January 22, 2008

Rio Bravo Rumble ! ! !

It was time to get out in the cold again and start the year off right with a race early in the season. It was time to Rumble! 10K trail run through the rolling hills and a 16 mile mountain bike extravaganza that was fast and full of unique views.

The Rio Bravo Rumble continues to be one of my favorite races for several big reasons. The course is awesome, challenging and because it is on a private ranch it is the only time you can get after it... Very well marked course that is almost impossible to get lost on with superb support through the event. The SSFTA again goes above and beyond with the support and even tons of free food after the event. Follow that up with a super friendly crowd and kids races and it is bound to be a favorite every year.

ready to run / ready to bike

Last years race was a big surprise to me and this year would prove to be another new experience physically and mentally. Monique was at it again after she blew out her tire last year and we had Marius and Mandy staying with us for the weekend so we knew we could count on two things for sure, LOTS of riding and LOTS of fun.

In all of my racing the last few years there are only a hand full of races that I have done more than once. Xterra Snow valley, Scout Challenge, Pacific Coast tri… I think that is it. The Rio Bravo is the only race that I have done three times now and it continues to be so unique at every attempt. The first year I competed I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into… Pleasantly pushing at an “easy” pace, I was happy to finish and the exhilaration of the off road had again attracted me back to the trail in search from more off road adventures. Last year, I pushed through some pain and ended up winning first place overall. A mental learning lesson for me and the excitement fueled my 2007 season with a desire to push, push, push. This year, I had pressure. I set a bar and felt it from myself, against myself and I had a goal that I had to go after now…. Why did I have to go and do that?

The Run

We are off running on the 10K and I already knew in the first couple of miles that I was moving a too fast when I am pacing next to Jeff Moffit. Jeff is the Phys/Ed professor at Cal State who was conducting the cycle research project and has completed some Ironman distance races and is a fast runner... I remembered that he posted a 38-somthing min 10K last year at the race so that was my sign to slow it down! My best 10K to date was a about 45min so I was way off... Unfortunately, by the time my adrenaline kicking body actually started to let go and slow down we were about halfway through the run and I already lost sight of Jeff so it made the decision easy.

I was holding back for the last big climb too. I ended up walking a few steps here and there so I wouldn’t explode and then it was all downhill to the transition again. I knew I came in fast…faster that I should have been pushing but I was not out in front and it was hard to hold a pace that I knew I should have. I struggled mentally with trying to remember "how I felt last time" and was I running too fast/slow, was I going to beat that time again?? I had to remind myself again and again that I had to enjoy the trail and race my race...run my pace. The last downhill I counted five runners in a pack about 500 yards ahead of me. I knew that a couple must have been team runners but I felt behind, slow and I was fighting with myself to “run my race” and “keep my pace”.

Back at the transition while I am sucking air and trying to get my shoes on without falling over, M&M are talking to me. They were encouraging me but I couldn't understand all what they were saying, expect that I was a few minutes behind. I wanted to sit down...I wanted a flat! I wanted the easy way out because I did not want to explain why I was slower than last year...Why I felt like I just couldnt push harder or maybe didnt want it as much... Strange feelings.

The Bike

Although it was a cold morning start the run got things warmed up in a hurry and the cool air was welcomed on the bike. The wind also meant forward progress at speed and it was much more welcomed after a run than the other way around. . . The triathlon mix of running on tired legs at such a slower pace than the bike is much harder on the mind.

(Monique finishing up her first lap on the bike)

Monique was soon finishing up her run and would make a record time 10K for herself and joined me on the bike course also. Mandy and Marius started after their 1hr 30min hold off and were blasting across the course. So fast…so fun. Mandy ended up in 2nd place for the women even with her time delay for the run. Dang that girl is fast. She beat my time on the bike too!

(Mandy Eakins - As fast as she is humble)

After a few turns into the first road I saw the lead “solo” rider and slowly paced behind him for about three minutes. Did I want to pass? There is a long loop still to go! Did I want to be in front? Pressure… I got run down at the turkey tri and I didn’t want to blow up… Was I ready to pass or was I just trying to keep up. I passed with one mantra. “out of sight, out of mind”. I needed some distance between us and a buffer for insurance if I was going to bonk. I sucked down some espresso love gu and started hammering. My legs were screaming but my lungs felt so much better than they did on the run. Two turns, three turns and I cannot see anyone looking back. So funny looking back. I was mumbling to myself and laughing at how lame I must have looked hunched over cranking away. Ha!! This is fun?

(beat - but I beat myself and thats what counts ;-)

The bike had MUCH more of a first climb than I remember… I passed a couple more team riders and stood on the last climb with all I had to crest it and start the downhill. Freedom!!! Free movement, no brakes, no fear just letting it go… I needed a rest. I crashed. I laughed. I realized this is fun and sometimes it is just beyond that last little hill.

(Monique's Polar download of the elevation)

Coming in for one more lap I was done. I was going to beat my time and I would pass one more team rider on the 10K loop. I enjoyed that last loop although I couldn’t push much more but I had broken through a new mental and physical realm...not sure what I would call it but it got me out of my comfort zone for sure. “be comfortable being uncomfortable” Ha ha I realized that there are only a few races a year that I can race this hard and its a big difference mentally and physically at that level.

Monique finished this year, got a 1st place for her age group AND still beat her run time from last year! Mandy got 2nd place despite a 1:30 handicap for the run and had one of the fastest bike splits of the day. Marius was ready to ride the course all day long and could have held his same blazing speed for hours on end. I ended up beating my time again and got first overall but so stoked that I beat my time. I didnt even wear a watch because I just didn’t want to know ;-)

We watched the kids races, ate some food and then did what M & M always get us to do . . . ride some more! I was planning on a killer loop through our local hills but we realized that we were just too far gone, hungry and out of water so we headed back after a short ride for some grub and hang out. Good times!

Pics posted over here:





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