2018 marked the second year in a row that Cortney (aka Thing 2) and I have participated together in the Lake Tahoe Sprint Triathlon put on by Big Blue Adventure. In the week leading up to race day, our respective families expressed that they would rather sleep in and have a leisurely morning, than cheer us on at the race. Once we got over the devastation and heart break of having been abandoned by our husbands and kids [sarcasm] we realized we would have THE ENTIRE MORNING TO OURSELVES! What? Yes – again for a second year in a row, we would have 5:00am to about noon entirely free of managing anyone or anything other than ourselves. Oh these precious moments!
5:30AM on race day, Cortney emerged from her front door with gear and bike in hand and hoodie on into the VERY cold temperatures of a late-August, Truckee morning. When I say cold, I’m not exaggerating – we’re talking mid 30s. So as we climb into the car and exit the neighborhood that’s exactly where the conversation goes. Mid 30s? That’s nothing – we’re Truckee tough – right? We can handle this! It’ll warm up before the race starts! Yeah – that’s it – it’ll warm up!
Sugar Pine Point is absolutely beautiful and is a gorgeous spot for spectators and race participants alike. So, after taking in a bit of the scenery, we made our way to packet pick up where we joked and chit-chatted with Misty and Bryan of Big Blue before racking our bikes in transition. Guess what… it was still cold.
I usually wear a puffy and Uggs to the start of a triathlon in the Sierras, but for some reason, I didn’t this time. I can honestly say that I really wish I had worn them both – it was really cold. As the sun came up though, little patches of warmth formed on the grass and we were able to soak up the rays as we put our wet suits on.
On that note, and from a gear standpoint, I highly recommend neoprene booties for this race. While the water temperature was a toasty 70ish degrees, your feet will thank you while you await the swim start on cold sand and then once you exit the water to run back up the hill for about a quarter-mile. Without the booties, it honestly feels like you’re running on shards of glass.
Similar to last year, the water was right up to the edge of the wall that was built as part of the mansion grounds where the race begins. There was no beach for all of us to wait on so we largely awaited the start in water up to our ankles while talking to Big Blue’s expert medic, Spike Wimmer. The water temperature felt like bath water compared to the still very cold air temperature (about 40 degrees)! Regardless of the air temp, we were able to take in the sunrise and scenery. This is one of the most beautiful views of Lake Tahoe around.
As a couple of the waves started ahead of us, we noticed that almost every single swimmer ended up at least 25 yards to the north of the first buoy and tried to figure out if it was a sighting issue (swimming to the east, the sun is right in your eyes) or if it was a current/chop issue. It turned out that there was some wind and chop which was pushing swimmers a bit to the north. No worries there – we just aimed to the south of the first buoy to compensate. Note – remember to watch the swimmers in the waves ahead of you – you can gather quite a bit of course/conditions intel by doing so.
Anyway, our age group was called to start and we were off to tackle the course. Without further ado, here’s a recap of the course itself…
SWIM: The 550 yard swim is a rough “U” shape starting at the “North Boat House” of the mansion grounds. Upon starting, we swam east for about 100 yards to the first buoy and then south for another hundred(ish) yards to the second buoy which proved to be a guide around the small pier at the property. From there it was a straight(ish) line in to the golden finish arch.
As I mentioned before, I highly recommend neoprene booties for this race. You can get them on Amazon for about $15. While the water temperature is fantastic, waiting for the swim start as well as running back up to transition via the roughly quarter-mile combination of asphalt and dirt covered with pine needles, pine cones and rocks is made much more pleasant (and speedy) with booties to protect the feet.
BIKE: The 10 mile bike ride travels out of the transition area and south along Highway 89. The course is comprised of rolling hills with a total of about 500 feet in elevation gain. It is open to vehicular traffic, but still provides plenty of opportunity to take in views of the area including Meeks Bay. As an out and back course, the turn around point is about 5 miles from the transition area. Don’t forget to thank the volunteers and Highway Patrol as you slow down to make the turn around and head home.
RUN: Be still my beating heart! Oh how I love this part! It’s a two mile loop with about 100 feet of elevation gain, on a tiny bit of pavement, a lot of trail and a bit of sand. As you run out of transition and on to course, there’s a steep(ish) descent on pavement which will make those legs feel a bit more rubbery than normal. Once you’re past that, there’s a bit of trail, a bit of sand and then before you know it, you’re running back up that steep hill into the finish. While you’re out there though, ignore the fact that your heart feels like it’s going to beat right out of your chest and look east out over the lake for more of those beautiful views.
Running into this finish is so fun and exciting. The crowds are awesome, and the race staff and volunteers are wonderful! The post-race goodies are plentiful and range from fruit and bagels to a full BBQ and beer!
After Cortney and I finished our race, we gathered our gear and made our way over to check preliminary times. We were both surprised to see that our times were slower than last year, but still very happy with the results. We later learned that there was indeed some wind and chop with the swim (it wasn’t in our heads), which resulted in the additional time. It added roughly 5 minutes to each of our swim legs and overall times. I would never have guessed that what I thought was a tiny breeze could have impacted our times so much. Nevertheless, we felt fantastic and had so much fun!