June 30, 2009

XTERRA Tahoe City Race Report

Back in Tahoe for some XTERRA action and advencha!!! I did this race two years ago and it felt good to be back to such an enchanting place. The XTERRA is the same weekend as the Western States and there are usually a good group of runners doing that race in town soaking up the pasta. It’s a small world…maybe we will be in Tahoe for that race one year? It’s a small world….Last time I did this race I got beat by a fast guy who is now making his return back multisport. Go Luke!

My season and XTERRA series is going much better than I thought to be honest. I had a goal of qualifying for the XTERRA Nationals and now I have even qualified for Worlds…. Not sure what to do about that yet. Monique decided to jump into some XTERRA racing this year too and at first she was just worried about being able to go the distance. This race would mark her 3rd event in the series and a 5th place finish or better should get her enough points to qualify for Nationals too. I am sure she didn’t even know what Nationals was a few months ago.

The swim was my best swim of the year so far. I am trying to stick to the Ironman philosophy of “Swim smart, bike hard, run strong” or at least the swim part ;-) Racing is really my swim training and I am so stoked at my progress in being able constantly draft. Water is 1,000 times thicker than water…Why would you not want to find the slipstream? My paddling must also be providing a big help for the swim. I have only logged about 6 miles swimming (outside of races) in the last month but I am feeling stronger than ever in the later portions of the swim (muscular endurance) and I am able to keep a better pace. That clear water, visibility and cool temps coupled with a good draft left me feeling refreshed as we ran about a half mile up to the first transition.

transition with a view

I was ready to lay it down on the bike but had a surprise heading out of T1….My legs felt blown! This was the wrong course to have my legs feel like this with 22 miles of rolling hills! I rode up the first hill with Julian from Austria and then watched him ride away into the trail ahead. I just started doing some hill repeats on the bike and I think my last session was a bit too close to the race. Maybe it was because I didn’t do a warmup? Lesson learned! I felt like it was project meltdown all over again… not as bad because I cold get to a threshold power but I just could not sustain it for most of the first lap. My last few races I have had zero people pass me on the bike but I must have had 4-5 people pass me on the first lap this time. I was in a position to do much about it and was so lucky that they were not in my age group. My legs started coming around on the second lap and I resolved to have a solid run and enjoy the amazing views of Tahoe. I really had some fun on that last lap.

Having fun!

Riding back into the transition I made a goal for myself on the run. .. No looking over the shoulder and running scared…I was going to race myself with forward progress on the mind. I thought my legs would feel better on the run and after a mile or so they did. The only hiccup on the run was a little puke. Not that I was pushing that hard but just some bad timing. I put down a GU right before an aid station (holding it in my mouth) and was about to wash it down with some H20 when my body made getting in oxygen a priority. I sucked the GU into the wrong pipe and before I knew it I was throwing it right back up. Ha! Quite a surprise and I had a burning in my throat and nostrils for the rest of the run.

The good news was I felt solid on the run and put down a pace that I was stoked with…I didn’t look over my shoulder until the final 200 meters and enjoyed the run through the finish. I held on to 1st place for my age group but was more proud that I am getting over the feeling of being “run down” and pleased with the run this time around. I dropped about 23 minutes off of my time from 2007 down to 2:55. Stoked!

Watching Monique cross the finish line was a highlight for me. She was charging for over 4 hours and still looked so strong down to the last step. She finished 4th place and I am sure she is all set with qualifying for Nationals with the series points she collected.

I am so stoked that both of us are going to Nationals now. After the race the real adventures began….more on that in the next post. We cleaned up our gear and finished this day enjoying the Tahoe sunset.

June 24, 2009

Alma Rebirth!

I just had the best weekend... and it is only Wednesday! Monique and I were lucky enough to hang with Paul, Karen and Jordan the last two days and it had all the ingredients of a perfect weekend. Perfect weather, friends, fun in the water, good food, jacuzzi and trail time!

They are such a motivational family too. After returning from Everest last month they ran their first running event (a 33mile ultramarathon) with little run specific training. Paul finished in the top 10 and Karen was 45 minutes faster than the next women. To mix it up they raced the 12 hours of Rim Nordic less than a week later and Karen took 2nd place (just 4min behind) in the pro women field and Paul won the pro mens field. How about Jordan? He is on his way to climbing the 7 sumits of the world at just 12 years old. Inspirational fo sho!

After a little splashing around yesterday I had some work to do this morning but my Moots is still in route back from Arkansas so. . . . The Alma was REBORN!!! I have missed that bike so much and now she is a hot little girl! I already had my extra double chain ring, rigid fork and a few parts from Monique already on it and in no time Paul had the setup complete! By the time I was done with my work Paul had my bike ready to rip! I LOVE MY BIKE!

The Alma did however have to live up to its reputation and we made a few stops to "fix r up" on the way... oh, sweet Alma memories

We had a quick loop through Aliso and got to witness Jordan ripping the downhills on his bike...Good times! I have never climbed up Nyse street in Laguna before but we made that "effort" on the way back to the cars. Quite the kick in the butt and registered over 20% grade on my GPS.

The results were also posted for the South Central XTERRA CUP and I am stoked that I got so lucky with my placing. While I was off lost and spraining my ankle on the run I had 6 guys (between me and Fred) pass me in the last quarter mile before the finish BUT was just super lucky that NONE of them were in my age group! I had some second thoughts about just following the two guys into the finish later on but I am glad that it worked out the way that it did...

I think I am all set now to qualify for XTERRA Nationals and this weekend Monique will be racing the Tahoe XTERRA (her 3rd this year) which should get her qualified to go also... I am so pumped to see her crossing the finish line! If my Moots does not get here I may even be riding the Alma in Tahoe. She is alive and well!

June 21, 2009


When I said that Alabama would not be my last XTERRA CUP race this year it was because I already had my flight booked and hotel setup in Little Rock Arkansas for the South Central CUP race.

I managed to have some more frequent flyer miles, another free Marriott stay and the $69 race entry made it a done deal. I also learned a little something from the last trip too. . . like not bringing my bike on the plane and getting stuck with a $175 charge (each way!). I was stoked to be able to ship my bike to the Arkansas Bike shop this time, not only did it save a grip of cash but Dan and the guys at the shop went above and beyond what you would expect from the best bike shop. Southern hospitality? These guys were awesome and I only wish I had more time to go ride and hang out with them…next year ;-)

Despite me signing up early for the race I have never felt more like I was not “ready” for a race. I have been slammed at work (a good thing) and just not “feeling” like I am fast and gave myself a list of excuses on the plane ride out. Then I started thinking about a quote from Woody Allen that goes something like “80% of success is just about showing up”. Now that I am sitting on the plane ride back home I realize how true that is…of course, it all depends upon what your definition of success is but for me it is all about fun I and found plenty of it in Arkansas. Now I have a quote of my own, “Fun is Fast!” I was met with the most challenging race I have done to date and when I got lost in the fun I realized how fast I could go despite what my mind was busy with or how I “felt” going into the race. I am so glad that I showed up!

We started our swim in the Arkansas river – no wetsuits and I think it was about mid 80's. Trying to describe the water as “warm” would be an understatement. I was on some feet for drafting most of the swim but it was almost more of a benefit to get some of the colder water that was kicked up by following someone. I don’t think I have ever done a triathlon where there was a real potential to “blow up” during the swim. ha!

The two laps on the bike we did are hands down the best bike course I have ridden to date. It had fast tight turns with some steep climbs like Folsom, deep woods like Alabama and almost complete single track the entire time. I already miss it.

I started the bike with Fred Smith, who also raced Alabama and is in my age group. I got in front of him right before the single track. He said he was already overheating from the swim and I knew he would be a top finisher in our age group so I tried to put some distance between us while he recovered.

The 100 degree temps were a constant reminder to keep the fluids going. I could feel the heat radiating from my face and body every time we slowed on a climb. Crazy! When I got into T2, and finished the bike, they announced that I was the second amature overall heading out on the run. Stoked!

The frequency in my run training is a huge help. I feel like I can finally run at a pace that doesn’t just feel like I am "holding on". I figured I was in first for my age group starting the run and I was looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was close. . . nobody. We would pass five aid stations on the run, all well stocked with ice cold water. Being able to dump the water on my overheating head was an enchanting treat that helped me to keep a decent pace and meltdown at bay.

At about mile four, Fred caught back up with me at one of the aid stations. I gave him a high five and told him to “go get it!” I followed him down what felt like a dozen switchbacks as we made our way back. It still amazes me what you can push your body through despite the 100 degree temps, brutal course and fatigue. That is what we signed up for I guess and in some sick way it is why we love it. Meeting the challenge is part of the reward. When we hit the road again I started counting to 20 just to keep my pace. 20 good steps. Repeat. Repeat. I managed to stay about 34 seconds behind Fred and I felt solid at this pace although it was right at my limit. I was counting the seconds between us as we passed each pole. Anything to keep my mind busy!

As we made our way up the last climb, Fred dropped the hammer and dropped me. Thank God there was an aid station at the top of the hill and I took in a few cups and kept an eye on who was heading up the hill as I ran down the shale gravel.

Scramble time

As we ran back into the woods for the final mile or so of the run I was just zoning out at the trail. . . I ran right past a turn and didn’t even notice it. The course was well marked but I was just faded. I didn’t realize how far past the turn I had run until I got back to the markers.

lost in the woods . . . again!

I met up with some guys when I made it back to the course who I had passed on my first lap of the bike and there was less than a quarter of a mile at this point so I just followed them in. Getting lost happens . . . unfortunately, for me it happens often. Bummer!

Fred and Me post race

I packed up and headed back the the hotel/airport and still do not even know how I finished. I never even saw a clock so it could have been 2 hours or 3:30.?. To be honest, it does not matter for me because I had a killer race and I know I pushed the pace harder than ever. . . Harder than I thought I could and I am so glad that I just “showed up”. My success was found in the fun I had . . . even if some would say that fun is a little sick ;-)

June 08, 2009

California Multisport - Vail Lake

Race day and race day fitness is always an interesting time...Ideally, we are all looking for that window on race day where it all comes together. A peaked physical body that is rested and ready to deliver what your mind can make it do... The training is all about getting your "form" ready to go the distance at the fastest pace possible and follow the execution plan. It is all part of the fun and when it "works" PR's are a natural result and expectations are exceeded. Good stuff!

This weekend, I was able to participate in the first California Multisport race of the year and it was the closest I have gotten to what "works" for me. Despite my overall placing in the race I was able to exceed my expectations and I kept thinking throughout the race "this is JUST like I imagined it would be"... a euphoric feeling when mixed with the pace of pushing harder than I thought I was capable of while having more fun than should be allowed for such suffering ;-)

The motivation was easy to come by because of the Cal Multisport staff, event lineup and atmosphere at these races. Last year, my first Multisport race motivated me enough to really start training to “race” and was the first series of races I have ever stuck to for an entire season. This year Monique, Luke and Nick were racing a relay and we have now become friends with a lot of the people at the event...Great people and a huge motivation!

Monique and Luke in the double

The course is just like an Xterra except the paddle replaces the swim. To those who have not paddled . . . all I can say is that swimming is to paddling like road bikes are to mountain bikes. Yep.

We started the race with a XC style bike start from the pool (start/finish area) over the hill to the lake and it was a HOT pace. Thankfully, I was able to learn from the XC race last weekend and quickly shot out to the front group. We made it to the lake in 6.5 minutes with my heart rate hitting 173bpm!

Paddle time! I just started doing intervals about two weeks ago in the boat and my top speed for 1-3minute intervals was just under 7mph. After the race I checked my watch and managed to maintain that for about an hour. Expectations exceeded! It was a big help to be leading the paddle with Josh Williams pushing me the entire time just behind me. What I didn't realize was that we were putting a good gap on everyone else. By the time we got back to the transition I had a 2min gap on Josh in 2nd place and was SO stoked to start the bike course.

The bike was the same course as the 12 hours of Temecula that I raced with Wes in January. When Wes and I were racing a duo I was really trying to pull the fastest lap of the day and was about a minute short with a few 40 minute laps. On Sunday, the dirt was in PRIME condition and I whipped a 38min mid race lap. Without anyone in front of me it was jeti style riding around the corners knowing that I didn’t have to worry about passing, etc. The Big Bear shootout last weekend really set my perception of how hard I should be pushing on the pedals and I really didn’t want to get “run down” in the last few yards of the run course so I planned on leaving nothing after the bike… I reached the transition after the bike with a 10 minute lead. STOKED!

The run was brutal but just enough for me… Karen managed to find the only “jungle” trail in Temecula and we ran through the bush and across a river before starting our accent UP the damn climb. I was surprised to still feel some snap in my legs, however, that did not keep me from looking over my shoulder! A little over half way up the damn climb we turned off on a “goat track trail” following some ridges and then down and out a sandy washed up riverbed back to the finish line. As stoked as I was to be finishing and in the lead I didn’t want it to end… I put another 3 minutes on my lead running scared and crossed the line with a little over 13 minutes over second place. Thank you Jesus!


I realize it is far and few between for me to feel this good at a race so it felt that much better to give it my all...to win was just icing on the cake. I guess the resting behind my "project meltdown" is what made that project a success.... Hopefully, my biggest lesson learned from this will be understanding what "works" for me heading into a race but finding the motivation to put it all together outside of the California Multisport races may be hard to come by... I love me some multisport!

Monique, Nick and Luke dominated the relay with Luke posting the fastest bike split of the day!

Kim heading out on the bike after pulling in the womens fastest paddle of the day

Jordan Romero completes his first of many Multisport races at just 12 years young

Tiffany (again) takes the womens top spot

June 02, 2009

project meltdown a success!

In trying something new with crash cycles I perhaps took it a bit too far.... I have been sick the last couple of days and my race at Big Bear this weekend proved my overloaded training was a success in nuking myself. Good times!

The Big Bear Shootout #1 on Sunday was my first cross country race and I did have a great time seeing so many friends out in the hills and hanging out to celebrate Karen 21st BDay after the race. Monique and I were competing in the race as part of the Conquer the Bear series and this is just one of the reasons why I am so stoked about this "multi-event challenge". By the time we are done I will have done my 1st snowshoe race, 1st cross country race, 1st paddle race and 1st marathon...all at elevation no less! I doubt that I would seek out these events if I was not doing the series and it keeps you on your toes as I learned this weekend.

Cross country racing is hard. Harder than I thought and I learned some major lessons that I am very stoked about and will be taking with me on the next attempt at this ABOVE threshold effort. I decided to keep my "race simulation" training going after I got back from Alabama and have trained non-stop since the day after the race. The highest intensity block that I have ever completed and I am stoked I made it without injury...even if I am sick now I think a few days of rest should swing me back around. I thought ending this training block with a race would provide the perfect motivation to finish strong...I just had no idea it would be so intense!

I got bumped up to Cat1 even though it was my first race by providing results from VQ and the 12hrs of Temecula. This way I got to do 24 miles instead of just 16. Bring on the fun. I knew I would have a hard time keeping up with the mtn bike guys in my division but I had no idea I would get dropped and have the complete meltdown that I did. It was awesome!

We started with about a 2 mile climb and the guys in my group took off SO FAST!!! Less than a mile into the race and I was dead last! I started working my way from my middle ring to the small ring up front and before long was in my granny gear just trying to keep my legs going. Ahhgg... My mind was surging and I knew it was going to be a long 24 miles in the hills.

I should have listened to Justin and completed his warm up with him. Just riding up to the start was hurting my legs so I decided to "take it easy" before the race because I was too sore. HA!

As we worked our way through the course I started to feel better and my legs started to come around but I was hurting and noticed that I could not even bring my heart rate up. I usually race at about 170bpm and this above threshold should have been over that but I was hardly pushing past 165bpm at the peaks. I started passing guys in my division and working my way back up but it would be short lived. I decided to enjoy it as much as I could and just get r done.

I saw Vu and Alison out on the course and it was inspiring to see these two in their element. The pain factory... ha!

At about an hour and a half into the race my body had enough. I found myself pushing my bike and standing on the side of the trail in "zombie mode". I was on the side of the trail letting riders by when I saw Alison again making her way up the single track chasing down the first place pro womens spot. She looked good and said the magic words to snap me out of it...."keep moving slater". Yes, that was what I needed! That is the old Adventure Racing spirit! Forward progress. I got back on and started making progress.

I ended up chatting with a few guys in my division on the fire road back in who were doing the series so I told them I would just follow them in... This was not my race to score points and I was happy to finish and get my @ss kicked in the elevation. Mission accomplished! These guys are for real and this type of racing is very challenging.... Love it but makes me think I may not have what it takes to succeed at this pain factory ;-)

I never saw Justin after the start but he placed 3rd in our division which had some of the fastest guys...what a stud! Alison took 2nd place Pro Women and Mike once again won his division in about 1:45min. I have a ton of respect for these folks and didnt realize how hard they were pushing in these races. Monique also got moved up to Cat2 and scored a 4th place finish. She even joined me on the hour trail run and ocean swim the day before...so stoked for her!

Time to rest up . . . hope for some super compensation in fitness and get ready for my biggest effort of the year this weekend at the first California Multisport race at Vail lake!