Thursday, September 20, 2007

My day at the Butte..

So H and I drove down to Elephant Butte yesterday to scope the course. Now keep in mind all the riding I have done this week (100+ miles) and I was tired so this report could be skewed...i am trying to stay positive because NM has so few races I do not want to be the pessimistic athlete that trashes a course before the race even starts! So here goes (and BTW-all you people that decided to sit this one out and volunteer, I am jealous):

This is not one of those "Oh I think I'll do a little race this weekend" courses. Now you have to understand that this is me, a 53 year old middle of the pack athlete who has had her butt kicked a few times. So take it with a grain of salt (where does that expression come from anyway?):
It took us 2 hours and 15 min to get to the race venue from the big I. That included 2 bathroom stops.

The swim:
The first thing we got as we went into the park was a paper stating a WARNING about "blue-green algae" in the water and the potential hazards and symptoms. The park people didn't seem to worried about it, we told them we were there to swim. They just said stay away from anything "floating" in the water. Oh you mean I can't swallow that big green thing floating-darn! Ok, so I was a little freaked by that, but not too bad. I am sure in my life I have swam with BG algae at one time or another and lived. Supposedly is more harmful to dogs and children..So we made the decision to swim anyway. The water was clear, beautiful-temp around 76 degrees. H & I swam about a mile. No wind at that point, no waves-nice. Almost hot in my wetsuit.. So far no rash,hives,abdominal pain,vomitting or dizziness..

Transition area: It is about a 75 yard run, uphill, in the sand to get to T-1. We ran into the RD while we were there, who is VERY nice and we chatted awhile. She said there would be someone there to hose off our feet at T-1 and some carpet up the ramp..

Bike: Well the transition area is quite a ways down a hill from the main road. As you can see from my bike profile, the first thing you do is ride up a fairly steep road. It is short but breathless at the top. Then you head out the road for the 25+ bike. Now one of the things that makes it tough is that almost the whole course is new black asphalt. So it is bumpy and tarry in places. Not the kind of bumpy that is a bad road, but that constant bump,like riding over gravel, only easier. The first 10 miles of the bike are rollers, some sort of steep but very short-doable, not too bad. The road is winding around the canyon. Then downhill into a canyon-the scenery is beautiful really, with the lake to you right, mountains all around..Then at mile 11 comes (for me), the "challenging" part of the course. There is a .2 mile hill that is at least 12% grade. Now maybe I was tired or whatever, but I will admit I walked this one at some point. This is where I said "Oh, sh$^&%t! Maybe this is more than I can handle. Then the hill keeps going, not as steep but still hard. This goes on for about 2 miles. Oh and the wind had started blowing really hard by now so the what I call "Mini Heartbreak Hill" had a head wind too. We got into some sticky asphalt after that which sucked. I sure hope that is somewhat dried by the race (10 days). So we thought from mile 16, it was flat and downhill, right? Well, the direct headwind by now was about 25-30 MPH so we were SLOW going back too. At one point I looked at my speedometer and I was going 11 MPH and peddling as fast as I can. It was hot-bring water!! Although the RD said there would be 2 aid stations on the bike.. The downhill didn't feel very downhill at all at the end but I know it is by the profile. It was hard to go aero on the bumpy road, but maybe that's just me..

T-2: VERY downhill into the T-2 as expected.

We didn't run the course but the first part is in the dirt (think Farmington) but I think this is only about a half mile or so. Then there is a big hill down and over the dam (It was closed to cars so we didn't drive it). So that means the last part of the run willl be UP..

This looks like a really challenging Oly course...Think I will be taking this one easy since Soma is a month later. Finally NM has another "challenging" race to rival Farmington. If it eventually becomes a half IM, it will rival Buffalo Springs..That is pretty cool!

I pray for only light wind on race day (enough to keep you cooler but not knock you offf your bike)..

Now to be honest the whole bike took me 2:15. I am hoping to break 4 hours on this one. My expectations have dropped of doing a PR. I would rather be fresh for Soma a month later..

I will leave my pride in Albuquerque..


momo said...

ok, that looks hard. knowing the soma course and listening to what you have to say about elephant butte - i think if you take that one easy and go for it at soma, you will be able to pr - no problem. soma is more technical than hard because there are so many 180 degree turns.

ok, and here you go... (only because i wondered too!)
To take a statement with 'a grain of salt' or 'a pinch of salt' means to accept it but to maintain a degree of skepticism about its truth.

Origin - The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt. Pliny the Elder translated an ancient antidote for poison with the words 'be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt'.

Pliny�s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D. translates thus:

After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.

The suggestion is that injurious effects can be moderated by the taking of a grain of salt.

The figurative meaning, i.e. that truth may require moderation by the notional application of 'a grain of salt', didn't enter the language until much later, no doubt influenced by classical scholars' study of Ancient Greek texts like the works of Pliny. The phrase has been in use in English since the 17th century. For example, John Trapp's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, 1647:

"This is to be taken with a grain of salt."


cindy said...

Wow...thanks for the run-down of the course. I told Lisa that we heard on the news last week about a dog dying from algea at the Butte. I was a little freaked about it, but figured they would close the swim if it was too dangerous for people. Glad to hear you didn't get sick! Okay, this being my first Oly distance, my goals are to finish and hopefully have fun...but I'm askeered!

SWTrigal said...

Thanks Momo! Now I know "the rest of the story"!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Can't say that the report did much for my confidence, but knowing what to expect is always a good thing. It's going to be tough, but doable. :)

Vickie said...

Yikes! Almost 5,000 feet. Hilly around here is less than 1000 feet! I guess I can stop complaining about our "hills." I've heard about the algae thing. We have had it here too. There was a big article about it, and the conclusion was it was okay to swim in. I can't remember what causes it.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Debi, you've performed a valuable service for the Outlaws - thanks for doing that! P.s. - you're gonna do great!