Monday, June 30, 2008

Bike Theft Sucks

I arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday night of last week and set to work getting moved in. This included tuning up my full suspension rig, a Haro XLS, which I keep out here for the bigger non-racing stuff. I spent Thursday getting it all tuned up and ride ready and then went for a quick brick workout on Friday at Papago Park where I rode and ran in the HEAT. Damn it gets hot here in the desert. Anyway, long story short I woke up on Saturday AM to find that someone had broken into my locked car and jacked my bike and all my MTB gear. Major suck. Welcome to the Valley.
I'm getting over the loss and trying to get back to consistent training. Being on the road for a couple days and moving into a new place has definitely taken its toll on my fitness and training, but I'm trying to get back to it. this morning I had an excellent hike/run up Camelback Mountain, which is practically out my back door. Sweet. I plan on making this a regular part of my conditioning. In addition to getting my HR up, it felt like I was doing a couple hundred lunges and step ups as well.
I'm hoping to figure out the pool schedule and lifting scene at work when I start later this week. Should be a sweet setup at the new office so I'm excited about that. In the meantime, if anyone sees this bike let me know.

papago park in the distance

to the top and back

Thursday, June 26, 2008

EPIC Tuesday

The plan for Tuesday
Tuesday was one of the best days I've had a in a long time. Chandler and I woke up for a leisurely breakfast and more work on the bikes. We mapped out our route for the day's ride and then set off on a different kind of bike adventure. We met up with a guy in Santa Fe who restores classic road bikes. After riding several bikes I rode a sweet Centurion Dave Scott Master that is now the newest member of the family.
After road bike shopping we set off with Chandler's Cake and my Cobia on the back of his truck. The plan for the day was a ride from the top of the Santa Fe Ski Basin all the way down into town, switch out the bikes for road bikes, and then bike all the way back up to 11,000 feet to the top of the ski basin to get the car. Damn.
It didn't quite turn out the way we planned, but it was an epic day of biking and one we will be back to finish. I'll let the pictures and video tell the story.

view of the ski runs at almost 11,000 ft
ready to hit the trail - "buckle your helmet!"

first of 15 water crossings

The first mile was NASTY! It was filled with huge drops, loose trail, and jagged rocks. We could have used a couple more inches of travel all the way around. After the first mile, it was just fast downhill action. We started in old growth Aspen, then green open meadow, high desert, and finally low desert with 14 creek crossings. The trail was unbelievable, the weather incredible, and the experience one of a lifetime. Everyone needs to experience this trail!


checking the map

checking the map 2 hours later

the terrain has changed

after a 12 mile, 1,000ft climb, wrong turn we make it home

What you see in the valley is Santa Fe - that's a ride!
Chandler on the trail

video

Garret on the trail
video

Chandler riding the snow melt
video

my turn ( 7 for 11 on the day)
video

The Next Chapter

The more time that passes since the Dawg Days XTERRA the better I feel about the race. It is my first year of XTERRA racing, my second race of the year, and I finished 4th while having a great time. I know my training and skill level at all three sports will only improve, and I'm having a blast living this multi-sport lifestyle. But now the next chapter....

I left Little Rock and headed out for Santa Fe, New Mexico. 14 hours later I arrived in NM. The drive was uneventful with the exception of a MASSIVE monsoon that dropped hail and heavy winds right on the Texas and New Mexico line. I had to pull off the interstate, disassemble all the bikes, and shove everything in the car with me. It was a tight fit, but having everything inside and not listening to the cracking sounds coming from the roof rack was a relief.

Monday in Santa Fe I spent the morning by the pool and the afternoon biking around the city with my boy Chandler. We grabbed some food and chilled out while checking out the sweet rides at the local bike shop. There wasn't a single hard tail for sale, and on Tuesday I found out why. We spent the rest of the day/night talking bikes and coming up with some solid plans for an EPIC Tuesday. Wednesday morning I hit the road again and am now at my final destination - Phoenix, AZ. This is my new home and I'm going to have to get used to training in some serious heat! More updates soon.

Survived the hail and wind - got everything in the car

everything

sunset entering Santa Fe

setting up camp in Santa Fe

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Post Race + Results

Results of XTERRA Dawg Days
4th in AG
16th overall

Other notes:
2nd AG swim (1st guy is rumored to be a Navy Seal?)
less than a minute off of third and 4 minutes off the AG leader

After crossing the finishing line, taking down two Gatorades, and some time spent in the shade I was feeling much better. Pretty soon it was time for the awards and I had to watch the three guys who finished in front of my take their hardware. 4th place in my third ever XTERRA race is nothing to be ashamed of, but with Nationals in Reno based on points earned in the series every little bit helps.

During the awards, the race director was giving out plenty of shwag - including wetsuits, shoes, and other gear like hats, shirts, and DVDs. Well worth waiting around for. I wound up in contention for free entrance to the Mountain Championships in Utah later this summer. Hmmm...this might be just the ticket to more points in the series.

The director announced that there would be 4 spots to regionals given away by a Gatorade chugging contest. On the count of 3 there were probably 15+ of us who started pounding the Gatorade. Despite finishing BEFORE the 3rd guy the director didn't see me until I tied with the only female winner next to me. Four of us won bids to regionals, including me, and one guy one a new pair of XTERRA trail shoes. I tried to trade for the shoes, but no dice. The more I think about it the more I'm thinking about adding Ogden to my schedule and racing in the championship.

It was a great race weekend filled with beautiful scenery, great weather, and cool people. A big thank you to Chris and his family for feeding me and letting me stay with them. They were great! In the morning I'm off for Santa Fe for some more biking and time with friends. I'll post the link with official results when it's posted.

my reaction to how winners will be decided

quickly all business - hosting a winning empty

reward - entrance to the Mountain Championships

Dawg Days Race Report

The Swim
The swim was an in water, treading water, start. I lined up as one of the first swimmers and had a good starting position. As soon as we started I could feel the current pushing back, that was pretty wild after only training in the pool. The flooded river was also a very dark brown and there was no visibility. I started nice and smooth not trying to kill myself just to get ahead of the pack. I finally settled into a rhythm, but couldn't find any feet to draft on and swam on my own the whole race, just behind the leaders and close to 30-60 seconds ahead of the next closet swimmer. I felt like I was swimming scared as I didn't feel 100% in the water and I didn't push as hard as I wanted.

T1
Excellent transition out of the water. I was the 6th or 7th person out of the water and loved not having a wetsuit to deal with out of the water. There was a guy in my AG who beat me out of the water, but I beat him out of T1.

Bike
The bike was different than a lot of races I've done because there was a mile or 1.5 mile road ride to get to the trail. I was out in front with the leaders as the hardtail 29er with skinny tires made quick work of the road, for once I felt equipment was working my favor. The swim left me feeling worse than usual, could have been the warm water, but I used the road ride to drink and eat before hitting the trail. I rode with a group of 3 riders, all of whom had better technical skills, until I couldn't keep the pace and had to drop back. A fast duo with at lease one in my AG passed me within the first mile on the trail and then it was lots of riding solo. I was feeling good on the bike and riding up some of the big climbs I walked on the pre-ride. At mile 5 I was feeling really off and took a small spill when trying to let another rider pass. I got back on the bike, but was slower and still getting bounced around. The last three miles are all down hill or flat and mostly double-track = FAST! I took some wisdom from the XTERRA West guys, put it in the big ring and charged it. One Clydesdale passed me, he had the momentum, and I caught one other rider but couldn't pass him. I was trying hard to put as much as I could into the flats and use the advantage of my light bike and big wheels. When I came out on the road again I was feeling drained and tried to eat and drink while still keeping in the biggest gear.

Bringing it home on the bike

T2
Super fast since I still haven't started drinking the clipless pedal kool-aid. Rack the bike and run. ***Chris's bike was still on the rack when I came in off the bike and I instantly thought the worst since I knew he hadn't passed me on the bike. As I came out of T2 he ran up beside me and let me know that the current had given him fits in the river and he bailed early. Bummer.
Run
Knowing that Chris was OK and having him run with me and encourage me to start me on the run was clutch. I came in feeling like I had very little in the tank, but he got me fired up and I flew up the first monster climb. The hill was long and steep and just like the one outside my front door that I run hill repeats on in the same heat and humidity. It paid off big time. At the first aid station the guys said I was only 12 places back off the leaders, hearing this I upped the pace even more. Lots of up and down and uneven rocks on the trail. Twice my ankle got turned sideways and I was glad for all the strength training I've done. I didn't see a soul on the run for the first 2 miles. I felt like I was running strong, but not making any progress, I wanted to be done. At 2 I passed the Clydesdale that had passed me on the bike, but at 2.5 on a long uphill road climb I was passed by two guys (non AG) that were flying. I passed two people at mile 3 before hitting the final down hill where lots of racers were just starting the run. There was a younger runner I could see behind me so I kicked it into high gear for the last .5 and absolutely killed it feeling like I left it all on the course.
working it into the finish

the fist pump

Morning of the race

Up early and a quick breakfast at Chris's house before loading up the bikes and heading out to Burns Park. I realized on Friday during the pre-ride that I've played many an Ultimate Frisbee tournament at that park - all with good results. The last time I played Ultimate out there we qualified for nationals...would that be the case again today?

When we arrived at the race the conversation was all about the swim. The course was being altered from years past because the high water levels had washed out the traditional starting area. This new course meant a treading water start and then the first 400m directly into the current to start the race. How strong was the current? Well, since you could visibly see debris floating down the river and there were small whitecaps forming on the top of the water I knew it was fast, but the race director said it was about a 2 mph current. Chris, being a biker and runner, was not pleased.

We got good spots setup in transition and I tried some new strategy for fuel during the race, unwrapping a pwr bar and wrapping it on the stem for easy access during the race. After a couple more details I hit the water for a warm up and then we had the pre-race meeting.

unpacking the car

pre-race picture

Pre-race report

Well, Friday I loaded up the car and headed out on my cross country road trip that will eventually land me in Phoenix, Arizona. The only highlights of the 5 1/2 hour drive from Nashville to the Dawg Days XTERRA course in Little Rock were finding that one of the bikes came a little loose from the roof rack and running into Ben Ryan at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere AR. Bizarre.
The car all loaded up

I arrived in the early afternoon and had a chance to get a feel for the course. The swim was going to be in what was normally a quiet inlet, but with all the flooding in the Midwest it was now a fast moving body of water because the Arkansas river had topped the levies. The bike course was not what I had been prepared for. I made the change to skinny tires because there was probably two miles of road riding to get to the trails as well as some fast double track. I didn't know that the course was rocky, rooty, and just plain nasty in the first couple miles. My pre-ride made me appreciate the soft ride of my normal Panaracer Rampages and realize how harsh over inflated skinny tires can be, even on a 29er.

At around mile 6 on the pre-ride I took a corner and my front wheel just stuck on a rock and the bike threw me. I landed pretty hard, but the bike made a worse noise as it flipped and crashed to the ground. The good news was that we were both shaken, but not seriously hurt, or at least so I thought.
the course start/finish

1 900m lap in a rectangle

I finished the pre-ride, opted not to go for a swim, and then headed to the childhood home of my training partner in Nashville who was arriving later to race with me. His parents are great and are putting me up for the weekend while we're here to race. Some pizza for dinner, Gatorade, and then some quick strategy talk before bed and we called it a day.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ready to race

This is it!
XTERRA Dawg Days is this Saturday and I couldn't be more pumped. Tuesday I had a great run, even in the afternoon heat and humidity, Wednesday I jumped in the pool for a light swim and today I just rested. The car is all packed up and I can't wait to get this race weekend started. Wednesday, my incredible little sister who is back home for a couple weeks, hooked me up big time with a massage - she's a massage therapist and strength and conditioning coach! So I'm feeling loose and ready to race all out this weekend. I checked out a video of the course and changed out the tires on the race bike. I feel more like a real XTERRA athlete at every race. More updates once I hit the road.

Feeling loose after a great massage


Loading up at Las Palmas - mmmmm


getting the bike fitted with new tires - so many to choose from

Packing my bag for transition - so fast it's a blur

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Golf

One of the biggest changes to my routine the past couple of days has been watching TV.  Not the veg out and watch, but to just have it on for background while I'm packing stuff up for the big move.  Yesterday Tiger Woods won the US Open and I happened to watch the final holes - this time sitting down and vegging out.  
I had always been in the camp that thought golf was kind of silly, but watching Tiger Woods yesterday I have a whole new respect for his skill and athleticism.  I know that during races one of the hardest parts is to stay focused.  One misread on a bike line or poor step on the run and you can take a nasty fall.  It is all too easy when you are mentally and physically exhausted.  At the end of a race or hard day of training you can also just power through it, leave nothing out there, and just finish.  Golf doesn't seem to allow this.  No matter how tired, excited, or anxious you are you have to be in complete control and maintain such a fluid and controlled athletic motion the whole time.  I have mad respect for that and for what Tiger was able to accomplish yesterday.  It actually made golf thrilling to watch and gave me a whole new respect.
Training for today is functional, my favorite kind.  I had the car dropped off at the shop this morning for a checkup before the big trip.  I plan to run over to pick it up later today, swim and bike Wednesday, another easy run on Thursday and then hit the road for my next (last?) race of the season.  I'll be blogging from the road so stay tuned.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Morning

I am anxiously awaiting the results of XTERRA East Championships. I've been following the guys from out west via their blogs all week and I am stoked to see the results. It was no race day for me, but while those guys were all out there killing it in this great southern heat I hit the trails for my own gnarly brick workout.

I loaded my "road bike" onto the roof of the Matrix and headed out to Percy Warner Park. First I ran the 2.5 mile trail that is up/down the whole way. This trail always pushes me and leaves me feeling stronger for it. I made a quick transition back at the car and road 18 miles on the bike before transitioning at the car again and heading out on one more loop of the 2.5 trail run. I felt great and love the feeling of a great summer workout that leaves you dripping in sweat.
I treated myself to some Smoothie King action on the way home before jumping on my foam roller. I'm in my last days here in the south before moving to the southwest. I'm going to miss the trees, green, and all the shade, but I'm sure I'll be loving the wide open sky soon enough.

Training Update:
Thursday: Nasty blisters from SL the night before, so I only did some core work
Friday: Road 10 miles, swam 2 miles, road 10 miles back home - great brick workout!
Saturday: Core work / rest

Smoothie King treat
Matrix with new rack

nasty blister

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Training Update

Today is my last day of work for the next 3 weeks. If I thought I wasn’t distracted by my last day of work then oversleeping for my morning workout and missing the exit to my office on the way in this morning made it pretty clear. I love what I do, the people I work with, and I am sad to see it go. It has been a great run the past 3 years, but a whole new world of opportunity awaits in Arizona. The next 3 weeks will be pretty straightforward – pack, drive, race, drive, bike, drive, and start a new job. With only 9 days until XTERRA Dawg Days there isn’t too much time left for training, but I’ll be racing without a lot of pressure and while on a big cross-country vacation, which I believe will be a recipe for success.

Thursday – 12 mile MTB / 2 mile trail run
Friday – AM Swim workout, lunchtime weights
Saturday – going away party (active recovery)
Sunday – 10 mile MTB / 1 mile trail run
Monday – AM Swim workout, lunchtime weights
Tuesday – AM Run with the wife, lunchtime spin and light weights
Wednesday – Missed the AM swim, but playing some Ultimate tonight in Summer League

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spread the word


There are plenty of popular blogs, like the Fat Cyclist, where ordinary people use their blogs as a public diary for personal motivation, but the blog quickly transforms into something larger. I don’t expect that to ever happen here, but I now realize what a powerful tool blogging can be. For the second time in less than a year, an immediate family member of mine has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While this blog may only reach a limited few, I want to encourage all the guys out there to have routine checkups and have your PSA checked once a year. It may not be something we like to talk about, but ask your dad, brother, son, or buddy when the last time they had their prostate checked, and encourage them to follow through. I’ve included a new prostate awareness link on the blog and links to a couple prostate cancer awareness groups below. Check it out and spread the word….

National Cancer Institute

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Prostate Cancer Info from the Mayo Clinic

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Weekend update

I had big hopes for this past weekend after a great training day on Friday. I took Saturday off to rest and I began the process of clearing out old junk and packing for the big move out West. Sunday I planned a brick workout (ride/run), but thunderstorms and all my junk in the living room put an end to that. I spent time with Amanda and my parents while I continued to sort through old pictures, papers, and mementos. It felt good to spend some quality time at the house; I’ll be missing that place soon enough.
Monday I jumped back on the wagon with a big swim workout in the morning and weights during lunch. Tuesday I hit the trail with Amanda and the dog for a great trail run. This morning we ate an early breakfast at Nashville’s classic Pancake Pantry to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I’m truly blessed to be married to such an incredible woman who is supportive of everything I do, no matter how eccentric I am.
I pick up the Rig from the shop this afternoon and then will hit the pool for a swim and then the track for a 600m superset workout. I’m getting excited about XTERRA Dawg Days and feeling like I can really make a splash at one of my last races of the year. The first goal for the race will to be the 1st AG out of the water for the second time this season. The next goal is to reach the podium and earn a solid amount of points in the US Points Series. Reading about everyone else prepping for the SE and E championships the next two weeks has me fired up during my own training. Thanks for reading….