Monday, April 26, 2010

Dust, Blood and Snakebites (Xterra West RR)

This past weekend, Holly and I headed out to Vegas for the Xterra West Championship. This would be my first triathlon since I broke my hand last year and my first race of 2010. I had high hopes going into my taper, but came down with food poisoning the weekend before. I barely started eating solid foods Wednesday and still felt woozy all the way up to Thursday. Not good, but I'd paid for the race and Holly scored a killer room for next to nothing; we were going.
My chauffer, sherpa and photog for the weekend. Plenty of traffic all weekend thanks to the Laughlin River Run and an off-road race the same weekend. There was no shortage of awesome views, however, as the desert is in full bloom from all the rain we've had this year. Green desert? Yup.

We made it out to the race site in time for Holly to sign up for the 10K on Saturday, I picked up my race packet and we headed to our hotel to check in. We were fortunate enough to score a room at the MGM Signature for next to nothing. I didn't go crazy taking pictures of the room, but I think the Jacuzzi tub built for 2 tells you how swank the place is. Bell hops and valets kissed our collective asses all weekend. Is this how "the other half" lives? Pretty nice.
Notice how the bike is upside down? My trusty Larsen's were worn out and I'd always been bummed on how heavy they are. Thursday, I swapped them out for some Conti Race King Super Sonics, which shaved about 600 grams (over a POUND) off the bike. However, they wouldn't hold air for more than 20 minutes. Out of time, I pulled the tubeless set-up out and threw tubes in at the hotel Friday before the race...and crossed my fingers.
Saturday, we got up early and headed over to the race site for Holly's 10K and so I could preview the course. Holly started well and looked like she cruised the whole thing.

She felt like she had a "bad run". I grabbed her timing card while she got some water in and checked it out. Girl got 2nd in her AG. Bad run my ass!

Ta da!

She's doing great and I she's looking good for the Malibu Creek 22K in May. Way to go, babe!

We milled around until the course opened and I headed out. I wasn't stoked on the course, but it favored solid bike handling skills. It was steep and loose with 2 or 3 hike-a-bikes in a row separated by silty, rocky hairball descents. I was running tubes and all I could think was " I sure hope I don't pinch-flat tomorrow".
It was already blazing hot and super-dry. I talked to Trevor in the parking lot and we both agreed race day would be a war of attrition: flats and dehydration would be the theme for the race for sure.
Holly and I headed back to the hotel: I put my feet up and started drinking Gatorade and taking electrolyte tabs. She went down to the pool.
Race morning we got up super early because we had to do the check out nonsense. Late check-out was 11:00 and there wasn't enough time post-race to get back to the hotel and take care of it.
I went into pre-race mode and it was warming up fast. I made sure to keep sipping on water, trying to stay hydrated.

Out warming up. The race finishes along this ridge and I wanted to run it just in case it turned out to be tricky. It was fine, but I didn't feel "snappy". Mentally, I just felt like I was there to do a job and that was it. No nerves, no excitement, no butterflies. Nothing.

The swim start was really narrow and they were keeping everyone corralled in a very small area. I spied someone warming up in the pool and joined him. Plenty of room!

The pro wave goes off and I get my spot. Soon after they count it down and fire the cannon: 3...2...1...BOOM! We're off and I'm getting pummeled thanks to the narrow start and the bridge the course passes under. I did my best to avoid the worst of the mess and focused on my stroke and looked for someone to draft off. The swim is over before I know it (was that a pro I just passed?). I glance at my watch as I hit hit the beach (24:11?!? Holy sh!t). A PR by almost 2 minutes. The announcer calls out the guy who normally wins 35-39 (Kyle Stock). I look around and he's just passing me so I get on his heels and hit T1 with him. I smoke him in transition and hit the bike course on fire.
We get to the first series of climbs and it's hot. People are going out way too hard for how hot and steep it is. I get held up a little through the techy spots, but I'm riding well and picking off riders here and there. We get to a section that basically runs straight down a dry, sandy wash strewn with rocks when I feel the unmistakable sensation of my rear tire going down (F*CK!!!). I stop next to a guy already changing a flat: "Welcome to the club!" he cheerfully exclaims. I change it as fast as I can (back on before the guy already stopped!), but the damage is done as I painfully watch dozens of riders go by with my AG on their legs. No Maui slot for me.
With the flat fresh in my mind, I tiptoe around the rest of the course begging my tire to hold as I was out of tubes. No bottle hand-off on the bike, only cups of water and only one aid station. I drink as much as I can, but I'm getting chills by the end of the bike leg when the breeze picks up. Not good.
Charging into T2 here, trying to limit my losses.

I hit the aid station immediately out of T2 and walk so I can get all the water down. I start up the hill and I can feel my quads wanting to cramp. It's hot and I can tell I'm dehydrated. Survival mode engage....

Holly: "Good job!"
Me: " I flatted..."

The run was pure survival. I had no snap and wound up walking the steep climbs. Pro men were finishing up as I was heading out. Demoralizing.
I recovered some and was able to open it up on lap 2 of the run. I could feel some killer blisters forming on my feet from the steep hills. I sucked it up as best I could and managed to finish just under 3 hours. Weak.
Notice the salt stains on my race kit? Yeah, it was HOT!

Those blisters I could feel? They popped...and bled.


I finished 18th in my AG out of 39 starters; 31 finished.
So what happened?
-I gambled on lighter tires and lost. Lesson learned.
-Was I not totally recovered from food poisoning? Maybe.
-Should I have run a hydration pack instead of a 24 oz bottle? Maybe, but hydration packs cover a lot of skin and I over-heat wearing them in hot conditions. Besides, my bike split was only 1:35 WITH the flat, I was well-hydrated before the race started, but dehydrated FAST. Maybe I just suck in the heat. Maybe I needed a salt tab on the bike. I'm a little confused on this one.
-I need new racing shoes. My feet are thrashed and it's gonna be a while before they heal.
-I've got some serious bike skills compared to the people I saw tri-poding the descents. SCARY.
-Best. Swim. EVER.
-Need to run more hills and spend more time on the MTB. Quads were hammered by the end of the bike leg.
Time for a short break while I figure out what to do with the rest of my season. Onward.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All Work and no Play...

...makes "Zippy" not so zippy.

Spring sprung and with it a huge increase in my working hours. Getting paid is nice, but I'd rather be training. As awesome as it is working at the beach, a lifeguard tower or a Jeep start looking like a prison midway through the week.

I took this photo using the timer on my camera. Notice all the people in my water... Tower 15 at Cardiff is there for a very good reason, there's a stationary rip current right where the reef ends and it manages to snag a few people every day. I'm partially blocking the rip in the photo. Notice where the waves aren't breaking? That's where the rip is.

I tried to take some video of the rip, but it didn't come out so great. Basically, if the water's choppy and flowing AWAY from shore, stay out of that area.

As diligent and as fast as lifeguards are, sometimes we can't save someone.

I drove down from Cardiff as fast as I could when the call came in, got into the water and assiste dinthe search until the Permanent Lifeguards pulled us out of the water due to darkness. Neither of the two victims knew how to swim and we're still not sure why the girl went into the water to begin with. I've been told there's video and that it's hard to watch...

...I have no desire to see it.

Sorry for the downer post. Jeeze!

Here's Oolong the rabbit that balances things on his head. Whee!

On the training front, things have been hit or miss. I'm sneaking in workouts around my haphazard work schedule and fully maximizing the 30-minute workout. I'm doing what I can and hoping the huge base I built back in February will carry me through Xterra Vegas.

Assuming I can scrape the cash together to pay for the trip. Yeesh!