Race Report: Dirt Dog USATF Championship 4 Miler

It's hard to believe that this time last year I weighed in at 179 pounds. For only being 5'9, the weight started to show (my wife says "mostly in the face"...thanks hun!) and it's then when I decided to start training again. Well 37 pounds later I was ready to toe the line last Saturday at the Championship race. I was really excited leading up to this race and with the weather looking good, the family joined in on the action. We arrived to the course only to find this beauty greeting us. So freaking weird! This person was really into trinkets, jewels, thimbles, and magical things. Amy had to go over and get a photo.
Leading up to the race, I really took it easy in training. I only went for one swim, one harder "tempo" effort run and the rest of the days I just did some easy runs and strides to get the legs ready to roll. My strategy was to go out a lot slower this time (5:40ish) and try to negative split the last 3 miles in. Well the plan kinda worked. As soon as the gun went off, I kinda just jogged out and dealt with a lot of traffic. I wore my Garmin to help me out with pacing and I found myself way in the back of the pack as I reached mile one in 5:40. Nailed my pacing, but I had a lot of work to do to get my way through everyone. I felt kinda anxious because ever since I can remember, I've never tried going out slow in a race. I've always went out and stayed in contact of the leaders and some days I'd stay with them and others...not so much. So as I worked my way up the field, I hit two miles in 11:11 (5:31 split) and it seemed like I hardly made any ground...

We couldn't have asked for a better day. East Mission Bay Park was beautiful and the weather was perfect. Before the start, the kids were able to play with mom in a really cool playground. About 15 minutes before my race (normally high stress/anticipation time) I came over and Amy needed to use the restroom before the start. At first I kinda panicked because I wanted to get over and get some strides in. Once again the kids calmed my nerves and put things in perspective for me. Watching them laugh and play made me realize again how little racing and training is. For all they knew, we brought them down there to play at this park and every once in awhile they'd see me race by and Scarlett would yell, "Go Daddy, Go!" Music to my ears...I think it's no accident that my two worst races came when the family couldn't come and watch!
The course was very spectator friendly. It was a 3 loop course and although it was a flat for the most part, there was thick grass and uneven footing which kinda zapped the energy out of your legs.
After the 2 mile split, I started to feel that energy leaving my legs. I kinda just got into "no man's land." The course was set up in a way were you could almost keep an eye on where all of your teammates were and I was having problems trying to make my way up the pack. So I decided to just focus on one guy from the club Movin Shoes (who ended up beating us) and just try and catch him. I ended up catching him with about 800 meters to go and finished with a strong kick.

Here's my splits for the day (via Garmin):

Official Time: 23:17 (5:40 pace)
Place: 12th in my AG, 34th overall
My Garmin read 4.1 miles -who knows...

Overall I was happy for the result, but I also knew that going out that slow probably hurt me because I had to fight through traffic from the beginning and work my way up the field which I know taxed me a little. I probably could have broken 23 minutes if I went out in 5:30 and stuck with a pack...oh well, I had a fun Cross Country season and a blast running with BSK. About 15 minutes after the finish, five of us from the team put in some extra work. We ran an extra 4 miles at around 6:10 pace and I actually felt OK. Good 11 miles for the day.

That night we stayed at my in-laws house in Ramona and I got up early to put in a 30 mile mountain bike ride. I can always tell when I'm getting in good shape when I wake up the next day after working hard and my legs actually have some pop in them. I rode from their house (near main st.) all the way up Black Canyon until I hit Mesa Grande. It's over 3000 feet and 12 miles worth of climbing. There's a fire road all the way up to the top and although it's not the most exciting ride, the scenery at the top was beautiful. It went from a desert at the base, to pine trees, cold winds, deer, wild turkeys ---you name it at the top. Crazy. My goal was to make it to the top seated the whole way. And I actually did it with no problem at all. My average heart rate was only 132 and I can tell my bike fitness already getting better.
Ride Stats
The best part about 12 miles of climbing? Descending. It's always a game to me to see how fast I can get going on The Mistress. This time I got up to 45.9 mph. Amy loves it when I tell her. I just have so much fun pumping as hard as I can downhill, you just seem to float over the rough sections. So I hammered the decent, working on my cornering at high speeds. I was thinking about how fun it would be to race a downhill race, but after already breaking my pinkie from riding-it probably wouldn't be the best idea especially how hard I train.
 As for this picture, I have no idea why I look so hard. I started laughing when I saw it, so I thought I'd share. Just so "Bout the Business" here. Time to wrap up long post. I'm excited because I feel like triathlon training is now in full effect. Now that the running races are over, it's time to get in some serious triathlon base and strength training. I'm going to start hitting up Rehab United every week for strength training. For swimming, I'll be joining a Masters club and doing an open water swim once a week with TCSD. As for the biking, I'm going to be getting in a lot more volume with group rides with The Bike Shop, and a trainer for those early morning/late night rides. For running, I'm just going to be upping my long runs on the weekends and getting out on the trails as much as I can to get ready for next years Xterra's!

Big week of training on deck. Until next time....


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