16 April 2011

Hellava Way To Start The Season

This was almost the trip that wasn't but when others are relying on you to provided a necessary piece of race equipment you make sure that you do what is needed.  The story starts actually about two months ago when I began planning a road trip of sorts combining Xterra West Champs in Las Vegas and Xterra South Central Champs in Waco, Texas.  In keeping the story simple I set up to use a friends RV to drive to Vegas, use that as lodging there for a group of us, then Will Kelsay would drive the RV to Waco for the next race with as many bikes as we could pack in the RV of people who were doing both races.  I would fly back to the Springs for a few days after the Vegas race then fly to Waco and we would have the RV to use as lodging there and after that race I would then drive the RV back home.  Leading into the race everything was set and we were prepared for a great trip.

Thursday finally arrived and the plan was to leave at about 3pm, at 7:30am however I get a call saying that the RV broke down while driving it from the house to where it was going to be parked so I could pack it up.  It was taken to a shop in hopes that it would get repaired that day but nothing was certain and did we still want to take the RV on a almost 4000mile trip just after it had broken down?  I had to figure things out and do it quick.  What about renting an RV, well that is really expensive.  I can't fly to the race because I have 3 other peoples bikes with me that I am supposed to bring out which also leaves out not going.  So my options are to see if the RV can be repaired and we head out or I jump in my own car with everything and go.  As the day goes on and we learn a little bit about what is going on with the RV, I figure out that driving myself is my only option.  I load everything up in my car and head off toward the greatest parents in the world.  I arranged to swap cars with my parents and use their Suburban to travel to Vegas then Waco then back to the Springs. 
Bedding down for the night in Kayenta
We met at about 10:30pm in the City Market parking lot in Durango and swapped all the gear between the two cars, I got some wonderful homemade southwest chicken lasagna to snack on and I was off again into the night towards Vegas.  I pulled in to Kayenta, AZ about 1:45am rolled the sleeping back out in the back of the 'burban and got a few hours of sleep.  I woke up fairly early and got back on the road and pulled into Las Vegas at about 12:30pm on Friday.  Thankfully I have some great friends and Will organized lodging for us in Vegas since we lost it with the RV, and Craig had jumped on getting lodging organized for us in Waco.  It was great to know in pulling into Vegas that everything had worked its way out.
The wait for the blast Photo: Nils Nilsen
Soon enough race day arrived and it was showtime to see how every one's off season had gone.  The water was a nice and chilly 60 degrees so a few days of prep in my 2XU Velocity wetsuit were necessary and I was ready to hit it once Kahuna blasted the cannon.  It was a fast start jumping on to various peoples feet on the way to the first buoy.  I settled in on Seth and Chris' feet but couldn't stand all the wandering around so I just set my own direct line to the final buoy.  It isn't the right tactic and I should have stayed on their feet to conserve energy.  I exited the water about 10 seconds down but after a fast transition was out for a brief moment in first on the bike before Seth went past.
Rolling the Wash Photo: Nils Nilsen
I headed out on the bike chasing Seth but he was flying, so I settled in to my pace and was set to just go until the forces behind were going to catch up.  I knew I couldn't keep Conrad at bay it was more a question of how long could I hold him off.  I did make almost 10k into the bike before came by, I was hoping to hold on his wheel but he was flying over the soft sand.  I managed to hold my own and he didn't open up the gap nearly as fast as normal.  Going up the next climb I saw him do something very uncharacteristic, he made a mistake, took a wrong turn and was headed off course.  I respect Conrad and only want to beat him on a good day but yelling wasn't going to do a thing. 
One of the few climbs Photo: Nils Nilsen
I continued up the climb and continued on.  I pushed it and held him off again, and this time when he went by I was able to keep on his wheel for a bit, but I knew that it would be suicide for my race if I tried to stay there to long once we were climbing again.  On the second lap Josiah caught up as normal and I tried to stay with him as well but fluids and fuel were more important.  At the end of the ride I caught Seth as we headed into transition.

Getting my hydration in Photo: Nils Nilsen
As I headed out on the run I couldn't rest, Seth is historically a faster runner so I was thinking I would just try to hold onto him when he went by.  About a mile into the course, it never happened and as the road switched back I had put about 30 seconds on him.  I continued to push knowing that there were faster runners behind that might be catching and thought if Josiah or Conrad faltered there is always a chance to catch up.  Neither scenerio happened though and I cruised home in 3rd.  It was a great result, my best in the America Tour and matching my best Championship race result from Canada last year.  It is a huge confidence boost early in the season, but there is little rest as there was one week between West Champs and South Central Champs in Waco, Texas.  Which I race in tomorrow!

07 April 2011

Way to long in coming but RR for MIT

A couple weeks ago I headed south for the Miami International Triathlon, it was the first race of the 5150 series and I was hoping for a decent placing to get some points to qualify for the 5150 Championship at the Hy-Vee Triathlon in September.

I arrived and stayed in Fort Lauderdale with the family of one of my friends from Colorado.  As has been the case with any home stay, Darlene took excellent care of me, I got some great home cooked food a nice comfortable bed to sleep in and she let me use her car to get where I needed to go.  I really couldn't do this sport without the help of others, thank you Darlene.

I had a good time leading into the race, visiting Lauderdale-By-The Sea, and getting to watch Blue Fire a local band in an open concert, they were a great cover band with an amazing fiddle player.

It was also the weekend of the largest full moon in almost 20 years.  I took a few photos looking at the pier, didn't want to pay the $3 just so I could walk down there.

Saturday before the race I met fellow XTERRA racer Christine Jeffery for a few pre-race workouts down in Key Biscayne.  Everyone was out riding and running, nice clean wide shoulders on the roads.  If you live in Miami this is where you go to ride which is a bit unfortunate that it is the only nice place to ride in the city that is easy to get to.  After a quick pre-race briefing and registration, I headed back and got everything ready for the next day.

One of the biggest things I enjoy about XTERRA races is the later start you don't have to wake up before the break of dawn, but we are racing in a major city and they were closing down some large roads so up and headed to transition at 5am.  After a nice dark bike ride to get things warmed up I set up everything in transition and prepared for my first real pro road triathlon since Chicago in 2008.
Thanks to Jeffrey Sanzare for the photo
Headed toward T1
It was a deep water start that seemed to have no true starting line but it was the most well behaved starts with no one really creeping forward that I have been in in a while.  I started well jumping on Matty Reed's feet and that carried me to the first buoy.  I got tangled with some people and ropes there even though I was not that close to the turn buoy and lost Reed's feet and slowly a gap formed.  I tried to close it down but it just wasn't going to happen.  I finished the swim about a minute down from the leaders and 30 sec back from a small second group.  Thanks to my 2XU Super Elite Endurance suit I don't need to wear a swim skin and was in and out and on the bike and in my Sidi T-2.  I am a bit at a disadvantage since I don't have a true triathlon or TT bike but I can say that my bike fit is better than 98% of the pro's out there.  I rode solid steadily picking people off that had swum a bit quicker and kept pace with pretty much everyone else that that came up from behind.  I had a mid pack ride and came off the bike feeling good.

Once on the run, I didn't feel all that great after I got settled into what I was hope was a decent pace, but one after another everyone was passing me and I felt like I was going no where but backwards.  It was hard to stay positive when everyone is passing you but I just tried to think that it is early in the season and that my run workouts had been going well.  I managed to keep moving and crossed the line in 20th.  The placing was way back of where I was hoping for and expecting.  I needed to take some time before I really put some thought into how the race went and wanted to see my splits as well.

Myself, Brian, Melissa, Cam, Ryan, Jillian, Matt @ Improv
After some evaluation it wasn't a bad race for the end of March, chalk a little bit up to not racing road for almost 3 years and how the speed is so much different than in the XTERRA's.  Overall my swim was pretty good, I normally get lapped by the leaders in the pool in an 800, so only 1min down for a 1500 is not bad, I need that gap to be 30 secs at the max though.  The bike was solid, I feel that I should be able to ride within a minute of the front group and was about 2min off so still some improvement to be had there.  My run for me was actually very good, to run low 35 in March is something that I can be happy about for me, the only problem is that everyone else ran in the 33 minute range so I don't have anything i can rest my laurels on just go back at it before the next one rolls around.  After the race I did get to have some more fun and went to my first comedy show with a few other friends/racers.

Up next though are 6 XTERRA's (one is not officially that but it is off road), I leave for Las