Monday, May 14, 2012

Pendulum Swing

Lots went on this past month. There's enough stuff for me to have posted every week, but I never seem to take the time to sit down and put it all down. Such is life. 

It's late Spring moving on into Summer, which means the ocean is starting to warm up a bit. Warmer water means ocean swimming season is right around the corner. This past week, we put a buoy up in front of Lifeguard Headquarters. 

If you race triathlon, you SHOULD be doing open water workouts when building up to a race. I realize not everyone has "warm" ocean temps like we do in So Cal, but you should take advantage if you do. Almost time for me to start doing some ocean stuff, the buoy looks tiny, but it's only 250 yards out; give or take.

In other news, my best friend whom I've known since I was 11 took a job in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina flying helicopters for the Summer. Flying has always been his dream, but it's tough to say goodbye, even if just for a few months.

 I had lunch with him before he left and this random bird kept begging for a french fry. It had some cool, iridescent feathers that didn't come out on camera. Any ideas what kind of bird it is?

Friend and client Scott Holland stopped by my place for a quick ride while on his way to Santa Ynez for a race. He had some tire issues and I couldn't resist taking a photo.

At least he's smiling about it!

Speaking of racing, I toed the line at my second race of the season the Idyllwild Spring Challenge. I love this course and the vibe is always super chill, but I didn't feel up for it the morning of the race. I slept like crap and my training through April was total shizzle thanks to me logging a bunch of OT trying to pay for our wedding. In the end I went because: the course was awesome, the vibe is amazing and I really needed to reconnect with all my crazy racer friends I haven't seen in a long time thanks to work. 

No huge race report here. I showed up with barely enough time to check in, kit up, mix bottles and make it to the start line. I was still filling bottles with 2 mins to start.  

 I forgot how FAST Cat 1 MTB starts are. Metallic taste in the mouth, legs felt like blocks of wood and I was, practically, blown by the top of the first climb. I'd reel guys in on the descents and they'd go right back by me on the next climb. The skills are there, but the fitness just isn't...yet.

Southridge climb. Sweating buckets. I look "soft" and it's clear I need to get lean and mean. No time like the present.

 Finishing up. The "dirt goatee" is a testament to how dusty it is out there. I love racing there, though. LOVE IT.

Friend and client Ed Price raced open category and beat me by a few minutes. Stoked to see him come by me. Strong work, man. 

Fast forward to this past weekend where Holly went for her first 50-Mile Ultra Marathon. We bailed out of home Friday afternoon and drove down to the race start for the PCT 50. I got hooked on this route when I read Chuckie V's through-hiking 'blog from a couple years back. Seeing the trail markers gets me going for sure. 
 Right this way..

We chatted with the other racers at the start and headed up to the Laguna Lodge. Deluxe accommodations, it ain't. "Rustic" is a good description. The decor is hideous and the TV is tiny, but you pay for the "ambiance" of staying in a mountain retreat.

Wood paneling and cheesy paintings of bears and deer screwed directly to the wall. Note the wall heater. Classy.

I'm a small guy and I make the TV look small. At least we wouldn't be spending too much time in the room. It had the basics and that was good enough for us.

I hit "relax mode" by Pinot Glass #3. Ha! I tried and failed at lighting a fire because I bought hard wood instead of pine. Rookie move.

Race morning came WAY too early. The "official" start is at 6, but they offer a 5 AM option for people who might struggle to make the cut-off times. Holly would start at 5.

Lots of activity at the start.

Early morning in the mountains means COLD. The car said 37 degrees; note the rosy cheeks.It was cold.

All smiles! I gave Holly some last-minute advice and watched the line of headlamps bounce away into the darkness. I knew she'd be OK through the 1/2 way mark at Penny Pines and I wanted to be mostly  conscious for the drive home. I headed back to the hotel and went back to sleep. I got back up at 8:30, ate breakfast, showered, locked the keys in the car (yeah, I did), waited for the local Fire Dept to unlock it and made it to the Penny Pines aid station with plenty of time for Holly to come in.

She wasn't doing so great and said she wanted to be done already. I took her pack off and she sat down in the dirt and promptly started crying. She finally collected herself, I got her pack re-filled, she munched a few things from the aid station table and headed back out. The next 4.4 miles were out and back to the same aid station, so I went with her to make sure she was at least, physically, still OK.

This course is so beautiful! The dirty secret is that Ultra Running involves a lot more walking than you'd think.

Amazing views! I paced Holly back to Penny Pines and my mental math said she'd be close to the cut-off at mile 32.5. I wanted to stay with her, but wasn't sure I'd be able to find a ride back to our car if I did. Crews weren't allowed at the next aid station, but Holly was in a bad way and I wanted to make sure she'd be OK. I drove to the next aid station, parked the car on the highway and jogged in to the aid station.

The cut-off was at 2:30. At 2:20 I headed up the course to look for her. About 2 miles in, I ran into her. She knew she wouldn't make the time cut-off at that point and I could see it in her face. I hugged her, she said "I'm sorry" and broke down crying in my arms. I couldn't help tearing up; seeing her so disappointed tore me up. We composed ourselves, I took her pack and we walked the 2-ish miles back to the aid station. She missed the time check by 30 minutes, BUT would have made the Noble Canyon 50k time cut-off with 30 minutes to spare. Harsh.

Ultra Marathon = Epic blisters.

We packed up, got our stuff Holly dropped off at the first aid station and hit the road. I was worked from chasing her around at altitude in the heat (mid 80's!) and was glad for the extra sleep that morning. We spent the rest of the day feeding our collective "hunger monsters" and then plopped Holly into an ice bath.

SLUMMING. I wanted beer, but didn't want to get hammered like I do when drinking the "good stuff".

A busy weekend, a busy month and June looks even worse with our wedding coming up. The good news is that I'm off probation on Sunday, which comes with a nice raise. Good stuff on the horizon and I'm excited for the next evolution. Cheers.