Monthly Archives: June 2011
That was my goal for this race. I knew I would be in the back of the pack, but I had a shot at beating the much more experienced Dave. I looked at race splits awhile back and realized that of my experienced XTERRA racing friends, Dave and I were fairly close on final times. When I looked closer, I realized that all four of us, Dave, Meiling, Ricardo and I would finish the swim close together. They all three destroy me on the bike like I’m riding a kid’s big wheel, but on the run I’m always faster than Dave. So, if I could limit my losses to him on the bike, there was a chance I could run him down. That’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately, he admitted to being swamped at work and unable to train appropriately, so it was kind of a hollow victory. I need to beat him again when he is in shape so that I can feel good about it.
This went way better than last year, when I had the worst swim of my life. What I did differently was to swim in the lake each day leading up to the race to get used to the feel of the cold water. I realized that by just standing in the water and splashing it all over for about five minutes made it palatable. An easy breast stroke to warm up and get my face used to it, and then I was off for an easy 30 min. swim. I even used my sleeveless wetsuit, since the afternoons were warm. At the race venue, I used the same strategy. Rather than huddle together on the beach and whine about the cold water, I got in and forced myself to go through the agony of adjusting to the cold. It worked. I lopped off about seven minutes from last year. And while it wasn’t particularly fast, and I was definitely at the back of the pack, I felt mush better going into T1.
The snow that closed down Antone Meadows for last week’s races was still there, and so the course was changed. Fortunately, what a difference a week of sunny weather makes. Most of the snow was gone, and all of the snow drifts that were so difficult to ride through last week were now just muddy sections with snow on the side of the trail. I felt faster, and my bike split was definitely faster that last year, but that may be because the course was shortened due to the snow. I couldn’t find if it was, so I’ll go with my very subjective sensation of greater speed. Dave agreed. I trust Dave. What I couldn’t figure out was how when I entered T1 there were a zillion bikes, and when I entered T2, there a zillion bikes again. I wasn’t passed by a zillion people, were those all short course riders?
I hate this run course. It is a relentless climb, then a flat top section and a relentlessly steep descent, partly on pavement that really thrashes your quads. But this year I liked the course because it allowed me to pass Dave. I kept wondering if he was close up the road, and my Spidey-sense told me that the guy in the blue jersey ahead of me was Dave. I did not know what his jersey looked like, but I was right. I exchanged small talk as I passed him and turned on what leg speed I had left to the finish. He was impressed. I was impressed. Did I mention that I beat Dave?
I am really beginning to think that there is sometyhing to this Maffetone low heart rate training. I felt really quite good at the finish, Last year I was totally trashed. While I kept racing last year, it turned out to be my last triathlon. I was wrecked. This year I felt great. Dave looked wrecked. After rehydrating and partaking of the post race food and cleaning up transition, I felt great on the drive home. They stayed behind so that Meiling could collect more of her usual awards. So, at XTERRA Incline, I’ve got Dave in my sights again. If I can just limit my losses on the bike, can I run him down again?
This was the second year for this race, and the turnout was really good. But just like the previous day’s mountain bike race, there was the snow issue. For the marathon and half marathon loop the same Antone Meadows section was eliminated. And while the 5K/10K loop didn’t go as far up into the woods as the MTB race, did, we still had some snow to wade through. Last year I had a great race, finishing in the top five, thanks to a strong finishing kick on a tricky finishing stretch. I knew not to expect such a performance this year. since my off season training was lackluster and my switch to Maffetone’s low heart rate training would keep my pace a little slower. But the real reason I knew this race would be slower and harder was that racing a mountain bike for longer than I ever have before the day before would leave me with a lot of fatigue. Plus, the altitude was still putting the zap on my brain.
So this race had a different goal than last year. The general goal of go as fast as possible and see how fast that actually is remains the same. But the circumstances force me to accept a slower result. Instead this race was more about piling on more fatigue, similar to a triathlon, but over two days. So I had a night to recover from the MTB race, but not enough to really recover. I had some soreness, but mostly the feeling of dead legs. So I would go into the run with significant fatigue, just like a triathlon, so it’s good experience to run on dead legs. And my legs were dead for sure. Each lap started with a gradual climb, which felt Himalayan. I couldn’t believe how high my heart rate was, yet my pace was so slow. Well, reality can bite, so I did all I could, practice finding the sweet spot of pacing. Well, the “sweetest” spot I could find anyway. I survived both laps, and while not fast, my purely aerobic training left me feeling like I still had some gas in the tank when it was all over. Even if I couldn’t have gone any faster. On a more amusing note, I always race in my Organic Athlete kit to promote the plant strong lifestyle, and sometimes draw a comment. Yesterday’s MTB race drew a cheer as I crossed the finish line, and today a couple asked as I they (unfortunately) passed me, “Are you really vegan?” Mostly, I replied. “Cool!” was the answer. That’s right kiddies, you too can eat only plants like me and struggle at the back of the pack!
16th place overall
All right, this was a big one. A big, new challenge. I’ve done very little mountain bike racing, and never at this distance or length. But it will be a good challenge, and it is within reach. I have raced long course XTERRA to about the four hour mark, and I know and love these trails from a race last summer. It was a challenge, but I was confident That I could do it. I picked the race and was excited about it because most of the long marathon like races are 8, 12, or 24 hour races. This four hour length is a perfect stepping stone to those longer races. It would also be a great test of aerobic fitness and the Maffetone Method that I have been experimenting with this spring. And I want to use it check put the bike course in advance of next week’s XTERRA, which uses a lot of the same trails.
Well, the endless winter left endless snow, and part of the course had to be cut because it was truly buried. And there was still a lot of snow! There were many patches to either try to ride through, or hike a bike. And mud. Lots of mud. Mud and snow, but otherwise a perfect Tahoe summer day. The race website estimated fast lap times at forty minutes. Even with the shortened course, few people were able to bring in a lap time under an hour. I managed 1:15.
The real success is that I just kept pedaling. I never bonked, even though I got tired. I believe the Maffetone training protocol is paying off. It appears that my fat burning is more efficient than ever before, thereby increasing my endurance. I kept charging along at 165+ BPM without dropping in pace much, or getting hungry. All three laps were at a similar speed. I kept fueling with Hammer Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel in the range of 150-200 calories an hour like I do in training, and it worked great. When it was all over, I felt pretty good. Despite recently arriving at altitude and not getting quality sleep.
Since I survived four hours, is the next step an eight hour race? It is tempting, and I think with some more training, it is entirely possible. I’ve got my interested piqued by the Leadville Qualifier at Northstar at Tahoe later this summer. If I can find some course information, that might be a good next challenge.