Friday, May 12, 2006

Wildflower Experience

This is an absolutely awesome event with a full-on festival-like atmosphere for the more adventuresome! With close to 7,000 athletes camping, numerous live bands and great weather (not always the case) my first Wildflower experience was a hoot, apart from my race. I'll get to that in a moment...I traveled to San Jose two days prior to the Saturday race and had a 2.5 hour scenic drive to Lake San Antonio State Park with my friend Mary who was racing the Olympic distance event (she rocked with a 1st place finish in her age group). We secured a top notch campsite with a nice view on top of a knoll and looked forward to meeting up with our friends Pete, Erin, Kristin and Jen. Props to Kristin and Jen for laying down stellar races and securing podium spots with Kristin 3rd in her age group & 7th overall and Jen 1st in her age group and 9th overall. They were awesome!! The weather for camping was great with cool mornings and evenings. Race day I awoke fairly rested and looking forward to the day's challenge. Typically, I preview the bike and run courses, however this time no such luck and I relied on descriptions from my friends. I knew the course would be tough, but it would have been good to see firsthand. Admittedly, I did not prepare for this race mentally like I usually do and in hindsight that was a mistake. I was psyched to be sporting my new Orca Apex wetsuit for the swim and anticipated a decent effort. Well, that plan lasted for about 300 meters...once we hit the first turn buoy the boys were gone - I soon found myself being dropped and swimming solo for the remainder of the 1.2 mile swim - not the way to start a half Ironman. Onto to the bike it was a bit chilly as the sun was blocked by some cloud cover and I was not enjoying the start to this 56.2 mile ride. I used some positive self-talk and reminded myself to be patient and apply my nutrition as there was a lot of climbing up ahead. About 25 miles into the ride I caught and passed a couple of fellas and when I hit the toughest climb, appropriately named Nasty Grade, I was riding with a small group of three. We went back and forth a bit exchanging some pleasantries. As the bike progressed I found myself feeling better both physically and mentally. I exited T2 with another guy and we set a brisk pace into the run. I didn't have a clue how much time the main field had put on me and I simply told myself to run and run hard. Like the bike course, the Wildflower run course is not lacking in hills and about 60% of it is on trails through the park. My legs responded well through the rollers of the first three miles and when we hit the first significant climb at mile 4, I figured it was time to drop this guy with whom I had been running. My running form felt strong and I continued to press the pace. I didn't really get an idea where I was within the field until I entered the "Pit" at mile 8, which is a 2 mile out and back section of the course. This gave me a good opportunity to see the state of my competition and it looked like there were some guys suffering...I passed my roommate, Pete, on the downhill of the Pit, giving him encouragement to keep pressing. With each pass of an athlete I locked my eyes on the next guy, playing a nice little game of Pac-man. The final mile of this run course is a steep downhill then a flat segment into the finish shute. I made my final pass with about 1/4 mile to go and crossed the line with a time of 4:28 and 21st overall. Kudos to my training partners Jimmy Archer and Jared Berg for their solid performances. Next stop Buffalo Springs Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman distance) on June 25th in Lubbock, TX.

Keep it smooth...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Triathlon Woodstock Style...

Yes, I've been a total slacker with my delayed update. Life happens. Anyway, I've had several key sessions that have gone very well in my preparation for Wildflower this Saturday. I'm super psyched to go out to California for this event as it has always been one of the races on my "list". Several of my friends from Boulder are racing...Pete, Jen, Kristin, Mary, Erin and Jimmy. The field is looking competitive with the likes of Cam Widoff, Chris Lieto, Luke Bell, Rutger Betke, Tbjorn Sinballe and a slew of other guys with impressive resumes!

This race is considered the Wooodstock of triathlon because it's located at a state park in the boon-docks. The majority of the 7,000 athletes (three different races throughout the weekend) will all be camping at Lake San Antonio (about 150 miles from San Jose). I've slept in my car before a race but never spent an entire race weekend camping...should be fun, especially if it doesn't rain. The weekend promises to have a festival-like atmoshpere with the three races and several bands for entertainment. I'll drop a note post the race.

Please keep your thoughts and prayers with my coach, Zane Castro, whose father suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

Keep it smooth...