17 April 2013

XTERRA West Championship-More than racing

Conrad "breaking trail"
Testing the limits on the pre-ride.
Ahhh finally the start of the fun racing, the off-road season has started for me and it couldn't have come any sooner.  Though it is not a mountain bike venue in any sense I was happy to be out with the off-road family again at the XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas.  With this course the only real variable is how loose the dirt is until the "trail" gets broken in.  As is standard Conrad was there well in advance of the rest of us and started "breaking trail" and as more of us arrived, we followed 98% of his line and a trail was broken in.  There were few differences between 2013 and 2012 were that the already tame course got a bit more sanitized, which I think we need to "thank" an obstacle run event organizer for adding dirt to the one short technical area of the course making it much easier to ride.  Also some previous heavy rain rutted the course but at the same time there hadn't been any rain recently so the course was very loose as well.  The weather was a drastic change from last year as well, a cloudless sky, temps that were a good 30 degrees F warmer than last year and some wicked winds.  The water was as dirty as always but the cold was welcome in the burning sun.
The usual happened in the swim, Craig, Chris and I tried to get away from Conrad but a lass my lack of good speed put him on my feet and I towed him around the swim as usual.  Chris was the best of us out of the water but I was quickest out of transition and on the bike first.

Out of the cold and into the wind and heat.
My short lived lead over Conrad
Conrad always repays the favor of the swim and I sat on his wheel on the road section out to the "trails", though with the tailwind I was spinning out trying to stay on his tail as he mashed his 40t Rotor Q-Ring and I was on a measly 38t Q-Ring.  Once on the trail I settled into my rhythm and Conrad motored away quicker than desired.  I focused on being as smooth as possible and keeping the power on to hold of Josiah.  After the first two big climbs I descended down a fast stretch when I came across a bike in the middle of the trail with no one in sight.  As I neared a run aid station that was not yet manned I notice some extra color to the ground and someone lying on the ground in obvious pain.  The sport course race had gone off 2 hours before the Championship race and it was an athlete from that race that was there.  There was very little time to think as I approached closer and the only logical thing was to find help.  I heard her ask to get help and I tried to say as loudly as possible that I would.  I proceded along the course to where I thought I would find the closest person to call in for more help, after a few minutes of riding I managed to flag down Dewet (Squirt Lube founder).  I stopped and waited for him to ride back to me and told him the situation about where the athlete was and to find a radio to call for help.  I headed back off on the course battling the thoughts in my head as to if I did the 
Craig and I taking in much needed hydration.
right thing riding off to get help instead of stopping, but it came down to the fast that she needed medical help and I am not medically trained.  A few minutes later I came across an atv with two paramedics, I slowed down, told them the same think I told Dewet.  They called it in on the radio and rumbled off toward the athlete.  I felt much better at that point that I knew medics were aware and on their way and I focused on trying to get back into a race rhythm and go.  Not long later Josiah caught up and I fought to stay on his wheel but he was stronger in the wind and I toiled along.  I continued to push on starting the second lap and a short time later started lapping other Championship athletes.  It was more relief to see medical help had reached the athlete when I came by again and I focused back on opening up the gap between me and fourth place.
Some steep short hills.

SRM Powerfile from 2013 XTERRA West Champs
I started the run with half a cold bottle of EFS drink and a flask of EFS liquid shot thanks to Matt Lieto for letting me stach those in his cooler, it was a welcome way to start the run.  I had a decent gap but with the heat rising and the tailwind at the beginning of the run my core temp was soaring.  I think that is one of the few time I have actually wanted a headwind.  I continued to battle away against the hills and changing winds, only allowing myself to look behind when the course allowed me to do so without turning around.  The last couple miles were painful as a half dollar size blister formed on my left heel and a nickle size one formed on my right.  I was the cause of the blisters, I had put heel lifts in to ease the strain on my achilles as I had developed some tendonitis a week earlier throwing things off, I didn't break the shoes in properly or prep the shoes with 2 Toms Blister Shield properly as well.  I did manage to hold on and crossed the line in 3rd.
L-R Ryan Ignatz (4th), Conrad (missing getting stiches 2nd), Josiah (1st), Myself (3rd), Matt Lieto (5th)
It was a nice way to start the XTERRA series place wise but in talking with Ryan Ignatz afterward neither of us thought our races warranted a 3rd for me or 4th placing for him.

The injured athlete, Eliana Fu, was taken to the hospital and thankfully it was not anything serious but a very painful hematoma.  She was not the only victim on the course as many others crossed the line bruised and bloodied, even Conrad has seriously cut up his hand on a fall, he won't forget to wear gloves at another race again.

It is back to the road for a couple races, first off is St. Anthony's Triathlon in two weeks and some great family time, then off to St. George, Utah for the 70.3 US Pro Championship.  Both fields are stacked and it will be some very fast hard racing before I get to enjoy ripping around on the mountian bike in the dirty south.

Nitty Gritty Details:
Clothing: 2XU Long Distance Tri Suit

Swim: 2XU Velocity V:2 Westsuit  2XU Comp goggles and 2Toms SportsShield.

Bike: Pro Cycling Specialized S-Works Epic 29, 2.2" Fast Trak @ 23.5 psi on the front and 2.2" Fast Trak @ 27.5 psi on the rear, Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant 80ml in each wheel, SRM Rotor 3D+ crank 38-27 Q-RingsSidi Terra.  Rudy Project Windmax helmet and Rudy Project Stratofly w/Multilaser Orange Lenses
Bike Nutrition: 1-24 and 1-20oz bottle of First Endurance EFS Grape and 1 flask EFS Liquid Shot.

Run: Colorado Running Company Inov-8 Trailroc 245 with 2Toms BlisterShield, Rudy Project Stratofly w/Multilaser Orange Lenses

01 April 2013

IM 70.3 California

The race season is really off and running now with Ironman 70.3 California in the rear view mirror.  The Oceanside half ironman is generally considered to be the opening race of the season, and everything that precedes it is and early season race.  This was the third half ironman race fro me ever; the other two were the Wildflower Half Ironman in 2005 and 2006.  There were a couple other firsts as well for the race, I would be on an actual triathlon bike and not a road bike with a tri set up and the first WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) event that I had ever done.  The goal for the race was to score points for the 5150 series so that I could qualify for the Hy-Vee 5150 Championship race in September as you can use two 70.3 series races towards qualifying.

The pro fields were very deep with talent and it would be a great test for me against some of the best at the distance.  Coming into the race I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was for Alcatraz a month earlier even though there were many more unknowns for me going into the race.   I did feel confident in my training that I could compete with everyone but in not having raced a half in so long I was less sure about pacing and the different drafting rules and the way the event is run.  I did my normal prep before the race but in setting up for the race I chose to just use the bags that the WTC provided for the race instead of using my own gear bag.  After setting up T2 with my run gear first I proceeded to T1 and set my bike up.  When I was getting my swim gear organized and ready I realized a little rookie error in using their bags instead of my own, I forgot to transfer my goggles over.  Panic never helps any situation, took a breath and thought of the easy solution and just started asking a few friends if they had an extra pair.  Easy enough fellow pro Kyle Leto had a spare pair and I was saved.  I have loaned pairs out in the past as I normally have a spare pair of goggles but you never know when you will need the help from someone else.  I got everything else set up and in no time we were off.

The swim felt incredibly easy in my 2XU V:2 wetsuit I got going quickly and settled in to what I thought was the front main pack.  After rounding the turn buoy it became evident that I was straggling a bit off the back and not in the group.  I picked up the pace but could not quite close the gap to the back end of the group down.  I got out of the water in a very quick time only 1 min down from Andy Potts, who is considered the best swimmer in the sport and was in a great position.

However after strapping into my Sidi T3.6’s and heading off on the bike it was going to be a very hard effort to close that gap.  A few guys took off and though I did try to stay with them I was not prepared to go that hard without paying the price later.  I did have some nerves early on in the bike and I was not getting in as much First Endurance EFS drink and Liquid Shot down as I would have liked.  Another group of three bridged up to me and after bouncing around with them and being thoroughly confused by what the gap between bikes was for drafting they got away.  Apparently the gap is much smaller than I think it is.  After about an hour, my stomach was a bit more settled and I started to get more of my first bottle of EFS as well as some solid food from my Enduro Bites bar.  At the 25-mile mark I was mixing it in with a few other guys and we proceeded to rotate around through to the finish.  I as very happy to feel as strong as I did on the hills on the second half of the course and thought I did pace the ride very well.  Entering transition with Ben Hoffman and just behind Trevor Wurtele was a good boost but there was still a half marathon to run almost entirely on concrete and that is where I was a bit worried.

I heeded Derick’s advice closely and headed out conservatively on the run as Ben and Trevor attacked the run much faster.  I felt pretty smooth and was moving well through the first lap of the run but could tell that my legs were starting to take a beating on the concrete.  Through the transition/finish area was a nice boost when I spotted Bri in the crowd and having the whole crew from 2XU out there cheering as well.  I continued to plug along but at about 10miles is when I could tell my pace had started to deteriorate and with each step the ground felt like it was getting harder.  I pushed into the finish in 23rd, not ideal for placing and points but it was a start.

I learned a lot during the race and about how I will need to approach and race at my next 70.3 at St. George, Utah.  Making the front pack, the drafting zone, how hard to push on the bike, and the importance of getting all my First Endurance EFS in are all things that I will be working on.  But first I will get to have some fun as I am only a couple weeks out from the first XTERRA of the year in Vegas for the West Championship.

I was able to pay Kyle’s kindness back in loaning me his spare set of goggles by picking up his helmet in transition, it always some full circle.  Check back for pictured in a few days! 

Nitty Gritty Details:
Clothing: 2XU Long Distance Tri Suit, 2XU Compression Calf Guards

Swim: 2XU V:2 Westsuit, borrowed Kyle Leto's Blue70 goggles and 2Toms SportsShield.

Bike: Pro Cycling Specialized Shiv Pro, 808's with Zipp Tangente Tubulars with Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant, SRM Rotor 3D+ crank 53-39 Q-Rings, Sidi 
T3.6Rudy Project Wingspan helmet and Rudy Project Hypermask Performance w/Impactx Photolazer Racing Red Lens 
Bike Nutrition: 2-24oz bottle of First Endurance EFS Orange,  3/4 flask of First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot
1-24 oz bladder of water, 1/2 Package of Enduro Bites Fig & Dark Chocolate bar, 

Run: Colorado Running Company Inov-8 Road X-Treme 208 with 2Toms BlisterShield