Getting to the Desert
One week out from Vegas.
1. Clash Endurance
This week’s much belated newsletter is due to racing in Miami this past weekend for my triathlon team’s season opener. I did the 70.3 because I have a special talent for breaking the first Moscow Rule and made the very wrong assumption that “Middle distance” meant Olympic distance, not half-Ironman when I registered for the race.
It was my second 70.3 so I knew what to expect more or less. I didn’t train enough for the bike or the swim and had false confidence about the run. I thought if I held on through the bike then I could open it up on the 13.1 run and it would be a nice little confidence boost before heading to the desert. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There was a lot of wind, and the heat took more out of me than I expected. But overall, it went fine and was a gorgeous day—the bike course went all the way down to the Florida Keys, so the views were beautiful.
My teammates and I talk a lot about pre-race jitters and when it starts to feel real and sinks in that you’re racing—when you check in your bike, when you put on the wetsuit, when they play the national anthem at the start line—but I didn’t have much of that type of anxiety for this race. It really and truly felt like just a long workout, even if the run was more of a reality check than an ego boost. Was afraid of overdoing it before TSP, but the race did help mentally for preparing to run in the heat. I have a little bit better sense of how to handle and regulate body temperature headed into the desert now—it’s going to look a lot like just shoving a ton of ice in my sports bra since these are the projected race temps:
SANTA MONICA HI 74˚ / LO 56˚
PALMDALE, CA HI 86˚ / LO 42˚
BAKER, CA HI 91˚ / LO 54˚
DEATH VALLEY HI 98˚ / LO 62˚
LAS VEGAS HI 87˚ / LO 54˚
It also pushed me over the 300 mileage mark. I’m not quite going to make it to the personal goal of 500 miles before the desert. So far according to our leaderboard the team combined has logged over 2,000 training miles since January. For more serious/in-depth race recaps from Miami check out my teammate Darien’s Instagram as he breaks down each segment!
This past week we also had a logistics call with our support team who will be joining us in Santa Monica. Nikki’s aunt Darlene will be our team leader helping keep us on track coming and going from the RV as we make our way across the desert. Part of the unofficial training guide lays out why it’s important to designate someone on the support crew to be point person:
Runners will get tired/delirious and will make poor decisions
Such as: running from Los Angeles to Las Vegas
We covered a lot of old horror stories from past years, what to be prepared for and what to pack. Since we’re running straight for somewhere around 40 hours we’re bringing changes of clothes for the heat of the day and the desert lows of the night. It’s recommended to have multiple pairs of shoes to cover different types of terrain. We’re bringing headlamps for the dark and Marcus and Forrest warned us to not be afraid if we see the glowing eyes of wildlife that sometimes get caught in the beams.
This weekend there is a welcome party and runners are already headed out west. I don’t leave until Tuesday and am doing a final long run on Sunday with Marcus in DC.
It’s not just runners who are doing last minute preparations, the TSP main account posted this week about getting the old limousine tuned up and ready. The guide has been updated with the final schedule along with a reminder to read another document aptly titled “Your runner is the weakest link between LA and Vegas” going over the best practices for maintaining situational awareness on the course. That also includes a breakdown of the medical facilities along the way for every 30-40 mile segment in case there is an emergency.
Reading through the warnings and beginning to pull gear together has caused some of the nerves I lacked or ignored before Miami to start flickering. The last couple weeks went by faster than I anticipated. I was telling a friend recently about Kazou Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, specifically the ending because I’ve felt like it speaks to a lot of the grief and emotion of living through the pandemic: “We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.”
Even though running can help give days and weeks structure and some measure of predictability, I still don’t feel as prepared or confident as I might have hoped. I have a quiet but nagging fear about whether or not I’ve run enough—if I’ll be fast enough and wondering how much of a difference it would have made if I hadn’t joined the team late and started training sooner. But I think that desire for more time is just an illusion of wanting control because no matter how ready you are for an event, things can still go wrong and have unforeseeable difficulties.