Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Season Summary (Part II)

Last post, I left off after a disappointing finish at Xterra West, but with time to fix some weaknesses before heading into 70.3 St George.

I've only done one other 70.3, Oceanside, back in 2005. I was sure that the years of training since then would add up to a strong race.

Holly and I headed out early, did the pre-race registration thing and then dropped off the bike in transition. I rode the first part of the courde to get a feel for the climb out of the reservior. I forget just how huge WTC races are; 2000 people need lots of space...and lots of bathrooms.


 After hearing the horror stories of how steep the bike course was, Holly and I decided to drive the course. I was glad we did, it's steep!

Thankfully, it's also breathtakingly beautiful. So much that we stopped a few times to snap pictures. I can think of worse places to hold a 70.3.

Sadly, I don't have any photos of me during the race other than proofs on the web. The swim is remote from T2 and Holly just wasn't able to get any photos of me. Basically, it went down like this:

Up at 3:30; too nervous to eat anything solid. Had an Ensure as soon as I got up,1/2 cup of nasty hotel coffee, took care of morning business and hit the road for the Start/Finish. Dropped off run gear and got on the bus.

I started way outside to avoid the bumping and sprinting typical of a tri start. Swam solid, a little fatigue, but stuck to my stroke and felt like I kept focus well. No thoughts of "I'm tired" or "is this over, yet?" just head down and doing work. Late start meant lots of knuckle heads to swim around and not much in the way of drafting opportunities.

33 mins by my watch, 34 mins official time. O-Side was 35 mins.

Smoked so many people in T1, it was comical. HR REALLY high coming out of the water, people hammering the climb out of the reservoir like a 40K. I stuck to my race plan and kept it mellow. Weather conditions were as good as one could hope for SW Utah in May. Started getting a side stitch close to the 40-mile mark. Took a plain water bottle from aid station 3, which jumped out on the speed bumps into Snow Canyon. Knew I'd need it so I stopped, rode back and picked it up. Easily a 3 minute eff up. Climb up Snow Canyon was gnarly and I had the WRONG cassette for sure. Wound up running 60-80 RPM's the whole way up and out of the saddle more than I would have liked. Hot and sweating buckets; definitely suffered through that section. The way back into town was a 30+ MPH smile fest. Awesome! Rocketed into T2 ready to do some damage, but side stitch had gotten worse and I was worried about running with it. Pounding usually makes it worse.
Pee break out of T2, grabbed my nutrition flask and hit it. Feeling the bike leg a bit, but stoked to throw down and see what I had. Only the side stitch got exponentially worse and worked it's way over to the left side too. I walked and jogged though the first 20 mins and then was down to just walking. Jamming my hand into my abdomen trying to work it out, sipping water. Nothing worked. Made it to aid station 3 and sat down in hopes it would work itself out, but no dice. Tried some coke, no help. Looked at my watch and saw I had been there for 45 minutes. The writing was on the wall at that point. The aid station captain had been checking on me every couple minutes and I finally worked up the courage to call it a day. Turning in that timing chip was really tough emotionally....

Fortunately, I had a break planned after the race. Sice it was only May, I had plenty of time to lick my wounds, re-focus and nail what remained of the Xterra season.

To be contuniued...

Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 Season Summary (Part 1)

I've been severely lacking in the 'blogging department. Chalking it up to being "busy" sounds lame, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. A lot went on this past triathlon season, I had some really good races and some really bad ones. There was no central theme and I couldn't pinpoint what caused the wild performance swings. If anything, I performed best at low-key races where I just out to have a good time and trash myself. Point of fact, I crashed and burned at every priority race this year. Not good. 

The early season was BUSY on all fronts. I wound up going away for a few weeks to San Luis Obispo for work training and then crammed back-to-back-to-back races into the end of March/ beginning of April. NOT ideal, but Xterra is a cruel mistress sometimes.

The madness started with Xterra REAL in Granite Bay, CA on 3/30. Typical March conditions at Lake Folsom, COLD water (50 deg) and cool temps. Conditions that suit me just fine. That's me on the left side of the pic with the yellow cap showing under the orange one. Super-secret cold water tip: double cap! Keeps your head warm since latex doesn't transmit heat very well. 

My swim was lackluster, as always, I moved up on the bike and lost a few spots on the run. I've come to accept that this is just how I race; I'm still working on the swim and run, but the bike has always been (and probably will always be) my strong leg. 

On the bike, I found myself "in the gap" between the really fast guys and the kind of fast guys. Someday, I hope to bridge that gap; it didn't happen this year....

I got stomach cramps during the swim and they plagued me all race. Fact is, stomach cramps plagued me all season. Basically, I get a side stitch that doesn't go away and gets worse as the race progresses. Sometimes I can slow down and manage it and sometimes it's so bad I'm forced to walk ....or worse. 

This time, things were on the manageable side and I wound up on the podium! First place was pro Damien Gonzales, so I got points for third. SCORE. 

The very next weekend, I hit up a local race: Xterra Renegade at Lake Puddingstone. I really like this venue, but I don't consider it a technically challenging race course. Still, I planned on having fun, crushing it and making it home in time for a few beers. I ran into local pro MTB racer Chuck Jenkins in transition and knew the rest of my age group would be racing for second. Though Chuck races bikes, he's a rescue swimmer for the military and isn't afraid of a little lake swim. My only shot at a win was to drop the hammer in the swim, manage my losses on the bike and see if I could reel him in on the run. NOPE.

I beat Chuck out of the water by a solid margin, but he blew by me on the bike. Dude even had time to put his headphones on....insult to injury.

I didn't know it, but I had second place coming off the bike in front of Chris Clarke. Chris and I wound up battling all season, nice guy so no animosity at all. Chris got by me on the run and I wound up in third. Solid day for me; two races, two podiums and pint glass awards. Score. I'm in the top pic, the rest are Chuck. 

The very next weekend, Holly and I rolled out to Vegas for Xterra West Championships. I was feeling good after my early season results and though I might have an outside chance at a World's Spot (top 3 age group), certainly an age group to 10. 

It was definitely hot, but not nearly as bad as Vegas is capable of. I took it smarter this year and didn't pre-ride 1/2 the course. I sat my happy ass in the hotel room in the air conditioning. Same crummy result, though.

The swim felt long; wind picked up at the turn around and we swam straight into chop for most of the swim. Never felt comfortable with my stroke or breathing and took a pretty good beating the whole way. Tried to get to clean water, but knew I wasted too much energy here. Stomach cramps came on strong in the water; not good.

The bike was all about getting nutrition in and managing the stomach cramps. They changed the course since I raced there last; more ride-able, but MUCH more steep climbing. Since I'd been focused on training for the St George 70.3, I wasn't prepared for that much elevation gain. My legs were pretty smashed by lap two and my stomach cramps were very painful by that point.

I don't usually carry water bottles for 11k, but it was HOT and I was hurting.

Pros were finishing up by the time I even started the run; Lesley Patterson came flying by on her way to the finish as I was heading out.I'd given up hope of placing well by the time I started running and had transitioned to survival mode. Any kind of running hurt a LOT and I wound up walking most of the run course. 

Still, I sucked it up and trudged my way in. The salt stains and my facial expression tell the story.

After a solid first two races, this melt-down had me scratching my head. Luckily, I felt I had enough time before the St George 70.3 to shore up my weaknesses and come in strong. 

To be continued......