Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cold and Rainy

I'm at my brother's house in Newcastle, CA and Xterra REAL is tomorrow. The plan was to use Thursday as my travel day, but finances wouldn't allow it. Mom and Dad came to my rescue again and floated me the gas money to get here. I'm a day late, but I managed to get some easy training in on the course yesterday. Tis is my third time racing this course and it seems to get flatter and faster every year. Maybe it's just me?

Unfortunately it's been raining since last night and there's a duathlon and trail run this morning. Chances are things are going to get torn up. The weatherman is predicting it to clear up and warm up for tomorrow; I'm hoping it'll clear up, but planning for the worst. Two years ago it rained a bunch the week before, making the course a quagmire; I hope it won't do that again.

Today, I'm doing one lap of the two-loop course, just to see how things have changed since last year and to keep the legs spinning.

Oh yeah, the lake is way, way low. I'm interested to see how they make a swim course out of it since I can see sand bars all over the place. The run to T-1 is going to be looooooooong. Crazy.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Sometimes things come up in life and throw your perfect plans right out the f'ing window. Last quarter at school turned out rough for me and my financial aid might be in jeopardy. As a result, I was staring at the decision to bag a few WEEKS of training or drop a class. Since financial aid requires me to complete at least 12 units per quarter and I can't afford to pay 20K a year for school, I made the excruciating choice to bag training.

I literally sat at home for two weeks and studied from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. All to make sure I passed all my classes and maximized my grades in the courses I was already doing well in. I took all my finals last week and grades have yet to be posted. Please cross your fingers for me.

With that much of a break in training, my season goals are now questionable. I skipped one of my goals already :sub 4o minute 10K at the St. Patrick's Day 10K. Didn't have the money and hadn't trained all week. Skipped it.

That same weekend was my re qualifying swim for State Lifeguards and I didn't make it! Not like I missed the time cut-off, I didn't make it through the surf. It was breaking 6-8' with occasional sets of 12' (!) and the long shore current was a brisk 3-4 mph (brisk walking speed). I picked my head up for 2 seconds too long and got swept into a BIG set. With all the wave ducking and white water swimming, I thought for sure my number was up. The first time in my life I've ever been scared in the ocean and the first time I've ever called for a rescue. Luckily, the set pushed me to shoe before the PWC (Personal Water Craft) got to me, but now I have to re-test somewhere else. The worst part is that I could have made it if I started further down the beach, closer to the jetty, but I overestimated my fitness and underestimated the conditions. Stupid.

Then last week I get a call from the local Air Ambulance provider who has had my resume for three years. They wanted me to interview Friday (3/21) for a position starting April 7th. Crap! A job I've always wanted and can see myself doing for a long time and they call me a year early. I scheduled my interview and, for a week, strongly considered taking a year off school so I could work this job full-time and then switch to part-time status and finish my degree. I asked friends, family and people I hardly knew trying to get different viewpoints to help convince me one way or the other. Eventually, I realized I had to pass and called to cancel my interview. If I had shown up for it, I'd have for sure loved the job and never gone back to school. As much fun as I would have had, I'd be stuck making peanuts for the rest of my life. It'd be fun, but I'm tired of scraping by and being poor. Thanks, but no thanks.

Now it's spring break and training is back on track. I've slowed down a touch, but I still think I have a shot at making my season goals. At least Spring is here, the weather is perfect and I'm on vacation. I took this pic while I was on a bike ride in Los Penasquitos Canyon. The single track runs from right to left across the slope in the foreground, you just can't see it because of all the grass. Great day to ride and great to be riding again.

Thursday I'm heading for Scramento to hang out with my brother for a few days and to race my first Xterra of the season: Xterra REAL. Considering the time off I took, I'm bagging my time goals and treating it like a hard training day. Chances are it's gonna hurt. I'll post a race report next week once I get back. Word.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vision Quest #3

Pictures are still trickling in almost 2 weeks after the "race". Here are some candid shots of e crossing the finish line. I'm still looking for the pics from the top of Upper Holy Jim hike-a-bike section.Working really hard down the last 5 mile. flat road portion...
...caught me mid sniff. It was cold!
Me looking at the girl trying to hand me my finishing feather. Wha??

Anyway. Thanks to finals at UCSD next week and my complete broke-ness, I'm bagging the 10K I had planned this weekend. I'm pretty pissed about it because breaking 40 minutes there was one of my season goals. I may have to show up before the start and run it by myself. We'll see.

Back to the books...


Monday, March 10, 2008

Gettin' my A$$ Beat...

I once heard an Ironman pro and World Champion say something to the effect of "I never learned anything from winning, it's the races where I got my butt kicked that I learned the most." If that's true, I should have a PhD by now...

I rolled out to Temecula Sunday after a long run Saturday to do some MTB racing at Racers and Chasers. Luke and James came down as well: James raced and Luke came out to get some riding done. The race isn't NORBA sanctioned, which leads to a very relaxed atmosphere. I raced "Expert" along with James and another riding buddy, Keith. It was hot and dry thanks to the Santa Ana wind conditions and I was a little worried since I'm a heavy, salty sweater.
I got off to a great start and almost had the "Hole-Shot" award until I overshot a corner early on and got passed by the "Sport" class rider behind me; nuts. By the time we got to the first major climb, Keith was on my wheel with James not far behind. I bobbled a tight, switch-back corner and Keith got by me. We top out the swithbacks and James puts in a move and goes by me. I managed to lead for a little bit, but these guys were just too fast for me. I kept them in sight through the halfway point, but once James got by Keith, he stood up on the pedals and was GONE. I tried to reel in the Sport class leader to redeem myself, but it was not meant to be. To add insult to injury, Keith mentioned earlier that he was racing with a fractured collar bone and rib....sandbagger.

Honestly, the idea was to jump out front and see how long I could hold on. Mission accomplished, though I wish I could have hung on for longer than I did. Next time.

Here's some pics Luke took:

Race start: that's a mass start. Yeah. Not a big field thanks to the Cal State Series the same day. The top of this is really rocky and sketchy...

Climbing up towards "Tunnel of Love" singletrack

Dowhnilll just around the corner...Steep downhill coming into the start/finish area.Not just done, completely trashed.

At least I got in some great training on trails that included quite a few sections of the Xterra West Championships course. The best way to get faster at racing is to race more and the only way to get used to being out front is to get your butt up there and bang bars. Word.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vision Quest #2

Photos are trickling in from various internet acquaintances and friends. I'll post pictures as I get them. This was taken just above aid station 2 on Lower Holy Jim about mile 40-something. Note how I'm already wet from the multiple stream crosings. This would cause my chafing issues later:

The best pic I've received so far. Big thanks to Hugh from STR for taking this.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Vision Quest

Race number one for 2008 is in the books and it looks like I'm off to a pretty good start. If you're not familiar with the race, it's around 56 miles and over 11,000 feet of climing. Though I didn't do as well as I think I'm capable of right now, I did have a strong day all things considered. The start went off like last year as the inexperienced always jump out to a frenetic pace as do the guys (and gals) racing for the overall. I kept it easy to aid station 1 and stayed on top of my nutrition. I asked for the time at aid station 1 since I set my GPS wrong and the reply came back "8 O'Clock". My mind reeled. What?! That's 12 minutes slower than last year! My reply? "That's weak!" With the fluids refilled it was time to kick it in a little.

So I pushed up the second main climb all the way to the peak and bombed my way down Upper and Lower Holy Jim, reeling in riders at a rapid pace. One racer asked "You the guy that had the flat?" thinking something must've slowed me down. "Nope" I said "Just started too easy". I skidded into aid station 2 for my second time check...10:50. Not bad, I made up some time and am on pace with last year's time. I'm not going to make it close to my goal time of 7:15, but I can beat last year's time since I feel WAY better this time around. Top off the fluids and I'm gone.

The last section is steep, with 1-2 miles of hike-a-bike depending on how strong a rider you are. I managed to ride MUCH more of this stretch than I did last year. Some day I'd like to ride ALL of it (West Horsethief Trail). I finally make it to the divide road, bypass the burger stand (officially aid station 3) and I'm so happy to see the trail marker that signals the descent that I get off my bike and hug it. Seriously! The guys at the top: "And I didn't bring my camera!" Sometimes the moment overtakes me and I do wierd stuff.

So I bomb the last 7-mile singletrack section, blast through aid station 2 and sprint the last 5-miles of dirt road with the biggest potholes I've ever seen. People described them as "Moon craters"; that's appropriate. My time? 7:45. A full 23 minutes faster after being 12 minutes behind at mile 19. Not bad. Here's me finishing:
And the triumphant pose:Bad Stuff:
-Set the Garmin wrong and didn't know how many miles were left or what my time was relative to the official time. This kept me from pacing myself accurately.
-Broke a spoke, but didn't notice it until the next day
-Had some chafing issues thanks to the water crossings despite using body glide. Might look into chamois butter or an equivalent.
-Soy products (Ensure) gave me stomach cramps at the 6-hour mark about 10-hours post-ingestion. Might have been something else, but they went away once I finished

Good Stuff:
-HEED (Hammer Nutrition) works for me. I was forcd to use it when every shop in So Cal ran out of Carbo-Pro (I checked!)
-My bike was FLAWLESS. KHS, SRAM, Shimano, MAXXIS, Sun-Ringle, WTB, Serfas. Everything worked all day with no mechanicals or flats. AWESOME.
-PB by 23 minutes after being 12 minutes behind at the 19 mile mark.
-I'm faster than I think I am. I finished with energy left over and feeling like I should have gone 7:15 or faster. I have the fitness to go hard at future races from the start and not fade even at extended distances. SWEET!

Next race: St. Patrick's Day 10K 3/15. Can't wait.