Sunday, October 26, 2008

Xterra Worlds Quick Race Report

The race didn't go as planned. Tough to say, but I got 12th in my age group. Ouch. 3hrs 20mins. My goal was 3hrs flat (or better).

Swim was good. 22:05....that was about it. From peddle stroke one, I didn't have any mojo on the bike. The only place I passed people was on the descents. Other than that, I was the one getting passed. It sucked. The run was a formality I suppose, although I pushed to the end. 7:54 miles. What's that about? The course was tough. The season is done. I am in Hawaii for the rest of the week with my family....and stoked about it.

I had a great season and this tough result won't ruin it.

Major props to James Walsh...I won't steal his thunder. Read about it here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peak Mind - Peak Body

I am ready to race. My mind is calm, focused and confident. My body is rested and full of potential energy. I am ready to race.

Today I had an easy 2k swim with a little, short intensity and an easy 30min trail run. Tomorrow I have a 40min MTB/20min run brick, both with a couple of short, race pace pickups. Friday is a travel day with an easy, afternoon swim at the race course. Saturday will be a little of each sport at the race course. Sunday = show time.

I will be wearing Zoot's new CompressRx tights and short sleeved shirt for most of the travel. I've been a fan of compression gear all season and this is by far the best. I wish I could have all Zoot's CompressRx gear because it flat out works.

All my gear is ready roll.

What else is there to say?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cannondale Scalpel for Xterra Worlds

Once again the crew at Focus Cyclery has come up big!
The Xterra Worlds bike course is rocky, real rocky. To climb faster over rocky terrain, descend faster over rocky terrain and to be more fresh for the run, a full suspension bike would be an optimal solution, for me. One problem, I only have a hardtail. It's a very nice, 19lb Cannondale Taurine, but not the right tool for the job. Here is the Taurine looking pretty on one of my favorite trails here in NE Mesa, AZ.

This is where Focus Cyclery comes in....they hooked me up with this, a new, full XTR 2008 Cannondale Scalpel...SWEET!

I've personalized it a bit with some neon green ESI Grips, Stan's ZTR Race wheels and Maxxis Larsen TT tubeless tires. I've been riding the bike now for over a week with two really solid workouts on some very Maui-like terrain. Wow. The bike is great. I was concerned about loosing some climbing pace not using my hardtail, but totally not the case. The Scalpel has made me faster all-around over very rocky terrain. Goodie. The new bike has tons of variability with both front and rear shocks to dial in the perfect speed-to-handling ratio. I found the sweet spot today.

On a workout note, for the most part, the hard stuff is done. Let me say it another way, 11mths of focused working out is done. All that remains is to rest up and to then go nuts and leave it all on the course next Sunday. Being "done" is pretty motivating in and of itself. I feel extremely well prepared.

Swim - I did 6x300s and 6x100s earlier in the week...fastest splits ever for both distances.

Bike - I did 2x30min race pace efforts up a gnarly, rocky climb today...set a :30 PR on the first one and held the second one within 1:00 of the first. So, pace and endurance are where they need to be. (The PR I broke today had been set last week where I took 3:30 off of my pre-Tahoe/Xterra USA Championships PR).

Run - I hit the track for some 400s earlier in the week and was easily able to hit my target pace, a pace that took everything I had only a couple of weeks ago. Also in recent brick runs, I have been able to engage race-pace running speed much more quickly (unlike at Tahoe/Xterra USA Championships).

All systems GO.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Peak Workouts Gearing Up for Worlds

Not much time left until the big show. At first, I thought having Nationals and Worlds so close together was going tough on a number a levels. However, I am finding the alternate for two reasons...1) My body and mind are in full on race mode. Nothing gets both ready to race big like a big race and 2) I have a great coach. I have complete confidence in my plan and my about a mental load off and an enormous confidence boost!

To highlight both, over the weekend Coach Grasky was in Phoenix to get himself back into race-mode by doing some mountain bike and cyclocross racing. Although I didn't do the races with him even though they sounded like fun, after the races, I was sharing with him how I felt kind of crappy during a super tough mtb workout with 4.5k+ ft of climbing with 3x30min race pace intervals. He actually laughed at me and said that a) my fitness was/is "there" and b) I am pushing myself harder than I have all season because of my "big race mode" mentality, so the intervals will naturally feel harder. Yeah...nice positive talk, but I want to hard numbers/data. I looked back and he was right...the same interval took me 3.5min longer only a couple of weeks ago. Ok, he was right!

Training is tough to classify without spelling out each workout. What I can easily say is that volume has come way down, intensity is race pace or greater and after this Saturday I will be in full on taper mode. Rest is my best friend and I am stoked to see what I am capable of with it.

Hard to believe that the season, all this crazy hard work, is almost over. The best part about it is that the end is most exciting part with Worlds....and....I am super ready to crush it. Gives me chills even thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Xterra USA Championship Race Report

2nd place 25-29 age group

8th place overall amateur

17min 43sec faster than 2007

I am satisfied with my year-over-year improvement. However, I didn't put a complete race together....definitely not down on myself....but certainly more fuel for the fire to keep me going until the Xterra World Championships in a couple of weeks. I am extremely motivated to get the most out of training between now and then and to work on a couple of deficiencies. I will not leave fitness on the table. No mas.

Modeling after my travel schedule from the Xterra Mountain Championship, we flew into Reno on Saturday, the day before the race, to limit my time at altitude. After grabbing lunch at Whole Foods and stocking up on some essentials to eat quality home cooked meals, we cruised up and over the mountains to Incline Village just in time to get my packet. #111. Nice. It was cold and wet and the Lake looked quite rough. Not exactly perfect triathlon weather.

Race morning was a little better. No rain and the water was calm. After setting up shop in transition, we headed to Starbucks and then back to the condo to stay warm and out of the pre-race buzz as long as possible. About 1hr before race time, I headed back to the venue to start my warm-up. After finalizing transition I headed out on my bike for about 15min. My legs felt great although I definitely felt the altitude. Nature of the Tahoe beast. Game face on, I suited up in my new buddy that I spent the past two week , my Zoot Zenith, and headed to 1/4+ miles down to the lake. In route, I positioned my running shoes just off the beach so I could comfortably and quickly run back to transition post-swim. I love swimming in Lake Tahoe and was really looking forward to having an exceptional swim as my training would suggest. After a 10ish minute warm-up in the water, I was feeling great and was ready to rock.

Boom! At the gun, unlike other races, I ran in the water for quite a while and then porpoised some prior to settling into my stroke. Wow. What a difference this made. Much less spastic of a start. Somewhere between the start and the 1st buoy I forgot that I had to work hard to swim fast. I lost a bunch of time and it took until the 2nd lap of the 1500m course to find my groove. Once I did, I felt great and swam pretty fast, I think. Looking at my was well below my target. Regardless, exiting the water and making the run to T1 was enough time to get my head ready for the bike.

T1 was a bit more complicated than normal this time around and it all had to do with staying warm. The additions to my normal set-up were 1) socks, 2) toe covers (already installed), 3) a jacket and 4) full finger gloves. I practiced plenty with these things, but it still made T1 complicated. Finally on the bike I knew I had some work to do.

On the road leading up to the first climb, Cody Waite came screaming by me. What better way to get into the bike than to hammer along with Cody, so I stuck with him as long as I could. With my legs and head now warmed up, I found a really solid cadence and began picking people off. I felt good and worked my way up into 3rd overall amateur and had a head full of steam....then....the trail flattened out and my head fell out of the game. Major bummer. I gave up some ground on the Flume Trail and the stretch around Marlette Lake. Not a fitness thing at all. I had worked specifically on keeping the power going on terrain like this leading up to the race, but didn't put it together. Finally at the top of the course, it was time to bomb the descent. I definitely went faster than in years past, but could have used a full suspension and would have benefited from pre-riding.

Let's run. It took too long for me to get into to my stride...about 1.75 miles. It took Branden Rakita (finished 5th overall - Pro) to blast by me/lap me to get me moving. I stuck on his heels for the remainder of the 1st lap and then kept the pace going for the final 3 miles. I averaged 6:28 miles, but really needed to get rolling much more quickly and flat out just push harder.

Two words: Turbo Maui