Friday, July 27, 2012

Races #132-133: Conquering Versailles

This year I thought I would have fun and push myself a bit to freshen things up. First, I ran that blasted Flying Pig Marathon. While I was training for that I started daydreaming about doing an Xterra triathlon.

But after Mohican all I really wanted to do was ride my bike. So I did not take my Tri training too seriously. I just did 3 swims (but making sure each swim was about 30 minutes long, around the time I would be in the water). And I would just run here and there. At the end of the day, I like swimming and running but I LOVE TO RIDE MY BIKE!

So my friends Dan, Boris and I headed out to Versailles Friday night. They have really great campgrounds, they are clean and the other people are pretty respectful. Not like the camping I did after Capitol View (where people were blaring club music till late). By the way, sites #90 and# 92 are pretty sweet for tent campers.

Dan, Boris and I carbo-loaded on beer, including a stop at Great Crescent Brewery in Aurora, Indiana. We stayed up late and BSed around the campsite. Woke up around 6am, did some yoga to stretch. Got everything ready. It was weird to try to think of things I need for swimming, cycling and running!

So we started the Xterra out in the water. It was weird to swim in a pack. In the first few minutes you are clumped together and whacking each others legs and arms! I kept it pretty chill, I did not want to over-exert myself. Actually, this was my best/fastest swim to date. Usually in my training swims I would get tired and have to stop or alternate to breast stroke. So I swim pretty inefficiently — I started the swim by keeping my head constantly above water, always pointing forward. I found that it regulates my breathing and I less taxing on my system. Later in the swim I started this other technique where my head shifted from side-to-side with each stroke, I became more efficient but over a few minutes I made myself very dizzy! In the last 200 feet I swallowed some lake water and almost started vomiting — that slowed me down!

So I got out of the water and my transition was a bit slow, perhaps socks are a bad idea... Anyway, I jump on the bike and start riding and I am still very dizzy and I crashed into a tree right away! I collected myself and launched myself up Shadow Run. I tried to balance the need to pass people with respect and safety. I was blown away how many competitors were not extremely strong on the bike. I felt like a super star — I think I passed nearly 30 people and put in a decent lap time to boot! One guy was not so happy to have me pass and told me I should be a better swimmer! He's right, it would have been so much easier!

So I really loved the bike leg! I kept a bunch of gas in the tank and by riding more restrained I read the course and trail with a clearer head. I really had my mojo that day! I felt so smooth!

The iPhone Strava app allows me quick uploads — I feel so badass until everyone uploads their Garmins...

So I get back in and started the run. I just had to pull off my gloves, helmet and switch shoes. The run went pretty well. I haven't really run much at all since the Pig so I did not know what to expect. I guess I had leftover fitness — I went out and ran the best trail times of my life. Somehow I managed a pace of just over 8min/mile with almost 500 feet of climbing and some technical downhills! Wow!

I didn't wear my heart rate monitor but I was feeling that I raced the whole race fairly conservatively. But that night I started feeling pretty tore up. Perhaps I gave 100% and not the 120% that I am used to. Perhaps also all the adrenaline made me feel awesome!

I really feel like the Xterra format is a great event — training doesn't have to take over your life and you can get out and train while enjoying nature. I strongly suggest an Xterra to anyone considering triathlons. My race was over in 2:11, you could easily compete within 3:00. It doesn't really kill you day and all the distances are easily achievable.

There were vegan and vegetarian competitors, then there was this guy...

That night I hung out with Kathy and Fraser. We rode into Downtown Versailles on a recovery ride and they invited me over for some beers and a delicious Italian lentil dish that Kathy made. It was nice to pass the time with friends instead of reading "Devil in the White City" all alone in my tent all night!

I also did some yoga overlooking a ravine to loosen up and stretch out my muscles. I love doing yoga in nature. I know, it's nerdy! It's just cool to connect with nature again — I haven't camped in over two years and this is my second time this year. I've really enjoyed getting away from the rat race and just mellowing out for a weekend.

So the mountain bike race the next day was a smidge tough! I woke up fairly early, got ready and actually rode a full lap of the race course to warm up before the race.

But my legs were still not there. The start went off and I immediately went to the back. I lost a minute to the next rider within a few miles. I was really struggling. Then the Red Zone Juniors leading the Cat 2 race came rollin along. They were the wind in my sails and they woke me back up! I jumped on the leader's wheel for a couple minutes until I nearly wiped out in a dusty turn. Then Red Zone junior #2 and #3 came rolling up. Those kids are fast! I jumped on their wheels and had a blast! I rode with them for most of the reaming part of the first lap. I GOT MY MOJO BACK!

I started passing the other guys in my race. I think I gained 4 positions. But suddenly I heard a rubbing on my back tire. I looked down to see what it was and I wiped out going pretty fast! I stopped, it was the end of the front derailleur cable. I lost about 3 positions I just gained! I bent the cable back out of the way and restarted my chase. Over then next two laps I regained the positions I lost as well as gaining 2 more.

I crossed the line in 2:12:14, taking a minute off my previous best time and equaling my highest previous placing in the DINO Versailles race. Wow, I just wish I started stronger!

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