Saturday, September 12, 2015

No Rest for the Wicked

And I must be wicked because my 'rest day' for the week is tomorrow which is also a day of 5 runs at a USDAA trial which does not sound very restful to me.  But this is the last big week of training before Xterra Nationals so the only way to squeeze in a trial day is to pretend it's a rest day.  I wasn't planning on going but signed up last second in order to have some more runs on international style courses so I can decide if I want to endure 6 days of driving to go to UKI Nationals.  It sounds crazy and unnecessary, I know where we are competition-wise, but I'm trying to work up some enthusiasm for 6 days of driving.  For maybe 8 minutes total in the ring.  Maybe.  That seems crazy stupid.  But I was watching some videos from last year's UKI Nat's. and it looks very fun.  And we'd for sure be in the finals.  But SIX DAYS of stupid making I hate driving.  48 hours.  Stupid.  Anyway, we'll see how tomorrow goes.  I have until sometime in October to make up my mind.

And on the driving front, I've had 2 trips in the past week up to Winter Park/Fraser after not going for about a million years.  Because of stupid driving.  It's about 1 3/4 hours but you have to go over twisty, wind-ey, steep Berthoud Pass which is very beautiful and I have some very cool video of driving through low cloud cover up there from last week but yeah, I'll get right on with processing that.  In the meantime, a nice view from the Flume Trail.

Seems like there should be a moose standing right there.  I always feel ripped off when there isn't one.  We did see a moose and her baby on this trail a zillion years ago but it was at a different place.

Fall colors are starting to kick into gear.  Northwest Passage Trail.

The Northwest Passage trail used to be heavy forest then the Pine Beetle came and wiped it out and for many years we didn't come back because it was depressing to see all the dead brown trees.  But as you can see from the photos, the forest is springing back and this time with some aspens.  So nice to see some life again on this trail and in some other areas that were effected.

I love the trails in Winter Park/Fraser, wish they were closer.  The Tipperary Creek Trail was the main attraction because it's very similar in grade and terrain to the course at Nationals.  So I endured the drive to do some sustained hill climbs.  I'm not the fastest racer but going up and down and back up Tipperary gets some remarks from folks struggling to get up it just the once. 

Jonny took these pix on Tipperary.  I was on a mission and didn't stop, even for some grouse photos.  I have some GoPro video but it's too bumpy and barf making to watch.

There was a group of guys that we kept running into and at one point one of them let me try his super light 23 pound Fat Bike.  SO fun.  But I can't have more bikes right now.  I accumulate bikes like some people accumulate Border Collies.  I have to get rid of some bikes before more can come live with me.  But wow, very fun.  But NO MORE BIKES.  I don't care how fun.  Same goes for Border Collies.

All my big workouts before Nat's. are done, now I just have to get through tomorrow's trial and it's taper time.  I'm very excited for this year's race, much more so than last year's, probably because the warm summer weather has persisted and it still feels like triathlon season whereas last year fall blew in 2 weeks before Nat's. and I was suddenly over triathlon season.  Today's open water swim felt like mid-summer.  Hopefully the good weather will persist until Nat's.  The forecast looks perfect, if only it'll come true.

And just because, a freaky rainbow settled into the mountains in Nederland before our ride last week.

And more fall colors starting up, also in Ned.

There will be more fall colors to come and of course reports from Utah.  Complete with buffaloes.    Can't wait!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

UKI Trial - Onward to Nationals?

This was by far the most fun trial of the year.  I love UKI but we have so little of it.  At least this year there were 2 full trials and a one day trial.  But all of them 2-2+ hours away and in summer during peak triathlon training season.  And one on 4th of July weekend which is not a weekend you want to be on the roads if you can help it.  I know, whine whine whine.  But I hate the driving, SO MUCH, especially driving from Boulder to and through Denver with the traffic and construction and stupid Broncos game traffic or whatever it was that brought the highway to a standstill on my way home.  Thankfully there is a bypass so I wasn't in the parking lot for too long.  Takes a little longer but at least it was moving.  But still, 2 hours 20 minutes stuck in the car on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. O.k., enough whining about the growing traffic situation of Too Many People on the Front Range.  On to UKI.

First round for us was Agility.  Here's the course map.

And the video.

Fun course but I was super rusty and Strummer was wound up and flying around the course.  Not a great combination but somehow we managed a Q.  He has no masters level standard agility Q's in USDAA after how many years and somehow he pulls off one in UKI?  He hasn't trialed since May and we've barely practiced in the past few weeks due to heat and schedule conflicts with my training partner.  And let's not even get into the soreness and fatigue in my legs from training and the big quad busting climb on my bike the day before.  Maybe that's the key to success?  Don't practice and work your way into physical exhaustion.  Sounds like a plan.

 Then on to Masters Series Agility or Super Fancy Agility as I call it.

It wasn't pretty but we got it done without an off course.  Elements of it were similar to regular Agility so we had a little practice from the previous run.

Then on to regular Jumpers.  The one thing I don't like about UKI is weave poles in the jumpers courses.  Strummy got his entry but popped out for some reason.  I think I slowed down a bit to praise him and he thought something was wrong but who knows.

Next was Masters Series Jumping.  I don't have video because I turned the camera off when I thought I was turning it on.  Because I'm a genius that way.  We had just a refusal, I forget where.  I know he got his weave entrance so it wasn't that.  Again some similar challenges to regular Jumpers.

 And finally Speedstakes which is my favorite class and the one I was sure we would Q in.  No weave poles, fast straight forward course, perfect for Strummy.  But I rushed my handling after Jump #6 and didn't give enough forward cue to Jump #7 causing him to back jump #6.  Oh well. 

Overall he got 4/4 weave pole entries which is pretty darn amazing for him though admittedly the entries played to his strengths.  Also got both teeters and A-frames and 1/2 dogwalks.  Can't complain about his obstacle performance especially since he hasn't been on obstacles since May except maybe the odd weave pole or teeter at my training partner's house.  My handling though, yeesh, I need to practice for me.

Overall he ended up getting a Q in the Masters Series and a bye to the Finals Round at Nationals.  And he won a small sum of money which was a surprise to me.  Didn't know you get money for Masters Series.  Now, do I want to drive for 3 days to go to Perry, GA for Nationals?  This was not even a blip on a blip of my radar.  I can't imagine all that driving.  6 total days of driving for 3 days of agility and realistically only a few minutes total of time in the ring?  Agility is a bad bang for your buck/time when it comes to competition.  But it might be a fun experience and I've never been to the south.  And it would almost certainly be my last opportunity at a Nationals competition with Strummer.  He's 10 1/2 and still going strong but who knows for how long.  And I have no youngster waiting in the wings so it would be years before I could ever go to another Nationals.  But Three Days Of Driving.  Then turn around and do it again 3 days later.  Hmmmm.

In all we got 5 runs in and were done by just past noon.  And I didn't even enter Gamblers which ran first, could have been 6 runs.  I wish agility was always like that, I'd be more inclined to drive the 2 hours each way.  But wow, only 4 dogs in the masters classes.  Total, all heights, and Strummy the only one in his class.  Personally I don't mind but it's probably not sustainable for clubs to have that kind of turnout.  And where was everybody?  I know it's a drive but if I can do it all the way from Boulder, sheesh, it's not so bad from Denver.  But I think people are entrenched in their pursuit of titles and there isn't enough of a critical mass of UKI trials yet to interest people.  I would much rather have interesting, challenging courses than worry about titles.  They're mostly a marketing gimmick anyway to get people hooked and keep them coming back.  Why not try something new rather than trotting around the pinwheels weekend after weekend for MACH 107?  Ah well, you can't tell people what they should enjoy doing.  Just wish we had more UKI and closer to home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hosetooth Open Water Swim

A friend from masters convinced me to do this race.  Which took some doing because I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get up to Fort Collins in time for the 5:30-6:30 check-in.  For a swim race.  If not for her there's no way I would have signed up for this on my own.

The drive there in the dark was a bit harrowing because it's country roads with lots of twists and tight turns that you can't see in the dark.  And suicidal bunnies.  Lots and lots of suicidal bunnies.  I told my friend please to hit the bunny rather than swerve into a ditch if it comes to it.  Thankfully it didn't come to it.  I know, I sound mean, I love bunnies, nobody wants to hit a bunny, but I also love living and not ending up in a ditch.

It was a chilly morning, 45 degrees or so when we got there and the sun never made it up over the mountains before race start.  Thankfully I brought a hat.  And did jumping jacks and high knees running.  Lots of high knees running.

Before.  Waiting it out in the chill.

Thankfully the water was supposedly 72 degrees, maybe even a little warmer, so I was fine once I got going.  72 degrees and a chilly air temp. is no problemo in a wetsuit but kind of a problemo without a wetsuit for some people who ended up with hypothermia.

The sun came out while we were swimming and it turned into a beautiful morning for me in my nice toasty wetsuit.

Horsetooth Rez

I was warned that the race was disorganized and it sort of was but not completely.  Parking, check-in went off without a hitch but the course description?  Major confusion.  They kept explaining it over and over during the pre-race meeting but there were 2 people who took turns explaining different courses.  Then at the start line the starter woman explained a different course.  But since she was the last person to tell us, that's the course I followed even though it made no sense whatsoever.  And of course it was wrong and the kayakers came out and shooed all of us over to the correct course.  Then at the end lots and lots of people skipped the last buoy and cut the course.  By a LOT.  I think more people cut the course than did it correctly.  And the kayakers let them all go.  I was there for training not awards so I wasn't bent out of shape but sheesh, it's a race, it should be fair for everybody.

I pushed hard the whole way, did a good job of keeping focus for once.  My wave was small, only 52 people so I wasn't able to draft much or practice working in the crowd which was my main motivation.  But I did get to see where I am with my swimming and what my current race pace feels like.

I ended up winning my age group in the wetsuit division as did my friend.  I was second woman overall and she was fourth.  A very good day for the Boulder BAM ladies.

After.  Showing off our bling.

Of course I left my medal in my friend's car but she took a nice photo of both of them.

The race was 1.2 miles and I swam exactly 1.20 miles according to Garmin.  Time was 38:37 for a pace of 1:50/100 yards, about my typical race pace.  Kind of frustrated that I can't seem to get any faster but also kind of happy that I'm not losing speed with age so far.  My swim time for Nat's. last year was 2:08/100 yards but the course was crowded, especially at the start, and I didn't go too crazy because it's a long day.  Also hard to know how accurately the course was measured or how accurately I swam it, I didn't have my Garmin and there is much weaving because of the crowds.  Anyway, I can expect to swim something similar this year, gives me a good idea of pacing and coming up with a race plan/goals.

Had some hill repeats later in the day.  Those could maybe have gone better but in addition to being tired from the race we had some remaining haze from the zillions of wildfires out west.  It wasn't horrible but it wasn't great.  Thankfully only seemed to make it a bit harder to breath while running and didn't have any effects once I stopped.  Some people were bothered by smoke at the race and it only just occurs to me that it could have effected my pace though I can't say that I noticed the smoke at all and the pictures aren't crazy hazy though supposedly the smoke was at its worst in the morning.  Thankfully much better here today.  Hopefully they'll get those fires under control soon.  Not good for anybody.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fear and Loathing at the DMV

I gave myself the not very fabulous birthday present of forgetting that my driver's license was expiring and thus not renewing it online a month earlier like a normal person.  So yesterday I turned 51 and today I remembered about the license and discovered the very sad making reality of 30 days to renew your license online.  And I remembered this at about 9:45 a.m. so I couldn't even go early.

If you show up this late at the Boulder DMV during the week that the students come back you will have a nearly 2 hour wait.  Luckily I live 7 minutes away so I went home, did stuff and came back a bit early on the impossible chance that they would be running early and I would miss my number being called.  I know, I love making people spit up onto their computer screen.  Of course they weren't running early.

Lots of students there.  Most of them fairly patient and docile despite the hostile environment of the DMV and the energy of the unfortunate people who were not having good days at the DMV.  The students had their noses in their gizmos, I was the only one there reading a real honest to goodness in the flesh book.  From the library even.  Very Old Timey.

Until I was jolted from my book by a very modern problem.  One of the students found himself slipping into the 'Not Having a Good Day at the DMV' crowd.  And he responded with much screaming and swearing and aggression.  And even at the Boulder DMV it doesn't matter if you are rich or your mother never taught you Manners or you came from California, these days if you start scream swearing at the government workers they are going to threaten to call the police.  Or 911.  Or somebody who will make your day even worse.

But it doesn't stop there.  Because even if you're a rich, pompous Boulderite you still have to lower yourself to go to the DMV to take your teenager for his driving test.  And you just can't help pointing out the obvious.  'This young man has an anger management problem,'  blurts out Captain Obvious.  Which as anybody who is not a pompous Boulderite knows is the last thing what you want to say to some impulse control challenged crazy guy losing it at the DMV.  So of course his anger escalates and he turns on Captian Obvious.  Who is sitting across the aisle from me.  And while I'd like nothing better than to see this throw down from a distance, I'm all too close to the action.  Thankfully I have a clear shot to the exit doors but before I need to bolt it finally occurs to everybody that the best thing to do in this situation is to shut up and not start punching each other.  Or worse.  That 'No Firearms' sign I was laughing at earlier suddenly doesn't seem so funny.  Because of all the ways that your life can end I think losing it in the DMV to some crazy guy who needs to learn how to take a deep breath is one of the worst.

Thankfully I emerge unscathed with my temporary driver's license and a sworn oath to myself that I will never ever forget to renew my license well in advance online.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Do ALL the Things

Normally I'm not a fan of this.  Do ALL the things.  Too many races or agility trials or whatever.  Busy all the time, so not my thing.  I'd rather do a few things and savor them.  Take time to relax, enjoy, reflect.  Those 3 day USDAA trials with a million runs a day, doubled or tripled if you have multiple dogs, ummmm, not so much for me anymore.  The whole thing ends up becoming a blur, can't remember my runs, can't remember whatever lessons I learned from them.  Same thing for too many races.  Barely recover from one then it's time to start tapering for the next.  And yet somehow this year I ended up with 2 Xterra races in one weekend and something on the docket every weekend this month except for this one.  How did it happen?  How did I let my schedule slip away from me?  I had a swimming friend talk me into a race at Horsetooth Reservoir and there was the Xterra and pre-ride for the Xterra at the start of the month and then a UKI trial. 

How can I not go to a UKI trial?  Hardly ever any UKI trials around here.  Actually there was one over 4th of July weekend and another one in July but both were 2 hours + away and these days that's far for me to drive for a trial, especially in the summer when I'm already driving all the time to go biking and hiking.  The upcoming trial is also 2 hours away, same location as the July 4th trial but I dunno, I want to go so I'll suck it up and do the drive.  It'll be a nice break from triathlon training and poor Strum gets a bit neglected agility-wise in the summer.  I haven't been to a trial since May.  Very scant practice as well due to heat and difficulty coordinating practice with my training partner.  Again with the Busy.  I'm not a fan of all this Busy.  Actually the agility problem is more heat than Busy.  Those cool early morning hours get booked up quickly and for me the Rez swimming at 6:10 a.m. takes up 2 precious mornings.  Then one weekday Jonny and I go riding.  And of course my partner has her other things on the days I'm available.  Plus agility is so not fun in the hot.

Then there's the issue of Strummer's age.  He turned 10 last March and while he's still going strong, I'm not a fan of double digit dogs doing agility.  So we'll see, maybe UKI is his last trial or maybe we do the flood of trials in the fall/winter that are only 20 minutes away and then retire next summer.  We'll see how he goes.  And I'm really liking having 2 dogs so for now there is no youngster waiting in the wings which I suppose is agility blasphemy but whatever.  TWO dogs is my magic, bestest, happiest number of dogs.

TWO Happy Dogs on our 'new' wood floors.

Actually these floors were under the carpeting the whole time.  SO mad at myself that I didn't check sooner.  We've been living on carpeting unnecessarily for the past 17 years.  Though it was a huge hassle to get the carpeting ripped up and the floors re-finished but that's another story for another day.  In short, I don't recommend Denver Dustless unless you want to come home from your vacation that you took to avoid being home while the work was being done to find the 20 year old Carpet From Hell still on your floor when you return.

On the plus side of Do All The Things, the Snow Mountain Ranch Xterra was my last triathlon of the regular season leaving 6 solid weeks of training before Nationals.  Well, a week of recovery from last weekend's race then a week of taper before Nat's but still, a good solid block of training.  Very excited about that.  And I seem to be in a good place fitness-wise.  I guess the late start to my training due to Rainpocalypse of Spring was maybe a good thing because so far I'm not burnt out on training and looking forward to gearing up for Nat's.  Last year I was so over it all about 2 weeks before Nat's. but this year I feel excited about my upcoming training block and the race itself.  I guess I'll see how I feel 2 weeks out again but I'm feeling optimistic about it all.

Xterra Worlds is still a wild card.  Will I qualify at Nat's. and if so do I even want to go to Maui?  Still not feeling the super love of it.  Would maybe like the experience of going sometime but is this the year?  Because it's the 20th anniversary of the race, Xterra has been releasing footage of all the old races starting with the first race in 1995 on Vimeo.  I've been working my way through them to see if it'll work up some desire to go.  It's funny to see the changes in clothes/gear/equipment over the years, especially mountain bikes, but so far I'm not feeling the love.  Nonetheless I catch myself checking the Xterra Worlds website sometimes and I caught myself asking my coach questions about the race since she's done it many times and is very familiar with it.  Was even asking an open water swimming expert at a masters workout about how to swim into the surf.  If I don't want to go, why am I asking/checking?  I guess a little part of me somewhere is interested.  So for now the race is sort of on my radar on the back burner but not a huge priority or goal.  And if I don't qualify, well, that makes the decision easy.  For now it's all about Nationals and improving my time from last year, especially on the run.  I so want to get my running back.  Been working hard on that but not too hard because running is a great way to break myself if I'm not mindful of what I'm doing.

Hoping to get back to posting a little more.  Been thinking/reading a lot about Flow and have some ideas to write about.  Must get through All The Things though.  Sheesh summer is exhausting.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Xterra Snow Mountain Ranch

This was a small, laid back race, just how I likes 'em, with a beautiful scenic course and very little oxygen.  Elevation ranges between 8700' - 9700' according to Garmin.  In fact I have all the intel on the race according to Garmin and I think I can share it here via links to Strava.  So for those who are interested in the distance, elevation profiles, etc., here you go:  Swim, Bike, Run.  Strava creeps me out a little, kind of weird and creepy that people 'compete' against each other on it but it seems a handy way to share the race data for anybody considering it in the future or anybody who's just curious.

Love those small, laid back races.

I pre-rode the bike course the week before and it was mostly smooth single track with some dirt roads and a few technical bits on 'primitive' trail.  There were a couple of short technical downhill bits that I had to walk and a very steep loose downhill that I came upon unexpectedly with way too much speed in the pre-ride to get off and walk.  My back wheel kept skidding so I had to let off the brake and hope for the best.  Miraculously I made it!  Couldn't believe I got out in one piece.  Didn't press my luck during the race and got off to walk since I knew it was coming though coming at it with more controlled speed it felt like I could have ridden it.  Nonetheless I was taking no chances and decided to walk the short stretch.  Some guy in the race crashed in a gully and had to go to the hospital and I wonder if this was the place because if you were going to crash badly enough to require a hospital visit, that would be the place.  There was a woman on the pre-ride who did road triathlons but this was to be her first Xterra and she was an inexperienced mountain biker.  She crashed several times and had to walk most of the downhill on the technical sections.  I was wondering if she'd show up on race day.  She didn't.

Overall I had a great race despite some terrible heart rate variability and heart rate numbers the week leading up to the race.  I felt o.k. during that week so I wasn't too worried about it and my numbers on race morning improved a bit though weren't fabulous.  Nonetheless my legs felt strong on the climbs on the bike, I was able to run the whole run course (no walking up the steepy steep bits) and I felt worlds better than I had felt the week before during the pre-ride where I'd had to walk several uphills that I was able to ride during the race.  It's amazing what a week of rest can do.  And it's important not to take hard data too seriously.

All distances and times listed below are per my Garmin.

Swim:  861 yards

There was some kind of mix up with the plugs for the buoys so the race director was unable to inflate them.  To improvise he put the buoys in canoes and had a makeshift course.  It ended up a bit short (was supposed to be 1000 m/12// yards) which was probably fine with just about everybody because the water was a brisk 63 degrees or so.  And swimming at 9000' is challenging.  The swim was 2 laps with a quick exit onto the beach in between laps.  I took the first lap very slowly to avoid getting winded and panicky in the cold water and high elevation.  I got out of the water a bit winded, stopped for a few moments to catch my breath and did the second lap faster and felt fine.  The cold wasn't too bad and mercifully the elevation wasn't bothering me like it has been all summer.

Weather was ominous at the start but it turned into a beautiful, perfect day for racing.

Mountain Bike:  13.92 miles, 1788 ft. elevation gain

The bike went mostly without incident.  The course felt much easier than on the pre-ride.  Fresh legs and knowing what to expect on the course make all the difference.  Such a beautiful course, wildflowers, mountain views, lush green, flowy singletrack.

View from Coyote Tooth Trail (photo taken during pre-ride)

I was faster and stronger on the climbs than during the pre-ride but probably slower on some of  the more sketchy downhills.  I couldn't see any upside to taking risks on them so I went a comfortable pace, happy enough to emerge in one piece.  My goal for the bike was to push the uphills and that part went well.

Unfortunately I don't have any other photos of the course.  I thought about taking my GoPro with me on either the pre-ride or the race but couldn't be bothered in the end.  I'll probably regret that.

Run:  3.98 miles, 499' elevation gain

The run was the first 4 miles of the bike course which included a steep hill after the first mile.  I'd had to walk up in during the pre-ride but I was able to both ride and run it without walking.  Very happy about that.  My goal for the run was to run all the hills.  All of them.  No wimping out and power walking even if it seemed like it would be more efficient to power walk.  I wanted to get over the mental hurdle of feeling like I can't run up the hills when I'm tired at the end of a race.  This gets me every time at Nationals and is my biggest weakness at the moment.  I want to be able to run the hills at Nationals this year, no survival shuffling. 

As it happened I felt good off the bike despite pushing the hills and I had strength enough left in my legs to make it up all the hills.  All of them.  My pace wasn't bad either, much faster than at Mountain Champs but to be fair that was a much longer, harder bike and run.  But still, it felt good to run the whole thing and no shuffling.

I did a little extra credit, took a wrong turn just before the finish line and some spectators finally noticed and set me back on course.  I ended up 3/5 in my age group, very pleased with that.

There are worse finish line views.

View of lake below from the finish line area.  There are worse places to race.

Beautiful scenery, perfect weather, a great day physically on the course - who can ask for anything more?


Swim:   861 yards (per Garmin) 19:30 mins. (2:16/100 yards)

T1:  3:42

Mountain Bike:  13.9 miles, 1788 ft. elevation gain,  1:56:28, 5.79 mph (moving time 1:53:42, stopped to take off fleece top).

T2:  54 secs.

Trail Run:  4.0 miles, 500' elevation gain, 53:36 (13:28 min/mile)

Finish:  3:14:10, 3/5 age group, 13/18 women, 53/65 overall

Friday, July 31, 2015

Selfies at 11,000' and Collie Flowers

A beautiful hike from Brainard Lake to Lake Isabelle today.  A Friday.  Because if that's what it's like on a Friday I don't want to think about what the weekend is like.  But my growing discontent with the Front Range hordes is a post for another day.

Strummy and I got kind of an early start but not super early.  Hit the trail at around 9:15.  Don't try that on the weekend folks.  This hike was a spur of the moment decision so I didn't have gear packed, crate in the car, etc. and it took a little while to hit the road once I made the decision.  And it was a good decision.

The lake is awfully low (barely visible in this photo) considering all the moisture we've gotten.

Selfies at 10,910'.

I had Garmin with me so I finally know the elevation at the lake.  Ish.

Collie Flowers

Poor dog.  I sat his ass down to pose for pictures next to every patch of wildflowers I could find.  He was such a good sport.  Uncharacteristically so.  I guess he's figured out the quickest way to get hiking again is to pose quickly and get it over with.

So many wildflowers.

 One of these days I'll figure out how to photograph them to get the best effect.  But not today.  It was getting stormy and I don't like to be too high/exposed when a front is blowing in.  I made it to the car no problem.  I'm always amazed at the people starting their high country hikes at noon and going up into dark black clouds.  Lightning is so dangerous and prevalent at high altitude.  But there were asstons of them today and most summer days.

So beautiful but I didn't get an early enough start to go too high.

7 miles/3 hours of hiking and a 45 minute drive later and Strummer is throwing tennis balls at me while I try to do some reading for work.  He is relentless, just like Mountain Champs.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Xterra Mountain Champs

This is the t-shirt from this year's event and it sums up my race perfectly.

Well, aside from the fact that it says the 'man' to beat, which chaps my ass a bit but oh well.  I mean c'mon, it's 2015 already.

Anyway, this was a hard race, stupid hard.  Didn't I say that about this race 3 years ago?  It's not like I forgot yet somehow I entered it again anyway.  The main reason was because I felt it would be great prep for Nationals.  I think it's actually harder than Nationals though others will disagree.  It's a little shorter distance-wise and has about the same amount of climbing for the bike and run but it starts at 7400' elevation and finishes at 9400' whereas Nats. starts at about 5000' and finishes at 7400'.  This is a huge difference and significant for me because I've barely made it up above 7500'-8000' this year.  I went up to Beaver Creek at the end of June to pre-ride the course with my coach but the majority of the course was closed due to elk calving.  Of course it opened up 2 days later.  We were able to ride a short portion of the course at the top but mostly spent the day climbing up paved roads.  Which kicked my ass anyway.  With only 3 weeks until the race I knew I wouldn't be super acclimated or prepared so I was ready for a hard day.  And it was a hard day.

Except the swim went well.  I positioned myself well at the start, didn't get too caught up in the crowd, swam on course pretty well as far as I could tell, turned tight on the buoys.  Noticed a woman swimming next to me at my exact pace so I fell behind her and let her pull me in for the last few hundred yards.  Wish I'd thought of it a few hundred yards sooner.  Felt good coming out of the swim and my time was good.

Interminable is the best way to describe the climbing on the bike course which is point to point with a supposed elevation gain of 3600' though my Garmin showed 'only' 2700'.  Someone else on Strava who was at the race showed 3000'.  So who knows.  It was freaking steep, I promise you.  17% grade, 22% grade, I finally stopped looking down at the percent grade because it was too scary.  Interminably long.  Cruel.  But so beautiful.  Wildflowers, mountain views, momma and baby bears.  Yes I saw a momma bear and her cub.  Supposedly there were 4 of them but I only saw 1 cub.  They were laying down next to someone's house just off the run course across the road from an aid station.  I think they were waiting to see if there would be any leftover snorfies for them at the aid station.

The run was different from 3 years ago, also stupid hard.  Garmin claims 1000' of elevation gain.  Again, 21% grade in places, I stopped looking at Garmin.  I had to walk most of the steep uphills which is to say I walked almost all the uphills.  My quads were fried, I was even unable to bomb the downhills.  So tired for this run.  The one good thing was that it clouded over and there was even a bit of rain to keep me cool.  The bad thing about this was the thunder.  Thankfully it only lasted for about a mile or so and I was in deep forest rather than on some exposed hillside.  But overheating was not an issue.  Still, so tired.

Overall I was slower than 3 years ago by about 18 minutes.  Looking at the results many people were slower by 8-10 minutes so the course was clearly harder.  Or longer.  Or something.  My swim time including run to transition was slower by almost 2 minutes but the swim was short 3 years ago so my pace was faster, bike was 3 minutes slower, run was 11 minutes slower.  Not sure where the other 2 minutes went.  I was tired in the week leading up to the race and my heart rate and heart rate variability numbers were terrible on race morning.  I'd had a poor night's sleep because my pre-historic digital alarm clock radio kept buzzing loudly for some reason waking me up every couple of hours.  I couldn't unplug it because I needed it to wake me up at 4:10.  I also wasn't thrilled about the 2 1/4 hour drive in the mountains so early which didn't help my numbers either.  But they'd been sketchy all week, especially heart rate which was elevated.  So it simply wasn't a great day for me which is how it goes sometimes.  I was looking at the race more as prep for Nationals and it certainly was that, pointing out the weaknesses I need to work on between now and September.  The next 2 months will be all about the climbing.  Once I can feel my quads again and not start crying at the sight of my bike or running shoes.


All numbers are per Garmin, not the posted race distances.

Swim:  1712 yards, 30:34 mins., 1:48/100 yards (Garmin might be overstating the distance, Strava says 1657 yds, 1:51 min./100 yards)

Run to T1:  1:33?  

T1:  1:24?  Had trouble with Garmin

Mountain Bike:  15.1 miles, 2:33 approx., 6.0 mph

T2: 1:29

Trail Run:  5.38 miles, 1:27:31, 16:16 min./mile

Finish:  4:38:10