Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cliff Notes versions of race reports

Yep, I'm still alive. Apparently I took a break from blogging. Right now I'm averaging 12-13 hours a week with XTERRA training, which ranks right up there with Half Ironman training and the early weeks of Ironman training as far as volume goes. Phew!

I'm not going to be able to do the usual detailed race reports for the 6 (!) race reports that I am behind on, so here is the Cliff Notes versions of each race.

PBR Off-Road Tri - 10/11/09
After surviving several insane XTERRA courses, it's a nice treat to drive up to Tempe and do the PBR off-road tri. I think it's a requirement for each XTERRA course to have something insane. The PBR tri is not part of the XTERRA series, but is kind of the same idea. Swim in a lake, mountain bike, trail run.

We drove up to the Phoenix area the day before because Zac had a mountain bike race at McDowell Mountain Park as part of the Dust Devil series. He made it 4 miles in to his race when his fork broke, forcing him to walk something like 6 miles back to the car. He was not a happy camper. We hit a hotel that night in Tempe at a super cheap rate thanks to a last-minute bid on Priceline, and got up early on Sunday for my tri.

I'd like to say I rocked the course and beat my time from last year, but my swim, bike, and run times were almost EXACTLY the same as last year! The swim was uneventful, but it was nice to only have to go 750 meters. The mountain bike was a blast and I rode the techy rock section each time, which was a great way to pass a bunch of people. The run was a mixture of trails and road, with the road section heading down Curry avenue and under the 202. As with last year, the race ends with an awesome slip n' slide.

Rock y Road 50/50 - 10/17/09
I had ridden the Reddington area trails a ton in preparation for this race. The week of the race I had to travel for work, and that Thursday I came down with some sort of stomach bug that purged my body of all electrolytes and fuel. Thursday evening I was definitely not doing the race. By Friday evening I had eaten toast and drank tons of Gatorade, and managed to get down some bland pasta. I was down 6 lbs in fluids. Saturday morning (race day) I was still a bit shaky but decided to see how far I would get on the course.

We headed out just as the sun was coming up, and it was already in the 70s, with weather predictions showing it to be on course for the hottest day in October. I slowly climbed up Redington Rd and made it to the Chiva turn-off, alternating water and Gatorade as I rode. These were my least favorite roads of the course, with many of the hills covered in scree and lots of wash crossings. I was way behind the group and just focused on keeping moving foward and taking rest breaks when I needed them. As I climbed to FR 37, there was a large bull standing in the Jeep trail, munching on the grass. I had to walk up the hill behind the bull and hoped he wouldn't come after me. At this moment I recalled Chad's AZT 300 race where he ended up in a tree as a bull came running and rammed into the tree. I made it safely past and continued on. As I rolled to the Italian Trap singletrack, a herd of cows on the other side of the fence next to me started trotting, and I recalled Liane's story of how she stampeded a herd of cows and had to track down the rancher to apologize.

As I rode the trails alone, I remembered all of the training rides I did with Zac, Liane, and Johnny...where we stopped to rest, where we just about died from heat stroke, and where we ran out of water in the past. I made it to the singletrack and started the long, rolling hills of the AZ Trail. Johnny said he'd be there in spirit, and sure enough he was. On 2 rides we stopped to un-wedge his chain from between his large rear cog and spokes. Well, on the Bellota trail my chain got wedged in the exact same spot. It took me forever to get untangled, but I finally did.

At 12:10 PM it was well over 90 degrees and I reached the major decision point at the La Milagrosa trailhead. Do I continue on down Milagrosa, one of the most technical trails in Tucson, or head back to the forest road and call sag support (my dad) to come get me? I rested in the measly shade of a mesquite tree and switched the last of my water bottles around. Miraculously, I had cell phone signal here, so I sent Zac a text message: "Starting La Milagrosa at 12:10 PM." That way if I didn't make it, he'd have a time stamp and Search & Rescue would only have 4 miles to find my body.

I started down the Milagrosa trail, telling myself to keep moving as much as possible. I had put my arm coolers back on to try to keep the sun off my arms. Also, it's never a good idea to ride trails like this in the heat of a hot day when you're in the middle of reading books like "Death in the Grand Canyon." Your actions closely mimick those in the book that have died. Somehow I survived the trail and got to the granite slab section of trail, which is the steepest and most technical. The few ounces of water that I had left were as hot as soup and it was hard to force myself to drink it. I finally got down to the pavement of the neighborhood and started riding back to McDonald park. I breifly thought about going straight home. I REALLY wanted to stop at someone's house and ask to use their water spigot, but I didn't want to stop riding. The last stretch on the pavement back to the park took forever, but when I got to the park I found Zac there at the Jeep. I dumped my bike, immediately laid down in the parking lot in the shade of my Jeep, and started drinking water and dousing my face in the water we had stashed in the coolers.

I laid under my Jeep for about 30 minutes, not caring about the stares of people in their cars as they rolled through the parking lot. I told Zac that I couldn't continue, and packed up. There was no way I had any strength left to continue on the road up Mt. Lemmon. But I had survived the trail portion of the 50/50 which was much further that I thought I was going to get after being sick right before the race.

Zac had gone straight from the exit of the Milagrosa trail back to our house and laid down in the driveway by the hose bib for 30 minutes before continuing on back to the park where our vehicles were. The heat got to him, too, so we both decided today wasn't going to be our day to finish the event with how hot it was. Hopefully next year the weather will be a bit better.

Tinfoilman Tri - 10/25/09

I had done the Tucson tri and the Firecracker tri, and the Tinfoilman was the last race in the series. I signed up with an estimated swim time of 14 minutes. I was swimming just under that in the summer aquathlons, and I figured that would motivate me to keep swimming up until October. Well, it didn't. I went on a strike from swimming, and forgot that I really should update my swim time. So on race day I was in Wave 8 out of 10. Lots of sitting around and fretting about the swim. Why, after doing 5 years of triathlon, would I fret over an 825 yard pool swim? Because I had volunteered for these races in the past as a swim lap counter, and know that Jim the race director paces up and down the lanes and does the math of who in the current wave is going the slowest, and holding up the entire next wave of swimmers. (This is why an accurate swim time is important). I didn't want to be THAT swimmer, especially in Wave 8! Keli was in Wave 7, so I had someone to talk to while we waited and waited for our time in the pool to come up.

This race I actually made an effort to warm-up, and got in the Kasser pool and did 200 meters right before my wave started to get in. I was hoping this would help get the heart rate up and the start wouldn't be such a shock to my system. Before I knew it, it was time to go and start swimming. It felt like the swim took forever, but when I got out I wasn't the last person in the pool! I looked down and my time was right in line with my swim time for the Tucson Tri, so I was happy with that. I got through T1 in about a minute, and got on my bike with it's new Zipp 404's installed (great buy on ebay). I hit the bike course with the plan to bike as hard as I could and hopefully turn in the best bike time I could. I forced myself to stay in the aerobars on the straight sections of road, and ended up leap frogging with 2 other ladies. On the last lap the one in front of me crashed as she was making the turn onto Enke Drive, so I slowed down but she was already up by the time I got there. I did my flying dismount, but had a sloppy racking of the bike that may have cost a few seconds. I got my run gear on and was out in about 30 seconds for T2. A quick check of my watch showed my fastest bike time ever!

My running wasn't as abismal as my swimming, but I hadn't been doing as much as in the past, and definitely not any speed work. I had mostly been biking on the mountain bike the months leading up to this race, so I was less than prepared for racing a sprint tri. I decided to push as much as I could on the run and my time would be what it would be. The first race was a 1:20:25, and the second was a 1:20:05. I was mentally preparing myself to be no where near that once the run was over. I wasn't sure if I could pull down the same run split, especially after pounding so hard on the bike. The 2 laps around the UA mall were painful, and as I ran past the garage I looked down and saw that I was close to last race's run time. Could I actually do it? I didn't look at my watch anymore and pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the way and crossed the line and looked at my watch. 1:19:18! I had beaten the 1:20 goal! I was all teary at the finish but quickly found some water and calmed down. Hmm...maybe I should re-think this training thing since I went faster on my least amount of training. ;) I ended up 4th in my age group and the series champion in W30-34 for doing all 3 races.

Casa Grande Tri - 11/7/09

The Casa Grande sprint tri would be my last race of the 2009 season. I had read on the entry form that they only awarded 2 deep in each AG, so I made getting top 2 in my age group the goal. Zac was there to do the duathlon, so of course I had to sign up and do the triathlon. We arrived to the race super early and set up on the tennis courts. The swim was super short with only 400 meters to swim. The only problem was that it was self-seeded, meaning you lined up where you wanted to in the line of racers. Krista and I slowly worked our way around the crowd and got in with folks that were in the 7.5 min timeframe. We got in and started the serpentine swim. The pool was nice and heated, but crowded with all of the racers. By the last 50 meters I caught up to a guy that was WALKING on the bottom of the pool! And he was ahead of us! Apparently he was a bit over zealous in his swim time estimate. I quickly passed him and got out to start the bike.

I left T1 with a guy that was in a white shirt and we headed out onto the course. The duathlon riders were already on the bike, so there was a lot of passing to do. I kept myself down in the aerobars again, and it was nice to have long stretches of road to just spin in the high gears. The white T-shirt guy and I kept passing back and forth. He was the only one that passed me. We came into T2 right next to each other, and it turns out we were racked right next to each other in transition. "Nice bike!" I told him, and he agreed. I took a little extra time to grab a sip of water and was out onto the run course.

This was my 2nd tri 5 years ago, and I had forgotten that the run course climbs along the base of a mountain with some rollers. I hit the first aid station, grabbed some water, and looked at my watch to see 11 minutes. I wasn't sure if the mile 1 marker had been there or not, but kept going. Thankfully, the next stretch was all downhill, then a long flat section before making the final turn to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:09:34, which was under my goal time of 1:10, and I was surprised to see I had averaged under 9 minute miles on the 3 mile run. I caught up with Zac at the finish, and he was happy with his finish time as well. We waited for Krista to cross the line, and it was her turn to get teary at the finish because she had her best 5K run time ever and wasted her goal time.

There was a nice breakfast at the end while we waited for the results. Results showed Zac 1st in his 30-34 AG, and I was 2nd out of 52 in the W30-34 AG for the tri. But when awards were announced, our names weren't called. For some reason, for awards, the race was grouped into 10 year age groups. So Zac and I were grouped in 30-39, and the 35-39 folks were ahead of us in the standings. No idea why the race did this, especially when last year they were grouped in 5 year age groups. So for 30-39 I was 7th out of 88. I guess 52 women in 30-34 weren't enough to justify awards and they had to expand it to 10 year age groups. USAT sanctioning is good for some things, like keeping races consistent. (This race isn't USAT sanctioned).

Zac had fun in the duathlon, so I think we'll try to find him some more races to do. Oddly enough, there are only a few duathlons around, but a ton of triathlons.

Dawn 2 Dusk - 12/5/09

Liane and I do the Dawn 2 Dusk mountain bike race every year, and the past 2 years Zac has done it solo. This year there were the usual parking issues, but we found a spot and managed to grab some space for Liane and Nate to park. This year, it was freezing cold. I had the first lap, so Zac and I rode our bikes down the road to the start line in the dark and 36 degree temperature. I was wearing bike shorts, tights, and insulated pants on the bottom, and 2 long sleeved jerseys and a wind breaker on the top and I was STILL cold! The race started and Zac and I rode together, letting the mass of the group go ahead. It was kind of disappointing to see people that had been late for the start coming down the road and hopping in with the group and shortcutting the road to the start line.

We hit the singletrack and the sun finally came up, but I was still cold. Zac rode behind me and joked it was nice for the duo racer to allow the solo racer to draft off of her. The Pemberton trail that we were on has a long, grinding climb at the beginning for several miles, and I lost Zac towards the end of this climb. But he caught back up and decided to go ahead on the downhill section. I finished my first lap about 5 minutes behind him and handed off to Liane and headed for cover in the RV. I immediately turned the furnace back on and started to warm up my frozen feet. It took about an hour before they were warm again, but it made a difference for the second lap.

I was still bundled up on the second lap, but thankfully didn't have the extra 2 miles of road to ride. I wore my heart rate monitor for each lap, and this lap I spent 34 minutes in Zone 4 and 32 minutes in Zone 5. It sure didn't feel like it on the course. I finished up the lap and handed off to Liane and grabbed more food before sitting down briefly to rest.

On my 3rd lap I was doing the math and determined there was no way I would be getting a 4th lap in. We would need me to go out before the 4:30 PM cutoff, and both Liane and I would have to turn in record-breaking laps to do so. Besides, on the 3rd lap I was tired and didn't really feel like doing a 4th lap in the dark when it would be freezing cold again. I came into transition and handed off to Liane for her 3rd lap and told her to enjoy the last lap of our race. I then packed up the RV and waited for everyone to finish their last laps. Zac completed 5 total, and was happy to see the burrito I had warmed up and ready for him at the finish. Liane finished up her 3rd lap, locking in our 6th. Our goal was to not be last in our category, and we succeeded.

Kentucky Camp Epic - 12/12/09
I did this ride last year with Liane, and we decided to do it again this year. There was the option of riding a 29 mile short course, or 58 mile long course. I had already seen the section that makes up the long course, and didn't want to be out on the trail for over 8 hours, so I decided the short course was the best bet. The course was slightly different this year with the start at Rosemont Junction and heading south on the AZ Trail. This would give me the chance to ride a new section of the AZT that I had never ridden.

That morning I geared up and waited with the other short course racers for the start. There was no sign of Liane, and I wondered what had happened to her since the race is just down the street from her house. The race started and I let the speedy folks go ahead and fell in behind. This wasn't really a "race" for me, more like a long ride where I just wanted to see new trail. I didn't see Liane at the beginning, and as I rode I figured maybe she thought the race started at last year's start point, and I might see her out there. I climbed and climbed the new section of trail, and fell in with a group of people that were also out there to have fun and rolled with them. As we rolled along FR163 and hit the junction where the long course people came up from Kentucky Camp, I spotted a rider in pink long sleeves. It was Liane! Somehow we intersected each other. Sure enough she had parked at last year's start point and decided to ride the course backwards hoping to find us, and she did. So she rode the rest of the trail with me until we hit the intersection where I would continue on back to my car and she would take the dirt road back to hers. As we rode we began to remember the long climbs and sketchy sections of last year's ride, but at least this year we didn't have the crazy wind that we had last year.

I hit the last singletrack and made it back to my car and then headed off to Liane's for some of Nate's panini sandwiches and tomato soup. Which, by the way, is excellent ride recovery food. Hot food never tasted so good!