Monday, March 31, 2008
First race, first win!
Well, my 2008 Xterra race season is officially under way. Yesterday I did the Xterra Real up near Sacramento and walked away with my first ever Xterra points series win. The first race of the year is always interesting. You don't really know how fit you are (race fitness at least) and it is easy to make little mistakes since you haven't raced in a while. So, here is a recap of the day...
I started the morning excited and happy to be racing. It was a little chilly but not too bad. I decided to warm up on my bike, which I don't normally do. I think it really helped me get into the groove much quicker during the race. In years past, I have struggled to find my legs after the swim so I decided to try some new things at the early season races. So, I will be warming up on the bike at every race now.
I didn't run and instead made the rather long walk (1/2 mile) down to the water to get in a warm up. The water level was really low so the run to transition was really long. The water temp was in the low 50's so it was cold but not too bad. I got in a good, long warmup and when the gun went off I fell into a strong tempo right away. I am happy with my swim start b/c I typically go out too hard and blow up. I have worked hard this year on staying relaxed and smooth during the swim start...it has really helped me. Actually, Reto and I did some swim start tests last week to determine if I really swim that much faster if I "go for it" when the gun fires or if I just swim strong but relaxed. What the tests showed was that I was only about 1 body length shorter if I went out strong but relaxed. One body length means I am still on the feet of some fast swimmers and I still have energy to surge and build my swim b/c I didn't blow out the first 200 meters. So, whats the take home message....relax at the start and settle into a strong tempo right away, don't blow it out in the first 200 meters but instead build the swim. It is important to keep in mind too that the adrenaline from race day gives you "free speed," which means you actually swim fast without having to really get after it. This might seem counter intiuitive but, after many years and several tests, it is the truth.
I came out of the water in the top 5 and was one of the few people to strip my wetsuit off right away, throw on my shoes and make the 1/2 mile run to transition...this proved to be the smart move b/c I made up a ton of ground on the run and was the first to leave T1.
--The long run back up
Once out on the bike I was never passed or challenged...it was just me and some of the sweetest single track I have ridden in a while. The trail was perfect...the dirt was tacky and you could rail the corners! Hats go off to TBF Racing for putting together such a killer course. I was really having a great time out there and yes, I had a smile on my face! I am happy to report that my bike fitness is coming along nicely. I felt strong out on the course, much stronger then I have ever felt in the last 3 years.
Oh, I did take a pretty nasty digger on the bike. I was coming up to a rock section on the second lap and there were a bunch of people standing there talking and trying to negotiate the section (on the their first lap) and I tried to get around them and just went straight over the bars. My left leg got pretty beat up and my rear shifter took a pretty big hit. My shifting was shot for 1/2 of the second lap. So, I am sure I lost some time with this mechanical but nothing to significant. We'll see how the shifter is firing today...a visit to the bike shop might be in order (bummer!!!). My leg is pretty sore and cut up but it won't keep me from training, which is good news.
I came off the bike in the lead and tried to push the run b/c I didn't really know how big my lead was. The first mile is flat, the next 2 hilly (which suits me and I loved it) and the last mile flat. I felt okay on the run but I can tell I need some more hard transition runs. That's okay though b/c I still have 6 weeks of hard work before the BIG races start.
Overall, I am very happy with the win and I met a lot of great people. Thanks to my awesome wife Jess for the support and pictures and thanks to Ann, Doyal and Emily Mae for being such great hosts!
--My happy hosts!
If you guys are interested in doing some great races check out TBF Racing...they are well organized and make racing so much fun! I am told they have over 50 races this year.
--Interview with the Xterra logistics king
--The long car ride home
I have a rest week this week and then I move into the really hard training. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
Oh, I will be updating my Training Bible Coaching site regularly to discuss various topics regarding training and racing...check it out!