Saturday, August 27, 2005

2005 Charlottesville Off Road Triathlon

Getting There
Walnut Creek, about 10 miles south of Charlottesville, once again, is the last stop for my Xterra point series season. The park and trails are fantastic, and once again, it was my favoritie race of the year. Nice lake, the best trails to race on, and a challenging run. Let get into it..

Running late gets Stacey and I down to our campsite well after dark. The race starts real early (8am) and it is already 10pm, so we scramble to git things together by car light. The night is gorgeous and I'm really looking forward to the race, so I unwind a bit and head to bed. I considered leaving the top off of the tent to enjoy the night, but knowing our track record (last 10+ camping trips have had rain) I decide to put the lid on. Good thing too, not an hour after I get to sleep does it start to rain...and continue to rain...and continue...for the 8+ hours.

I woke up and started to get ready and was considering being bummed about the rain, but then I thought about this entire season. It rained before every race that I camped, and at each and every one of those races I was incredibly pleased with my results. So I considered this to be a good sign and put a smile on.

Speaking of the season, coming into this race I was in 1st place for 30-34 men in the mid atlantic for the points series. I've definitely been shocked that I was actually in first place for nearly the entire season. I have one more race that I needed to perform well in to hold onto my lead. Only Konrad Heller could beat me. But in order to do so he had to not just beat me, he had to get 1st place in order to take the points lead.

Before I forget, the race is a 3/4 mile swim, 12 mile mountain bike, and a 4 mile trail run.

No time to warm up as they start calling us down to the water. I scramble to get my transition area setup, thankfully I'm getting pretty experienced at this so I'm not very worried and I take the few extra seconds needed to get things just right. I've learned that the biggest thing about transitions is to remain calm. Rushing around frantically will only make you screw something up and take longer. No time to ponder this thought though as they are herding us down to the lake and I'm late. Moooooooo

The race starts in 2 waves everyone below 35 goes first, then 3 minutes later everyone over 35. I get a great start and around the first bouy I'm at the tail land of the lead pack of around 10. I was not in the melee, I think I beat it to the first bouy and stayed in front of it for the rest of the swim. Finally feeling like I am having a decent swim. In the second lap I start veering off course a lot and I lose quite a bit of ground. By the time I reace the beach I'm in the middle of the 1st chase group a few minutes back

As I run up to transition I blow a kiss to Stacey and she tells me Konrad is out of the water about a minute in front of me. Not bad...except he started 3 MINUTES BACK!!!!! crap. For this race he is 35 but for the points series he is in 30-34. Not good, but I need to race my own race and not worry about anyone else....worrying about others just gets you into trouble as you set your pace too high and can't maintain. Just have fun....

I never could follow directions
After a real quick transistion I'm out on the bike course and it is wet. Wet, wet. The trails are twisty and curvy with lots of ups and down. So far so good. The bad part is all of the roots that have been saoking wet for 10 hours now. Makes for a tough course, especially since I'm riding Hutchie Pythons (these tires are not made for mud) At least everyone else has the same conditions so I just hammer out on the bike.

Unlike most other courses, this course is one big loop. I find myself getting passed a few times and wonder if maybe today is not my day. The fun course quickly makes me forget and I focus on having a good ride and keeping a good pace. About 1/3 through the bike my friend Roger catches me. He always catches me on the bike...always. I can usually catch him back on the run, but he is over 35 too, so he has also gained 3+ minutes on me. He also stated that it was his goal coming into the race to beat me specifically.....great....hahaha. However, he's a super nice guy and a great athlete so I'll just consider that a compliment ;-)

I start pushing a bigger gear to try to stop the masses from catching me as well. I start to pick my way back through the crowd and narrowly avoid at least 4 major crashes from slick roots and rocks to nearly shooting off course and into a ravine. The bigger gear is taking it's toll and I ratchet it back just a bit and decide it is better to save my legs for the run which has been my saving grace this year.

On the way back to the transition I pop out of the woods and see Stacey and my friend Aaron. I flash them the horns and keep motoring. Something about the horns (and horns) matter what I try to do they always come out automatically...something subliminal I'm sure, but hilarious nonetheless. I guess that is my old Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Judas Priest days coming out. Oh stop, you listened to shitty music too.

I get into transition and fly out, I am about 15th overall and I figure Konrad has about 5 minutes up on me or so and it is time to try to reel him and Roger in.

Famous limp-wristed running style
Heading out on the run I start reeling people in. I'm super happy as I start by passing someone in my age group. Not sure how many are ahead of me but I figure a few. I just focus on controlling my breathing and keeping good form while I wait for my legs to come alive. At this point I'm just assuming that the hard bike did not kill my legs, but time will tell.

At about the 1/2 way mark of the run I pass a few more people, two of which are in my age group..sweet. Still no sign of Konrad or Roger though. As I pass these guys I drop the hammer a bit to get some separation, at this point in a race that is generally all you need to get away from someone. Nearly everyone is at their limit and even though I can't keep that pace up I figure if they *think* I can they might ease up a bit and it appears to be working.

There is a long gradual uphill of about a 3/4 mile and this is when the pain starts. My breathing is real heavy and my legs are getting hard to lift. I start tripping over things, but am trying to remain focused. I see my personal minstrels Aaron and Stacey and they totally get me going again, just in time...again.

Where's that oil-slick button?
As I come into a clearing I see a runner up in the distance, unmistakable for Roger. Now that I have him in sights I can concentrate on slowly reeling him in. There is about a mile left and I figure that Konrad is gone so I focus solely on passing Roger. I'm not sure if he can hear me behind him but he seems to be picking up the pace. I pull up even with him right as we get on the 3/4 mile road straight the finish line. Roger sticks with me as we tear down the road. I'm trying to drop him, but I can't. After about 2 minute I manage to get about 3 steps on him and he is right on my heels. I try to surge a few times but he matches me, with about 200 meters left I close my eyes and *try* to sprint...I glance over my shoudler with about 50 meters left and realize that he has let up and I get to the line about 10 steps in front of him. (Which means he beat me overall by 3 minutes)

Post Race
I'm soooo happy to be done. At least this year I did not have to storm off into the lake to cool off. The course was fantastic and the competition was even better. I finished in 2:05:31 good enough for 9th overall out of 130. Roger was 8th and Konrad was 7th. I actually won my age group...wohoo!!!! The second time I won my age group this year. Konrad won his too and for points got first....that means I am 2nd in the mid atlantic for the season. I guess I need to be bit more specific in what I wish for ;-) I'm nothing but happy though...what a fantastic year.

I qualified for nationals in Tahoe again this year, but regretfully Stacey and I wont be going.....because we are going to the World Championship in Maui instead!!!!!! Ridiculously excited. What a way to end a fantastic year. We are going for 10 days, 3 pre race and a full week after. I'm also really glad that I can take Stacey too, because she has been real supportive of my addiction all year (and last).

Thank yous
I also got a new sponsor, I'm racing for The Bike Lane in Burke, VA now. Todd, Anne, and everyone are great people, looking forward to a great relationship and positive experience. I also want to specifically thank Eric and Kathy without them keeping me focused and adjusted I would never have had the great season that I did. (two 1st place finishes, three 2nd place finishes, and 5th at the east coast championship) I never though I could achieve results like this ever, and I feel so fortunate that things fell into place because often hard work is simply not enough, but it helps.

Can't wait to get to Hawaii to tackle Haleakala, I hope she's gentle.....stay tuned....