Monday, August 06, 2007

Xterra Snow Valley - Race Report

I am back from a weekend up in the mountains and another solid training race is in the books. It was a fun weekend of training and racing.

On Thursday evening I picked up my friend Tom from the airport and we headed back up to my place in Carlsbad. On Friday morning we met up with Trevor and a group from the Triathlon Club of San Diego for an ocean swim at Fletcher's cove. After the swim we hit the Naked Cafe for an epic breakfast. After breakfast we let out food digest and then the three of us headed out to Penasquitos Canyon for mellow offroad ride. It was pretty warm but the ride was fun.

We hit the road for Running Springs late Saturday morning. We arrived at the Snow Valley ski resort (race site) a little after noon and set out to pre-ride a lap of the bike course. We had heard rumors that the lake level was very low, and even that they may turn the race into a duathlon. It was hot as we headed up the initial climb to the lake. Once we got to the lake it was clear that the swim was going to be interesting as they were starting to drop the buoys. It was basically a big mud puddle with the level being about 15ft lower than the year before. We finished pre-riding, picked up our packets, and then headed back down the moutain to our hotel.

Race HQ:

The Lake. Last year the water was up to the shrubs on the shoreline.

The lake again. You can see the normal water link on the damn.

The Race:

After an oatmeal breakfast at Denny's we headed back up to Snow Valley. We got there in plenty of time, set up T2, and then rode up to the lake. I felt good, not 100%, but it was just a training race so I wasn't worried about it. I set up T1 at the lake and then jumped in the water for a quick warm-up. The water was nasty and kind of chilly. Definitely not the 75+ degrees I was told the day before. When I got out of the water and in the starting coral I was kind of cold. Not a good thing. It doesn't take much to make me cold and being cold before a race is never a good sign for me.

The swim was interesting to say the least. It was 2.5 laps and I have no idea how long it was. After each lap we exited the water, ran 25 yards, and then dove back into the sludge for another lap. On the first lap I comfortably swam with a pack and wasn't pushing too hard. The 2nd lap was more of the same but some the leaders started to pull away from me. When I dove back in for the last half lap the water was disgusting from all the mud/sludge being churned from all the swimmers. When diving I managed to swallow to big gulps of water and it was nasty. I got back on track and finished the swim with the leaders just ahead of me.

End of one the laps (me on far left in red B&L kit):

Horrible. Probable my worst transistion ever. When I got out of the water I felt like I had just pounded 5 jack and cokes. I was staggering all over the place. It was probably from the altitude (lake was at 7000ft.) but it's never affected me that much before. As I got to my bike I was right where I wanted to be. The guys I wanted to ride with were just getting to their bikes and Trevor was riding out of T1. In my "inebriated" state I could not get my shoes on. I was fumbling around all over the place and could not buckle my shoes. Finally I got them on and then bolted out of T1.


Once on the bike it was tough going. I was swerving all over the place and my stomach was very upset from the lake water. Due to my poor T1 the pack I wanted to be in were a more than a minute up on me. To make matters worse both my quads locked up on the first climb. There is no other way to put it other then I felt like crap. I could not get into any kind of rhythm and a couple of guys than I know I can ride with easily pulled away from me. At the end of lap 1 my legs were finally starting to loosen up and my stomach was calming down. On the climb back up to the lake I finally found a good rhythm and started to reel some guys in. I worked pretty hard on the second lap and probably made up a little time on the leaders but they were still a ways up the road.

Again not my fastest. I could not get one of my buckles on my MTB shoes to release. I finally just ripped it off and headed out for the brutal run in 7th place overall and 3rd in my AG.

This run is gnarly, and by gnarly I mean incredibly hard with tons of steep climbing and descending. I could see 4th, 5th, and 6th place all ahead of me. I knew I could get the 6th (John Hall) place but 4th (Tom O'brien) and 5th (Brian Barrett) were far ahead. They are both strong runners so I knew I was going to have to work really hard if there was to have any chance of even getting close to them.

I caught 6th place on the first climb out of T1 and then continued along the ridge line to the first steep descent. As soon as I started plowing downhill both my quads locked up again... great! At this point I didn't think there was any chance of moving up. Running on the flats or downhills hurt, but I could climb without too much pain. I made the decision to work as hard as I could on the climbs, try to cruise the flats, and take it easy on the decents. The good thing about this course when you are trying to track people down is that it is wide open and for the most can see where your competition is. I could see that I was starting to take time out of 4th and 5th. I caught Tom (5th) at the top of the 2nd big climb and was still a ways back on 4th. The third climb is the steepest and it's brutal. I was basically power walking with my hands on my knees but was still moving up but then it was time to descend again and Brian (4th) was able to extend his lead on me a bit on the descent. When we got to the turn around I was about 10 seconds down on him and I knew my only chance was going to be making a move on the 1/4 mile climb. So I made my move and was able to build a gap as I reached the peak. Now all I had to do was hold on.

I was able to hold on with about 30 seconds to spare and basically limp across the line with my left quad on fire.

4th Overall
2nd AG

I am glad this was just a training race because it was a tough one. I really don't think I had the swim, bike, or run I am capable of but I am still stoked with the results. I had to really fight it out and push through some tough circumstances.

After the race my quads were really locking up. At first I was barely able to pedal my bike to cooldown. We all cruised a couple of miles to cooldown and chatted about the race. My stomach was was still pretty jacked too. I didn't really eat anything until later that night and some Ice cold Tecate and Pollo Asado Nachos seemed to do the trick. Overall it was a killer time. Racing at altitude is defintely tough!

Top 6 overall - L to R: me(4th), Tom O'brien(6th), Ben Travis(2nd), Brain Barrett(5th), Trevor Glavin(3rd), Will Kelsay(1st - Pro)

Tom getting his dear ready at the luxurious Good Nite Inn:

The boys again - L to R: Trevor, Paul, Tom, Jonathan, Steven, Will, and me.

ready to go:

1 comment:

Benson said...

Nice job toughing it out and I admire your on the go evaluating and capitalizing strategies.

I had the same reaction on a MTB race at altitude at 7,500. My legs quit on the 3rd lap. Advice to over hydrate before and during is key at altitude.