Sage Brush Safari Race Report

Kenda's first mountain bike race of the season is in the books and it was a snowy, muddy mess! The race was held up at Lake Morena (Campo)  which is past Alpine (East San Diego). Snow levels reached as low as 1000 feet the night before so I checked Facebook before we packed up to head out and as far as I could tell the race was still on. Apparently, I just missed the update because they later went on to tell everyone that the race has been delayed an hour because they had to adjust the course. We headed out of Temecula around 7am, dropped the kids off at my in-laws and took off towards Alpine with just Amy and I. The day happened to be my birthday, and what better way to spend the day then spending some alone time with the wifey, racing a mountain bike race, then head to Stone Brewery for a little Birthday celebration with my friends and family?
The drive was pretty nuts on the way out and I could already tell it was going to be an interesting day on the bike. Once we pulled off on our exit we headed towards the race site and our car started hitting some ice and swerving a bit. I'm glad we had our AWD Element to get through some of the mud. We passed a few cars that were struggling and even saw a truck get stuck. If these cars are getting stuck, how is it going to be on the bike!!?? We luckily found a spot near the start and made our way over to registration, only to find out then the race was delayed.
So with the extra time to kill, I listened to some advice at the Kenda booth and decided to purchase their Small Block Eight tires because I knew the Slant Six tires I used for last week's Duathlon would not hold up in this mud that got as deep as 2 feet in some parts of the course. I'm glad I did -they handled the conditions really well. As I was changing my tires, the race director made an announcement and explained why the race had been delayed. He said he went over the course on a quad and had trouble getting through it and said it would be way too dangerous to ride. Instead the course changed to a 4-5 lap Cyclocross style race with very little climbing. I told Amy, great there goes my strength---I'm going to get worked! One thing the director failed to mention that there was going to be three river crossings, with one of them waist deep every lap!

Photo by Dave McElwaine
  I took off for my warm-up after sipping on some Heed from Hammer Nutrition which I wanted to try to see if could solve my cramping issues. I already use their Recoverite, which I really like - so I decided to give Heed a try during my race. I started up the regularly marked fire road climb and looked over to see a huge river crossing with race markings pointing in that direction. The poor volunteer was trying to explain to a group of us that riders will be crossing it 4-5 times. People were pissed. It was already low 40's outside and that ice water had to in the 20's. One guy had just purchased a brand new Specialized Epic 29er and said after the race, if I had to pick thee worst thing I could possibly put my bike through, it would be this race.

The pro's went off at 12:00 and at 12:20 the gun went off for my race (CAT 3). I only had one mountain bike race under my belt, but I still felt confident and lined up front. There were probably about 50 people in my race (they combined a ton of age groups) and I got out quickly, settled into 2nd and 3rd place up the fire road climb. It went by fast and before we knew it, we hit that first deep river crossing and it was pretty funny. Everyone hesitated and it seemed like no one wanted to go first (including me!). I let a few go by me that hit it pretty conservative and they paid for it. One guy was baptized--he literally fell all the way in, rose up and screamed. I hit it pretty hard and actually pedaled through it fairly easily, but came out with my toes now completely numb and hurting! Then we hit the single track where we hit all kinds of traffic. I was stuck behind a pack of six riders (I think CAT 2 60+ AG) and then all of the sudden Adam Morka (Pro winner) and about five other pros came up on us and it was a mess until we finally got out to some fireroad.

Photo by Jesus Ortega. Someone
struggling through the thick mud
  There were a ton of deep mud sections where you had to just power through it. At first I thought I'd get killed on a race like this because there were no hills, but because of the thick mud throughout the course it actually helped me, because it basically mirrored my training right now. Lots of aerobic, low cadence work. So the power I needed was there and I just kept passing a ton of people throughout the race. I just tried to focus on staying upright, taking in calories and keeping power up. As I started lap 3, I took in a Powerbar Gel that I had taped to my bike. I ate a lot of dirt. As I came up on the river crossing I changed to my middle chain ring and because of all the mud, I dropped my chain. I quickly fixed it, as a pack went by me and when we hit the crossing, I ended up hitting some guy that fell, so I went in with one leg completely submerged and managed to get back on and get out of that freezing water.

I think the Gel kicked in and I think I had my fastest lap was on lap 3. I just kept passing a bunch of people and no one had a blue (CAT 3) plate, so I just kept hammering away. Love the Hurt! Finally the last lap came and I just maintained. With about a mile to go I tried to speed up and pick off a few more people but the legs had nothing left. Part of that is probably from hammering a mile swim then a quick 25 mile bike ride the day before, but other than that - my legs responded really well to the conditions. After the race, I took a bit to recover and I gave Amy a big muddy kiss and I told her I've never had so much fun on a mountain bike. It was being like a kid again, playing in the mud and riding your bike - but this time you got the bonus of racing/competing - which I love the most.

The Finish
 It felt a lot like a Cyclocross race even though I've only done one and it was not in the mud. It reminded me of some episodes of Behind the Barriers with Jeremy Powers where they ride a lot of races up north in the mud. It always looked so fun, and with the heavily spectator - multiple lap course, it felt a lot like it. I told Amy that I'm pretty sure I won my age group and that we should stick around for results. As we were waiting, we find out that it's 2:45 and our B-Day celebration at Stone started in 15 minutes. Oops! We just got so caught up in the moment of the race - time flew. We made some calls and told everyone we'd be late to our own birthday party. Lame!

The race and awards ceremony was nothing like I've been a part of. Mountain bikers know how to do it right! Everybody was so laid back and friendly. I chatted it up with so many people. After the race people busted out their chairs, BBQ's and apparently you can bring your own beer to these things. I wish I'd known! Just about everyone around was drinking a post race beer, eating some good BBQ and talking about how brutal it was. I ended up winning my race by over a minute, got to be on the podium for the second week in a row and took home a really cool custom made trophy. They clocked me in 1:20 and change, even though I had 1:18 on my Garmin - oh well. After the awards we ran to our car, got changed and got over to Stone as quickly as possible. Sorry everyone! I would really like to race four more times so I can qualify for CAT 2, but we'll see if I can work it out in the schedule - might be difficult with triathlon season starting. This was a great confidence builder on the bike and I am just going to build on these two races and gear up for TRI Season!

Here's a few more pics from the weekend:

The Mistress handled the conditions well. Thanks again to The Bike Shop in Temecula for loaning me these sweet Reynolds wheels. If you are ever on your way to Vail to MTB, be sure to stop by the shop, it's on the way!

Fighting some traffic in the first lap
The aftermath

Stone bday party with family and friends (ignore my wife's crazy look!!)

Thanks for reading!!!

More Desert Duathlon Pics

A few more from the weekend:

Coming into transition...disappointed and hurting!

Looking ahead of me (at least I'm doing something right...)

My boy telling me I need what I need to work on...He's a champion in the making!

Irving and I on the podium

Desert Classic Duathlon Race Report

So the second race of the year is in the books and I have mixed emotions about it...more on this later. It's been a crazy week. I spent most of it in Vegas for a work conference, which made it difficult to get any type of training in. Even though I like the Swimmers Guide which tells you where and what type of pools are located throughout the world -they sometimes can be inaccurate. I stayed at the Hilton and it indicated that they have a 25 yard lap pool. Come to find out, they have a pool---but it was sectioned off and I wasn't able to swim. Then, to just get in the gym it cost $25 bucks. It's funny, just a year ago -when I'd travel, I would check out The Beer Mapping Project to see where the beer was---now I'm looking for pools....Anyway,  I ended up only working out one day and then had 2 days off - which might have been a good thing, since I still had that nagging calf pain.

Friday I flew back in town, picked up the kids and headed out for Phoenix. The kids did surprisingly well except for the last 30 mins where they both screamed. For those of you parents - it's hard to think straight when it is that loud and you want to comfort them and you're trying to follow directions and obey speed laws. The last one didn't happen and I see lights go on behind us. Great. We were 2 miles from our 300 mile destination. The cop rolls up to our Honda Element with screaming kids and he looks at me and asks how fast I was going. I look up - not even knowing what I did at this point - I give him my license/registration and a few minutes later (with the kids louder now) he comes back and says, "I clocked you at 69 in a 50 mph zone, slow down." And he left....Man he must of had kids - cause from what I hear, the cops are pretty strict and don't like us Californians. Lucky. Maybe the rest of the week will go this way...

The next day Eric and I went for an easy run and then later we headed out to the course to check it out with Irving. The wind was kicking up so hard, you couldn't see the mountains and the forecast had rain coming. We went over the course for about 30 mins on our bikes - and I was amazed at how light and responsive The Mistress was with it's new (loaned) wheels. It felt like a completely different bike and I realize now how much of a difference lighter wheels can have on a bike. We didn't go over the whole course because the rain really started to come down, so we grabbed a few beers and called it a day.

Race morning: Woke up around 5:30, put on my bib number ate four eggs, a banana, a cup of coffee and then start sipping on some water. We arrived, set up our transition area, hit the bathroom and it was time to warm-up and get going. It all seemed to happen really fast and before I knew it the gun went off for the first 3.5 mile run.

3.5 mile Trail Run: As always, one guy sprinted to the front, I kinda just let him go -figuring he'd eventually just come back. I settled into 2nd place and we moved away from the pack pretty quickly. Then about 3/4 mile in, we went down a muddy hill and I felt my calf tweak again (insert swear word). I hadn't run on it in about a week, hoping it would heal in time for the race. Sharp pain occurred every time my right foot struck.
This happened for the next mile and I was seriously considering dropping out. Then I tried to just focus on cadence and just make it to the bike and see what happens. So I just started limping my way through the trails and after about the 1st mile marker we hit some serious traffic. Slow age groupers everywhere from the last few wave starts. The trail was all single track so it made it real difficult to get through these slow packs. I literally must have past 40-60 runners, bumping many of them, yelling at them that I was behind them -with no response. This made it pretty frustrating. The officials must have figured the mountain bike race would be full of slow runners...Dunno.
Result: 21:43 (6:10 pace), 2nd place overall

15 mile Mountain Bike: I arrived to transition with my calf on fire. I was in and out pretty fast and maintained my 2nd position. I knew the bike was going to be a bit of a struggle especially since it was just 15 miles of rolling single track, which is definitely my weakness. I'm more of a long climbing, technical course kind of guy. After about 5 miles, the first guy passed me and he was moving - I tried to keep up with him, but he was just on another level than I was. Then three other guys passed me over the course of the next 10 miles. I had some serious cramping issues occurring at around mile 9. Every time I tried to climb, both calves started cramping up so I had to dismount and walk my bike up the hills because every time I ran, they would cramp up. I have no idea why - I was good on my nutrition - I had 3 shot bloks and a bottle full of Nunn and Carbo Pro. Maybe that wasn't enough? The same thing happened to me at the TRI Rock last year - calf cramps. Maybe it's my pedals? Cleats? Anybody want to share some insight? I finally made it to transition and as soon as I dismounted, I couldn't even run to my area -my calves were a disaster. My wife and kids cheered me in, only for me to scream in pain when I attempted to put my running shoes on. I had to stretch a bit and gather myself. Love the hurt! Finally, I headed out for my next run.
Result: 59:40 (9 mph), 5th place overall

3 mile Trail Run: At this point we merged with the road bike race again back onto the trail. At this point I didn't mind the traffic. I needed the distractions. My calves were cramping, my right calf still burned and even my quad started acting up. Already I was thinking to myself how out of shape I was and how much work I needed to do to get ready for the Xterra West Championships in April. I continued to pass about 25 more people and at about mile 2 I got a huge rock in my shoe. Of course I did....I stopped, took it out and tried to catch back up with a pack. With about 1/2 mile to go I saw a guy I recognized from my race, so in attempt to discourage him from wanting to put up a fight, I picked up the pace and went by him fast--trying not to limp or look as weak as I felt. It worked and I ended up finishing 4th overall and 1st in my age group.
Result: 20:48 (6:58 pace) 4th overall

Finishing up a rough day...

My biggest fans!

All three of us were top 3 in our age group, so we stuck around in rain for the awards and raffle. It was pretty cool, I got a $25 Gift Certificate to TRI Sports and a coffee mug. Afterwards we headed to Four Peaks Brewery for some much needed food and beers. I highly recommend it if you are in the Tempe area. The food, beer and service was excellent. Not to mention the company. I think my favorite thing is to race hard and then go get beers with friends and family afterwards. It helps enhance a great performance and makes a bad race not seem so bad after all. Even though my placing says otherwise, I felt like I had a bad race and have a lot of work to do. My pre-race planning/training was bad, my nutrition was definitely off and my single track skills are lacking. Learning experience!

After we got back to the house, we iced our legs in Eric's pool and hung out. Time to rest a little for this weekends mountain bike race at Kenda's Sage brush. I know I have work to do on the MTB and back to back weekends of hard mountain bike racing is just what I need before gearing up for my first triathlon of the year at In the Dirt next month.

Thanks for reading-

Great Quote/Read  has been a site I've frequented ever since its inception (back in the 90's). It was one of the first great running websites to hit the web and it's done a lot for the sport.

Anyway, thought I would share it's quote today. It's by Wayne Goldsmith giving the secret to success in endurance sports:

“We all know what the secret to success is – it is so obvious it has no right to be even called a secret…here it is for free. Work harder, more consistently than anyone in your sport in the world ensuring that you commit everything you have – physically, mentally, technically and tactically to every training, recovery and competition experience.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Great stuff, it's so true. I feel many triathletes are guilty of trying to take that short cut and getting the best bike, gear, coach, nutrition - whatever it is, when really they should just be focused on getting the work done - the right way. The beauty of it is, this doesn't just apply to sports - it can apply to anything in life.

Thought I'd share.

Race Prep

This week is going to be a crazy one -so this will be a pretty short post. I'm heading up to Vegas tomorrow for a work event, fly back Friday, pick up the family, head out to Phoenix to stay with Eric and Kim (thanks for having us!) Then we'll go over the course Saturday, race the Desert Classic Duathlon Sunday and then head back to Temecula on Monday.  I'm hoping that I can stay healthy, get SOME rest and eat well during my travels - but that might be hard. Not to mention getting in some quality prep workouts before the race. At least this week falls on my rest week in my training schedule, which is much needed. For those of you that don't know what a duathlon is -it's Run, Bike, Run - basically just replacing the swim portion of the triathlon with another run. In this case I'll be doing a 3.5 mile run, a 15 mile Mountain Bike ride, then a 3 mile run.

I've put in the most volume the past 3 weeks than I ever have in my life---including when I used to run 100+ miles a week. My body handled it pretty well until literally the last day. I was wrapping up my third hard week with a 14 mile long run which included 50 minutes at tempo. I felt extremely good - I was on pace to go sub 1:30 for a half with my heart rate only around 60% of my max. It was very encouraging to see the gains I've made in just one month. But then with about 3 miles to go I felt my gastrocnemius muscle (upper/outside of the calf) tighten up and had me eventually walking/jogging the rest of the way in. It's that same right side that I've had problems with in my lower calf and IT Band. I'm sure something needs to be adjusted -it can't all be coincidence that all the problems lay on the right side of my body! Oh well, I've just been icing, massaging and keeping away from running until later this week. Hope it holds up for the race. If it does, I think I have a chance of placing pretty high. The Bike Shop is being so gracious and loaning me some Reynolds Carbon Race demo wheels for the race. I also got some new Kenda tires which are lighter and faster. Along with the wheel set, my bike will lose a lot of weight and I'm excited to test it out. As far as the run goes,  I know I'll be competitive (I think I am in 16:00 5k shape) and if I can just maintain it on the bike and avoid flats and crashes, I should be ready to hunt anyone down in the last 3 mile run portion.

Wish me luck!!

Oh yea, Happy Birthday to this little champ---My son Taylor just turned one!

Commitment is Prompted by Love

This is something I heard over the weekend at church and it really stuck with me. It is so true when you consider anything that requires some form of discipline. Job, spouse, kids, friends, triathlon, (fill in the blank)- in order to be effective and committed in any of these, you have to love it/him/her/them/sport/ _____first.  I really started breaking it down with my training -and I encourage you to do the same. The biggest excuse I hear from people that don't devote proper commitment to something is time. Nobody ever has time to do/experience the things they love. I think the real excuse is the lack of love for it. With simple time management techniques (like I described in this post), you can make ample time to do what you love to do.

Little waterfall at the end of my 2.5 hr MTB ride
 The reason I am able to train 10-20 hours a week with a full time job, a wife, two kids and 3 hours of commuting time is because I love swimming, biking and running. That is it. That is the secret. I'm not out to prove anything or feel obligated to workout. I just love to train and race so I work my schedule out very carefully each week so that I'm able to attend to everything in my life with a high level of commitment.  I see Amy do the same thing. A lot of people think being a stay-at-home mom is easy and that they have too much time on their hands. You should see what that women gets done in a week! Amazing.

Usually with the high level of commitment comes great results, that is why I train so hard. So how do I work my schedule to get training in? I'll just give you a look at my last weeks schedule:

5:00am -wake up, little Bfast & coffee, pack my bags/lunch for the day, head to the pool
5:30-6:15 - Swim workout
6:20-7:00 - Get ready for work, Bfast #2, hi/bye to fam
6:45/7ish - 8-8:30 - Commute to SD. Seems I am either early or late each day, can never predict traffic!
8-4:30 -Work. I will eat 4-6 meals/snacks during the course of the day
4:30-5 - Drive over to Rehab United
5:00-6 - Bike spin/workout
6:00-7pm -Rehab United Strength & Conditioning session
7:00-8pm - Commute home
8:00-9 - Visit with wife (kids are already in bed), eat dinner, shower #2
9:00 Bed

6:00am -Sleep in, no workout scheduled
6-7 -play with kids, get ready for work
6:45/7ish - 8-8:30 - Commute to SD
8-5pm -Work
5-5:30 - Drive over to track workout
5:30-7 - Track workout
7:00-8 Commute home
8:00-9 - Visit with wife (kids are already in bed), eat dinner, shower #2
9:00 -  Bed

5:00am -wake up, little Bfast & coffee, pack my bags/lunch for the day, head to the pool
5:30-6:15 - Swim workout
6:20-7:00 - Get ready for work, Bfast #2, hi/bye to fam
6:45/7ish - 8-8:30 - Commute to SD.
8-4:30 -Work
4:30-5:45ish -Commute home
5:45-9 -Play w/kids, cook dinner, spend time w/the wifey, read
9:00 -Bed

4:30am - wake up, little Bfast & coffee
4:45-6:15 -90 min mid-week Long run
6:15-7 -play with kids, get ready for work
6:45/7ish - 8-8:30 - Commute to SD
8-5pm -Work
4:30-5:45ish -Commute home
5:45-9 -Play w/kids, cook dinner, spend time w/the wifey, read
9:00 -Bed

5:00am -wake up, little Bfast & coffee, pack my bags/lunch for the day, head to the pool
5:30-6:15 - Swim workout
6:20-7:00 - Get ready for work, Bfast #2, hi/bye to fam
6:45/7ish - 8-8:30 - Commute to SD.
8-4:30 -Work
4:30-5:45ish -Commute home
5:45-10 -Play w/kids, cook dinner, watch a movie
10:00pm -Bed

7:00-8am -sleep in, bfast & coffee, play with kids
8:00-11:00 - 3hr Bike ride
11:00-11:30 - 30 min run (brick)
11:30-12:30 - recovery, lunch, nap
12:30-3 -play w/the kids, hang out with wifey
3:00-4:30 -commute to Ramona for bros bday
4:30-9pm -Hang out with family/friends
9:00 Bed

7:00-7:30am -sleep in, bfast & coffee
7:30-10:00 - 2.5 hr MTB ride up Black Mountain & back
10:30-12pm - Church
12:00-7pm -Hang out w/friends and family -Superbowl
7-8:30 -Commute home
9:00 - Bed

Total training hours: 13hrs.

As my hours continue to creep up to 18hrs/week, I'll be doing double workout days each day of the week (some during my lunch hour at work) and I'll have to be even more careful of scheduling each of my commitments. I think the biggest common denominator in my schedule is that there is no TV. Amy and I will usually watch one movie a week and maybe a few shows like SNL or 30 Rock on netflix -but that is it. We have very little time commitment to TV which is why we are able to accomplish so much each week. I figure if I wanted to watch more, I'd have to sacrifice my training time or even worse, my limited time with the fam! I'll have to be even more careful with this when baseball season starts since I like to follow the Padres.

I encourage each of you to map out what you do in a typical week and see where most of your time is spent. Could you spend a little more or a little less on certain things? Are you struggling with committing to certain things? Do you love it deep down inside? Maybe if you are having problems getting in the gym, accept the fact that you don't love it and try something else like running, rock climbing, yoga ---keep searching for that one activity that promotes an active lifestyle and you might discover your new love and the commitment that you have been searching for will follow suite.

Oh yea, and for those of you that thought I was going to be racing at the USATF Cross Country Championships, I backed out a few days prior. I had originally thought that BSK was going to be racing and once I found out that they weren't - I checked out registration and it had already jumped to $95 to race! No thanks, so I just took the opportunity to get some good training in. I'm all registered for the Desert Classic Duathlon in a few weeks and ready to rock.

Sorry for the long-drawn out post. I'll leave you with a very cool quote:

"When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible." ~Nancy Coey