Please check out the guest post below by Robert Kronkhyte about his experience doing Ironman Lake Tahoe a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing what the athletes competing in this race put themselves through and Rob’s story is inspiring. A big thanks to Rob for sharing his story and letting me share it with you. Enjoy!
Ironman Lake Tahoe Race Report- Robert Kronkhyte
Now being called one of the “Toughest Ironmans in the World”
Announcement of Race and beginning of training: I was on the inside- track that IronMan was coming to Lake Tahoe. I was very excited to get into the race and race on my home turf. I was concerned about the time of year, weather and water temperatures. I was involved on the planning processes as they related to Squaw Valley and traffic control for the region. I started training in the fall of 2012. I swam at the pool all winter in preparation for the event.
Summer Training: I could not get out of the pool fast enough. I started swimming outside at Boca Resevoir in late May. During the summer I was swimming up to 5 days a week. My wetsuit started falling apart in late May so I had to deal with getting a new warranty suit from Xterra. I was trail running as much as possible with a lot of stellar runs in Desolation Wilderness and the High Sierra in the wildernesses with in 5 hours drive of Tahoe. I was riding the road bike as much as possible and missing riding the mountain bike. I rode the course and parts of the course many times and quickly became very disenchanted with the Brockway climb and sucking contractor truck diesel exhaust. I had a lot of problems with my road bike tires. It seems that the bead was breaking apart and sending a small fine wire into the inner tube to cause slow leaks. I am still dealing with this problem with Maxxis Tires. I did the Wildflower ½ ironman in the first week of May to get the cob webs out. I raced Xterra Incline,mid August, and had a great race. I did a 46 mile run,first week of August, on the John Muir Trail near Mount. Whitney as a prep for the marathon in the IM event. I also did the Park to Point Mountain bike race in Park City Utah. This event was 78 miles long and 14,000 ft. of climbing/11 hours.
Smoke: 3 weeks prior to the event the forest fires to our west and south west severely hurt my lungs and training. I was blown away that cyclists training for IM were still riding in the thick smoke. I had to start driving to run and ride in areas where there was little or not much fire smoke. I would use a wind site on the internet to guess the best locations to drive to ride and run. Swimming was more problematic as the local pools were closed.
Lead up to race: I was watching the weather forecast daily, 3 weeks out. The forecast was calling for coldest day of the 3 weeks, with a chance of snow/rain/weather. I also started getting some kind of a weird injury in my ankle. It felt as if my right IT band was pulling my ankle out of alignment. This was probably and overuse injury.
Day before race-rain and snow: The day before the race I took my running gear to Squaw Valley to drop it off at the venue. I got soaked to the bone in about 5 minutes. It was a torrential down pour and then later it started snowing. I kept checking the website to see if the event was going to be altered or cancelled. There was no change. I was thinking, “ I live here, I can do this”
Swim: I got up at 5:00 am. I ate 3 hardboiled eggs and 10 amino acid tabs, 2 succeed electrolyte caps. The rain had stopped, it was clear and cold. There was snow on the mountains. I headed towards the venue at Kings Beach, only to find there was a traffic jam. I made it on time. I had left all of my bike gear in plastic bags at transition, the night before. The transition bags were getting rained on hard the day before. The rain from the night before had now turned to ice. There was ice all over my bike and transition bag. The knot on my bag was frozen. I then got my body marked put on my wetsuit and made it to the water. I made my way to the start line and as I crossed I said to my self “ All right lets do this” The swim went well. The new seeded swim start worked great. Instead of having a mass start and all the craziness associated we went in waves marked by our projected swim finish times. It was quite surreal seeing the snow covered peaks of the west shore as we were swimming in that direction. The fog that was coming off the water made it hard to see where we were going as well. I just followed the masses. I did the swim in 1:18. The swim finished and I was running out of the water on to the frozen sand and shortly following was hypothermia. I got my drop bag and saw a huge line at the entrance of the change tent. I found a dry place and proceeded to take off my wet suit and put on my bike clothes. The clothes I had set for the bike were the right call. Because we were dealing with winter conditions 30 degree temperatures. My hair was starting to freeze. My fingers stopped working and that made it very hard to put on my socks and zip up my jacket. I finally got my clothes on 13 minutes later and ran to my bike. There was a wall of spectators yelling it was pretty inspiring.
Bike: I took off on the bike out of Kings Beach. It was quite foreign because there were no cars and we had the whole road to our selves. I knew the bike course having rode it many times. It was great to see familiar faces of friend and family along the course. Everyone was so supportive, it made me quite emotional at times. I do not have drop bars which probably added extra time to my bike split. I kept my winter biking gear on for the whole bike ride. I drank 1 and a half bottles of Perpetum on the bike. Sure there were warms spots in the sun in areas with no north wind but I realizing that I was not going to chance shedding clothes and ending up freezing in another area. The Truckee corridor on hiway 89 was very cold on the first lap and cold on the second lap. The ride through Martis camp was fun and it felt great to get out of the saddle and get the heater going. My bike ride plan was to give 80% on the first lap and 100% on the second lap. On the second lap my legs were tired. There were a lot of riders who were getting off their bikes and walking, at the top of Brockway . I saw one guy get off of his bike and sit on the guard rail at the top of Brockway summit. The downhill into Kings Beach was all freshly paved so I went very fast. Passing many riders along the way. 3- times up Dollar Hill and I heading to Squaw Valley. I got to the parking lot at Squaw, handed my bike to a handler and off to the change tent where I took off my bike gear and put on my running gear.
Run: The run started through the Village at Squaw. There were many spectators yelling as we weaved out way around the village and out on to the Squaw Valley Bike Path, a loop around Squaw Creek and then down to Hiway 89 and on to Tahoe City. My ankle started hurting for a few seconds but after that it was a go. I was trying to keep up on my water,gu and succeed caps the whole race. Part of the course went by the bottom of Squaw Creek Lift near the Resort at Squaw Creek. It was here that I had a cramp that stopped me in my tracks. I took 3-S caps and tried to keep walking it made me walk for about 2 minutes. I was talking to my muscle,”come on let go.” Then it let go and I was off again. I probably passed 200 people on the run. I was drinking water at every aide station, chicken broth and a bit of coke. I ate a Gu every 45 minutes or so and did S caps with the same frequency. I ran to Tahoe City and just about to the turn around I got a call from behind me, Joe Pace. Joe is a friend,fellow age group competitor and training partner. We traded leads for about and hour and a half and then he dropped me as we were heading back into Squaw Valley Stables area at about dusk. The course then went back through the village and then back out the same route on to the back path going into Tahoe City. The turn around for the second loop was a bit to the south of Squaw /Alpine bridge. I ran the whole way and knowing exactly where I was, I metered my energy. It was great to have friends on the side of the course cheering me on. My friend Sean was near the stables and he was such an inspiration as I passed him and on the finishing stretch he followed me on his bike and charged me up for the final hundred and fifty yards. I ran fast to the finish and crossed the line to hear: Robert Kronkhyte- You are an Ironman! I was overwhelmed with emotion, the crowd was roaring and if I had an water left in my body I would have cried some very emotional tears. What a journey this had been!
Reflecting: I think back to 1994 when I was run over by a Chevy Blazer on my bike. I broke my pelvis in 5 places, broke my nose,leg, and internal bleeding. The orthopedic doctor told me I would never walk again. I would like to thank that doctor for saying that, because I have run over 20,000 miles since then and now I have completed the Lake Tahoe Ironman. I got 12 place in my age group and 600+ overall, out of 2600 athletes. The LTIM was one of the most challenging athletic events of my life. I am very proud of my wife, Wendy Kronkhyte, for finishing the Ironman Lake Tahoe. She has a new business and is working 60+ hour weeks and trying to find time to train was a huge challenge for her.