Laura Booher – June Lake Half Ironman 2013
The advertisement for this race is “The Toughest Race in the Most Beautiful Place”.
I spoke with different racers throughout the course and they all seemed to agree with this statement. This race is tough and is not for anyone who is not physically and mentally ready for this grueling challenge. Having said this, it’s is absolutely beautiful with breathtaking views of June Lake, Silver Lake, Grant Lake and the mountains.
Ms. Jillian Chaney commented after I showed her the 1st part of the run course that “This is Not a swim, bike, run triathlon, but a Swim, Bike, Hike Triathlon”.
Water start with Two loops with an in and out over a timing mat in the middle.
Started with a warm up with Team FC friends and got ready to go. There were 165 Participants for this race, so they did a men’s start and then a women’s start 5 minutes later.
The water was a bit chilly, but it wasn’t bad after our warm up. I love swim starts and it didn’t hurt that you could touch the ground for the first couple hundred yards.
Started slow and got into a rhythm. Found someone I could draft off of (finally) and swam in her bubbles. Awesome thing. First loop was comfortable. I needed to make sure my breathing was in check.
I have never done a race where you got out of the water to run across a timing mat and back in to finish the 2nd loop. I was very excited about the 2 loops, because it would help me break the swim into sections. I had a hard time getting my swim breathing back after getting back into the water on the second loop, especially, when it was so shallow I had to walk a bit to get back into swimming depth. 2nd loop I am ecstatic to say I chicked some guys. Even, parallelled one for awhile, until He not Me got off course LOL.
I knew I would be slow. I wanted to make sure I dried off a bit, because of the cool air and the early shade areas on the bike. Also, had to put on bug/sunscreen on. I was happy to see Marty and Jillian in transition.
Almost started out the race, too fast, but there was a lady in front of me that kept me honest (It wasn’t safe to pass her on the down hills). Yes, I said WEEE on all the down hills and I am sure people thought I was nuts. I played leap frog with a nice lady named Nancy. She took the ups and I did the downs. Mr. Paul McGregor passed me like he was on a jet by Grant Lake. On 395 Nancy passed me, so she was my target to go after. Starting the 2nd loop saw the Team FC cheering squad. Thank you ladies and Paul. I was hungry already at that point and couldn’t wait to eat my uncrustable in a few more miles. Caught up and passed Nancy, right before the downhills. Saw Scott’s brother Paul and Tony waving at me from their car as I was just about to fly down the hill. Thanks guys. 1st loop, sort if took it easy, but 2nd loop tried to hit my zones, so I could hit my target time of 3:30 on the bike. While eating my uncrustable, I dropped it. BOO, I only ate about half of It. Ate a couple bites of my bar and refilled water at the aid station and headed up 395 one more time. Wind wasn’t bad and I was making progress. Came up to teammate Arran and chatted a few seconds and took off. Wow, couldn’t believe I passed him, now all I had to do was stay ahead of him. Trailer blew a tire on the side of me and debris was flying. He didn’t know something happened until another car honked at him and he pulled over. Little scary when he was in the bike lane and had to go out in the right lane to pass him. I hate the hill that goes from 395 into June Lake, I don’t know why, but for me it’s the worst part of the entire course. Flew through the town of June Lake, saying WEE and thanking the Volunteers at every opportunity. Completed the Last few rollers and into transition.
Great to see Margaret from the Temecula Tri Club everywhere. She was at the swim, each transition and finish line. Thanks for the well wishes. Got my run gear, hit the porta potty and jetted out.
I love this course, it’s brutal and beyond challenging. I have done the Olympic course a few times, so I knew what I was in store for, for the 1st 6 miles. I started out slow and jogged my way up the first couple of hills. I thought about walking, but even with my my almost walking pace I was catching up with a lady walking, so I continued my jog. Half mile into my run both calves cramped up. I didn’t freak out, because this is what they do at times. I must have looked bad, because when I got to the street on top of these hills the volunteers at the top asked if I was ok. I just laughed and said my calves were mad and would calm down at some point. Rolling hills on the street were fun, but calves were still a mess. The trek up the mountain, as Jillian Chaney said when I took her on a preview on this first half of the course, ” this race is a swim, bike, hike” is no laughing matter. I warned everyone about this section and true to form, I had to try and walk it. Try, because my calves got worse, but I knew it would be over soon and enjoyed the view. I started to freak out, because I only got through 3miles in an hour and had a little over 10 miles to go and cutoff was so close. Around mile 4 calves started to relax and I started playing the math game. Ok, if I can average 15mph or less, I think I can make the cutoff. Don’t laugh, I know this is a slow pace, but when you are at an elevation over 7700 feet and doing mostly a hilly trail run after swimming 1.2 miles, biking 52 miles it’s no joking matter. I saw Arran not too far behind me on top of the mountain as I was walking through a water station and started to book it. I couldn’t let him pass me now. I knew the 2nd half would be easier, I ran most of it the month before with teammate Adrienne Miller. Totally, forgot how sandy it was. Oops. Saw Jillian finishing the last mile as I was going out on the last half of the run and she looked strong and determined to get this over with. Marty wasn’t to far behind her and all he said to me was, ” I need to talk to you about this course”. I knew what he meant and just chuckled. I never told anyone it would be easy. Kept playing the math in my head and kept asking is the cutoff really 3pm or 8 hours from start time. Everyone kept saying 3pm. Ugh! Math danced in my head as I did the final turn around around a big tree on the other side of 395. So, happy to see the tree, now just a slight incline back and a couple of 4wd hills to the finish. Saw Arran around mile 9 for me and let him know he wasn’t too far from the turn around. Watched a guy in front of me do a sprint walk and set my sights on him. I needed a target and he was the only one around. Great volunteers, they cheered everyone who passed by. I definitely needed it the last few miles. Had to walk the last two 4wd hills and was happy to hear on the top of the last one that It was all down hill from there. Booked it to the Finish and was happy to see my fellow FC teammates and Margaret from Temecula Tri Club.
Made cutoff and finished In 7:43:51 and I wasn’t last. 165 registered and 121 finished. I was 7th out of my age group, which 9 of us completed the race and 112th overall.
June Lake Triathlon is the Toughest Race in the Most Beautiful place that I have ever experienced. I dare you to try it.