Monday, March 30, 2009

Xterra REAL: Race Report

Busy weekend...

Thursday I headed up to Mom and Dad's to take care of some vehicle business (smog check, oil change) and when I pulled my bike out for an easy spin, I found this... Rats! I planned to swim Friday morning and hit the road early, but balied on that so I could get a replacement spoke Friday morning. That meant waiting around until the LBS (Rock N'Road) opened at 10AM before hitting the road. Ugh.

Friday morning, I pikced up some spokes and hit the road for Auburn.
Yay Central Valley...

Pulled in to town around 6 and made it to Steve's house. He lives in the sticks. Pretty, though.

Saturday morning, I went over to watch my oldest Nephew's baseball game. Doin' the uncle thing...

Nephew Henry on the swings. Kid's a nut!

A wife, two kids and a dog: my brother went and got domesticated!


Brother Steve. He stil finds time to get some training in. Sportin' the Rudy's; sweet!


I watched a few innings and headed out to check the course conditions. The lake was way more full than last year and had come up about 60' since Steve sent me some pics that looked like you could jump accross the lake at it's narrowest point. Awesome!

They had a super-sprint tri and Trail half marathon Saturday. Good to see the Xterra scene still drawing racers in despite the recession.


Some pics from the pre-ride. This is why I love this course and why I come back every year. This would be my 5th year racing here. Bomb.

Short, punchy climbs with fast and flowy single track in between; all under the trees. Killer! The course got shortened by 3 miles due to lake levels; bad for me since I'm a strong cyclist compared to most Xterra racers. Oh well, roll with it.


The only mud hole on the course. When it's wet up here, this is HUGE. The "clean line" is right up the middle.

I went back to Steve's and put my feet up.
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Race morning went fine, a few little hiccups, but they always happen.
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We wound up swimming straight into the sun (for the 5th year in a row!), ate some chop on the leg parallel to the shore and on the way back in. I just focused on staying long and then worked the inbound leg. Out of the water around 14 minutes (0.5 miles); felt like I could've gone harder.
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Onto the bike; Steve only a minute behind me out of the water got to his rack as I was leaving mine he yells: "GO, ERIC!" You got it...
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Absolutely crushed the bike course. Swim and first bike lap in 44 mins, second lap in 29 minutes. Passing people left and right, worked my way up to 4th in my AG. Killed it!
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Run: Stayed strong out to the 1/2 way point, hammered up the hills and smoked the back 1/2. I'm pretty sure I negative-split the run course and could've run the first part a little faster. Passed a few people, but got passed for 5th around mile 2. Dude trucked right by me and there was no way I had the speed to run with him.
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Broke the tape in 1:42, a HUGE PR for the course (I've raced the shortened version before). I was totally stoked to stand on my first Xterra podium.
I don't think the race could've gone any better and 4th place was just over 2 mins up on me. I caught him on the bike, but didn't have the speed to run with him. A longer bike course and I might have had enough of a lead out of T2 to stay in front of him.
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OA, I wound up 19th (17th if you don't count the two relays). Not the competitive result I had hoped for, but 3 minutes faster than I thought I could go and faster than the goal times I set at the top of the season.
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Yeah, I'm pretty happy with it. :D
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E.
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Edit: Huge props to Slater: 2nd AG and top 10 OA. Animal!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Game Face

So I haen't really been excited about racing this weekend. I got some news the other day that took the wind out of my sails a little bit; the academy for the Permanent Lifeguard postion with State Parks is scheduled to start October 5th...and Xterra World's (which I think I have a good shot at qulifying for) is October 25th. No way I can take time off from a police academy and go, not to mention the training impact sitting in a classroom umpteen hours a day will have.

I swam for a season with the community college I went to: "Dude, then how come you're so slow in the water?" Truly I have no idea; I digress...

For big swim meets, swimmers shave their entire bodies (except for the inside of your forearms) for speed. It always helps my mental state when I break out the "tools" and get to work.
I'm feeling more "race ready", but the fact that I'll probably miss out on World's has me bummed. There's plenty of time to switch my focus over to USA Championships and I still have a shot at some strong competitive results this season, but I was really looking forward to "The Big Dance".
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What I should be doing is focusing on the races I can make and on maximizing my results there.
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Heading up to Auburn Friday morning. Good luck to everyone racing the US-Cup Fontana this weekend!
~
E.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sage Brush Pre-Ride!

Ok, so it started off as a beautiful day. The proof is the picture I took when I turned off the freeway on the way to the race venue. A few clouds and a little chilly, but no biggie, right? I started a little late becasue I was trying to find a market where I could buy a one-day adventure pass (Ranger Station's closed on Sunday. D'oh!). I got a little confused trying to find the start/finish area, but used my Garmin to find the right spot, geared up and got going.

I was unsure how much food/clothing etc to bring, but erred on the side of carrying too much and filled the hydration pack, stuffed a couple granola bars in the jersey, and strapped my jacket to my pack...just in case.
Rolling up the pavement climb. Kinda sucky, but not too steep and a good warm up for the rest of the course. Clouds started rolling in, the wind picked up and temps dropped a little, but I was fine in my arm and knee warmers. Besides, I had my jacket just in case and a 60% chance of rain means there's 40% chance it might not...right? :D

Kernan Trail. A little confusion; "Do I climb this?". Luckily I ran into a few riders coming down who pointed me in the right direction: up the pavement still. "Thanks!"

I could see I was getting close to a saddle and come accross this sign. notice how the clouds are dark gray in the background? Temps continued to drop and I was a little worried since I was rolling solo. Still, plenty of people in the area and I'm not too worried.

I get to the "Four Corners" area and the GPS file looks like a nest of snakes. Clearly the course comes through here several times and I simply continue in the direction I'm pointed.
I roll down the fireroad, through Corral Canyon Camprounds (apparently open judging by the campers), get to the next turn off and run into a group of *ahem* Hispanic men.
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Due to the proximity of the Mexican border and the Laguna Mountains I'm not surprised...until they stop after seeing me and sit down. Huh? Then they stand up, cross the road and sit back down. WTF? I'm holding my GPS watch in front of me trying to figure out where to go when the group leader approaches me and asks in broken English "Ju hab problem?" Me. "Uh...no. No hay problema". At which point he gives me a huge, toothy grin and a thumbs up. "Tank you beddy mus!" and the group heads back into the bushes. Guess I look like an immigration officer. LOL!
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Back on the right trail and the course turns off onto some moto-trails. Finally!
I run into Clint and some of his riding buddies; we chat for a while and it turns out I'm going backwards on the course. D'oh! Oh well. Might was well get a look at the rest of it. We decide to continue on our respective directions and meet back at four corners.
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...and it starts pitter-patting rain. Crap. As I roll through the course the pitter-patter turns to drizzle. The slick-rock sections get a little "excting", but I keep it upright and keep moving.
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Temps keep dropping and the area is now socked in with clouds. A bunch of trail intersections, a few worng turns and some righteous moto-berms later (whee!) and I make it back to Four Corners.
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Clint's already in his car and his buddies are long gone. "They all got cold" Clint explains, "and I don't wanna ride down and have to climb back up".
No worries. I tell him I'm gonna drop the Kernan Trail back to my car and call it a day. He'll meet me there.
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I'm finally wet and a little chilly, so I put my jacket on. No sooner am I rolling when it starts dumping rain. The wind picks up as I'm descending (on hardpack race tires, no less!) and it's now raining sideways. Nothing to do in the situation, but laugh it off. The irony of the situation and the speed at which the weather changed just struck me as hilarious and I laughed like a crazy person all the way back to the pavemnent. Stupid.
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Overall Opinion:
It looks like a good course. Sandy and relentless (no real downhills to rest on), but it should be a fun race. I missed the section up and over Mount Pinos due to the weather, but I got a good idea of the terrain and what to expect race day.
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The weather will likely be extreme: cold and windy; cold, windy and raining; or dry, windy and hotter than...you get the idea.
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Should be fun! See you there?
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E.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Photos

They're up, but $10 for a jpeg sounds a bit pricey. Here's the link to the proof. I think I look pretty good; if a bit tired. It's mile 5 or 6 and I'm beat when the photo got taken.

https://www.opix.net/cgi-bin/index07.cgi?cart_id=4088999.58458&race_id=110&race_ids=110&race=stpat09&image_id=jd%200841&race_number=3485&athlete_name=&Category=&SubCategory1=&search_image_id=&race_for_sale=1&show_brand=0

E.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

State Guard Re-Qual 2009

The surf conditions weren't nearly as bad this year as last year. The wave period (time between waves) was much longer this year, which meant you could make progress getting past the surf between sets if you timed it right. Last year, I picked my entry point wrong and paid a high price; this year would be different.
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Park vehicles all lined up. Yes, I get to drive them and, yes, driving on the beach is COOL!
Cold and overcast; typical March weather for SD. I would be returning guard number 5. The numbers mean nothing; just a way to keep track of who drowns; er... where you finish. NO, you cannot use fins for the swim (top right corner of the photo), we use them for rescues. Wetsuits are allowed, however. No one told me you could use wetsuits my first year and I swm it in a Speedo. Some people "trunk it" every year; the average water temp for March? 58 deg F! Brrrr.....
I got there plenty early and watched the surf for a while, guaging the current (pushing HARD South) and the surf: a long-ish period with plenty of chop...
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...and head-high surf. Oy. Water entry would be ctirical so I picked a spot where a rip would occasinally pop up and where there seemed to be a trough between peaks. If I could catch the rip and shoot the gap between peaks, I'd have a better chance than trying to swim through the set.
Last year, I started too far away from the jetty......and wound up at the cliffs in Encinitas. D'oh!

Lousy focus, but you can almost make out the bouys. The thing making the wake is Al on the PWC (Personal Water Craft).
The dark object in the water is Al on the PWC. Note how he disappears behind the wave as he moves from right to left. I'm stading on an elevated sand berm that's 8' high and Al is standing up on the PWC...Al is 6' tall. Some BIG sets coming in.
video
We line up and at 9:05 we're off. The water takes my breath away it's so cold and it's tough to get into a rhythm with the chop, I fight though the current and white wash until the lull hits and I charge out. I picked my entry spot right and make it out just as the next BIG SET breaks inside me. A little skill and a little luck on that one.
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If you surf swim , you know the hard part's already over. I round the bouy (not working hard since I might need to hold my breath on the way in) and just keep the arms turning over as the swell pushes me back to the shore. Thanks to the swim I did with Trevor on Friday, I'm keeping tabs on my left turn tendency and taking a fairly straight path. I sit up to let the last big wave break and make my way in. I dolphin through the shallows (momentarily caught in a rip current) and jog through the line: 17:12.
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Not my best swimming, but I'll take that time in head-high surf and a wicked current.
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After our swim, the returning guards got to shadow the new recruits trying out. You can wear your fins, but it's stil an extra 1000 yards to swim. I should mention people trying out also need to pass a 200-400-200, run-swim-run in 10 minutes. Back in the water for me and the rest of the guards to shadow swimmers; a 2400 yard swimming day.
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We spent the rest the day going over paperwork and reviewing skills; it would turn out to be an 8-hour day. Meh. Got paid for it though!
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So now I can get back to working for the State and back to making double what the bike shop pays me. Only the Governator slapped us with a 9% cut in personnel pay and a 17% cut department wide. As if times weren't hard enough.
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This season I'm going to start keeping track of how many rescues I make, just to see how many I make during the course of a season. I'll see if I can put up a counter on the side or something.
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Build 2 coming; up next week, Xterra REAL in two weeks and US Cup #3 the following week.
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Race season is here!
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E.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. Patrick's 10K Fail?


Holly and I drug our butts out of bed this morning and crashed the 10K party down in Mission Bay. I was there for a fitness check and Holly came along just for giggles.
`
Some race highlights:
`
Mile 1: bug flew into my eye.
5K split: 18:34 (stoked to see this, thinking 38 would be a SWEET result)
Mile 3.8: horrific side stich, pace drops way, way down
Mile 5: short, ragged breaths the pain in my side is so bad.
10K split: 40:29 (officially 40:37; 22:35 for the second 5K
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Managed 12th/190 AG and 72nd out of 1903 total finishers. Tantalizingly close to top 10 in my AG. Oy!
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So a bittersweet race for me: a PR over my 2007 race (44:53) but I can't help but wonder how fast I would've gone if not for the digestion issues. Stupid body.
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Still; I hit my goal running pace for Xterra REAL 2 weeks early ;)
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James killed it as usual:
James: 34:01 (5th AG, 10th OA)...stud. So jealous of how fast that boy is.
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Holly had a good time, but lost her bet at work and now owes her co-worker a soda. D'oh!
Holly: 58:25; 9:25; a good result considering her training.
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Putting my feet up and chillaxin' for the rest of the day. Lifeguard requal swim tomorrow.
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E.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surf's Up!

So Sunday is the re-qualification swim for my lifeguard job: 1,000 yard surf swim in 20 minutes or less. It's a daunting swim because it's straight out from shore and straight back in. The buoy looks TINY from the beach and the shore looks really far away once you get to the turn-around point. Last year's swim went poorly for me due to a freak Alaskan storm that swept through, bringing the gnarliest conditions anyone had seen in 15 years (thought I was gonna DIE!).

I just checked Sunday's surf report on wetsand.com...*sigh*

"Sunday the 15th the second swath of southern hemi swell should come to its peak. Standout south facing breaks with steep bathymetry/shoaling can expect set waves running 2-3 feet overhead. The slower sloped south facing breaks though may only see head high waves. Once again, with such long periods coming through, there will be a great disparity in size between breaks with varying bathymetry, shoaling, and refraction."

The only good part is the longer period (more time between waves) and the fact that "set waves" will be relatively sparse, which gives you a break between poundings, but it's still gonna make for some rough conditions.

Surf's up indeed.

E.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Build 1...DONE!

So the first Build phase is over and it's time for some much-needed recovery. Last weekend's race took a lot out of me and between school and work, training took a little of a back seat last week. Not good for my fitness, but my mental and physical state demanded it. I might implement the 16-5 mesocycle for my next peak; I'm just so drilled by the last week of the 21-7 mesocycle that I'm not getting stuff done. Anyway...

The running continues to improve A LOT. As tired as I was, I still pulled some impressive numbers during workouts this week. Thursday's brick on the trails was so good, I found myself whooping Bear Grylls style while hammering up James' favorite hill. I'm running way faster than I thought I was ever capable of. Hard work pays off!

Saturday I had another meeting with my background investigator and we nailed down some details. He said he's 85% done and that my chances of getting hired are good, but not great. I'm crossing my fingers...

Last week's race made it clear that I need more climbing in my regiment (that's for you, Luke!) so I headed out to Vail Lake to get some...climbing that is.

Yay freeway! OK, not really.
"Vailocity" Clever or lame? You decide.

I knew the High School circuit was having a race today, but how many High School kids are into mountain biking?
LOTS! The Merlot campgrounds were FULL! I was relegated to parking by the pool. Sheesh! I was stoked to see so many kids gettin' their race on, though. With the turn-out at Bonelli last week and at the High-School race this week, It's clear MTB racing is back in a BIG way. Sweet!

Still, they weren't using the all the trails. I could wait and get my fix of "Tunnel of Love" a little later. Windy and COLD up top (57 deg according to the bank thermometer; whoa!).
Still, Spring in So Cal is AWESOME!

Green as far as the eye could see and wildflowers everywhere. Beautiful!


One way or another, this is gonna be my office...

...and what better way to cap off a ride than with some highly nutritious food!


"Go Bold or Go Home". Nice.
E.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bonelli US-Cup: Race Report

So I bailed out of Vision Quest a few weeks ago. The "race" didn't fit into my training, wasn't going to count for Xterra or USA Cycling points and I was having a hard time finding reasons why I should do it. When the US-Cup series schedule was finialized, I figured I could do 2-3 XC races for the price of the VQ and selling the spot was a load off my mind.
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I got my start racing XC in 2000 and it always feels like coming home when I do an XC race. Xterra is still #1 in my book, but XC is where I got bit by the racing bug and I'll always find room for it.
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Saturday, Holly and I headed up to Mom and Dad's for the night to lessen the drive from San Diego to San Dimas. My sentiments echo James', my jaw dropped when I saw how many people showed up for the race. Luckily, we were familiar with Bonelli and found a secluded, shaded parking lot practically to ourselves.
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Awesome day for a race, if a little hot.
After picking up my race packet, we returned to the car to find none other than Xterra Pro Melanie McQuaid parked next to us. She turned out to be super-cool and chatted up Holly for about 30 minutes. I swear, Xterra people are the coolest on the friggin' planet.
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The Whip all ready to go...Staying loose, in the shade and hydrated before my warm up.


I found all my racing buddies before the start: Allison, Jusin, James, Luke and Ryan. I finally got to meet Ryan's fiancee, Sara, though Holly still hasn't met Allison and Justin. Dammit!
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Random photo of me before the start...


Luke, James and I all headed out for a warm up about 30 minutes prior to the start, I spun easy on the pavement an then rode the initial climb to get a sweat going. I felt pretty good, but couldn't shake the dehydrated feeling I'd had since after my Saturday long run. Strange. I headed back to the starts and James passed me going the other way, saying the race had been delayed by 15 minutes...figures.
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Once the motorcycle stunt show had finished (that was random) they announced staging for the Pro race and I found myself wading through the throngs of Cat 1 racers trying to find my staging spot. Luckily, I found James in the crowd and got a pretty decent spot. Justin would find me seconds later "Dude where are we supposed to be?".
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I catch Luke's gaze as he's starting a minute in front of us. I point at him and jokingly threaten him: "I'm coming after you." Smiles all around; we're ready to go.
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Announcer: "Ten seconds!" and there's that familiar adrenaline surge I've had on every start line for the past 9 years.
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"GO!"

video

Felt good on lap one. Fast course, wide open and plenty of passing room. No techy spots and I'm drafting like it's a road triathlon (you know it's true!). I hit start/finish, grab my second bottle from Holly and hit "Lap" on my Garmin: 32! Sweet.
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Lap 2 and I can feel it getting hotter on the hills further away from the lake. The fatigue is creeping in, but I'm hanging on. More huge drafting packs at over 20 MPH on the pavement sections and I see Luke up ahead going backwards "Luke! Get on the train, man!" as we rocket by. I can tell he's beat because I get no response. Bummer.
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Finish lap 2: 35 and change. Not bad considering how much running and swimming I've been doing. Holly hands me Luke's bottle instead of mine and I stop "I need the clear one". Apologies from Holly and I head off.
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Twelve minutes into the last lap and I'm toast. No power, so I spin, spin, spin and keep the fluinds coming. I rallied a bit for the last 1/2 of the lap and limped it home in 1:48 for an unimpressive 16th out of 24.
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Cool number plates, though!
And a pretty cool T-shirt too.


Good stuff: Threw down 3 laps at a pace faster then I thought I could for this point in the season and way faster than the last time I raced at Bonelli. A solid training day.
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Bad stuff: not the competitive result I had hoped for.
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With as stacked as this race was, 680 racers and people came from AZ, NV, CO and UT, I'm pretty happy with how it all unfolded.
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I'm stoked to get the 2009 race season underway! Woot!
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E.

Bonelli US-CUP

Race numer one for 2009 is in the books. A hot, dusty and FAST course. Not the result I was hoping for (16th of 23), but faster than last time I raced here and a great high-intensity training day. I'm right where I should be going into Xterra REAL at the end of March. Sweet!



Justin kicked my azz (8th, I think) as did James (4th!) and it looks like Luke may have over done it leading up to the race and wound up with an ufortunate DNF (sorry, bro!). No idea how Ryan did, but Allison chalked up another win in her category.



Full report later; I'm way behind on school work.

E.