The race that almost wasn't. Yet I had been looking forward all year to doing this race once again, and my work on my left psoas was paying off so that I felt I might actually have a decent run. But a bunch of expensive headaches and stress on my climate work conspired and I was only luke-warm about going, when the go/no-go decision time came around. Worse, Rick Ferrell was stressed out too by an avalanch of work after his 10 day trip to Maui for the Haleakula time trial 2 weeks earlier, and that just didn't look like it would allow his taking off Friday to get to June Lake. Still, we went through the motions, and he packed the night before, and I tried calling the race director to see if we could sign up the morning of the race. Got no answer, and so we worried that there would be no way to register the morning of the race. The only way to be reasonably sure we could get in, was to get there at registration before 6pm on Friday, in June Lake (they'd ended on-line registration several days earlier). Using MapQuest that meant we needed to get on the road from my place at 11:15am at the latest. Rick got enough work done to go ahead and commit, and so - we were going to go for it! I hurriedly assembled my gear and put it by the door. More stuff at work to get done, and he didn't arrive at my place until 11:45am. My stuff was all at the foot of the stairs, and we threw it in the SUV and off we went. We were on a mission - get to June Lake Community Center by 6pm sharp or we had made a long expensive drive for nothing! Ferrell drove, and I got on my iPhone and got the route and estimate time of arrival. It said - ETA of 5:59pm! Wow, 1 full minute to spare! That was if traffic didn't get worse, and that assumed no stops for anything. No food, no potty breaks, no gas stops... and we'd have to flash through the entrance stations at Yosemite National Park too. We were also worried about the heat wave hitting California this day. And too - we had no reservations. I called the Lodge we stayed out in prior years and they did have some rooms left, however. Once we got on the road, I phoned them again and made reservations.

In the Central Valley, just past Manteca, the temperature was 106F

Later in the afternoon, at Don Pedro Reservoir, 108F! After that we climbed up the steep grade to Groveland and it cooled a bit, to 102F

I'd neglected to charge my phone because I was sure Ferrell had the ability to charge in his car. Nope! So my phone gave out not long after Groveland. All during the trip, the ETA was a minute or two either side of 6pm arrival, which was their deadline for closing the race registration and packet pickup. White knuckles all the way!

Just before the Yosemite entrance station on Hwy 120, Ferrell couldn't go further, and pulled over to run behind a tree for a moment. We lost 2 minutes of precious grace time which we'd built up by staying 5mph over the limit. We worried about getting stuck behind a big RV going through Yosemite - but we were incredibly lucky and had virtually no traffic.

Even at 10,000 ft at Tioga Pass, 75F outside! That's not good. We race the final 30 miles to June Lake, and just manage to beat the closing by 10 minutes! As we pulled in to race registration, at 7,600 ft elevation, it was 82F at 6pm. For a normal lapse rate of 3.3F per 1,000 ft, that suggests at 8,000 ft tomorrow I can expect 88F just before noon struggling up the billy goat trail that is the run course.

After registration, we ordered a big pizza and pasta to go, stopped by the market for a quart of cold Sierra Nevada ale, and settled in. Here, I'm getting my bike prep'ed for the race.

 

That one short pee break was our only stop, and we pulled in to June Lake, found the signs to the reg spot on Gull Lake, parked at 5:50pm, ran in, and while they were starting to pack up, we were the last two to register! No swim caps or shirts left, but anyway we got in! Excellent driving, sir!

Gotta make that classic Serotta look nice for tomorrow. The Tour de France wasn't going to be on TV till 9pm so it was nice to be outside where it was a tad cooler than inside

Doh! neither of us had a bottle opener for the beer! I looked around and improvised by using this thing on the front door. But I had to turn the bottle upside down to accomplish, and lost half the beer when it de-pressurized! You can see the dribble stains here.

My race gear. Falling asleep after a stressful week and 6 hr drive was easy, till 3am, when it was just too hot Oh well, 5 hrs was enough.

Breakfast for Ferrell at 6am - a turkey sandwich. I'd had my fill of pizza and pasta the night before and wasn't hungry. I had just a banana and a few sips of chocolate milk. Not good to overeat before a race, I've learned the hard way in the past.

The race start was only 2 miles away. 7:15am and we're off

The race venue and transition area on June Lake is visible on the far side of the lake, if you look close

Coasting down the Oh! Ridge access to the transition area

Confident and ready for a good race, right?

It was a water swim start. Lake temperature had warmed a lot in the past week, from 61F to 68F on race morning. It was a mass start for the males at 8:30am, I took the extreme outside to avoid flailing arms and legs

The 7600 ft elevation made it wise to start conservative and work up to a good race pace. Then - skalk! - I caught sight of a swimmer ankle with the velcro'd chip, and realized I hadn't put on my chip! Nooooo!

But after a few more swim strokes, I realized it was packed in my transition bag, and the timing mat was at the top of the beach just before entry. I'd lose only a minute in running to my bike, finding the chip and running back to the timing mat and getting it triggered. My swim was decent, my watch read 27:56 as I exited the water. Didn't see Ferrell, and then as I entered the bike area, there he was, 5 seconds behind me. We ran to our bikes, he saw me fumbling in my waist belt, I gave him a wry look as I ran back the way I'd come in, while he was struggling out of his wetsuit. Neither of us had a good swim transition, alas. We wished each other a good race as he took off on the bike. I brought my pocket camera to snap a few race moments. This race truly is the most naturally scenically spectacular I've ever done.

Climbing up from the lake

At the top of Oh Ridge (an ancient glacial moraine which generated June Lake 15,000 yrs ago. After this, its lots of fast, curvy downhill miles on the June Lake Loop going north

Past Grant Lake, the road levels out a bit, just before hitting Hwy 395 near Mono Lake

Once on Hwy 395, it's several miles of uphill climbing back to the top of the June Lake Loop out of Mono Lake Basin

I had a fast run transition, and the run starts out with a hundred yards of flat sandy grass - the only flat on the entire run course.

1/4 mile into the run is this steep trail up to the paved road circling the lakes.

The pave road starts out downhill

A few more rolling hills and ...

...Then at the bottom of a hill, is a sharp right turn onto a jeep trail for a 1/2 mile, and then a left turn onto Reverse Peak trail

This climb was sheltered from the wind but took the direct brunt of the sun, and the temperature now was in the high 80's. I got overheated and a bit light-headed and had to slow to a walk. Not a "power hike", a walk...(a stumble?)

Till I got to the top and it flattened out. I hoped to heck there was ice water at the aid station a mile up ahead (there was).

At this point, we've topped out and it's gently downhill for another mile or so...

..and then steeper downhill here, and then full-on cliff-like downhill. At this point I put away the camera.

At the finish. Smiles!.

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A good re-fueling (but not as good as last year's)

Looking the prelim results, they put me in the wrong age group - so I'm tracking down the race director here to get that fixed

Mermaid Rock. When I taught Astro 30 here many years ago, this was a favorite swim target ~60 yds off shore, (during time-off's from teaching, of course). The lake was bigger back in those days.

Rick and long time nemesis Fred Maggiore from the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club and SB Tri competitions of the past, Fred is still just about unbeatable.

Giving congratulations to others of the SB Tri Club group, who all did very well.

Ferrell - a great finish - 2nd in his age group, even though he's at the tail end of the age range. Next year will be HIS YEAR!

Fred, #1 in the 60-64 age group

And what's this? Nolthenius takes 2nd in the 65-69 age group! A rare moment of Podium time. Hardware! Apparently, my mere presence scared off the competition. Only Richard Meyer, who also beat me (and almost everyone else in 2012) kept me off the top. And I got this swell bit of pottery.

The party's over - time to bike back to the motel and get a last shower before hitting the road

This chocolate milk totally hit the spot. I'd had half before the race, and the last half now.

Here's the official race results on the web.