Wednesday, August 19, 2009

January - February 2009

Our first race of 2009 was the Highland Half Marathon. This is a local race, less than 10 miles from our house. The course is actually part of one of our regular rides we do on weekday mornings. As a result I knew this race would be a steady uphill on the way out and a fast downhill all the way back. Once again we were volunteering with the Exceeding Expectations kids so our day started early as we picked up some of the kids to bring them to the race and then helped to make sure they all got registered and got their numbers. It was a cool morning and I felt cold the whole time, even during my warm up run.

Once the race finally began we had a short straight away before a right hand turn up a steep hill, by the time we got to the top of this hill we had a group of 5 with a large gap on the rest of the field. After a couple more right hand turns we turned downhill before making a left turn onto the road where 90% of the race would take place. By about mile 2 I realized that I did not yet have the fitness to hold onto this group for the rest of the race and I had to let them go. For the next 5 and a half miles or so we continued to climb towards the turnaround where we would descend to mile 12.5 and then climb the last half mile to the finish. If I thought the uphill was tough on the legs, the downhill was just murder on the quads. (My toes were not too happy about all the downhill either). Once I let the lead group go the race was pretty uneventful. I didn't catch anyone and no one caught me, so I finished 5th overall in 1:22:53. The time is actually quite deceiving as I believe I had the fitness to run under 1:20 on a flatter course.

Kylie had an AMAZING race! She ran 1:48 which is her best time for the half marathon distance. Unbelievable to run a PR on that course. Her training is really paying off.

The following weekend Kylie and I traveled to the Santa Clarita area to do our first cycling race - a 20km time trial. We really enjoyed being able to really push ourselves on the bike without having to worry about running afterwards. We had fun and will probably do more of these in the future. We both won the public division which was an added bonus!

To finish off our three consecutive weeks of racing we raced our hometown event, the Redlands Triathlon. I have won this race the last two years so I felt a bit of pressure to repeat as champion. Fortunately we were so busy helping the Exceeding Expectations kids get registered and getting their bikes ready that there was no time to dwell on what was going to happen in the race. Unfortunately though, as is typical with this race the3 weather refused to cooperate and we had to deal with cold rain throughout the morning.

The race is a reverse triathlon with a 5km run, an 8ish mile bike and a 150 yard pool swim. As soon as the gun went off there were a bunch of people that went out VERY fast, but I knew that most of them were doing the 5km race and that many would start to fall back by the 1st mile mark. The only person I was worried about was another local athlete Kyle Simmons, who had finished 2nd here last year. He is a talented athlete who will be leaving to run track and cross country at a university in Arizona this fall. My plan was to try to limit the time he put into me on the run so I could catch him on the bike and then win the race on the swim. I did a pretty good job finishing the run within striking distance to Kyle and was confident I would catch him within the first lap of the bike just like last year. However, it was not to be. I felt like I was pushing hard, but just couldn't make up any ground and felt like I was struggling to maintain speed. On the way out on the second lap I finally realized I had a slow leak in my back tire which explained why I felt so sluggish! I was a little worried on the downhill coming back to transition and rode very conservatively to make sure I stayed upright. From transition I ran to the pool to see Kyle almost finished the swim and knew the race win was his.

A big congratulations to Kyle as even without my flat tire he was very strong today and would have won regardless.

We were able to catch two stages of the Tour of California this year. On Saturday we headed down to Pasadena and met up with friends Rich Sawiris and Vickie Appel of to watch the finishing laps around the Rose Bowl. Kylie and Gracie are on the hill across the street with Lance and eventual Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer in foreground.

The next day we drove down to San Diego to watch the start of the big stage that included a climb up Palomar Mountain. It was the first time we have been at the start of a stage of a big cycling event like this. The atmosphere was very cool with all of the team buses, team cars, riders and fans everywhere. Of course the biggest groups of fans were around the Astana bus as people hoped to catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong in his first big event since coming out of retirement. I did manage to get a pretty good picture of Lance as he headed to the start line from his bus.

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