Thursday, May 29, 2008

Opportunity Knocking/ Plan B

Or something like that.
Some of you may know that I'm working for the State Park system as an Ocean Lifeguard here in San Diego. During training last year, several of the Permanent Lifeguards asked me if I'd ever considered it as a career. I'd said "No" listened respectfully then explained my intentions to attend Graduate School to be a Physician's Assistant.
After a full season of working in the State Lifeguard service, those conversations with the training staff keep popping up in my head. They're a great group of people and I think I would fit in as "one of them" and can see myself hanging out at the beach for the next 20 years until I reach retirement age.
So I filled out an application and mailed it in....
The information I have is that San Diego has spots for 8 guards and currently have 4 openings. Extrapolate that to the entire State Park system and they're in dire need of good people to fill those responsibilities. Before you freak out and think I'm doing this for no reason at all, let me give you a little background.
My father grew up hiking and camping all over the country (NAVY brat) and passed on his knowledge and love of the outdoors to my brother and I. I've gone on multi-day solo backpacking trips, climbed numerous technical climbing routes in the high desert and spent more nights in a tent then most people. I LOVE camping. Thanks, Dad.
When I was very young, my family took a trip to Yosemite National Park. We spent an entire week exploring the valley and surrounding granite peaks and I still look back on that trip with fond memories. For years after that trip, I was consumed with the idea of becoming a Ranger for the National Parks. Eventually, that desire faded once I found out that only Humboldt or CPSLO offered degree programs that could lead to a job with the Forest Service. Once the State Park Ranger opportunity popped up, those memories coupled with my love of the outdoors made it too good to pass up.
The Perm. guards that I know tell me the application process takes two years. That timing is perfect if something unforeseen happens and PA school becomes impossible.
The plan:
- Finish my degree at UCSD, June 2009
- Transfer to Huntington Beach/ Orange County Division for work, Summer 2009
- Finish pre-requisites for PA school at MT SAC, Summer 2009
- Enter PA school Fall 2009
If something goes horribly awry, I should be able to start working as a Perm Guard Cadet in fairly short order: the application process can take up to 2 years.
The "Freeze, Lifeguard" part? Lifeguards and Rangers have State Peace officer status and are charged with law enforcement within the park boundaries. That means:
- Concealed Weapons Permit
- Super-cool wide-brimmed, State Trooper/Marine DI looking hat (SAWEET!)
- Cal Pers retirement/all the benefits you'd expect from a Gov'ment jobbie.
- I get to hang out at the beach or in the back country at work every day.
- All that and a paycheck too
Sounds good to me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Waiting for the start. Does skin-tight lycra make my ass look big? Swim start. The white water in the background is the Pro wave 2 mins ahead of us.
2006 IM World Champ Michellie Jones exiting the water.
Multiple Xterra World Champ, Melanie McQuaid.
30-34 AG winner, James WalshMultiple Xterra World Champion, Conrad "The Caveman"Stoltz. Notice the WC colors on his suit...pimpin'.Coach Jim VanceJames heading out to "do work".Me about to battle with the heat...

Michellie Jones heading out of T2 (yes, behind me). She'd run me down quicly and finish 5 mins in front of me. She was very polite when she passed me. : ) James bringing it homeMichellie finishingMe finally done.Thanks.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Xterra West Championships: Race Report

Hands down, one of the toughest races of my life. I've done this race every year since 2005 and it never seems to get any easier. Ok, so it got easier when they changed the 11k sandy river-bed run from '05 to a hilly run in '06. I digress.

Out to Vail Saturday to camp and get in one last pre-ride. I rode the two main descents and felt pretty good. Quads seemed a little tight (race morning too), but I rode strong and had the single track sections wired. Back to the campsite, prepped the bike and stayed off my feet as best I could. Dinner and to bed early. Thankfully, the band at the resort's "Village" quit at 10 P.M. Thank you, God!

Up early for the 8 AM start and it's warming up FAST. Rode over to the venue for my bike warm up, a little jogging to get the run muscles going (cut short due to the heat) and into the water.Notice the lack of wetsuits. This would be a no wetsuit swim. I was happy about that since I'm a State Parks Ocean Lifeguard in San Diego during the summer and open water is familiar turf.
Ever notice how you can never understand the race announcer?

Swim: Pros off first with a cannon and 2 minutes later we get an electronic *beep* which confuses everyone (me included). A few confused looks all around and the wave decides that must've been the "GO" signal.

I'm trying to get into a rhythm and I can feel that I'm sitting low in the water and alomst plowing through it instead of that feeling of "surfing" I've been getting in my swim workouts. I did my best to stay long and not blow myself out and finally I can feel water getting into my tri suit, causing it to act like a drag suit. Crap. Mental note: get a swim skin or a better fitting tri-suit.

Out of the water and flew through T-1. Passing people left and right in T-1 and early in the bike.

Bike: Felt strong the whole way. Got stuck behind the Sport racers on lap 2, but we all knew that would happen. Did my best to pick my way through and made it to T-2 without any mishaps or mechanicals. Even managed to catch a few of the Pro Women, who started 2 mins up on me. Wow! First time that's ever happened!

Run: Hot. Horrifically hot. People scooping ice water out of the aid station water jugs and pouring it over their heads trying to cool off. I can hear race radios jammed with emergency traffic. Ugly. Honestly, I wanted to run faster, but when I did it was that indescribable "Hot" feeling that tells you to slow down "or else!". At each aid station, it was one cup of water in the mouth and one on the head. I got one cup with lots of ice in it and scooped the ice out, stuffing it down the back of my suit. Ahhhh...

Loop 2 on the run and I start feeling better! Huh? No arguments here...GO!! Much better 2nd time around, reeling in people that passed me on lap 2 and then some. Wish lap 1 had gone so well!

DONE! Results here.

Big thanks to Luke for taking pics and to my g/f, Holly for walking a mile in the heat to watch me race and then standing there for three hours while I try to kill myself; she gets 5 million "cool girlfriend" points.

Good stuff: Super strong bike leg, totally dialed transitions and accurate nutrition both before and during the race.

Bad Stuff: Swimming in a "drag suit", still taking too long for me to get my running legs after T-2.

SOLID race overall and my third sloid race in a row since my mediocre performance at Xterra REAL back in April.

Next up is the Rim Nordic MTB race series and maybe Xterra Tahoe City, depending on funds.

See ya!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Xterra West Championships

Friggin' hot. A very solid race for me considering the conditions. A full race report with pctures later, but I finished in 3:18 and change; good for 10th in my AG. Props to Walsh for taking the AG win and 2nd amateur, behind rival Trevor Glavin.
Dos Equis time...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I opened my e-mail this morning and saw this from USA Cyling:

"Dear Racer,Congratulations! You have qualified for the 2008 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships scheduled for July 16-20, 2008 at Mount Snow Resort in West Dover, VT."

I did a double take. Surely, there must be some mistake. How did I manage to do that without trying?

I looked into it: turns out my 5th at Idyllwild qualifies me for a slot at MTB Nationals. Strange. Chances are I'd get my a$$ handed to me "Dude, you dropped this..." but still kinda fun to get e-mails like that when they're unexpected.

I have no plans to go, but it's tempting to see how I'd do at a National Championship MTB race. If it were somewhere closer, I might consider it (read: driving distance).

Anyway, back to the books and race prep: I LOVE taper week.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dodging the Bullet

I am a lucky, lucky man. Sunday is my first "Priority Race" of the season, Xterra West Championships, and I dodged a few bullets this week that could've really sidtracked my plans for a great race there. Here's what's been going on:

Thursday I headed out to Vail Lake for a group ride with Luke and some peeople from STR. I put in some solid work on the SS, but crashed once, smacking my knee on my bars. No major swelling, but I hit my kneecap hard enough that it's a little sore for 15-20 minutes on every ride since. It's getting better, but it could have been worse.

Saturday: I headed back out to Vail Lake for a pre-ride on the race bike to see where my fitness is at without hammering things. I ran into Pro Lesley Patterson and another age grouper: Rick Lubeski. I showed Lesley and Rick around the courses from years past and we were having a great time until I broke my rear shifter. Crap! It's been "iffy" since it got a mud bath at Xterra REAL last month an I was hoping it would last until after Temecula; no such luck. Fortunately, I was able to order XO twist shifters from and they got here today so I have time to make the swap and stretch the cables before Sunday. Disaster #2 averted.

Went for a transition run Sat. after the ride with JW, Vance and a duathlete who's name I cannot recall (Keith?). Mental note: do not run with an Ironman Pro or the guy who has a shot at the Xterra World Amateur title: they're f'ing FAST!

Sunday: Long run around home that was supposed to be a negative split, didn't happen. My legs were so hammered, I took it semi easy and tried running steep hills the last half to simulate lap 2 of the Xterra Course. Bad idea. I finished the run and could tell I overworked something in my right pelvic girdle. Double crap! Went for a swim Monday and kicking was aggravating it so I swam with a pull-bouy instead. I've been hitting it with Ibuprofen, rest, a foam roller, stretching and jacuzzi time and it's better every day. I went for an easy ride today and I think it's going to be OK for race day. Disaster #3 averted.

As for my fitness, I'm firing on all cyclinders and absolutely chomping at the bit to get some redemption after last year's broken chain debacle. I'm in the best shape of my life and I can't wait to do something special this weekend.

Let's hope my luck holds!


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Idyllwild Spring Challenge

Ouch. This course is a BEAST. My Garmin says 30 miles and 7k feet of climbing. Oof. I managed 5th out of 7 in 30-34 Expert, not a bad day considering I had ZERO REST going into this race. Word.I'm not going into a long-winded report on this one: in 3.5 hours of full-throttle racing a lot happened.

I managed to make a very smart move early on and stay with the front pack; nice. My plan was to hang with the fast boys out front for as long as I could. So far, this tactic has dramatically improved my confidence in my fitness since I know I have the horsepower to hang with guys I consider very talented cyclists.

Unfortunately on of the Trek/VW Pro riders (Nigel Hill?) crashed hard enough that he had to be airlifted out; I heard reports he was bleeding from the ears and disoriented. From my Paramedic experience, I know that could be a sign of a serious head injury. Hopefully he's OK...thoughts and prayers out to him.

So I hung with the front pack until mile 12 or so; the second of three major climbs. The climb is very techy and requires you to get on and off your bike repeatedly unless you know the lines or save energy for the last half of the race ( I didn't do that!). I got off at one point and the majority of the field went by. Soon after the top of the climb, I found a rider in my class leaned over his bike heaving his guts out.

Me: "Don't worry, man. I'm almost there" because I was.

He'd rally to pass me a scant few minutes later. Way to puke and rally! I was impressed!

Me: "Nice rally, man!". I think mystery rider finished 4th.

The last climb to the "top" is a brutal pavement climb that I and others would walk parts of. I managed to crash twice and draw a little blood both times. I started cramping at mile 21 and had to be very careful not to lock up all together. Big thanks to Mary from Siren cycles for the "pull" through the rolling single track toward the end.

I managed to implode less severely than two other racers in my class and pull 5th out of my arse. Here's a look at the elevation profile:

It says the elevation gain is more like 4400 feet instead of the 7k my Garmin recorded. It certainly felt like 7k vertical feet.

Alas, awards only went 3-deep in my class and I did not get one of he super-sick marble plaques they handed out as awards.

I totally DIG this race, tight, technical, steep, gorgeous views and way more single track than fire road. Couple that with the tons of schwag they raffled off and the CASH PRIZES for Expert class winners and I'll back next year if I can swing it. Pro male winner got to cash a check for a thousand bucks! All for a $35 entry fee. MTB race directors stand up and take note, the folks at the Idyllwild Cycling club know how to put on a PIMP event. Sweet.


5/9 - Full results here: