Monday, July 29, 2013

Xterra Indian Peaks

SWIM:  1000 meter/1093 yards
BIKE:  22 km/13.7 miles off road
RUN:  7 km/4.3 miles off road
9400-9646' elevation

Perfect conditions for this year's Indian Peaks Xterra triathlon from start to finish.  Beautiful sunny skies for setting up in transition and for the swim then some cloud cover and cool temps. (60's) for the bike and run.  Couldn't ask for a more perfect day.

I didn't alter this photo at all, sky was really that blue.

Eldora ski resort is a mere 38 minute drive and the race didn't start until 9:30 so I didn't have to set an alarm.

I felt good about this race leading up to it.  Got in lots of solid training and key workouts, been doing well with nutrition,  legs felt good after a 5 day taper, good mental preparation, everything pointing towards a solid race.  There's nothing like sunny blue skies and perfect temps. to put you in a good mood on race day morning.  Especially since right up until race morning they were predicting thunderstorms from 10:00 a.m. on.  I was not the only one who had brought an armoire of spare warm, waterproof clothes to transition in anticipation of bad weather.

Jonny came up to cheer me on and take pictures which was a rare treat.  I don't hassle him to come watch me race because I know it's a long boring day but he offered to come up and I was thrilled to have him.  He missed the swim start because he was tending to the dogs but he got lots of great photos on the bike and run course, even following me up the worst hills on the run, yelling at me to get my buns up the hill.  Was fun to have a cheering section.

Swim:  1000 meters/1093 yards

Last year I was distracted by a huge bull moose at the swim start and I missed my start and had a bad swim so this year I am determined to have a solid, strong swim.  I get to the swim area early so I can have a decent warm up and not be rushed for the start.  Water is supposedly 64 degrees but feels much colder.  Definitely has that icy twinge to it even with a full wetsuit, swim socks and skull cap.  But after a good warm up swim I feel fine and when I get in the water for the start the cold doesn't bother me at all.  There is no moose this year but there is someone swimming their warm up in a rubber hippo mask that covers their whole head but I know better this year and don't let it distract me. 

Given the 9400' elevation (Boulder is at 5430') I start off the swim at a nice easy pace then pick it up after I feel I'm in a good rhythm and have my breathing under control.  The start is a time trial start rather than waves to eliminate congestion on the bike course so we are very spread out and I can't find any feet to draft off of.  I spot a small group of people up ahead of me and try to catch up to them but I can't quite reach them and eventually they disperse.  Still I have a good solid swim, not a moment of worry in the cold water and thin air and I come out of the water in 19:34 mins. (1:47/100 yards), a 1:13 minute improvement over last year.

650 m/711 yard dash

Once out of the water I take off my wetsuit right away and throw on a pair of running shoes because there's a long, steep rocky run up from the lake to transition.  This part has always been a struggle for me but this year it doesn't seem nearly as bad.  I get to transition in 5:37, an improvement of 1:22 over last year.  I'm getting a good feeling about this race so far.


Transition goes smoothly.  I struggle with my gloves a little because my hands are still wet but I still end up with the fastest T1 in my age group by 20 seconds at 1:26 (30 seconds faster than last year).

Bike:  13.7 miles/22 K

There's a steep climb up a rocky gravel road right at the start and it seemed particularly steep this year during the pre-ride but today it doesn't seem nearly as bad.  I'm anticipating that I'll be walking my bike more than normal due to all the rock that's been washed onto the trails with the recent heavy rains but I'm pleasantly surprised by the trail conditions and somehow they're not as bad as they were in the pre-ride.  The earlier racers have worn a line in already or something.  I figure I may have a good day on the bike after all.

Whee downhill on the loose rocky Twisted Tree Trail.  Showing off my meaty man arms.

The end of the first lap.  Here I am chasing down a 50-60 year old lady in baggy shorts who was kicking my ass on the hills for the first lap.  I caught her at the start of the second lap and never saw her again. 

Looking up Twisted Tree.  Hard to show the steepness and looseness of it in a photo and it's even steeper and looser/rockier further up around that corner.  Can't believe I go skiing down it on Nordic skis in the winter.  Sheesh, what am I thinking?

This is the widest trail on the bike course, most of the trails are through the trees but it's hard for Jonny to get to those trails.  There's a guy who has hiked up to the steep rocky single track Rising Sun trail, the most technical steep climb on the course and difficult for spectators to get to, and he's clapping and cheering and encouraging everybody up through a steep rocky section for both laps.  I manage to get up it both times then come off the bike just past him at a big rooty section that I can't quite make it over.  First lap I walk up a good portion of Rising Sun because of congestion on the trail but the second lap I ride all of it except the rooty part.

One of these days I'll get photos of Fatty Mills which is the most technical part of the course.  Steep, muddy, rooty downhill single track with roots and mud and drop-offs.  It's a mud pit this year.  Well it's a mud pit every year I guess but this year is particularly messy.  Have to walk a part I rode last year because both times someone in front of me gets off to walk.  It's so muddy, maybe it's for the best.

Going down Twisted Tree again.

I finish the bike in 1:49:18, 9:30 mins. faster than last year.  Very happy with that.


T2 also goes down without a hitch and again I'm fastest in my age group at 0:59 secs.  Last year was 0:53 but this year I stop for a few swigs of water which is a mistake because it doesn't feel so great when I start running but oh well.

Run:  4.3 mile/7 K trail run

Finally the trail run.  It's only 4.3 miles but they are all either up or down.  I feel good at the start of the run.  Well as good as one can feel 2 hours 15 minutes into a race at 9400' anyway.

Phew, finally a nice gradual downhill.  This is about as flat as it gets and it doesn't last long.

The most fun parts of the run are the bits off trail in the woods marked by little bits of orange tape tied in the trees.  You have to jump logs and navigate big rocks and it feels like Hansel and Gretel following the orange tape bread crumbs through the forest.

However there's an off trail part near the end with some brutal hills.  I start off being able to run some of them.

But I'm reduced to power walking the steepest of them.

The last 1 - 1 1/2 miles of the run is the only part of the race where I don't feel so fabulous.  Not sure if it's due to not enough food/water - had 2 gels on the bike and plenty of water but don't take any food and only a mouthful of water on the run because I'm worried about cramping.  I've been struggling with cramps while running in training but thankfully it's never an issue during the race.  Or maybe it's a little in my head since I know I'm close to finishing.  Or maybe it's the effort and those big hills at the end and the elevation that knocks the stuffing out of me a little.  Anyway, I feel myself slowing and feeling a bit light headed with only a mile or so to go.  I can only guess at how far I have to go because the race director has chosen to mark the course in 2 KM intervals rather than mile markers out of crankiness that Americans don't know the metric system.  Seriously.  This is very irritating because at this stage in the race I can't remember how many KM it's supposed to be.  And even if I did know, I'm too loopy to do the math of converting it to miles and I have only a vague idea of how far 2K is.  I don't mind the KM markers but it would be nice if there were also mile markers.

Nonetheless I make it and finish the run in 59:46 which is 1:43 mins. faster than last year.  Not a huge improvement but the run is my most challenging event and I'll take any improvement, especially on top of a big improvement on the bike.


I end up finishing in 3:17:55, an improvement of 15:35 mins. over last year, am very happy with that.  And the exciting bonus of finishing 2nd place in my age group.  I win a certificate to Fleet Feet running/triathlon store but the race director can't find them and is going to mail it to me so I'm not sure how much it's for.  Still whatever it is it's fun to get something.  I almost never make the podium so that's exciting.  No photos of the finish since I beat Jonny to the finish line and he doesn't stay for the awards so no pictures of that but he does get one at the finish area.

A week or two ago the race director said this would be the last year of this race but at the awards ceremony he was talking about dates for next year so hopefully we'll have it again.  It's hard racing at such a high elevation and it's a tough course with all the hills but it's a kick in the pants and the trails are so pretty I'd hate to see it go.

Can't ask for a more fun, scenic race venue.

Swim:  1000 m/1100 yards, 19:34./1:47 per 100 yards (last year 21 mins./1:54 per 100 yards)

650 m/711 yard Dash:  5:37 (last year, 6:59 mins.)

T1: 1:26  (last year, 2:04)  (fastest in age group)

Mountain Bike:  13.7 miles, 1:49:18, 7.4 mph (last year, 1:58:48 hrs./7.1 mph)

T2:  0:59 (last year, 0:53)  (fastest in age group)

Trail Run:  4.3 miles, 0:59:46/13:54 min./mile  (last year, 1:01:29 hrs./14:18 min./mile)

Total:  3:17:55  (last year, 3:33:34)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

5:55 a.m.

At the Boulder Rez.

Perfect way to start the day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Surfs Up!

Went for my early morning swim with my masters group then came back to the Rez so Strummer could have his turn.

Yee Ha!

Normally on Rez days I go for a bike or run after my swim so I only need to take one shower but it's taper week and my legs are still tired so only one workout today.

Strummer loves swimming

He's obsessed with water.  I've been doing some dogwalk boot camp in the back yard and rewarding him with the hose.  The other day he dropped a raw hide chew because he saw me walking near the hose.  If there's a hose at an outdoor trial he'll pull my arm off after his run to get to it and once he went tearing out of the ring early for the hose because we were near the ring gate and he thought we were done.

Please to throw the ball

I don't typically care for the north side of the Rez because it's full of rattlesnakes and naked hippies.  Usually I go to the south side but it's shut to dogs during the summer season.  Times have changed though and the rattlesnakes and naked hippies have been replaced by zillions of ill trained, pushy, in your face labs.  Technically dogs are supposed to be under voice control but none of the dogs I saw today were.  We avoided the sandy beaches which were busier and found a quiet little shady spot to ourselves but we still got invaded by numerous over exuberant labs.  Strummer could care less as long as they leave him alone, he just wants his ball, and I managed to fend them off with the Chuck-It.

A little bit of haze over the Flatirons but still a pretty morning. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

PIcture Perfect Day at Lake Isabelle.

Apparently I suck at taper week.  Was supposed to have an easy 45 minute recovery run today with maybe a few strides (sprints) but the mountains were calling and instead I went for a 3 hour hike.  But can you blame me?

Hard to take a bad picture at Lake Isabelle.

The lake is scary low for the 3rd week in July.  All that rocky area should be lake this time of year.

Strummer sez hiking at 11,000' is hard work.

A rare moment of Strummer lying down and relaxing.

Even rarer than the albino grasshopper from yesterday.

I'm not sure if he's really an albino or what but he was here again today and he's still white so it's not that he was molting which is a more common reason for white grasshoppers.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, pretty mountains.

Still a bit of snow/glacier up high.

It's a bit early for the wildflowers but a few have started to bloom.  Paintbrush is probably my favorite.

This is one dogwalk he'd better not miss his contact on.

The hike was a bit naughty as far as training goes but I was itching to get up to the high country and Jonny was too and it was such a perfect day for it.  The elevation gain is small, it's mostly a very easy hike with not a lot of climbing but there are some steep bits and we went for about 1/2 an hour on the steeper trail above the lake.  And I probably went on a little too hard/long of a mountain bike ride yesterday.  Still I'm sure I'll be fine by next Saturday.  Will have to do some extra resting in the next few days to make up for it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taper Week

I've ramped up my triathlon training these past few weeks and now with a week to go until my first race it's time to rest and obsess.  Legs are tired, arms are tired but by next Saturday they should be good to go.

Best race shirt ever.   In honor of the big bull moose at the swim start last year.

Sadly this will be the last year of the race so I'm very glad I chose it over Mountain Champs which are being held this weekend in Beaver Creek.  For some inexplicable reason Xterra didn't tell the race director that they were moving Mountain Champs up a week and he moved his race to avoid Boulder's half ironman so they ended up a week apart and apparently everyone but me is going to Mountain Champs.  It also doesn't help that Indian Peaks is at 9000' which is a challenging elevation for a race.  The elevation slows me down but I can hack it and the trails are so beautiful and not open to the public normally so it's a rare opportunity.

I did the pre-ride last weekend and at first felt like I was hit with a sobering dose of reality but I remember now that that happens every year.  The bike always goes way better during the race when my legs are rested after the taper.  The one thing that's new this year is that the trails are more rocky than in years past due to deluges of rain that have washed loose rock onto the trails.  I may end up walking more this year than in years past but it'll be o.k. and I know not to get mad at myself about it. 

And yet again I didn't get to check out the run course due to threatening weather.  There was a flash flood watch for Boulder Canyon and skies were turning ugly so I skedaddled down the canyon after the bike.

I feel prepared and excited for my first real race of the season.  Then it's a race every 2 weeks for 3 races then hopefully Nationals in September.  I may not be able to go for reasons unrelated to qualifying but that situation is unpredictable and out of my control so I'm going full speed ahead as if I can go and hopefully the fates will align my way.

In any case I love training and the carrot of Nationals has me out on the trails more than I probably would be otherwise.

Betasso for an early morning ride/run?  Why not?

The west side of Lory is finally opened up and the wildflowers in the burn area are out of control.

So lush and green in there as well somehow while every place else is turning brown with the lack of rain.

Still some more bridges to be replace on the east side so the whole bike course still isn't open.  Hopefully they'll get it done by the new race date in August but it's volunteers doing the work so I can't be too impatient or ungrateful about it.

I've been doing some of my trail runs on the steepy steep Tenderfoot Trail.  Once the weather cools down I'll take Strummer up here but right now I'd have to come so early to beat the heat that I'd be scared of bears and mountain lions.

Can't remember which trail this was from, they're all becoming a blur.

Today was my first time up at West Mag since the fire mitigation raping and pillaging by the forest service.  Fire mitigation my ass, this is a travesty.  They clear cut areas, took the good lumber down in trucks and left the rest in giant slash piles that are going to remain for years and eventually they'll burn them and put how much carbon into the global warming mix?

This used to be solid forest.

This is a nice view, yes?  Only problem is there didn't used to be a view, there also used to be solid forest.

What poor gods we do make.  And yeah, those giant slash piles aren't a fire hazard?

So if the forest service comes to your trails and says it's doing 'fire mitigation' you should chain yourself to the trees and threaten your politicians and tell them all to go fire mitigate their own asses.

The only good news is that as bad as it is, it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I'd been hearing horrible reports and I'd been stalling going up there.  That's why it's already the end of July and I'm up there for the first time rather than in May.  But most of the trails I ride on were mostly o.k. with the exception of the clear cut areas.

They didn't touch any of the School Bus trail.  And if they try to you can bet lots of people including me will raise a stink this time.  A big, giant, messy smelly stink 1000 times the size of those slash piles.