I just returned from Louisville, KY where I just completed my first Ironman! This was an unusual Ironman in that the swim was almost cancelled due to a toxic algae bloom in the Ohio River. Pretty crazy. For the last month of training, I had no idea if the thing was even going to go off. I continued my training and tried to stay mentally focused which was not easy. I flew to Louisville and still did not know if the swim would happen! Then… 24 hours before the race, they lifted the swim ban and the race was on. YES! 6 months of hard training would not be lost as well as thousands and thousands of dollars. Doing an Ironman is not a cheap endeavor either. The race went well although there were some rocky moments… I swam over some iron bars in the river and witnessed a violent high-speed bicycle crash. The crash shook me up a bit but I rallied and enjoyed the rest of the race. The last 3 miles of the run were hard but the finish was amazing. The finish line is in downtown Louisville where there are thousands of people cheering and encouraging all the participants. I did gulp some river water but did not get sick. No toxic river water syndrome!! It was a fantastic experience for myself and my parents. Thank you Louisville for hosting an amazing event!
Archive for the ‘open water’ Tag
Just returned from Hawaii and we were on the Big Island! I am doing an Ironman in Louisville, KY in October and I wanted to possibly do some training on the famed Kona Ironman course. I did it……. with my family’s help. Thank you mom and dad! I did the 2.4M ocean swim on one day and the 112 bike on another. The currents were a bit stronger than I anticipated but I felt good and the bike had some serious winds and heat. I am pretty sure the Big Island is my favorite island now. So many different ecosystems.
I had been wanting to swim the length of Donner Lake in the high Sierras after I saw and was inspired by a Masters Swim Race there three years ago. What a scene that was. I was standing on shore with 300 swimmers on an early August morning with the lake shrouded in fog. Donner is a high alpine lake on the California side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is at an altitude of 7,000 plus feet with its deepest point at over 300 feet! Mingling with these brave swimmers just before they set off into the foggy abyss was enough to scare this swim class dropout to death! The organizers of the event had to delay the start for the swimmers safety. The fog was as thick as pea soup, very much like the Oregon coast! Eventually the swim began and I made my way back down to the finish, a mere 2.7 mile swim. As I watched these athletes finish, I thought I must conquer this lake one day.
Fast forward to August 2011! At this point, I have a few triathlons under my belt and I am ready to tackle the beast of Donner. Well, maybe not, I pulled a pectoral muscle moving some furniture the week prior. Like a fool, I thought I would be OK swimming 3 miles. I set off in perfect conditions with the water a balmy 71 degrees and a very faint breeze blowing in from the west. Please note this is not the actual Masters Swim Race but my own personal little race. There is a huge difference here. BOATS and JET SKIS abound in non-sanctioned race settings. This is a hazard you MUST be cognizant of at all times hence why my girlfriend spots me with a bright yellow kayak. Regardless of the kayak, it is so easy to drift out into boating lanes. Chugging along we looked up to notice in the distant Sierra mountains….. SNOW! YES! snow in August. We had record snow this year! At approximately the two-mile mark with my pectoral muscle screaming at me and boats encroaching we aborted the mission. Dang. I was in discomfort the whole swim and was probably quite stupid to push it. So……. we stopped and I fell just short of my goal. Oh well. There will be another August and I will be back!
Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA is a dammed up portion of the beautiful American River. It is a great spot to swim, kayak, row, etc. I took my first plunge of the season yesterday. The water was 54 degrees so the hands and face get a little cold. We have had lots of snow in the Sierras this year and the river and lake are high! The water is pure COLD snow melt and the visibility is pretty dang good. A family of ducks were chasing me on the homestretch but I just nudged them at the line!
I met a fellow a few years back who was an open water swimmer and sometimes triathlete. This guy had done some serious swims: across Donner Lake (almost 3 miles), SF Bay, among many others. I had always wanted to try doing triathlon and the water portion was always the sticking point. Reason? Swim class drop out! Ha. I kind of taught myself to swim over the years but never was a speed demon or anything. I actually was quite fearful of open water as many people are. A few years later and some tris under my belt I have come to love open water. Well not all open water…. ocean is still on the bucket list…. (SF Bay in particular). I absolutely love a beautiful alpine lake in the Sierras called Donner Lake. Yes, my readers, the infamous Donner Party were stuck there during their ill-fated journey through the Sierras.
Donner Lake is usually around 66 in July. Not too bad but what I really wanted to try was LAKE TAHOE! Yes! OK… not without a wetsuit though. We rolled out there on a sunny September day. We were told by a good friend in the know that Meeks Bay is a great beach to swim and kayak from! Arriving at the kayak rental shack, I asked the owner, a crusty old Tahoe veteran, what he thought the water temp was? “57 degrees!” he bellowed. I thought to myself I have a wetsuit but no gloves or boots. This should be interesting to see how my hands and feet hold up. 30 minutes later I called it. Face and hands were kind of icy. Here are my swim stats. I think I will stick with Donner Lake, Lake Natoma, and Folsom Lake. Who knows? Maybe down the road I will tackle the SF Bay!!!
Northern California! In my mind, it belongs in the top 5 regions of the world! Not that I have been all over the world mind you, but I just get this feeling it is in the top 5 somewhere. San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe to name just a few! WOW. It really is a paradise for a person who loves nature and the outdoors! Anyways… I do a lot of cycling, running, open water swimming, and in the winter cross-country skiing in the Sierra Nevada. All this activity has led to a love of triathlon. What is great is… I have friends who specialize in each of one of these disciplines and I train with them and later put them all together. I have a good buddy from San Francisco who I have known all my life. He is an extremely talented and dedicated cyclist. A great training partner…. but also a very scary and unpredictable training partner. I have been on, no question, the toughest bike rides of my life with this friend. Mt. Diablo, Howell Mountain Road, Mt. Tam, Sierra Road (see what Lance Armstrong said about Sierra road)…. all epic ascents in Nor Cal. But today, I will tell you about The DEVILS CANYON!! This is a ride that is literally 2 hours up and 2 hours down. This gorgeous ride takes you under and over California’s tallest bridge, Foresthill Bridge, and along one of the most scenic rivers in the United States, the American River. Please take a look at our statistics and you will get an idea of this ride terrain:
I had never ridden this ride before and am always a bit leery where my friend is leading us. Past experiences tell me I KNOW it will not be pleasant. At about midride, we began a steep descent into a dark wooded gorge where we approached speeds up to 40 mph. While we descended, I thought to myself, what in the hell is he getting us into now? As the saying goes… what goes down must COME UP! We finally reach the bottom and lo and behold what do we see? A sign of rednecks in the area: A bulletpocked road sign that reads DEVILS CANYON. Oh man. We have one hell of a ride UP now. Thanks Joe.