Donner Lake Half Triathlon – Race Report

Headed up to Donner Lake in the afternoon on Friday. The plan was to beat most of the traffic and that kind of sort of worked. Carpooled with the Zoot NorCal team captain and had a stopover at his office for some free lunch before starting the drive up to higher altitude.

We made decent progress and decided to head straight for the lake rather than going to the cabin we had rented. The weather was really nice so we decided to go for an easy swim. The water temperature was perfect, almost a bit too warm to use a wetsuit.

Ended up getting about a 20 min swim done and got to try out to swim at altitude for the first time. It was interesting for sure but not as bad and exhausting as I had expected.

After the swim we decided that a bike ride would be nice. Changed, hopped on our bikes and headed over towards Lake Tahoe. We changed the plan along the way and went up to Squaw Valley and stopped there for an appetizer and some beer. Got a bit comfortable there and basically forgot about the time. So heading back to the car we got a bit rushed to make it before it got completely dark.

Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley

Stopped at a Mexican restaurant to rule up before heading up to our cabin in Donner Tahoe. We had a pretty big house rented that had 3 floors and basically 4 bedrooms. The plan was for some other Zoot team members to join but plans changed and they would come up later instead.

Had a really early start on Saturday morning. We had signed up to volunteer the Donner Lake Sprint and Kids race. We were assigned to handle the swim safety and had a gathering for that at 6.30 in the morning. Spent most of the morning and mid-day on a paddle board in Donner Lake. It was a blast to see the race from that perspective and being able to help out and coach some people that were terrified of swimming and in a panic to finish (at leafs that part of the race).

Donner Lake

Donner Lake

Donner Lake beach

Donner Lake beach

Zoot volunteer crew

Zoot volunteer crew

I went back to the house in the afternoon for some much needed rest time. Managed to take a quick nap and started to get my gear sorted for the race the following day. Wrapped up the day with a beer and pizza and headed to bed pretty early.

The rental house was only about a 10-15 min drive from the race start. Regardless and as usual race day is an early morning start. Initiated the routine with Chocolate Zico, a banana and a honey roasted peanut butter bagel.

Had plenty of time to get transition set up and managed to get a pretty good spot and then end of one of the racks. For a change I even made it in to the water for a pretty decent warm-up with plenty of time to spare.

Transition

Transition

The lake on race morning

The lake on race morning

The swim went ok, not great but ok. I was swimming with a bigger group early on in the race and for a change wasn’t toward the tail end of my start group. That felt good but changed pretty quickly. The group split up and the smaller pack I followed didn’t really navigate all that well. I ended up getting pretty far off course and ended up with a 41:10 for the swim. This is something that needs some serious improvement since I actually ended up finishing the swim at place 80/111.

T1 was good. Biking in the Lake Cycling TX312 makes transition from swim to bike much faster for me as I can ride without socks. However in this case it wasn’t perfect. My bad for not checking this out before the race. The short running part inside of the transition areas was fine, it was gras and partially paved surface. However right when exiting the actual closed of transition area there was a section of running that was on sand/dirt/pine needles/bark before getting to the mount point. So with wet feet all the dirt got stuck to my feet. This was by no means great and I had some problems getting the dirt off and also getting my shoes on because of this. To add to this the bike started with a  3.5 very steep climb so I didn’t have much option to coast or roll on the bike while trying to sort this out.

I like biking hilly courses and this course was definitely hilly and fit me perfectly. The course started at around 6000ft and climbed around 1200ft over the first 3.5 miles. After that a pretty long down grade to a turn point only to climb all of that back up again and repeat followed by now a steep downhill back to the transition area. The first loop around I was pushing but took care not to go to hard. The second loop I tried going hard but my legs started to get very tired at this point. We also ended up getting mixed in with the Olympic distance race during the bike segment so it started to become very difficult to know who was in your race and not. I was targeting sub 3 hour bike but missed that with a few and ended up with 3:02:29.

View from the top of the climb

View from the top of the climb

During the bike ride I decided to make the run back into transition with the bike shoes on just to avoid the dirt. Bike to run transition was fast and again much of this thanks to the Zoot Ultra Tempo 6.0. The shoes are designed to run without socks and saves a lot of time in transition for me.

The run was 2 loops around Donner Lake. The traditional distance would be 13.1 miles but in this case I think the official distance was 13.36 miles. Small difference one might think but a huge difference at the tail end of a half IronMan distance triathlon.

Given cramping issues in the past I started of with a somewhat moderate pace. I did have some tentative cramping early on but was able to manage that by controlling pace and drinking as much water I got get my hands on and also plenty of Gu for electrolytes. Seemed like I made good progress in the filed also and was passing several people during the run. Towards the end of the first loop I was passed by the male leader. After that point almost every aid start ion mentioned to me that the leader just passed and I was running in second. Thanks Zoot for the very professional looking race kit 🙂

Finished, litterally

Finished, literally

Another 1/2 distance in the bag

Another 1/2 distance in the bag

Had a goal to break 2 hours and not being caught by my fast team mates during the run. I managed to achieve both with a run time of 1:55:43.

Had lots of fun all day. This is definitely a great race course and a great race venue. I’ll be back for sure.

Total time 5:42:03
Finished 4/15 in my age group and 25/111 total.

 

Thanks Jim for pictures from the finish!

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