Swimex Residential Blog

Stephen Bratton

Ironman Training: Lake Tahoe

For those who have been following my journey this year, you know it has been a tough one.  I finished my Ironman training and was ready to complete two Ironman competitions in one year. The first Ironman took a lot of heart and perseverance. It then took a lot to recover and rebuild in a short period of time for Ironman Lake Tahoe. But, I was confident that I was ready for the race.

I woke up at 4:00 am, got the family up, put on suntan lotion in the dark, had my bike and all my gear in the transition area and was set to go. I put on my wetsuit and walked down to the beach. It was just starting to get light out, thousands of athletes were adjusting wetsuits, putting on their swim caps and goggles, chatting with complete strangers and wishing each other luck. The air was thick with anticipation of a hard race ahead and a little reluctance to enter the icy cold lake water. Some were the doing warm-up swim while the rest of us were conserving our body heat before the start of the race.

I was with my family and was just about to head to the water’s edge when a representative came on the loudspeaker just 5 minutes before the race was to start. Everyone quieted down to listen, anticipating the announcement of the start for the professionals. But he simply said, a change in the wind direction has blown the smoke from the nearby forest fire into the area causing the air quality to be too unhealthy to compete…. collect yStephen collecting his bike.our stuff and go home. We all just stood there in shock for about 10 minutes…all that hard work and then Ironman Lake Tahoe was canceled, no race, no $700 entrance fee refund, just done.

I went through the motions of getting my bike and gear from the transition areas, we packed up our tent and started the drive home a day early. I really can’t put into words how much of a letdown it was. I actually put off writing this post for a while because I wanted to let my emotions settle a bit. On the drive home the smoke cleared a bit as we dropped in elevation and then headed north. I had a lot of feelings and built up energy, so I had my wife drop me off when we were just under 100 miles from home, and I rode my bike the rest of the way. I needed the time to think and needed to burn off some energy.

So I met my goal of training for two Ironmans in one year, but was only able to complete the one, through no fault of my own. On the ride back a lady stThe Ride Home.ood by the racecourse with a sign that read, “It is not the race, it is the journey.” I was thankful for that sign as it told the truth. Training for full distance triathlons is a lifestyle that cannot be taken away by one race. I will train, race and continue my journey. After a bit of a rest, I will start rebuilding an off-season training base of about 10 hours a week. I will train in my SwimEx and keep on course. I welcome you to continue to follow the journey and we shall see where it leads.