Monday, October 27, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Silverman Race Report: Jeff Kirkland

I was so excited to run the 2014 Silverman. I had planned for months for what was my “A” race of the year. Earlier in the summer, I ran a 70.3 to test the distance and see what it would be like, but it wasn’t an Ironman event. I have to say running the official Ironman event, although more expensive, is just awesome. I was impressed by the organization and details that were involved. This was also my first destination race so I was in new territory with the travel.

The race was on Sunday, so I flew to Las Vegas late Thursday night. I arrived at the airport about 1:00am and was surprised to see my bike come sliding down the luggage carousel. I travel a fair amount and was thankful for the United priority tag on my bike. I got my car, checked into the hotel, and got a few hours of sleep.

On Friday morning, my buddy and I woke up and drove to the race check in to get things all set. I listened to the pre-race briefing and then went straight to Lake Mead to get in a swim. The water temperature at that point was 82 degrees and the outside air temperature was 93. From that point, it was back to the hotel to relax and enjoy the sunshine. I checked in my bike on Saturday and picked up a few last minute items before race day.

I started my Sunday morning bright and early at 4:00am. I wasn’t hungry at all and couldn’t eat anything at that point, but I did hydrate. I headed off to T2 to catch the shuttle bus out to Lake Mead for the swim start. As we got out of the car, race volunteers were announcing that somehow magically the water temperature was not 75.8 degrees and the race was wetsuit legal. I grabbed the Roka and hopped on the bus. Everything was well organized. When I arrived at the lake, I did my last minute check on my bike and headed to the swim start.

The swim start was a wave start. The pro men went first. I was in the seventh wave and as we approached the water with the music cranking, my nerves were going nuts. I knew I had worked hard for this and I was ready to go. I stepped in the water and before I knew it, the cannon went off and I was out for a nice 1.2-mile swim with 300 of my closest age-group friends.

The swim went great. It was a little crowded, but overall, not too bad. Another racer had the same pace as me, and we swam the entire thing next to each other. My swim time was right at 35 minutes, which was exactly where I thought I would be. It felt great getting out of the water and running to T1 as I ripped off my wetsuit.

I knew from reading race reports and looking at the Ironman website that the ride was tough, but I didn’t realize how crazy tough it really was. The first mile was up the boat ramp and that just got me to the main road. From that point on, there was one theme for the ride and that was UP! We had a total elevation gain of 5,200 feet and the air temperature was 96 degrees. 

I rode steady and was happy with my ride. I hydrated well and took nutrition when I had planned and had no issues. I am not a very big guy at 5’7” tall and 119 pounds, so climbing is ok with me. I do tend to lose some time on the descents because of my weight. I passed many people and got passed by a few guys who were just flying. After we hit the summit of the pass, we dropped down into Henderson. It was a great feeling to have those couple miles of downhill. From that point, it was about 8 miles of false flats. We were climbing slowly, then the last 6 miles was straight uphill to the pavilion and T2. As I started the steep climb, my chain popped off and jammed in my sprocket. I hopped off and an awesome police officer grabbed my bike for me so I could get things going. I only lost about 30 seconds
in time, but the biggest loss was my momentum up the final climb. I hit T2 and was happy to hit the ground running.

Running is my thing. This year I have progressed in my running like no other year, so I was excited. I took off and quickly realized this run was going to be just like the ride, UP. There was a little over 1,200 feet of elevation gain on the run. It was a 3-loop course with aid stations every mile and people everywhere cheering. My goal was to just make it to the next aid station each time. I love the sun and the heat, but living in Oregon we don’t get either one that often. In fact, we didn’t have one day this summer that was as hot as it was on this nice fall Las Vegas day.

funny pic from race Facebook page
The heat wasn’t the hardest part for me, it was the dryness that was killing me. (To the man who brought the hose out from your back yard and was spraying us down, THANK YOU!) After each lap I knew I was closer to crossing the finish line where my wife and three year old son were waiting for me. I held my pace just fine and felt good about the run. I had no pain and I was thankful for feeling healthy at this point. I took some water at the final aid station and ran to the end with all I had.

My personal goal for this race was 6:30. I ran my first half Ironman in 5:20 but it was flat as could be and the weather was 65 degrees. I knew this ride and run would be much more difficult, so I was trying to be realistic with my time. As I crossed the finish line, I saw that my time was 6:00 and I was very pleased. I am thankful my family was waiting for me as I crossed the finish line. Maybe it is just me but these things can make you really emotional!

I felt great the next day and even went for a recovery run. I now have my eyes set on Ironman Australia in March 2015. Thanks to all my Triple Threat teammates for the encouragement and support. Also to all of our sponsors who provide us with great gear.

Related Posts:

Triple Threat Profile: Jeff Kirkland - Oregon

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