Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tahoe Report

It's time to get caught up again, with a brief race report of Tahoe. As I mentioned in the posts before the race, I was battling some sinus issues, (luckily it never spread to my chest to become a bronchitis or anything), but I wasn't looking to this race as a peak performance anyway. I hadn't done this race since 2005, and even then I double flatted and was unable to finish, so it had actually been since 2004, when I won the 25-29 men's division, that I had completed this race.

I took the opportunity to go as a fun race/workout, and enjoy getting back to my roots within the sport.

The morning was cold, but better than the day before, and much better than any of us expected. I set up my transition spot, and got on my wetsuit to get in the water. The water temp was 59 degrees, which was the same as IMCDA, so it was good. I think I needed to do a bit more warm-up though, with a jog, as in my training, I realize it takes me a long time to really get into a groove. This race was a hard effort from the beginning, so a good warm-up would really help!

The swim started fairly easy enough for me, as I started to the right of most of the pro's, near a bunch of age-groupers. I stumbled my first steps, but was quickly in clear water with no one near me. I could see the big pack to my left, and I started to check for the best intersection point with the pack and still swimming straight to the buoy, which was 300 meters out, and would be a sharp right turn. About 150-200 meters into the swim though, I really began to struggle with my breathing. The altitude clearly was getting to me. For a brief moment, I almost panicked! I had trouble keeping my face in the water, and felt like I just couldn't breathe. I had to remind myself that I was not going to suffocate, I was fine, but I needed to slow down my stroke rate and take longer, easier breaths, in order to regain my composure and breathing. I even told myself, "Don't worry about the front pack now, just find your rhythm and get your breathing under control. I can try to get back to them."

By the time I got around the buoy, I was fine again, and noticed I was in no-mans land with only 1 other swimmer, Chris Legh. Chris and I finished the first lap together, and I let him lead the second. I saw we had no chance of really catching the leaders, so I just got long and enjoyed the ride. One age-grouper caught us, who was an incredible swimmer, and I couldn't believe he was just staying with us. He was surging, then breast-stroking, then surging past me, then fighting for Chris' feet. I was actually thinking, "When this guy gets his head out of ass and decides to go, I'm getting off Chris' feet and getting on his." Then I saw his face, and it was the guy I was staying with in Tahoe! Billy! He's a good friend of Craig's. I had to laugh in the water.

The transition could have gone better, as I struggled to get my shoes on at the shore. I remembered in the past I would bruise my heels on the run to transition, as my feet were always numb, and the shoes would help that. Once I got them on, I was moving well. I couldn't believe it though, when I saw and heard Josiah Middaugh exit the water about 10 secs back of me. He had the swim of his life!

As I entered T1, I saw the lead group hitting the road on their bikes. Once I got on the bike, I tried to settle into a rhythm with my friend Andy Noble. He and I would be back and forth much of the bike. We'd catch some faster swimmers, get caught by some great bikers, like Brian Smith and Sam Gardner. Andy kept telling me how cold he was, while I felt fine for temperature, just struggling breathing. I was looking at the power meter, and when the pitch of Tunnel Creek Road was steady and not too steep, I felt good and was able to hold good watts. When the road got steep, I struggled. It seemed like I just couldn't put any real force into the pedals.

Once I got to the top, it was the flume trail. I was able to hold the best watts here, because it's nice and flat, just twisty. I'm starting to think I'm just warming up and things are looking good. By the time I hit the second tough climb, I'm back to struggling to put force into the pedals. Now I'm thinking the sickness might be affecting me, as well as maybe I didn't rest enough for such a serious effort.

I get to the descent on the trail, and as I remembered it, it seemed straight-forward, nothing too technical. Then I realize, I use to ride my mountain bike a lot more, and so it's a bit harder than I remember! I have a washout on a sharp turn, and decide that I will not be taking any risks on the descent. I needed to get thru this race healthy and not waste my Ironman Arizona prep.

I let one rider by, with another right behind him that surprises me, and I scrap my left shin/calf on a BIG BOULDER. (That's the blood on my leg in the photo. THANKS RICH! Click on the photo to see the bigger, more detailed version!) I get to the road into T2, and just as I suspected from my Ironman training, I'm still feeling fine. I was actually a little excited for the run. I was down in about 24th place, with even a few amateurs in front of me. I wanted to get back to running well.

Off the bike, I tried to focus on my cadence and get my rhythm. Whenever the trail went slightly down, I really opened it up. Whenever it went uphill, I tried to focus on the cadence and work hard! I passed about 8 people, and finished 16th. I had the 8th fastest run split overall, and not far from the 4th. I was really pleased with this, as these guys all train for faster run splits than I do, my focus is entirely strength.

I even managed to beat my time from 2004! Whew, what a relief! All in all, I had a lot of fun, and was happy with the performance. It's tempting to get back to doing XTERRA full-time again. But, that's still doutful.

More posts to come, but that's it for now...Will update on training and my Kona thoughts...



jameson said...

c'mon dude... come back to Xterra. It's calling you.

Seriously... after worlds and IMAZ me, you, and some beers!

good seeing you out there last weekend....

Guernsey Man said...

Yeah give up the long grind and get in some hills. Believe me when you have no hills (like in FL) all you want is hills!

Missing the SD BIG TIME!

Zippy said...

Well done! Like Walsh said: Xterra is where it's at, man. Staring at pavement for 8+ hours is BO-RING!