ITU World Championships – Part 1

The weeks leading up to our departure for this final race of the year has been more emotionally challenging than I anticipated. Training has been going well. I am fit and ready to closeout the year. It has been a long one, with great results, and being able to represent the USA in this event, at a distance I have never raced at, on one of the toughest triathlon courses in the USA, well, a perfect package to wrap up and bring back home. This was also the first race Gina and I would be traveling to together since last October – as in air/hotel, etc.
We did all of our pre-trip planning and the Ironsherpa helped nail all the details as best we could. We looked forward to a honeymoon too since we have not been on one since our wedding just over a year ago! We did get engaged on 11/6 so with the race being on 11/5, we plan to walk the strip the next day!!!
But several events came up that have stirred my emotions a bit more than I allowed. Gina’s mom is doing better and has started her chemo treatments but we don’t get updated as we hoped for. Then, my Pops went to the hospital three weeks ago for jaundice, only to have surgery to remove a tumor on his liver that proved to be malignant. Well, not the news a son wants to hear about his ever-playful father, but now time is precious. I have made plans to fly home for a visit once we return, but his condition we too have been updated on, but sporadically. Regardless, I am well aware of my own mortality, and with my faith, know to expect times like this and accept them, but it has been challenging. My book goes more into detail about my views on this, which I now intend to publish come yearend. It more so puts my life in perspective even more, places those priorities in line, and allows me to actually step back and take time to watch life around me with a little more intensity.

So we boarded our flight on Wednesday and were heading to the ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Championships. Big THANK YOU props to Melissa and Bob at IOS for shipping the Black Widow, along with Eimear and Dana for watching Holmes.
We had no issues getting here and the flight was smooth. I have become a fan of American Airlines this year for sure. We got our Rav4 from Hertz at a great deal thanks to being AARP members – no joke, we actually are!!!

With GPS and pre-planned directions we finally got to the hotel at 4:30. Gina had a hard time adjusting to the 3 hour time change and was exhausted. We unpacked, showered, marveled at our host hotel – Loews Lake Las Vegas. We dined at the restaurant early (and 2 berry martinis shared with G) then put the Black Widow together, jumped into our super luxury bathrobes (which I slept in), and easily passed out at 9pm to recharge for a full day Thursday. zzzzzzzzzzz

G was up by 5:30 even with the cozy pillows, dark room thanks to the drapes and 7am sunrise. I didn’t bother budging until and hour later. I went for a run and felt the crisp air. The temperatures hovered close to 50, and the race forecast was not promising – highs only near 60, with morning temps like now. This will call for some serious planning and race strategy changes. I had the bike checked by the USAT mechanic on site and took it for a quick gear check ride. Made some adjustments and got the feel. We still had to get the athlete check in stuff which was 20 minutes away where the finish area and transition 2 would be. I delayed our breakfast plans since there was a Whole Foods next to the finish. We shopped for our breakfast and remaining meals through Saturday, then enjoyed some java and eats right there!! It was cool. But I drive G nuts trying to actually decide and choose what to put in the basket- but yo, with so many good options for only 2 days, yo gotta take time. Ever have a vegan peanut butter cookie???

We got all our stuff, signed 3 waivers, got some more free serious swag, and walked around the outdoor expo. The race finishers long sleeved tech shirt says SURVIVOR on it, but that didn’t stop people from wearing it around anyway BEFORE racing!!! We got some gifts at the USAT gear tent and what did I come across but the USA Parka in XL for $60!!! Talk about something I could use all winter, but also pre race if it’s to be that cold in the morning!!!!! Thanks to the Ironsherpa, she got me it for an anniversary gift. We then headed back to the hotel to go for a nice afternoon walk, then I took the wetsuit and headed for a good 30 minutes of laps. I haven’t worn this thing since June in Lubbock, so it helped to loosen the fibers a bit. The pool was huge in length, a true 50 yards. Talked to a few old guys who have done ITU races like this before and they felt ITU has a bias towards their age group, though he continues to travel and race in them. I snagged a pool towel as customary (huge) and did some stretching and relaxing with G. Yes, I always come home with hotel memorabilia including toilet paper and any lather/body wash stuff. Yo, and maybe a pen.
We then attended the Team USA photo some 300 plus of us, which was fun, before the usual mandatory race meeting in the ballroom. Here we found out that the water temp is 64 degrees!! OMG. But we would be able to wear what we needed to come the bike ride. Over dinner in our room (G actually got some pulled BBQ at Whole Foods too which smelt awesome and yes I tried some), we planned out the gear and necessary race expectations. The goal to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 75 mile bike, and 18.6 mile run is 6:30.

G was out before 10pm again but I wasn’t far behind. Get another good night sleep. My mind was a scatterbrained during the day unexpectedly, but it is because I have all my emotions bottled up ready to be released come race day. Quiet the mind.

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