Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pre-Race XTERRA Snow Valley

Friday – It hit 115 in Phoenix so I decided to forgo my after work run - running in that kind of heat before a tough race would be a mistake. I started packing for the weekend (triathlon requires a ton of stuff) and started thinking about my weekend strategy. I usually try and go out hard in the swim to gain as much as an advantage as I can, try to stick with a reasonable pace on the bike, and then just hammer the run. This weekend it would be different.

Saturday – Up early to get a head start on driving in the heat. We leave Phoenix for LA on I-10 and enjoy the flat and fast drive to the West coast.

The drive was uneventful with the exception of some poor hydration strategy and highway signage that almost got ugly, but all my core work paid off.

We arrived at the course just west of Big Bear, California around 2:00 pm, where I checked in next to Conrad Stoltz and got my first look at just how steep the slopes were. We parked the car next to what turned out to be a former HS classmate of Amanda’s and we chatted with her and her husband about the course as they had just finished their pre-ride. The description was climbing, more climbing, and then sketchy descents on rutted, loose, and rocky slopes. Hmmm….

I suited up and hit the trail while Amanda found a spot in the sun to kick back and read. It was a long series of climbs from the parking lot until I hit T-1 and the lake at ¾ of the way to the top. I rode the rest of the course with a MTB racer, Steve, from San Francisco. We had a good time keeping each other company on the brutal climbs and the almost worse downhill. There was so much sand on the course it made climbing and descending pretty hairy. Conrad Stoltz came flying down one track in a blaze of dust and bunny hopped a ditch I had stopped short of to scope out. What a beast!

I arrived back at the car, made a quick tire change (I had been planning for jeep road, not sandbox), went for another quick spin and then packed up and headed for the motel.

The Deep Creek Motel wasn’t as scary as the name, but it wasn’t ideal pre-race resting.

We had some OK Mexican food at the place across the street, but their salsa was out of this world – we bought some to bring home in the cooler.

Sunday – Up early for a breakfast of champions, plenty of protein and carbs early enough to be fully digested. A little red bull in transition brings the whole world into focus.

Strategy – after sucking some serious wind on the bike in my pre-ride and being sketched out by the downhill I was changing my strategy by the minute. I didn’t want to blow up in the swim at 6,300 ft, but I knew I was going to lose some serious ground on the bike. I hadn’t run the course at all, but I knew it would be nasty. I’ve been doing lots of climbing on my training runs and felt good about my chances at the end – if I had anything left.

The announcement that it was a wetsuit swim made the process easier. I didn’t worry about blowing up in the swim with a wetsuit (breathing is easier), so I planned to go ¾ speed on the swim, survive the bike, and push the run. Or something like that…

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rohit said...
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