This weekend I did something I haven't done since I was 25 or so. I raced back to back Saturday and Sunday. I'm reminded as I write this how tough that really is. Even though both races were ultra short, I can feel them in my body today.
Race #1 Dirt Dogs Cross Country - Balboa Park - Saturday
A classic race series in San Diego is the Dirt Dogs. It's a series of 6 or 7 cross country races. The event is done all old school. Sign up on the day of the race, no chip timing, and because it's cross country it's a big team atmosphere.
I arrived at the race about 30 minutes before the start. It felt really late to me but it wasn't. I had time to sign up, and get some slow jogging in before the start (note to self, add strides into the slow jogging. Helps with the starts). We lined up for the start and we were off. It was a downhill start for about 300 meters and then a quick steep uphill to separate the the bunch. My plan was to stay controlled the first 2 miles (by the way this is a 5K race) and then see if I can burn the last mile. I settled in to 6:20 pace. It felt easy enough to maintain but hard enough to stay in my space. The course was tough, lots of twists and turns and ups and downs. Then there were the rocks, lots of them on the course. True cross country style. After the first 1/2 mile or so I started to roll through the fast starters. Mile two came along in 12:40 and it was good. Good because I was on pace and good that there was only 1.1 to go. Now it was time to see if I could pick it up a bit. I surged, well ok, I slowly picked up the pace, not much surging going on anymore. I hit mile 3 ins 18:40 and then the last .1 was long. Really long. Probably because I could see the finish line the entire way but couldn't get there. 19:26.
Race #2 - Mission Bay Triathlon - Sunday - Swim 500yd, Bike 15K, Run 5K
If you are a triathlete or a wanna try it some day athlete, the Mission Bay Triathlon is a must do. It's where the sport of triathlon started and it's a top 5 race in the world. Location, Location, Location.
I've said this before, being almost old really sucks. If you are old you start early which gives you time to finish the course. If you are almost old, you start at the back. In face my almost old group was in wave 12 of 14 total waves. The first wave was finished with the entire race before my wave even started. Lot's of time to warm up!
My warm up was complete and it was time to race. My plan was to go as hard as I could from the gun and see what would happen. The horn sounded and I was off, Fast. I desperately tried to hang with the super fast feet. I got dropped but it felt good to hang with them. I was out of oxygen about 3/4 of the way through. I tried to relax and let my stroke take over. A shout out to my new Zoot Synergy wetsuit. First of all one that really fits is important. But one that fits like that and floats like that is extra good. No rash, no pinching and feeling fast in the water. Not a bad thing. I have no idea where I came out of the water. Because of no oxygen, I was dizzy. I just regrouped as I made it to the bike and hoped for the best.
On the bike it all felt good. My cadence jumped up quick and I knew I had to settle it down. Starting so far back meant that I would be passing people the entire way. An ok thing to do but it does mess with your pace. You are passing them so you must be going fast. The bike course is wide open with one loop around the famous Fiesta Island (what a poor excuse for a famous Island). The year Faris Al Sultan won Ironman he motor paced on that Island for 112 miles. He hasn't won it since and I'm sure he hasn't done that crazy ride again. It was windy during the race an on Fiesta that mean's no break. It's a relatively flat road but with wind it's uphill the entire way. I was grinding it out around the Island. No clue where I was in the race and nobody to pace with, I just put my head down and screamed "On Your Left" on a regular basis.
Into Transition and go. I think it was my fastest change to run ever. I think it has something to do with the shoes in the picture below. The Zoot Ultra Speed. No laces, just slip on and go.
These babies are 6.5oz of lets go running freedom. They were simply great shoes to race in. Like the bike I was running by people the entire way. The only thing I could do is run as hard as I could for as long as I could. The course is mostly flat with two hills in the last 1.5 miles. Lots and lots of turns on the course make it for a fun run. You can just hammer between the turns. Whew, I'm at the finish already. 59:32 on the clock. Not as fast as 3 years ago but I think the days of going ultra fast in a one hour race are fading quickly.
My goal at the start of this year was to win my age group in a triathlon. I've done three triathlons this year and felt through the first two I was on pace. Because of the new job and lots of travel in the back half of the year, Mission Bay was going to be my make or break race. A really tough race to try to do this. In 2006 I was 8th in my age group. So this is why I went as hard as I could from the gun. I waited and waited for the awards to be posted. Finally one hour after I finished they were posted. 2nd in my age group. 15 seconds behind first. Dang, I missed it. I never saw the guy. I never saw anyone in my age group. Dang. But wait a second, I raced twice this weekend. If I don't race Dirt Dogs, I make up that 15 seconds easy (in my mind anyway). I'm going to consider this a success.
I didn't hit that ultimate goal but I came very close. I had fun getting there and that's more of the point. That and losing 12 lbs this year. It's all good.
A big thanks to my family for putting up with this goal. There is no way I can do this crazy stuff without there love and support.
Thanks go out to Coach Gordo. He kept me honest through the year and stayed in touch. That's not normal in triathlon. Most people probably don't hear from their coach too often.
Now it's time to rest. Rest and recharge. Well not really, there are 3 Dirt Dog races still to do.
It's a good life....