Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Races of 2011

I look so stoked.

Thank God this year of racing is over. I’ve learned a lot, that’s for sure; but most of what I’ve learned has been how to deal with disappointment and frustration. There was certainly a lot of that this year. However, I was lucky enough to have a few good races before I called it quits for the year, and had some good times with friends while doing so.

Playa Del Rey Triathlon
This was a fun little race up in LA a week or so ago on the 16th. I stayed with my buddy David Quiros and had the chance to catch up with all my friends on the UCLA tri team. My plan was to treat it as a solid training day (quick brick session) and not get too crazy out there. It was kind of cool because the UCLA and USC tri teams were the volunteers on the course. It was entertaining to see someone I knew at every corner yelling something encouraging at me.

It was a rad location, being on the backside of LAX, all of the planes flew right over us as they landed. As far as the race went: I had a decent swim and sat on the feet of the lead pack throughout the 600meter swim. I caught a little roller on the way in and hit the beach in front of everyone. I thought I was the 1st in but apparently some dude was 30+ seconds ahead. I had no idea there was someone ahead until my buddy Henry told me. Quickly hopped on my whip and set off to chase this dude down. I caught him after a couple of miles and realized that there weren’t too many dudes close behind me. I settled into a nice pace and cruised the rest of the course. I believe I had a high 28 minute 20k bike split. After I left T2, it took me a while to get my running legs going.. feeling a little tired from all the training that week (didn’t really tapper for this one). We ran an ‘out and back’ down a road paralleling the beach. I felt poopy until the last mile when I finally started to get my legs under me. I noticed that I had a sizable lead as I headed down the back stretch and cruised in to a 1st place overall victory. Run split was a 16:56 5k. The next guy came in around 3ish minutes later so it was nice to have a good race at an effort that wasn’t too pressing.

I took a lovely nap after the race and then headed out with some of the UCLA guys to do some solid climbing in the Santa Monica Mountains. I’m really envious of all the awesome climbing out there, being so close to everything! Note: don’t do big climbs with Zipp 808 tubular carbon rim wheels. Made for a long and annoying decent, having to stop 3x to make sure my rims weren’t going to blow up.  Everyone probably thought I’d overshot a turn and flew off the mountain when they reached the bottom and sat around waiting a good 5-10 minutes for me.

Unfortunately my training week only escalated into the next couple of days with some taxing run workouts and rides. This would inevitably lead to an “ahh, shoot.. didn’t think about recovery” moment, a few days before:

Chewin on the best of Texas
Galveston, TX 5150
I essentially knew when I signed up for this race that I wasn’t going to be “king of the mountain” after all was said and done. This course is dead flat the entire time with a lot of wind. So pretty much everything I suck at. (If you’ve ever talked to me about the wind, you know we’re unsmiling enemies). That being said, I would be ok with a sucky overall place as long as I knew I gave it a solid effort.

Charlie Karstrom basically talked me into doing this race. He had it all picked out and scouted and was determined to make this race his bitch (which he did). I’m glad he did talk me into it though.. we had a lot of fun out it there in Texas. I knew it was going to be a good trip when we were randomly “forced” into a 2+ hour (or never ending) card game with a complete stranger on the plane over. Our Texas experience started off right: with a trip to the local grocery store, where we loaded up on mass quantities of cookies, some fig-newtons, bananas, and loads of trail mix. What we should’ve been loading up on was bug spray (at least Charlie should’ve). On our walk back from packet-pickup/expo, we were walking past a grassy stretch of sidewalk and we looked down and noticed a small country of mosquitoes firmly taking up residence upon our legs. We initially started yelling profanities and swatting away, but it was like the mythological creature - where you kill one and two appear. In unison we started sprinting as if a lion were chasing us down. Needless to say, we ran the 2 miles all the way back to the room at a slightly faster than intended pace.

Race Day:

Our wave (Elite) started 10 minutes behind the pros. There weren’t a ton of people in the Elite wave, so the swim start was oddly spread out and comfortable. After the gun went off I sprinted to Charlie’s feet and sat behind him for 100 meters or so but quickly moved away; sitting behind Charlie is like sitting behind a dual motor speedboat with all the water he kicks and churns up, it doesn’t make for easy breathing conditions. I watched as he sped off and I knew he was going to bridge up and do his own thing. I sat with the three other guys at the front and chilled for a bit in this group. After turning the 1st buoy one guy broke off the front of the pack and I decided to join him. The group ended up splitting apart and we all basically swam the rest of the swim solo. I wasn’t feeling too hot but I wasn’t lollygagging. After I exited, I couldn’t help but feel that the swim was long for a 1500 meter swim. I exited in 23ish minutes, which is a little high for me (also considering I’ve been having some decent swim sessions lately). I think I was 4th out in our wave. (The long swim was confirmed by everyone’s slow swim times that day).

Despite the long swim, I hopped on the Shiveroo and took off into the wind.. and holy crap it was a wind. The bike course paralleled the beach and there was a serious crosswind happening. Knowing that my body is a wind-sail –being 150lbs and 6 foot with a huge torso- I decided I had to go balls out on the way out to the turnaround and pray for some sort of a tailwind to carry me back if I wanted any chance in staying in the race. My plan worked (somewhat) and I ended up catching everyone but Charlie before the turnaround. To my luck we had a slight tailwind on the way home and I hit T2 with a 1:00:50 time. Again, talking to some peeps after the race, it was concurred that the bike course was slightly long as well (being measured at 25.2 miles).

It was definitely one of “those days” out there. Legs just felt mega heavy and tired. I know it was from overtraining that week. My heart rate wasn’t very high (which isn’t optimal in an Olympic distance race) but my legs were maxed. It felt like trying to run hard the day after a huge ride. I just couldn’t get it going. To make things worse, I took a wrong turn and ran down the wrong street. That was a fun wasted 45 seconds. I was passed by a speedy Latino kid and basically easy-ran the next 2 miles in (I didn’t see anyone close behind). Ended the day getting 4th place in the elite division with a 2:05 time. Props to Charlie for crushing the swim and keeping the lead intact the rest of the day.

At the awards we not only found out that we qualified for the Hy-Vee US Championship next year, but the top 5 received free spots! So looks like I’ll have two Championship races within the same week next year (Vegas 70.3 is a week later). Fun times ahead!

I’m looking forward to some relaxation in the next couple weeks and not doing much other than surfing and casual coffee rides. As usual, I’d like to thank my parents, family & friends for all the support throughout the ups and downs this year. B+L Bikes for being San Diego’s best tri shop and supporting me, Specialized for making the worlds greatest bikes, and Clint Eastwood. And last but not least, God for saving me and giving me a passion to strive for the best.