A good weekend in that I learned a lot about me and about race tactics. I'm getting closer to where I want to be and each time I toe the line, I can tell I'm more fit than the last. Wrapping my brain around what I'm capable of physically is proving the difficult part. More on that later.
Friday, I packed up my stuff and headed to Mom and Dad's in North Orange County. The idea being that staying closer to the race site would allow me more sleep the night before. My parents also requested I clear out some boxes of old stuff and Mom is a bomb-ass cook.
Packing up: The cat gets to go too, right?
Making sure I've got everything.
Early morning at the race site: Snow Valley ski area. Sunrise in the mountains is always awesome. Big thanks to g/f Holly for taking pics and for driving all the way from San Diego. She gets one million girlfriend points.
The swim took place in the "lake" reserved for snow making located about 1/2 way up the mountain. It's small, such that it took 1.5 laps to make 1000 yards. I took it out conservative so as not to blow myself out due to the elevation. The warm water temps allowed me to use my sleeveless wetsuit and meant less shoulder restriction than my sleeved suit has. The swim felt good: strong, yet relaxed the entire way.
Race venue at the base of the resort.
Again, the odd position of the lake meant separate T1 and T2 locations. Like the swim course, the bike course was 1.5 loops. We started near the top of the mountain, climbed to the top and then descended to the base area. We then climbed back up to the top and back down to the base area again. Here I am heading back out for "loop 2".
I saved my energy for the steep sections since I knew they would prove to be key. You can make up way more time on climbs than you can on downhills. This course may have been the exception since the decomposed granite soil was very loose, dry and sketchy. Combine that with some BIG rain ruts and quite a few racers wound up on the ground with scrapes. The worst injury was a separated shoulder. I managed to stay upright and put together a solid bike split. I got passed by one guy who looked around my age. I made sure to keep him in sight to give myself a chance to reel him in on the run. Heading into T2...
I could see the guy in front of me and had a good idea that I was top 10 and probably racing this guy for the last podum slot in my age group. I checked his position coming into T2 and new I could catch him. I made a quick transition and charged after him. This pic of me heading out of T2 might hint at my determination. Here I am chasing him down right out of T2. You can see his feet at the top of the photo. Come here you wabbit! I managed to reel him in at the 1.5 mile mark and thought I had him beat. Once the course turned steeply uphill, I could hear his footsteps and his breathing. I tried to hold him off, but he passed me after which I tried keeping him in sight with the ida of catching him after the turn around. I could tell I was faster on the flats and downhills, but not the uphill parts. Try as I might, I could not reel him back in.
Coming into the finish. "Is my number on straight?" Done. Trying to catch my breath at 7k feet. Not working...Turns out I had 10th overall and 3rd in my age group coming into T2. I fininshed 4th in my AG and 14th OA (12th amateur). Last year, I also finished 4th in my AG, but 20th OA; which means I'm much faster than last year and it's SICK how fast my AG is. It's just not fair...
Conrad Stoltz (Xterra World Champion) took the overall and homie James was first amateur and 2nd overall.
I absolutely talked myself into thinking 4th was "good enough". Not just before the race, but during as well. I was too relaxed going in because I was pretty sure I could get 4th with no problem, but that 3rd would be a tough battle. Instead of fighting for 3rd, I let someone else get it. I need to work on my killer instinct and suck it up in situations like that. Third was only 57 seconds away....57 f'ing seconds. I'm mad at myself for not going for it. Stupid.
Great race considering I haven't been swimming or running with much intensity. My bike split was top 10 overall (YES!) and I was in a great spot going into T2. Moreover, the guy in 3rd beat me by 6 minutes in April, the gap is now less than a minute and I had a lead on him into T2. Lastly, my 4th place nabs me 5th in the region, up from 9th place last year. Hell yeah!
Now I just need to hang on to good positions like that and get over the intimidation of racing guys I think are faster than me.
Next stop: Xterra USA Championships 10/5. Can't wait.