Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Coast Xterra 2010

This has happened several times in my life. I see something that I want to do are I guess it just gets ingrained somewhere in my mind and the one day magically it happens. It’s awesome stuff. This weekend was one of those times.

Several years ago I remember going to one of the Xterra Championship races and watching a couple of pros give a presentation they called Xterra University; tips and insights from the pros to the newbie’s. Very cool. I so wanted to be up on that stage. It’s just the way I am. I wanted to be in front of the crowd and not just in the crowd.

Its funny how life works sometimes. Last week the race organizer from the First Coast Xterra race contacted me and asked me to do the Xterra University.

I was honored.

A bunch or people showed up to hear me speak. They asked awesome questions and I got amazing feedback. It was like a little dream come true. Fabulous.

Oh yeah. I need to race as well.

Walking down to the beach on Sunday I wasn’t fooled. From the boardwalk the waves didn’t look that bad. It’s always different when you are standing in the water. There were decent waves. Nice.

Standing at the start I realized that I couldn’t hear the announcements because of the crashing waves. “Huh, wonder what he’s saying…”

Some dude says, “15 seconds.”

Almost instantly I heard a siren and saw people waving. Must be time to start.
Swimming in waves is super fun. If you don’t dive through them then you get launched off the backside and belly flop in the water. Nice. Saltwater up the nose is just what the doctor ordered.

It’s also fun sighting off a buoy that keeps disappearing. Fabulous.

Found the big orange floatie in the water and turned left.

That’s when it happened. I got kicked in the face.

I love saying that. I got kicked in the face. Sounds like a song that Colby hates. “Sick ‘em on a Chicken”.

So I got kicked in the face and one of my eyes got a good dousing of salt water. It’s a little like having someone throw salt in your eyes….


It actually is someone throwing salt in your eyes. I’d rather get kicked in the face.
So the waves were pushing me towards the shore. That really didn’t work because I had 4 buoys to swim around. Parallel to shore was what the rules said. For a while it was really fantastic because I had a couple of guys to my right getting washed into me as I tried to stay on course.

Finally it was left turn and into shore. Swimming with the waves is much better. I tried body surfing. Excellent! It wasn’t as excellent after the wave passed because then you got sucked backwards till the next wave came. Awesome.

I crawled out of the ocean and ran by a bunch of guys on the way to transition. I entered transition in 3rd. That’s a good result for me.

I got on my bike and was trying to put my gloves on in the 30 feet before I entered the trail when I almost did one of those embarrassing fainting goat crashes. I decided that I could take 10 seconds to put my gloves on before entering the forest.

The guy who came out of the water second was there and let me go.
I was onto the trail in second place.

There is just something about going from an ocean swim to a technical mountain bike. It’s a tad challenging. I was trying to adjust to the new sport when some dude came up behind me and asked to pass.

Holy crap. Are you serious? OK, I know who you are. I had spoken with him the day before. Local guy. Lives right down the street. He’s a on a relay. I let him by and we started jamming.

We flew through the course. I started to feel good and his lines were perfect. We blazed the course in a crazy fast time. We just rocked the thing. I had the fastest leg of the day except for some dude from Poland who lives in Jacksonville. He actually caught up. We were many minutes in front of all others.

So fast biker dude handed off to his runner and I changed shoes and took off my helmet.

So Jacksonville is one of the hottest and most humid cities in the land. When I got up at 6am it was already 80 degrees with “instant sweet humidity”.

Running in this whether is hard. I ran the “5k” in 20:30. This course isn’t super hard but it is very twisty and at 9am super hot. It could have been 2.5 or 3.5 miles. Don’t know. Didn’t measure it. It did suffer the whole way. With the exception of the one water station and a few glimpses or bikers through the trees I didn’t see any humans. I had a big lead so it was hard to run very fast.

Actually I did see the guy behind me for a while. Polish dude actually caught up to me right after transition. He garbled something about being a biker. I looked back and he was gone.

I finished and I was happy. Second onto the bike and passed the leader within a couple of minutes. Spend the rest of the race in the lead and won my first Xterra race!

The results were a bit cryptic at the awards. I believe I had the 3rd or 4th swim, 2nd on the MTB and fastest run by 2 minutes. I won by two minutes over 3rd place and eight minutes over 3rd. Good results for me!

Things are really falling into place physically now. My injuries are behind me and I am starting to really get in some good training. Happiness follows!

Now I train. Ironman in five weeks. Can’t fake that one. Train and recover the two words that I need to live the next five weeks. Ironman…

Monday, July 12, 2010

Double 3rd

I believe it was 2007 when I heard about the Picnic Island Adventure Races in Tampa. I wanted badly to go then but I guess something else came up. I think I heard about the race every year but time after time I found more reasons to not go then to go.

2010 is a new year and I finally got my butt in the car and drove to Tampa last Friday to do the race. I did great and had a lot of fun. Can’t recall now why I haven’t done this race before.

The race on Friday was the third one of the year. I figured 100 people would show up and I would maybe be top 5 if I had a good day. When I go there they said that 800+ had showed for race number two and they were expecting 900 for this one. Holy cow! Really? I started thinking top 10 at best.

I was so excited I left at 10am for the 6:45pm race. I figured I could do some geocaching and get there a little early. I got there before 4pm. Oh good. I have a chance to melt before the race starts.

Did a little swim. Talked to the DJ. Snapped some photos. Walked and jogged a little bit of the course. Walked around and basically did nothing for a couple of hours.
Finally. Race time.

Sure enough there were TONS of people. We crammed onto the start area on the beach and we were off.

During the time that I was waiting I had lots of opportunities to observe the people showing up to race. Maybe it was just my anxiety but there seemed to be an awful lot of fast looking dudes running around. I had this vision pop in my head of me finished 14th (???). I don’t race well in the heat. Uh oh.

Lucky for me a breeze blew in from the ocean and a small cloud covered up the sun. Awesome.

So the first half mile was down the beach. I was determined not to fry our in the first part of the race. I settled into about 15th.

Yeah, I have no patience. As soon as we got off the beach I started passing people. Some grass with lots of turns and little hills and in no time I was 9th then 6th then 4th then I moved into 2nd before the barrier.

Diving under a cargo net? For real? Nice.

Jumping through tires then a barrier then it was onto the tidal flats for a little mud run. Nice.

I was in second though the mud section and gaining fast on the leader. On the short beach run he missed the turn and I didn’t thus landing myself in first place. Fabulous. I hammered down a couple of skinny, muddy trails and completely fried myself. Coming into the final mile I was leading but suffering.

Of course I had done exactly what I said I wouldn’t do. I was gassed and the humidity was causing rigor to set in.

I told myself that if I went slowly for a while the guy behind would catch me and I’d have more gas to stay with him. Doesn’t work that way. Slow begets slow. I slowed down and he caught me. Through the twisty turny last mile be caught me, we ran together then he slowly pulled away. It was like Chariots of Fire. It was happening in sure slow motion I couldn’t even believe it. Then some other dude ran by me full of piss and vinegar. That wasn’t slow motion.

With 100 yards to go I was still in spittin’ distance of the top two. Then we had to run out into the sea. That’s right. 50 yards out in the bay and around a buoy. The water was halfway up my thigh. Man was that hard when you were suffering like a pig to begin with.

I finished and it was over. I was very please to finish in 3rd place. I honestly think that in 2 weeks I would have had the strength to win the race. Today I’ll settle for 3rd. Plus I had a lot of fun!

I drove the 2 hours home and got there late. I went to bed and slept for 7 hours. At 7am I was up and off to Tavares to run a 5k. I actually ran faster than I did the last time! Still 19 minutes is a little pathetic for me.

OK, yes I made the same mistake again less than 14 hours after I did it the first time. I tried to run with these two elite triathletes that showed up from Clermont. Home town race and I really couldn’t let a woman pull away in the first mile! In the end there was nothing I could do about it. Some fast dude ran 17:30 and the lady ran an astounding 17:45 to whoop up on my pretty good.

I don’t feel bad at all about getting beaten by a girl. At least I didn’t let the one behind me catch me. ;)

So there you have it. Two races and two 3rd places. All started and finished in 15 hours. Good training for the Ironman I guess. After the run on Saturday I went for a 90 minute bike ride to loosen up. All felt good.

The Lake Loiusa sprint triathlon is Thursday. I may just do that. Sounds like fun. Next Xterra race in 13 days!!