Monday, August 6, 2012

Xterra Snow Valley Race Report

Apologies for not posting as much as I used to. Between work, a wedding, training and more, I have very little time for much else. 

Oh yeah; I got married! 

Holly and I tied the knot in June at Crystal Cove. Perfect weather, all our friends, delicious food and plenty of libations. Stoked to be married to such a wonderful woman.

Skipping ahead...

Money's always tight for us. I'm new at work, student loans are kicking my butt and there isn't any extra money for racing right now. I posted Friday on FB that I wasn't racing Snow Valley. I went to my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner (another wedding!) and started in on a Chili Verde plate and a Kona Fire Rock. I ordered a second beer and got a call from a number I didn't recognize. It was Gary, the R.D. for snow Valley. He saw my FB post, took pity on me and offered to comp my race entry. His generosity completely humbled me and I struggled for words. I went back top the table, told Holly what had happened and she didn't hesitate: "You need to do it."

Less-than stellar race prep given I hadn't cleaned the bike in too long and the huge meal I'd just finished. Whatever; roll with it.

I got up Saturday morning feeling like warmed-over death and headed straight for the coffee. Yeah EARLY. At least there's plenty of coffee in the world.

I hit the road for the two-hour trek to Running Springs and rolled in around 6:30. I checked in and made back to my car just in time to see Trevor's truck roll into the parking lot.

Always stoked to see race friends at events; races are so much more fun when people you like show up.

Even though I work at the beach, I feel more "at home" in the mountains. Days like Saturday sure help.

I warmed up, chatted with Trevor a bit, set up T2 and headed up the mountain to the lake. It was getting warm fast and I broke a bit of a sweat, even riding easy. I had plenty of time so never had to rush. A big change from the days when I was 15 minutes late to everything.

Wetsuit on, I swam around a bit and then waited for the start. Standing in the water, I felt a slight "tap, tap" on my right foot. Fish nibbling on my feet! Such a creepy feeling, but kind of neat that life is surviving in such a small lake.

They announced the start was not far off, so I swam into the lake a bit (deep water start) and got a decent position; 3...2...1...GO!!

Pretty mellow for a tri swim; only got smacked or half-drowned 4 or five times. I was really feeling the altitude and wound up backstroking twice to catch my breath. Couldn't get on feet for the life of me and zig-zagged like crazy. Not racing much has left my open-water skills severely lacking. I looked back at one point and didn't see too many people behind me. Crap. I managed the best I could but lost a lot of time. Good news is there's lots of room or improvement.

I hit T1, jumped on the bike and started moving pretty well. I just focused on picking a smooth line, managing my effort at altitude and having FUN. I figured the longer course this year would eat people up later in the race and I was right. Second lap and guys are slowing down big time. I felt good, so I picked it up a bit. I made a pass coming over a small rise and hit a loose, downhill section off-line. The front tire washed out and I hit the ground. The rider next to me ran over a couple fingers before I yanked my hand back. Back on the bike in a flash, and passing more people.


Pretty weak dirt rash...and now all of you know where my tattoo is.

Off the bike, on to the run and still feeling pretty solid. Still passing lots of people, but no idea what place I was in because the points tri, sport tri and duathlon were all mixed together. Same strategy as the bike: head down, racing and having FUN. Tough Mudder left hay on some of the hills, which made things slick even when dry. Interesting.

I kept waiting for the fatigue and it never came. Sure I was feeling it, but I didn't slow down nearly as much as other racers were. The base fitness is there just not the top-end speed. Yet.

I finished up and saw my time was 2:31. No big deal! I came into the race with no expectations and just had a good time. Mission accomplished. I cleaned up, packed up and went to check results and eat my free burger. I figured I'd be mid-pack somewhere. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the results...

My first win! I had hopes of maybe 5th in my age group, but a win never even crossed my mind! Blown away.

I waited around for awards; no way would I miss stepping onto the top of the podium for my first time. Gary handed me my award: "On your ass and in first!"

Winning doesn't suck! I was way off the overall (15 mins), but the points for the win added to the points I have from earlier in the season should mean a nationals invitation. WOW! I haven't qualified since 2008 and an invite would be huge after 3 seasons of injuries, poverty and the new job.

Still seems surreal. Wow. Just wow.