew it was a lot worse than a rear tire flat. Then there was a noise and a lack of control in the rear of the bike. Not a fun feeling on the bike! I was trying to brake as fast as possible and not slide out of control. I was approaching the side of the road fast! Somehow, I managed to stay upright and balanced on my front wheel during my slowdown. I jumped off my bike and looked back at my rear wheel to find that my rear wheel was only being held onto my bike via my bike chain! Yep, I guess I hadn't tightened my rear wheel quick release skewer enough and it slid out of my rear entry dropouts. I re-tightened the quick release and jammed it back into the bike and started on my way again. I never want to go through that again. I rode the rest of the bike wondering if that would happen again. This bike course took me about 90 min's longer than any other Ironman bike course. It is relentless with endless hills and false flats. I actually rode the steep hills well, it was the entire 3% grade over the course that absolutely destroyed my cycling legs. I felt defeated and destroyed out there. And I still had 75 miles left when I first felt this way. There were many moments that I mentally told myself that I would be walking the marathon and today was not my day.
After a long 7 1/4 hours on the bike I finally arrived at the second transition (T2). Coming into T2 I was cycling very slow, but I still moved through transition fairly quickly for fear of losing momentum. As I exited the T2 tent, Tammy told me that everyone ahead of me looked very stiff and if I found my rhythm I could make up a lot of spots. This little talk was all that my mind needed, and I started to tick along at ~9:10 min/mile pace. I found my first run victim at the first mile, then at mile 2. I picked off about 11 people and 1 relay on the first 13 mile lap. I ran through 13.1 miles in 1:59 and had a fleeting thought about breaking 4hours in this run. As an aside there is only about 400 meters of flat road for the entire run! This thought lasted for the next 1/2 mile. Between miles 14 and 18 I did a lot of walking, during which I was passed by about 4 people that were running. Finally, I was able to find my running rhythm again and started to gain back my placings, plus many more from many of the Silverman course victims. I crossed the line in 12:38:25 with a 4:16:xx marathon time. This was good enough for 48th overall and 6th in my age group (M30-34).
Tammy met me at the finish line where we collected all my race stuff and quickly left the scene with a stop at Sonic burger for some fast food.
Looking back, this race is definitely the hardest and most grueling race I've ever completed. I was certainly happy to cross that finish line and get my medal. This bike course completely ripped my legs off, but somehow I managed a decent run (compared to the many walkers who out-biked me). Knowing this, I am motivated to come back again next year and improve my overall/age-group placing. I am also going to make sure that my rear wheel is secure in my bike frame!
The organization of the race was far beyond what I expected and is comparable to an M-dot race. In fact, Tammy was so impressed with this race that she has decided to enter this race next year. So next year it will be both of us racing Silverman. Anyone else wish to join us?
Since the race we have been walking the Vegas Strip, doing some outlet shopping, and I even entered the 50m pool for a bit of a dog paddle/drowning session.