October 28, 2009

The road to Haleakala

Yesterday was a great day of R&R. I am seriously humbled by what cool friends i have and the encouragement, prayers and laughs I am getting from everyone. I am not bummed about the race at all. I found perspective and that is exactly why I love racing. Experiencing all the support and gaining a deeper understanding of what exactly my passion for "this" trail time is all about is priceless.

My whiplash, hip and pretty much my entire left side were pretty stiff but getting out of bed and into the beauty of Maui was the best thing for me. Monique and I drove around and took a nap or two on some beaches. Doing nothing in the right place sure feels good! We got a little snorkel and swim session in between more naps and before sunset bagged a nice little hike. I was feeling better already!


We had planned to check out Haleakala but we really did not look into any of the details for the route, miles, etc. It turns out that it is just our style. It adds adventure to all of our trips! Monique wanted to drive to the top and watch the sunrise but I wanted to give riding it a crack. Plus, I could sleep in a bit...

My head has been jacked the last two days but I felt good this morning and my back was 100%. Despite my crash, I have had more rest in the last two weeks than I have had all year... My body was rested, tapered, carbo loaded up and I was itching to ride! I figured we could see how far we could get and if my hip and leg would loosen up on the ride it may even help. . . ?

ready for the road ahead

We started our ride from the beach nice and slow. We really had no idea what we were in for (and we liked that) so we packed all the calories we had with us and filled our bottles and bladders with liquids. We were off for an adventure!

The first ten minutes were pretty slow and at twenty minutes I told Monique I didn't think it was going to work out. She was still feeling the fatigue from the race and we just about called it quits at the hour mark. We had reached the town of Paia and realized that paradise was all around. I was starting to loosen up just as we had realized that our most enjoyable days on a trip are usually after a race when we get to explore and spend time playing without any plans. We were going to make the most of our day so we stopped for coffee and then I rigged up a tow line from our spare tubes and some velcro to pull Monique along. It was the perfect balance for our energy levels today.


I really had no idea how high this dang volcano was above sea level! Seriously!! Most of the time we got a gimps of it the clouds were covering most of the mountain. I was guessing about three to four thousand feet but we would be in for a BIG surprise. We kept cranking along and before long we had reached 2,000 then 3,000 and 4,000 feet. When we got tired, we stopped. When we were hungry we ate. We were lost in the bliss and cleansing that only a long day of climbing on the bike can resolve. The climate and ecosystems were changing all around us as we climbed and kept our minds and conversation rolling like our wheels beneath us. I love to ride my bike!

climbing up from the North shore

Somewhere around 5,000 feet we rode into the clouds. I remember telling Monique that we MUST be near the top now. At about 6,500 feet we broke through the top of the clouds and we saw the road switch back and forth into the sky. Oh, crap! I started comparing this to other climbs I have done and really only Palomar comes close. The main climb is about an hour and change but we had made a few hour long climbs already behind us and we had a long way to go.


By the time we reached the peak we ended up climbing over 6.5 hours and over 10,000 feet in elevation gain. Where else can you climb for 37 miles without any downhill? The last 3,000 feet to the peak we had entered the National Forest. I had already burned through all of my rocket fuel and we had consumed every bar, cookie, banana, nuun wafer and calorie we had. The rangers informed us that there was no food sold inside the park. I just about chewed his arm off... However, we could now see the peak and every last painful switchback along the way. It looked glorious and we were loving it! Thoughts about my swollen hip were long out of my mind and we were boarding on an epic. If we could only manage to get ourselves lost it could get real interesting...

I quickly realized that if I had not been carbo loaded, tapered and motivated (not to mention unaware of how long it would take) we would have never made the trip. Sometimes the desire to explore and enjoy the ride can get you to the top of some pretty big mountains but in this case a bit of blissful ignorance made the work component disappear. This was raw fun. It is in some ways the most work I have put in on the bike and the opportunity to tow Monique was just icing on the cake. Thank you God! THIS was exactly what i needed.

View of "the other side"

We made it!

Another day in paradise with my best friend and teammate! It was pretty cold at the top and we didnt stick around for long. We could not wait to get back and... as James would say "eat our faces off"! The climb was in the bag and the views we had the entire was down were just part of the reward. It sorted us out like only a long day on the bike will do. If you have been there you know exactly what I am talking about.

The road back down was also enlightening. I had to laugh when I saw some sections and thought to myself while we were climbing that the peak was just around the corner. It kept my focus off of my injuries and on the goal of reaching the peak. We never thought of bagging this climb with Moniques fatigue and my numerous issues. Did we really think we could only put in a three hour day max? You can usually do a lot more than you think you can do if you just get rolling along with it... We rounded out our day with a nice eight hours on the bike and an evening of putting the calories back in and sharing stories. I love it.

October 26, 2009

Worlds

I remember Crowie stating something like "you learn something about yourself after every race" shortly after he won this years ironman race for the second year in a row. It is the unknown and sometimes unexpected that I learn the most from. The night before this years Xterra World Championship race the Xterra staff announced that last years first place overall winner, Ruben Ruzafa had crashed on the practice course earlier that day. He has suffered something like 40 stitches and was out of commission for this years race.

Racing has risks. Off-Road racing may increase those risks a bit more. That is what I love about it. I have never felt more prepared for a race as I did for this race . . . I have never not raced for so long to just focus on training for a single race or felt like I had got my taper and race nutrition more dialed. As much as I could visualize a perfect race the risk of the unexpected is always present.

Race day rolled around and I felt really relaxed. I was in good spirits. I felt good and ready to race! I cut out drinking coffee (or taking any caffeine) for a little over a week and I have been sleeping so good the last few nights and naps. The clear warm water put me at easy and I had a really good swim. I think that blueseventy pointzero3 speed suit really works! I started off of the back and moved up throughout both laps of the swim. I could pick and choose who I wanted to draft and move up to a new group without having to go anaerobic.

The time at master swimming is working too. I felt like I was just easing into the day with the last few yards of the swim. As we exited the water I ran out right next to Damian Gonzolas and Adam Wirth. I knew who these guys were and I was pretty stoked to exit the water next to them knowing that my RPE for the swim was lower that it had been at any race all year.

I had my shoes already on my bike popped it off the rack and grabbed my helmet and glasses as I ran up the hill out of transition. For this race I added two new things to my T1 exit. I usually do not wear gloves but I put some over my grips and I also strapped my GPS across my spare tube. It was clockwork. I used the road on the way out to to the trails to get my gloves and GPS on and settle in for the climb ahead. It felt like my entire race was playing out exactly as I had gone over in my mind again and again.


The persistent pace that I was pushing during the swim became my steady effort I was putting into the bike. I felt like I really had nailed my taper and was feeling like I had stored energy just waiting to let it play out. I was riding with Fred Smith up the first few climbs and we were passing people but I felt like I was just easing into the ride. I didnt know the course but I did know that the biggest climb "neds peak" was at about mile 14 of the bike leg and I was going to be ready for it.

As we came to the fist few rollers I dropped down one fire road section and the unexpected did happen. We had started a decent down a double track lava rock filled road and there was only one competitor about half way down the hill on the right hand side of the double track. I came riding down on the left side going significantly faster than him. I tried to do the right thing and yell "on your left". At this point he was about 100 yards ahead of me. As I said on your left he jumped the double track into the left side. . . It was happening in slow motion and has been playing in my head all day. I couldnt just hit the brakes because we were floating on rock on top of rock and before I knew it my front tire was already a few feet from his rear tire. I remember screaming three times..."on your left, on your LEFT, ON YOUR LEFT!!". The more I screamed the more this guy looked over his right shoulder and turned left pushing me right over the edge. bad.

I broke my helmet in two places and my body danced across the lava rocks but my left hip took the blunt of the impact. I really cant remember the last time I crashed this hard on the bike if ever this hard. Interestingly enough, I got to check out my GPS watch download and I was moving at 25.4 mph at the time I came to a complete stop. I was in shock and throwing up. I couldnt feel my left leg at all I guess just in total shock. The guy who pushed me off ran over to the side and started saying something to me and that is when I realized he was speaking Portuguese or something. Maybe left means right? I started throwing up and then he was gone.

I didn't really know what do for a while to be honest. I thought I broke my hip and I was just jacked. At first I could not move. My GPS shows me wandering around for about 20min before I tried to ride down the hill thinking there was an aid station at the bottom. I dont know why I thought that there was one? wishful thinking! A few people called ahead for help and before I knew it there was a quad rolling up to try and take me away. By this time I was limping around and using my bike as a crutch. By this time the reality of the situation and the race came back into my mind. I want to finish. I just want to finish I told them. I did not care how long it took. I wanted to see the rest of the course, run on the black stand beach, through the spooky forest and into the finishing shoot with the flags from all the countries lining the finish. I just wanted to finish.

I tried to walk using my bike before a truck picked me up and took me into the medical tent. I went through a range of emotions and I understand it could have been much worse. Nothing broken except my dreams and pride. Ha! Seriously, my left side is tore up from the lava rocks and my hip looks like I am hiding a grape fruit under the skin but no broken bones. I am so lucky I had a helmet on and a concussion and a stiff neck is better than any of them being broken. I am bummed and embarrassed as I have never had more people asking me about a race before and really didnt know how bad I wanted to race until it was taken away. I thought about what this must have been like for Ruben. He is much better, got hurt much worse and has many more people watching him. I am sure his desire to finish what he started was burning pretty hard.

I did get to see Monique cross the finish line. That was awesome. I didnt have Worlds on my radar at the beginning of the year and it was not even in Monique solar system. To watch her knock out Vision Quest a half ironman and finish at Worlds was the unexpected I like to see.


She as always makes me realize how lucky I am. Stoked. Sorry for the bummer post. . . I guess we cant ride up Haleakala or do to many exploring missions outside but this is not a bad place to get some rest and try to recover. Thanks for all of the txt messages and good wishes friends. I am pretty lucky to have such good friends too and hope to get out and play with you all again soon!

October 23, 2009

maui on my mind


It would be a challenge to be stressed about anything in Hawaii...even the airports make you feel at ease from the moment you step off of the plane. Monique and I got to visit Kauai on our second honeymoon over six years ago... I cannot believe we have been married that long and it has taken us a world championship race to get us back to the islands. This has got to be one of the best places on the planet. I could get use to living on Maui time.


We have been keeping it mellow the last couple of days and today we got out to pre-ride some of the Xterra "practice course". The real race course is on private land and stays off limits until the actual race day each year. Part of the advantage of racing Worlds before is knowing the course and how to regulate your efforts and speed. I like the element of surprise! For a few days before the race a section of dirt and fire roads that is suppose to simulate the actual race course terrain is open to help you understand just how easy it would be to slice a tire or drift off course out of a turn. Practice makes perfect.


There is a pretty wide mix between the lava rocks and dust pits on the course but our 29ers were just eating up the trail and I just love the heat. Bring it on! I love it!

I have not had the best luck with my drive train on most of my bikes (and if you read my blog I am sure you know...) so I decided to get a new chain before we made the trip. An attempt to change my ways? I rode around the block before we left with no issues but today as soon as I put any pressure on the pedals I was slipping gears like crazy. I didn't understand until I took it to some mechanics at the Xterra demo setup. It looks like I totally wore out my entire drive train and introducing a new chain totally freaked out my cassette when it realized just how worn it was. I had two options. Get a new cassette, chainrings and use my new chain (bling bling) or put my old chain back on. Lucky for me I still had my old chain! I put it back on and I was back in worn out business!

Enough about the grind and gears... I am stoked to have everything dialed in now and Monique and I are starting to plan some adventures after the race. It looks like the big day will be an excursion around Haleakala and lots of time in and around the water.

October 21, 2009

Genr8 Speed!

Last summer, Sean introduced me to Vitargo and it has been a special "rocket fuel" for me. As many of you know, I have been using Vitargo from GENR8 for some of my most important training days and races all year. I have had the same fueling strategy at every Xterra and Multisport race this year. I have one bottle of nuun and one bottle of Vitargo. I have experimented with mixing one, two and even three scoops (up to 840 calories per bottle) of Vitargo per bottle. Now, I know that sounds like a ton of calories (and it is) but it works and that is because Vitargo is very different from any other fueling supplement. Have you tried to put down 800 calories in under an hour of any other fueling supplement full of sugar of maltodextrin mix? I am sure it would come right back up. ;-O

How good is it? Well, I have been able to use my friends at FeedTheMachine to try just about every fueling and recovery product out this year but I was still paying retail for Vitargo because the performance benefit was just that noticeable. If you can deliver "fuel" to your working muscles faster and not get behind on calories it is amazing just how much "work" you can fit in a day, week, month. It made a believer out of me.

GENR8 is also founded on a Proof Before Promises principle so you don't have to have blind faith in believing that it is going to work for you. How many scientific studies has your sports drink conducted on the benefits of it? Yes, your body needs carbs but you can get that from a baked potato and you dont see people stashing them in jersey pockets on the bike. A hot potato will get into your system just like a beach cruiser will get you across town but it may not be the optimal choice for race day. Vitargo has the scientific research behind it to prove it is superior. . . any you know I love posting graphs!

"GENR8 has a single aim: create, develop, validate, and market performance nutrition products that inspire and sustain confidence. For GENr8, confidence is defined by products that are university proven to work better than the "gold standard" and by products that are truly safe for both aspiring junior athletes and professional/Olympic athletes who are scrutinized for the use of banned substances.

We have an unrivaled commitment to unique performance nutrition supplement development, demanding substantial research on our actual products (not just ingredients), conducted at world-class universities, BEFORE they are offered for sale. We subject each batch of EACH product to analytical testing by the only World Anti-Doping Association-accredited laboratory in North America."

Compared to equal calorie amounts of carbohydrates in ordinary sport energy and recovery drinks and powders, Vitargo® was shown to:


2.3 times Faster Energy Delivery to Intestines.
This leads to more efficient digestion and absorption as well as delivery to muscle after exhaustive exercise.

1.68 times Greater Glycogen Recovery in First 2 Hours.
For faster refueling and recovery.

Up to 1.23 times Greater Max Endurance Performance.

You can learn more about over here

I am so stoked to now have GENR8 as a sponsor and be able to use it full time for my training, racing and refueling! (Let me know you you want to try some samples). I know it will take my training and racing to new levels and 2010 is going to be full of new opportunities to test my fitness in new ways. I'm stoked!

October 16, 2009

Countdown

I never understood why people say that the Xterra season is so long but I am starting to get what they are all talking about... I raced Xterra Granite Bay in March and I still feel like my biggest red line over the top heart attack race all year was the snowshoe race I did back in February. I think I knocked out about 30 races this year but I don't feel like I am slowing down. I am ready for Worlds! I am excited and it really is icing on the cake for me. I wanted to do the Xterra series for the last three years and my goal was to qualify for Nationals. Having the opportunity to race at a World Championship race is pretty cool. . . and going to Maui. Yeah, I cant wait!

It was just in the last couple of months that I have just been training specifically for swim, bike and run so I feel like I am just getting started. I have had a few weeks of intervals, race simulation bricks and real Xterra training and I am loving it. After joining masters swimming in September I am finally making it through sessions without going anaerobic and have the frequency I need to change my stroke for the better. I still don't understand how all those cubby swimmers are so dang fast but thats another story. I feel the same way about my running frequency and form. Its not the ideal running plan but it is better than it has ever been before. Better late than never!

I am loving my new SkinFit speed suit! Simply the best!

I have had more training volume this year than ever but in the last month or so I have really just focused on recovery from key sessions. I have had some sort of checklist in my head that I break down into taking care of the "outside" and "inside" so I thought i would share it. Basically, these broad categories can be separated into everything from daily maintenance to pre, during and post exercise checklists. Are you starting to get scared about how my head works? A daily "inside" checklist maybe eating right, taking my multi and fish oils and keeping a good mental motivation. Although most of the time I use this inside/outside checklist just for recovery after key sessions. The more items I can take care of the better and the quicker I can get back to crushing myself again real soon ;-)

Here is a checklist for recovery

-Inside -
recovery drink asap - restore glycogen stores
hydrate
a real meal w/in 30-40min w/ protein&fats
supplements - glutamine, SportMulti, Fish Oils
nap, eat, eat, eat, sleep

-Outside-
get core temperature down if needed asap
Foam rollin
Stretching
Ice Bath
Massage
stay horizontal if needed ;-)


Nothing to fancy but actually taking care of it consistently is the challenge. Of course, this is where the "before" and "during" items become important so I don't get behind on calories or unnecessary fatigue. It is a balance act but it is simple and it is fun.

As far as goals and plans for Worlds, I am just excited to participate and I don't have any goals for overall placing or age group placing. I have had a killer year of racing and Monique will also be racing in Maui with me and I cannot think of a better way to end the season. I want to take it all in and test my fitness. I have already been kicking around some race ideas for next year and I will decide when I get back if I will be racing triathlons or just sticking to the bike next year so my real goal for this race is just to enjoy the balance of swimming, biking and running in the dirt and push myself a little bit more than I thought I was capable of.... My balance between the swim, bike and run has never been better (even if I have lost FTP numbers on the bike!) and I am actually looking forward to that 7.5 mile run on the island.



I am sure this video only reveals part of the fun. The countdown has started and I cant wait!

October 05, 2009

Fat Tire Weekend

Monique and I had another long boring weekend and it was full of good food, pictures, great people, a little swim, bike run stuff and minimal driving. PERFECT!

I was wiped out for a few days from being sick but by Friday I was feeling fresh. We got in an open water swim at Corona Del Mar and I worked on some beach starts and running between buoys. It was pretty fun and the water was super clear and calm. We have been swimming there most Thursdays with the local tri groups but it was fun to mix it up on a Friday.


Then we were off to Temecula for the SoCal Endurance Fat Tire Epic race. We decided not to race and got to watch a bunch of friends gut it out on a tough course. Keevin, Monique and I got up early before the race and did one lap (racers would do two) and were surprised by the new trails that were incorporated to bring a loop all the way around Vail Lake. I doubled on a climb or two but my GPS still showed over 4K in climbing for one lap. Killer course!


After our ride Keevin and I headed out for an hour t-run through the hills. Awesome brick workout and we were complete before Tinker rode in for the win. Karen took the Womens Pro win by a big gap. She was going fast and taking chances!!

Karen and Monikie

I was stoked to see so many friends out racing. I really wish I joined in on the suffering but next year for sure. We all got cleaned up and then headed over to watch some bands play and get some grub. THEN we witnessed the main event! RC supercross action under a full moon! I have always seen these cars buzzing around when were are doing night laps on the course but I never got to see the action close up. These dudes are so dedicated to their gear ;-)



Sunday was Demo day. The trails were open and free shuttles were going just about all day. What more could you ask for? We were definitely taking notes when we helped out Paul with the Intense demo bikes. Something tells me this maybe our next summer fling.... more on that later.

Paul is already day dreaming about his Kona trip!

The riding also continued and Monique and I got our first taste of downhill riding... I think I remember Monique shouting something about "I found my calling"??




Downhill bikes felt pretty strange but oh so comfy. I took out the 951 and Monique had the Uzzi. Then we switched and I tried a Spider2 and Pauls Spider FRO. I want to take them all to Whistler!


Getting back early and enjoying Sunday night made the Fat Tire weekend an Epic for me. We got all of our "stuff" done and my life stress is pretty low right now. It is amazing how your mental outlook changes when you are running on a low stress level. We had plenty of time to kick on the music, jacuzzi and enjoy. God I love boring weekends!