Monday, September 6, 2010

More diversity, new adversity and a podium...

Two weeks ago saw a return to racing after a much needed break. I was feeling a bit burnt out after the GP, 8 Hr, then Wilderness 101 as well as some midweek travels. I was really looking forward to Lake Placid XTERRA off-road tri....a great combination of multisport that really suits me. I’m not the best at any of the diciplines but I can swim better than the average mtn biker, and when I’m on my running game (sadly not this year) I can trail run with some of the best around....been known to dabble a bit on the mtn bike thingy too.
Friday afternoon saw me and three tri buddies headed down to LP in the orange Westie. We arrived in time to meet another friend from NY and had enough daylight to head over to Wilmington and climb Mt. Whiteface. I had never been there before and was stunned at each corner as the view just got better and better, sun setting on one side, Lake Placid below, and the moon rising above...magic. Making the top in 1:03 on a dualie was pretty magic too....chasing my buddy on his road bike all the way just a bit behind. Two others on mtn bikes stopped at the gate...I was not going to miss this opportunity. Screaming down at 75+ kph on a mtn bike was a rather...unique experience too...and damn chilly !!

Saturday pre-ride brought an interesting course, very tight twisty turny, no climbs just some short grunts up, and some rough new cut sections. It was a loooooong course, 35 km in total. After the preride (in perfect dry conditions) my 2 tri buddies downgraded to the half-race. They were only expecting a 2.5 - 3 hr race (for the full) which is what they ended up with for the half so it was all good.
Camping in the westie brought some Saturday night rains. Sunday morning was cool but not cold. About 100+ starters for the full race gathered at the beach at Mirror Lake. The 1500 m swim was rather uneventful, and I came out in the back half at 32 minutes and change, a couple minutes slower than expected. The run to the transition area is about 500 m on cement so I opted to doff my wetsuit and donn my shoes at the swim exit...good strategy, passed many people in that couple minutes. Out on the bike it was raining, I wore a plastic garbage bag over my kit for the whole ride, very smart and warm !! About 4 k of rd and gravel to get to the trails. I passed a lot of people as soon as we hit dirt, the shitty swimmer can ride much better than these slightly faster swimmers. The course was much more difficult than the pre-ride with the overnight soaking, but the race kings held up well in the wet mostly loamy soil. Even the tree roots were not too bad and there were very little in the way of rocks to worry about. There is almost no place to pass in these trials but riders were almost always ready to move whenever "track" was called. Only one time early on I arrived at the back of an 8 person line and after a minute or so we got the lead guy to pull over. This group broke up, then broke up again, til it was myself and one guy on a relay team together. The air was at solstice...again my glasses fogged and were slipping down my nose when all of a sudden a spruce bough swept across my face, and unfortunately into my right eye. I was temporarily blinded but with the adrenaline pumping just kept going. Once the shock wore off I could see albeit quite blurrily. Lucily the guy I was riding with was a great rabbit and I only needed to watch him and not the trail (with my weaker left eye, in the rain and fog). He left after the first loop then I was lonely for quite a while on the second. I could go my own pace which as we all know can be good or bad depending on the situation.

By the halfway point of the second loop I was catching other riders, many of whom were on realy teams or were in the half race. It was quite a struggle to get through this ride in the conditions with a gimpy eye, and while my ride was good with no mechanical or problems I was glad for it to be over and get running.

The trail run here is awesome, tons of elevation, a variety of terrain, mostly single-track, a river crossing and mud bog, some big uphills and crazy screaming technical downhills....all times 2 loops for me ! I had a good run, not stellar but then again I had not many runs under my belt in the past few months and was intending on a 2.5-3 hrs race. I eventually finished up completely spent in 3:59 and change. Good enough for 13 / 111 overall and a top spot on the age category podium !! The overall winner was about 3:25, probably 40-60 minutes slower than your typical XTERRA. The race was awesome and everyone had a great time - even the tri-geeks who were so impressed with the mtb riders....(they should see us on a real mtb technical course) !

Since then I’ve been nurturing my eye and have kind of sunk back into a non-enthusiastic mode. I want to get the eye of the tiger back for CX and after the past bunch of days of doing nothing but flipping channels and walking to the fridge, today’s mtb at KL was fun and refreshing.
Next up will be the Hastings Hilly Hundred....this will be the determination of whether or not I have the fire, will, desire, health and shape to sign up for Paul’s Dirty Enduro for one last big endurance event before that season winds down and CX winds up.

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