It is always the races and places that go above and beyond my expectation that are hard to write about. . . Maybe it is because I am afraid to forget the details, my writing will not do it justice or it is just that it cannot be put into words. . . I think it is a bit of each and the California Multisport races are in that category for sure. Expectations are exceeded at every race by the staff and venue lineup. The best of any race I have done to date.
The San Luis Obispo race is over and concludes the first (hopefully of many) series of California Multisport races. This was not as "destructive" to me as the Big Bear race but proved to be a fast and fun course! You would never imagine all of that technical single track in the local hills!
The race started with about a 5.5 mile run of mixed single track, dirt roads and lots of climbing. Typical Xterra/CalMultisport mountain run with Sully and local Pro Triathlete Chris Stehula setting a blistering pace. Two laps up and over a mountain and I was loosing places but keeping "my" pace. Such a lesson learned from Big Bear!! I felt pretty good on the fist lap and eased into the second lap without going into the red zone.
I probably could have picked up the pace but running into the transition of the boat section I felt smooth and ready to paddle. I think I was around 7/8th place and confident of my position. The goal of the run was not to blow up!
Joe Friel always says something about "working on your limiters" and for me paddling was so new that it was my obvious limiter. Not only paddling itself but a new boat too so it became the focus of my recent training. . . and it worked!! Paddling ended up becoming my strength for this race! In training I was aiming for frequency and the volume was just an end result from the frequency but I almost tripled the volume I had going into the first two Multisport events. . . first race in the Mako6 and after working out all of the kinks it felt pretty fast. Hitting the water felt natural and being rested from the run let me dig deep with every scoop. Two laps and about 5 miles on the water.
I passed a few people within the first few hundred yards and by lap two I was a few minutes behind Sully in second place. Nice!
My goal was just to stay as close I as I could to Sully and try to put some time on the guys behind me. Time to finish strong and HAMMER on the bike!
Getting out of the water I had Karen giving me info about Sully being about 3min up from me and Monique telling me that Fred Watson was right behind me on the paddle. Running up to transition I was just seconds ahead of Fred who ended up posting the fastest paddle for the day. Paul was on the speakers and all I remember was him saying "you gotta make this transition all business Slater"! I slapped on my shoes, grabbed my helmet and started putting pressure on the pedals.
The bike climbed up a long road and then started a single track route back and forth around Cerro San Mountain. As I reached to of the first climb I looked back over my shoulder to see...no body in sight. What? Another look and I saw two riders just heading out of the trees from the transition and starting to make their way up the climb. I had plenty of time and the presure from behind was off... Now I could focus on keeping a gap and giving it all that I had left. Feeling the strongest on the bike than anything else I thought I would lay it down and then I made the biggest mistake of the race. I got lost...
I had a big gap, pressure off, closest race I have been to Sully and my strongest discipline with a very well marked course I and turned off, headed down a big hill and rode to a parking lot and stopped. Time felt like it was standing still and all I could think about was "is this really happening?". I knew I made a wrong turn but just kept going down the hill... Was my body making the decisions or my mind? Was I cracking under pressure or just lame? I got over it and started climbing back to the course.... I was still racing and I felt good so "here we go" I remember saying out loud... Maybe I was needing a gu?
As I started my climb up to the course I saw a few other riders cresting the first hill where I made a wrong turn. Clearly I was the only one who took the downhill route but I soon joined and passed a few riders. Reaching a volunteer at one turn I discovered I was in 5 or 6th place. Hey, thats racing I said and tried to catch the next guy. A few turns, lots of rocks and a few riders later I had passed the volunteer again and found myself back in second place. Stoked! One more big climb to the top but by now I was spent. I had my gu explode all over my hand and mouth and another gu flask melt down my bike. I was loosing it fast and just fighting with my sticky hand on the bar... Focus! It is crazy how the little things can get in the way when you are fatigued... On the last major climb I had Chris Stehula ride up to me on a climb...Standing and cranking like he was on his single speed. Nice work I said to him and he disappeared out of site.
I made up some ground and manged to come around by the time we got to the front of the mountain again. I saw Chris pushing his bike up a steep hill and thought I could catch him but found myself walking the same hill. Hike A Bike! Little did I know it was all downhill to the finish from there but I ended up making another wrong turn and following the run course back to the finish line. . . Again, the course was marked clearly but I guess my body just wanted some extra credit. I think I surprised everyone when I rode through the finish backwards! I was stoked to finish and still grab 3rd for the podium.
Until next time around....