Leadman Epic 125 Triathlon Race Report - Las Vegas

In over 85+ triathlons I can honestly say that I have never done a race as EPIC as Life Time Fitness' Leadman 125 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  If the course wasn't challenging enough, on race day we were all blessed with gail force winds, cloudless skies, and above normal temperatures.  Truthfully there are no adjectives that can do the weather conditions justice, but for reference here is a chart.  This data is from Boulder City which is just south of Lake Mead Recreation Park, but is much more sheltered than the exposed bike course which take places on the north end of Lake Mead.

Leadman 125 Las Vegas Triathlon Weather Data - Saturday, Mach 31st, 2012

In all honestly, if I could do things all over again I would do many things differently, but I wouldn't change the weather conditions if I could.  Despite being scared for my life on the bike, I loved every minute of it and I even managed to make it up on my first pro triathlon podium.  Here is a recap of that EPIC day:

Taking a look at the competition
Copyright Jim Cruze
Swim (38:51 / 5th):  The pro men wave went off at 10:00 and I tried to grab some feet.  Unfortunately the small pack started out fast and I was in no mood to blow all my energy on what I knew would be a long day of suffering.  Instead it meant that for the first time in quite some time that I had to swim by myself. As a result I slowed down my stroke and just focused on nice smooth strokes. All was going to plan until I reached the second turn buoy on this rectangle course and headed south directly into the wind and chop. I knew value-for-value that it was best to get this section done as quickly as possible so I bumped up the level of effort.  I paid for it though and I reached shored completely gassed and disoriented.

Bike (3:08:57 / 3rd):  I struggled to get my balance out of transition but managed to make it up the access road and out to the main road without incident.  From there I focused on a nice smooth pedal stroke and settled into a relaxed pace.  On this day I knew it would be critical to save as much energy as possible for the headwind return and so I made a conscious decision not to put out too much power too early in the race.

Hanging on for dear life
An hour into the race I started to see glimpses of someone in front of me and then a second person.  I was making up ground.  A couple miles from the turnaround I caught up and passed Ian Mikelson and Lewis Elliott.  I was a little bit in shock as I never beat either one of these guys and I was slightly concerned that maybe I was going to overcook myself despite what I thought was a conservative pace.  The gap with Ian grew immediately but Lewis hung tight until the turnaround and then he dropped off too.

At this point I was riding in 2nd place and I knew I was in for a brutal ride back to transition.  It was also at this point that I really started to curse some decisions that I had made including, why on earth I thought riding a disc and a deep front would be a good idea.  It was a classic "knowing-doing gap" and I knew I should have just rode a training wheel up front but that isn't what I did. Despite some dicey moments I was able to stay aero roughly 85% of the time on the way out. On the way back in I struggled to stay aero and in the end I would estimate that I was only aero for 25% of the ride back and spent 75% on the hoods.

By mile 40 I had gone thru all 11 (1210 calories) of my Powerbar gels and there were only aid stations at 40 and 55 for fluids.   I would have to rely on what little calories was in HEED for the remainder of the bike ride.  I felt like I was on of those "survival" reality shows as I tried to save precious fluids with only one bottle cage on my bike.  My lips were so dry that they were stuck to my teeth.  Thankfully my biking legs had showed up to play and that made the return trip home manageable.  Matt Russell eventually caught me on the bike and by the time I hit transition he had put a good minute on me.

Run (1:02:56 / 2nd): I started the run about 40 seconds down from Matt Russell and focused on a solid stride. Surprisingly the gap with Matt wasn't expanding and was actually contracting over the first mile.  At mile 1 he was roughly 15-20 seconds ahead and I tried to close the gap but then it started to grow. I started to lose 10-15 seconds per mile and in the end I finished in 3rd place just a couple of minutes down from Matt, and 7:45 back from winner Maik Twelsiek.  I finished roughly 7 minutes in front of 4th place finisher Ian Mikelson.

Awards with Jaclyn, Angela Naeth, and Debbie Claggett
Overall (4:52:42 / 3rd): Overall I couldn't be happier with my race.  I had one of the worst swims, but I followed it up with one of my most amazing bike and runs.  I was able to beat guys that I have never beaten before and judging by the number of times Matt Russell looked back on the run I knew I had applied pressure to one of the best bike/runners out there.  This race really gave me the confidence in my own coaching methods and hopefully it is a sign of what is too come with the rest of the 2012 season.

As always I want to thank the people and companies that make this happen including:

Life Time Fitness - for putting on a great race
Jay Childers - for an awesome homestay
Trisports - for all the great tri gear they carry and for providing it in the most earth sustainable way
2xu - for the wetsuit, compression gear, and everyday training clothing gear that rocks!!
Powerbar - for getting me to and thru races with their fantastic nutrition products
Drip Drop - for making sure I stay hydrated
A to Z Cares - for your continued support of my training, racing, and overall well-being


  1. Congrats on the first podium as a pro- I was out there with you, grinding away to the finish line. Not the worlds fastest time, but it was indeed a matter of surviving the conditions, something all the finishers can be proud of. Good luck with the rest of your season, maybe we'll see you at some events!

  2. Kris and Mindy - it was a tough day out there. Anybody that finished should pat themselves on the back.