Monday, June 28, 2010

Heat Index Double Play

I was very brave several months ago when I signed up for the XTerra Southeast and East Championships. I knew they were a week apart. I knew that mean being a road warrior two weekends in a row. I love a challenge. What the heck. Let’s give it a shot.

Of course I didn’t account for my quad injury, the heat, and making both trips solo. I really didn’t account for the drunken jerks that kept me up all night in Alabama. Challenges are what MAKE you.

I am a better man today, for sure.

A few weeks before the Alabama a race I got a weird pain in my left leg. I brushed it off as soreness and went on with my training. On a Wednesday I ran for 30 minutes and felt pain but still figured it would be OK. Friday I rode my bike for two hours hard then ran 20 minutes and walked 30 minutes back to my car.

Crap. I was injured.

I had “quadriceps tendinitis”. The prescription for mere mortals was 6-8 weeks complete rest. Sorry, no can do. For 12 days I could not do a squat or run a step. No biking either. I swam everyday in the lake because I couldn’t push off the wall in the pool.

No lie, the entire time I could not do a squat.

The Monday before Alabama I could not do a squat or a burpee. Never mind bike and run.

Now these two races in Alabama and Richmond are my only two opportunities to qualify for XTerra Worlds in October and ITU Worlds next April. I needed to race.

On Tuesday my pain just disappeared.

6-8 weeks. Whatever. Wednesday I ran 15 minutes. Friday I pre-rode the Alabama course and felt fine. Saturday I went for a 25 minute pain free run.

Thank God
Of course while pre-riding the course on Friday night I sliced a hole in my tire. Luckily I found a bike shop on Saturday that didn’t bother to use lube when they charged me up my bung hole….

Sorry. Different story, different day. Again, whatever.

So I got a camp site at the park on Friday night… next to hill-billy Billy Bob and his buddy Jethro. These two drunken jerks kept me up for many hours. I called the police twice. Someone else called the police at least one other time. I woke up at 5:30am to their wives SCREAMING at them about keeping everyone up all night.
Change of plans. I got a hotel Saturday night.

Race day came and it was hot as can be. We are talking Africa hot. You would instantly drip sweat in the shade hot. It was so hot that swimming was hard. Great. Just another obstacle to overcome. Let’s race shall we.

Good swim for me; onto the bike to test the fitness.

New bike worked great. Suffered a little on the long climb in the middle, but for the most part felt OK. Had a silly crash near the end and pulled an oblique muscle.

Didn’t cost me much. Raced hard in the heat and finished with a good bike leg.
Now I had to run. Oh crap.

I swam a lot when I was hurt so the swim was great. I can usually “fake” a mountain bike leg. This I did. Can’t fake a 10k run with lots of hills in the burning Alabama heat.

I swear I wasn’t even in the woods yet and I thought I was going to burst into flames.

I knew I was in trouble when the run started. I just didn’t have a thing to give. I was wasted in the first mile. My only saving grace was that it was so flipping hot that EVERYONE else was struggling as well. I totally fell apart on the run. It was really hard.

40 minutes into the 10k I started to get chills. That can’t be a good sign. At one point I reached the top of the last hill and was convinced I couldn’t climb up another hill. But I had to because there WAS another hill.

Mercifully, after 55 minutes the 10k run ended.

I placed 2nd in a weak 35-39 age group and 32nd overall. For the 4th time I will be going to Maui to compete with the best in the world. My run was 8-10 minutes off. My bike was 2-4 minutes off; both because of the injury.

Did the 9 hour drive home in 7.5 hours because if I couldn’t run fast at least I could drive fast.

The following week I did a couple of runs and bike rides. On Friday it was back in the car for an 11 hour drive to my favorite racing destination: Richmond.

Of course it was hot in Richmond as well. Did you expect anything different?

Previewing the Richmond course seemed strange. I figured out that a big part of the course was backwards. That wasn’t a big deal. It seemed harder but shorter. Sure enough that is the impression the other competitors gave me as well. Apparently the unsafe mess that we had all done the week before facilitated a change. The bike course in Alabama took me almost 80 minutes. Richmond would finish in just over 60.

Another weekend another XTerra race. I’m sorry but it does get any better than that.

The swim course in Richmond is weird. It’s true Xterra. They call it 1000 yards. Who knows what the hell it really is. First you swim a couple of hundred yards across the James River. Currents pretty strong but not really that bad. As you go past a little island you realize the water really isn’t very deep. At some points it is literally less than a foot deep. At the first buoy you turn right and go upstream. My special strategy here is to simply walk along the bottom. Why swim when you can walk?

Then you come on shore , run across an island, swim cross current for a few hundred yards then it’s a quick float Huck Finn style downstream. Top pros did it around 13 minutes. I was out in under 17. I had a strategy on the bike. I was going to go as hard as I course early to clear traffic. It worked well but halfway through I began to suffer a lot. I pushed through and finished the bike leg.

I had the best XTerra bike leg that I’ve ever had! The work I’ve been putting in on my new bike is really paying off.

I did my best on the run but I really wasn’t 100% yet. I was much better than last week though!

The competition in Richmond was a little stiffer in my age group. I slipped a spot to 3rd in the 35-39 but raised a few in the overall to place 27th. I was very happy with this result. I was even able to finish the run with a strong surge.

I got in my car for my long drive home. It was a sad 10 hours. 700 miles north was my father who’s likely spending his last Father’s Day in the living world. 700 miles south was my son Colby who was without his father on this my first Father’s Day as a single day. It was a long day on the road for sure; a Father’s Day I won’t soon forget. Lucky for me I was able to get home at 10pm and spend 2 hours with my son before we both fell asleep. I got to have a little Fathers Day after all.

I dedicated my performance to my dad who’s in my thoughts every day. I’m glad that at the end of that race I can hold my head up and be proud of what I did for my dad.

Racing is what I live for. It makes me who I am. I’m sad that I was away from my father and my son on Father’s Day but I know that that appreciate me for where my heart is and not where my body was on this day.

Next is “Xterra First Coast” on July 25th then it’s Ironman on August 29th. Excuse me now. I need to go swim….