May 29, 2009


Last Saturday, I got to participate in my first ever XTERRA regional event, the SE CUP in Pelham Alabama and I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and I know it will not be my last. I was set to race the West CUP in Vegas but we had a wedding to attend on the same day and so I started looking for another CUP race that I could give a go this year.... I had some frequent flyer miles and Marriott reward points burning a hole in my pocket so I just grabbed the first date that worked out. Hello Alabama! I was really bummed that Monique did not want to go with me but as soon as I got back home to sunny So Cal I totally understood. It was raining on and off just about the entire time I was there but it was also beautifully green and I cannot say that I would not want to go back....someday. This trip was a quick one however and all about the race....Its XTERRA Time!

I got to the race venue at Oak Mountain State Park early because I still needed to check in and I wanted to get a longer warm up than I normally do. I also got a sweet end of rack transition spot (red suit) and the warm up was a huge help. I started about an hour early and I usually just do about ten minutes of warm up.

I was not able to preride the course but I did know about the nasty hills and the end of the run and I was just stoked it was not hot and humid like last year when they held the race in June. Temps were perfect and we even got rain just after we started out on the bike. We started out with the swim at 7:30 EST or SUPER EARLY california time...

The Swim-
Learning a little something from the Del Valle race, I used a wetsuit this time around for the swim . . . even if the water was warm. I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient it was and I had a quick swim and perfect start to the race. I was able to get out in front and lead a pack to the first buoy and then find feet for an easy finish. We did two laps and although I still have a muscular endurance weakness in the swim I did not get dropped on the second lap and it was a decent pace for me.

I tried out these new goggles a few days before the trip and I am SO stoked on them! Perhaps a bit big and nerdy but just like an aero helmet. . . they perform! I am able to find feet to draft and ensure sighting with ease. The size and fit helps with peripheral vision and they don't get knocked off as easy when you catch an elbow to the face. The clear lenses also keep me "awake" compared to the tented goggles I have used in the past.

Bike Time-
Getting onto the bike was a mess.... I had a 46 second T1 time but when I tried to mount my bike (with shoes attached to my pedals) I got bucked off. I have done this correctly a ton of times but for some reason my right shoe rotated forward enough to get caught under my crank arm and I got bucked off and lost my left shoe. No big deal but I need to get it worked out with some rubber bands or something for the next one.

The bike course was insane. I probably learned the most in this race during the bike for multiple reasons. I have never ridden in such a dense forest with roots and the like and have never had such an aggressive bike crew to ride with... I am use to people just moving over when I want to pass but it was not going to happen here! There were only a few "good" spots to pass and if you didnt make it happen you were stuck between riders and the trees until the next opportunity. They also had the Sport race and Duathlon all riding at the same time and I had no idea where I was...

No worries. I was just trying to keep up with Renata Bucher the entire lap. That girl was RULING the bike and we managed to ride the entire course within about 10 feet of each other switching back and forth as we passed people. She was just as fast on the technical sections as the climbs. Awesome.

Then a 10K Run through the woods
In as much as I was "racing" I was also a spectator to seeing the Pro Womens race unfold. . . It was amazing to see these girls at work. Renata and I passed Emma Garrard(who was in 3rd) on the bike who had a great swim and then just two miles into the run I saw Lesley Paterson pass me and Renata (for 2nd place) like we were standing still. Two turns into the woods and she was gone and tracking down Melanie. It took a lot more than I thought to fly out, race in a "new" area and fly home... Seeing these Pro's perform week after week in these conditions made me understand just how "fast" they really are...

the run down

As soon as we hit the hills Renata left me in the wet forest to fend for myself amongst the roots and ankle snapping rocks. I got passed by two guys in my age group just before the hills and was able to finish out the run at a good pace. One of the few runs off the bike that I did not feel like I was just "holding on". Hopefully, a sign that my run frequency/volume is doing me some good and I managed to pull in 5th place for my age group and grab some points for the series.

It was an interesting journey and really put a few things in perspective for me. I am stoked to be home and back to training... I have a looong way to go and it is a fun trail along the way.

May 26, 2009

Weekend Fun

What a great, long and diverse weekend! Everything worked out for my trip to Alabama and I have a race report on the way but I am still in that weekend glow . . . it was a good one for sure. Plenty of time on the trail, good food with friends and after spending a couple of days in Bama's pissing rain I was so stoked to be back in SoCal. We have it so good here!

I made it back on Sunday but my bike was still flying around the country...United Airlines switched bag tags and the Moots got a trip to Denver, Spokane and then Phoenix but made it back Monday morning for our ride. Perfect timing. I was able to pick it up on the way down and slap it together in the parking lot before we started peddling!

We decided to take a tour of the 3 park ride, hitting Aliso Woods, Laguna Wilderness and El Moro parks. . . probably the most technical trails in each park too!

Lisa, Tiffany and Monique were all doing more than keeping up. These girls are tough and they still wear pink. Great balance! After this ride I am sure that our "normal rides" will feel like a walk in the park.

Ryan, Wes, Luke, Chris and Marius were always keeping the pace brisk. Luke is getting super strong and his endurance was proved again and again after multiple big days in the saddle he was still crushing every climb. Marius took us on a similar loop through the three parks about two years ago but I think we all found some new trails this weekend. . . and even more to go back and explore. Summer is here!!

heading back down to Laguna

Luke charging back up up up to Aliso

4 hours into our ride and the real fun begins

We finished up with a BBQ and a relaxing night. Perfect!! Ryan kept us entertained all night around the fire and it was a perfect finish to the weekend. Good times. . .

I started reading about crash cycles in training and I am trying something new again... I kept it going everyday since May 14th and I am building intensity every session(recovery is KEY). I was pretty beat after Bama and this weekend but have two more days left for a big push....then rest. Monique and I found ourselves on the trails today in Big Bear with P&K and it was the perfect way to keep it rolling.

Paul and Karen in their neck of the woods

These two have more experience and stories of adventure than anyone I have ever met and they are the coolest people stoked to hang with them and hear about their recent adventures on Everest. Really puts things in perspective! Looks like we will be back on the trails up here this weekend and hoping to repeat on the BBQ and fire stories!

May 19, 2009

Xterra Points Update

Did you see this? Guess that means I just need three solid races and Monique and I already have one in our region so we should be set. Maybe we can get more people out for the Tahoe race now. . . ?


Aloha from XTERRA HQ in Hawaii,

We are writing with word of a fundamental rule change. It turns out we picked the wrong year to mandate that amateurs count two races in their region and four scores overall towards regional awards and USA qualification. Simply put, travel has been reduced in the current economy, and meeting the new requirement is more bother than benefit.

As such, we're going back to the way we scored the Series last year - where your best three races count and you have to include just one in region result.

Thanks for your understanding, and best of luck with the rest of your racing season.

Download and Read Revised Rules - PDF


Live More

May 18, 2009

The Taper

It is mid-May and I am heading into my 8th race of the year and I have been pretty stoked at the progress so far. After a few weeks of no racing and building my volume I am now jumping into a few weeks of races. Del Valle, Alabama, Big Bear Cross Country race and the first Multisport race all within a five week block. Taper time?

(the madness of trying to fit it all in ;-)

I know that the official definition of a taper is a reduction in volume and/or intensity to help you PEAK for an optimal performance. . . I have had little to "reduce" in the past because my volume was low and have learned some good lessons about cutting out too much and feeling "flat" on race day. Although peaking for a race does not necessarily require a reduction in volume either if crafted correctly to provide "race simulation" workouts you can carry some quality volume into some races. Figuring this out for one sport and one race is hard enough. . . add 4 sports and a boat load of races and things get hard to dial in. Great is the mystery of the taper!

Even if you do nail it at one race, one year it will always vary depending on what fitness you are bringing into your taper, length of race, etc. It is even more complicated when you have a series of races that run back to back...I talked to Sean about it this week and one thing became immediately obvious. The timing of your taper/peak all depends on your "A" priority race. That is a problem for me because I don't feel I have a "A" priority race....yet. Just about every race I do is a solid "B" in priority . . . until I get to the starting line and it becomes an "A" Ha!

Taking all of this into account I have started ramping up my intensity this last two weeks and noticed that my volume has dropped but only because I required more time to recover from these workouts. It is all part of the "experiment" to see what works for me and I will use this experience and "the facts" to help me plan for the future. If I can stick to it! I am open to any suggestions too!

(finishing up last weeks "Aliso brick" workout)

There is little benefit (physiologically) that you can gain from trying to build fitness/power/speed, etc within about 10 day window so typically I would back off on Wednesday the week before a "big" race. I usually take it easy the weekend before a race but for something like the next few races I have (all under 3hrs) I am trying something new. Last week, I kept it going after the Del Valle race for three days, took a rest day and then put down the two hardest days (intensity wise) that I have had back to back. Then, I took a full days rest and Friday and Saturday (just 7 days from Alabama) I hit the some puke inducing intervals on the bike, set a new PR pace on a trail run and followed it up the next day with the Swami's ride where I chased down everything I could until I nuked my legs! Ha! Good times! By Sunday, I was as James would say "shelled!"

Now it is Monday and it SURE feels like a Monday! I am planning on a few more "race sim" workouts this week and then I am off to Bama to see if I am race ready. If I blew it by doing too much I will be able to hit the first Mulisport in great shape! If all goes well with the shorter races I may even jump into the 12 hours of Rim Nordic (solo!) just to finish myself off! Its going to be a great learning lesson and I am looking forward to it ;-)

May 14, 2009

XTERRA Del Valle Race Report

Last weekend Monique and I headed north again to Livermore for a nice weekend in the hills and our second Xterra race of the year. The Del Valle park is a true gem and I only wish it was closer to home! The Big Blue team was hosting an adventure race on Saturday and we arrived in time to watch some of the action. What a great place for an AR! It was already heating up in the hills and it would prove to be a hot one for us on race day.

We got in a quick swim and ride on Saturday and then were off to a killer carbo sugar induced evening and got a good night of sleep. The next morning we were running late and running around town trying to find some bagels and coffee. By the time we got to the park we had no time for a warm up but the important thing was I got the coffee going and hit the bathroom a few times! Boom! Race ready ;-)

For some dumb reason, I decided to NOT to wear my wetsuit on race day. It felt a bit tight the day before and I thought I could shave some time/energy off on the run to T1 and the 50 meters we had to run in the gravel between the swim laps. A BIG mistake! I found an old Sugoi tri suit in my truck and decided to wear just that for the race to save energy by not wearing a suit??

I was burning up energy faster than I should have been and wasout of reach every time I tried to find some feet to follow. The water was warm (~62 maybe) but not warm enough for me and the buoyant efficiency that a suite provided was becoming painfully obvious. Between the buoy's I started freezing and my pace was slowing down. I didnt realize until I was on the bike that I was grinding my teeth and had a sore jaw. Ahhgg!! Bad idea! By the second lap of the swim I was just trying to hold on and I got completely anaerobic just trying not to loose too much time. Exiting the water I was somewhere close to 30th place and feeling beat.

Time to get on the bike and warm up! Hammer!! I love riding my bike. Hills, hills, hills and more hills. This course was awesome and I found my legs coming around and warmed up pretty quickly. There were a few people complaining after the event about the hills and our run UP the river but you get what you pay for. . . This is XTERRA!

I felt better and better as the bike progressed but I also knew I was burning matches because I went out too hard on the swim and was trying to "make up time" on the bike. By the time I got into T2 I had moved back up to the top 10 overall. All I was thinking about on the run was "why have I never done a cross country bike race yet??"

The "adventure" run was amazing. Lots of elevation and variety. We ran in a river for nearly a mile where there were slippery rocks ready to take out an ankle and waist deep water in sections that took your attention to your hip flexors while providing a cool relief from the days heat. Once our feet got soaked with water it was up, up, up through some of the most GREEN single track trails I have ever had the pleasure of running on and then some fast, fun descents to crush whatever was left in the quads. Awesome!

I headed out on the run in 1st for my age group but got passed just about a mile in by Lennard who posted the 4th fastest run of the day and was flying by my almost 9min mile pace. I was holding on at this point. . . Luckily, I still finished 13min ahead of the next guy in my age group to grab 2nd place but I dug to new levels thinking there was someone right on my heels. Good times!

I was stoked to have Georgina come out and cheer us on and after I finished we headed out to cheer on the remaining people on the run and grab some pics of Monique. She was charging and I dont even know if she was breaking a sweat. She was talking to us on the run . . . Don't talk girl RUN! She finished 1st place in her age group and grabbed top points for the Xterra series for the race! I'm so proud of her!

Super fun race and a great weekend up north... Next up is the Alabama slamma!

May 08, 2009

Snappin in Napa

Last weekend I was treated to a real vacation with the M's that did not include any races, business diversions or travel plans. I cannot remember the last time I have left town without work or a race as part of the destination or the last time I have laughed so hard for three days in a row. With a destination like Napa Valley and the pleasure of watching some friends tie the knot it was just about as perfect of a trip as one could be expected.

While our friends Liz and Jeremy were busy about with the wedding details, Monique, Mandy, Marius and I were out about on bikes sampling some of Napas best wines and single track trails. I would love to retire in a place like this!

It was great to see some old friends, share some old farts and just do. . . nothing. NorCal is such a cool place and even with the rain it was warm out and there was GREEN everywhere. My buddy Andy was in town for the Sonoma Century and we got to see some of the course and watch running teams from The Relay run pass right by the wineries as they worked their way from Calistoga to Davenport some 200 miles away. I think we scared most of the runners with our unique team cheer ;-0 This is the same run that Dean has been running solo for the last few years. Pretty inspirational guy . . . or some may say crazy.

On the way home we got to stop off and ride/run some of the XTERRA Del Valle course. Just 5 miles off the freeway. Stoked! The park is actually a HUGE place and promises to host a pretty challenging event. I wish that the Adventure Race was on Sunday and the Xterra was on Saturday so we could do both. . . What a great venue for some navigation. Hillz..Yes, there are lots.
The bike course is pretty smooth and I have decided to put the rigid on the Moots for the race. Precision steering that adds to the fun factor. The run is out of mind awesome!!! Probably one of the best GREEN trails I have EVER ran on. You almost forget that you are even in the same park, state or country. Pictures cannot do it justice and hopefully it will distract enough to push it harder on race day.

So with that it has been a busy week at work and I am gearing up today to head back to Del Valle and give it a go this weekend for the race and my first race since the 70.3 and I am looking forward to racing back on the trails!

May 01, 2009


April is complete and it was a solid month of training for me. . . In fact, by BIGGEST month ever and I am so grateful that I made it through while pushing to new levels and still avoiding injury or dragging along too much fatigue into this month. Grateful for my friends, job and schedule for helping me get r done. Somehow it was more of a challenge/reward to pull off a solid month of training than just a single day race.

Working on your limiters is the fastest way to get to “the next level”. . . whatever the next level is for your goals. In sport and especially multisport it is always a good idea to work on your weakest link to achieve a better balance…an obvious limiter. A limiter can also be sport specific like the technique skills of running posture, position of your elbows when paddling or the sweep of your foot while peddling on the bike.
For me, I had to own up to the fact that I was racing too much! It had become my biggest limiter to my racing goals. Sounds strange but Monique and I had a few stretches of racing five or six weekends in a row of “sprint” distance races. Trying to recover from the weekend and stay rested for the next makes it difficult to log in the time and miles during the week. Racing in itself however is great training and that works for sprint distance races! Expensive, intensive and a ton of fun but this year I am focusing on a bigger picture and building the volume. This year, I only had one race in April (Oceanside 70.3) and then focused on building a bigger base while keeping the quality around recovery and key sessions in focus.

The challenge of racing and training is and always will be with myself and one thing is for sure...Slater 2009 would drop Slater 2008 in the first lap of any race...if volume is any indication of fitness I am looking forward to kicking my own @ss in some future races!
With April in the books I am looking forward to jumping back into some races again. This weekend we are missing the XTERRA West CUP and heading up to Napa for a wedding. It promises to provide some solid recovery and good times with some old friends! When we get back Monque and I are jumping into the XTERRA Del Valle race and it will be my first race in 5 weeks. FIVE WEEKS! That’s a record for me and I have a ton of motivation going into it!
After three years of not doing the entire series of XTERRA or never doing enough races to qualify for Nationals I have decided to give it a go this year and two weeks after Del Valle I am going to be flying out to race the XTERRA SouthEast CUP in Alabama. Hello humidity! I am still not sure what other XTERRA races I will do but I know I will be grateful if I can get into one more and/or qualify for Nationals this year. The Nationals date was the same day as the California Multisport finals but after talking with Paul and Karen I found that the CalMultisport race was changed (grateful!) and now I can still make all of the CalMultisport races and the National Xterra race. Stoked! Hoping I can hold on the wheels until then and so grateful for a solid few weeks so far… Now its on to Napa for some grapes.