Monday, September 7, 2009

April - May 2009

Ironman California 70.3

I love racing "Ralphs" every year as it is a great gauge of my fitness against a very high quality field. After finishing 6th in my age group last year I hoped to finish in the top 5 and get on the podium this year. I knew I knew based on my bike at the desert triathlon a few weeks earlier that I was riding fast but was not sure I had the fitness to ride well for 56 miles. I had been running very consistently this year but had not done many longer or faster runs.

Kylie and I drove down on Friday to register and catch up with a few friends. We stayed with a fiend of Kylies that now lives in the San Diego area, which was greatly appreciated.

Race morning was VERY cold and I eventually put on my wetsuit just to keep warm. The water though was not nearly as cold as last year. We were also very fortunate as the swim conditions were the calmest I have seen at this race. Unfortunately, my swim fitness was not as good this year as it has been in the past and despite the fast conditions I was about a minute and a half slower than I typically swim here. On the bike I felt very strong and purposefully held back in the first half of the ride so I would be strong on the back half of the course which is much hillier than the first half. Over the course of the ride I ended up in a small group of about 5 athletes of similar ability. We raced our way through many people from earlier waves, pushing each other to ride fast and fortunately everyone in our little group rode cleanly, keeping adequate distance from the rider in front. this winds were a bit more favorable this year and I rode significantly faster this year.
On the run I made sure to hold back as last year I had gone out too hard and ran the second lap much slower. I was more consistent this year and was a couple minutes faster despite having to deal with running through about a 1/4 mile of sand each direction on each lap.

I ended up going 4:34 this year versus 4:41 last year but dropped from 6th to 8th in Men 35-39.

Run Through Redlands
The Run Through Redlands is a big running race that has taken place in Redlands for over 20 years. There is a 5km, a 10km and a half marathon. Between the 3 races there a few thousand participants. Having just done Cali 70.3 a week earlier I did not race but we set up a booth in the expo to promote Redlands Spine and Sport.

PossAbilities Triathlon

This race is held each year in Loma Linda, California and is a special race for Kylie and I as it is the race we met at in 2006. It is another reverse triathlon with a 5km run, then a 10 mile bike and a 100 yard pool swim. Due to the short distances and the pool swim, a significant number of the participants are new to the sport of triathlon. However there is also a prize purse for the pros, so each year there are a few fast pro men and women competing for the money. I always enjoy racing against these elite athletes as it is a chance to get a first hand look at how fast they are.

This year was fun as I went back and forth for the whole 5km run with Bryan Rhodes, last years winner of Ironman Canada. Of course once we mounted our bikes he dropped me very quickly as he rode to the front of the race. I caught another of the pro men right at the end of the bike and was making up ground on the 3rd place guy in the race, but he passed me half way through the swim and we ended up just a few seconds back of the 3rd place guy. Bryan ended up second as he had to take the time to remove his socks before the swim - that sock change cost him over a thousand dollars! Michellie Jones won the womens race as she has done numerous times here before.

Wildflower Triathlon
The following weekend Kylie and I headed up to watch the Wildflower Triathlon at Lake San Antonio in Central California. We had a dinner party to go to the night before, so we did not leave until almost 10 PM. We made good time and pulled into the campground around 3AM. Since we would only be sleeping a few hours Kylie slept in the back of the CRV with Gracie and I laid my sleeping bag on the ground and slept until the sun came up an the athletes started milling about. As we walked to watch the start we bumped into Jocelyn Wong a friend of Kylie's from Harvey Mudd College who now races for Team TBB. We walked by the huge transition area and then watched the pro start. Once they were underway we walked a mile or so into the course so we could watch the athletes make their way up the tough climb known as Beach Hill. It was fun to see all these great athletes and surprise a few friends that were racing that did not expect to see us out there. Just before the first women started to climb the hill A mother deer and her young got spooked by a race motorcycle and got separated. The mother bounded up the hill but the young ones could not make it and were running scared up the hill right in front of Leanda Cave (pic above). We eventually walked to the "hot corner" where we could watch the athletes come in on the bike as well as catch them part way through the run course. Finally we headed to the finish and were able to see most of the top pros finish including our friend Scott Curry who had a great early season race coming out of a cold Calgary winter. Unfortunately, Tereza had a mechanical problem and was unable to finish the race.

Big Bear
One of the great things about living in Redlands is that we have such easy access to the local mountains. We finally took advantage of this and headed up to Big Bear with our friends Sean and Heidi and their dogs Walter and Misty May. We parked at one of the trailheads in Big Bear and hiked along a beautiful trail to the top of one of the local peaks.
After the hike we had a great lunch a a local Mexican restaurant.

We also went to one of the beaches on Big Bear Lake. Gracie REALLY wanted to play with some of the ducks ;-)

OC Duathlon
Kylie and I were scheduled to race the OC Duathlon along with some of the EE kids. This race brought out some strong competition as it was the USAT Southwest regional duathlon championship. It consisted of a 5km run, a 40km hilly bike and another 5km run.
It was a chilly morning and we knew it would feel even colder on the bike as some fog, clouds and rain were hanging in the valley where the bike course was located.
I started the 5km run running behind Luke Bell. At about one mile I knew that if I did the whole first run with him, I would not ride well, so I dropped back into the small pack that had formed a short way back. I had a quick transition and was out on the bike in 2nd place. After a few miles one of the pro men, Karl Bordine (former pro cyclist as well) flew by me, followed by Mac Brown another pro. Once I reached Santiago Canyon itself a few age group cyclists came by on one of the biggest hills. Initially I could not respond and keep up with their pace, As the ride went on, and I got more warmed up I was able to bring these athletes back and came into transition in the lead age group pack. Chad Walton who had won this race last year was a short way ahead of me out of transition and I bridged up to him by the first mile. At the turnaround I went by him but he stuck with me and we went back and forth until the climb to the finish with a half mile to go. At this point he surged and I just did not have the top end speed to stay with him. In the end I was 5th over all and 2nd age grouper.
1st run: 17:15, bike: 1:00:35, 2nd run: 18:06.
Kylie had a great race as well and was third in her age group.