When it comes to triathlons and California, all of my friends know I'm a sucker! As a matter of fact, it pains me to make my last 70.3 of the year Augusta instead of Rancho Cordova...another trip out west just isn't smart (6 races this year). Sure, it's part of the epic adventure but I can't consider putting myself out there, enduring more pain as I struggle to sew together a solid performance with back to back 70.3's. Maybe next year, after more miles and experience have absorbed into my bones; I'll be ready. That being said, I cannot wait to finally pour out my thoughts concerning this race and experience as Karen and I headed out Californi-way.
Pre-Race: Per usual, the morning we left was busy and hectic. Luckily, the dogs we already set up at the dog camp, hopefully enjoying their mini-vacation. Even though the dogs were off the radar, our bags were packed and we had a solid mode of transpiration to the airport, it's always hectic. For some reason I always feel like I'm running behind and stress levels are elevated until shortly after hitting airport security. Luckily, TSA pre-check makes life much easier (and they were gentle)!! The flight took us to San Jose airport, where we then chartered a magnificent Chevy Equinox that had ZERO turning radius. After stopping for a phenomenal meal at the Santa Cruz Cafe Gratitude, it was time to head to what could arguably be the BEST home-stay ever! Thanks to Tri-California and their ultimate care and consideration, we were able stay 30 seconds from the race site. James and his Wife Lilly opened their guest room to us. We took in the fresh ocean view and great company, knowing good things were to come.
The 20th Year Triathlon at Pacific Grove: I've heard some great stories about this race. After reading Macca's book, I remembered there is a legacy behind this race and I couldn't wait to toe the line! The race line-up was full of former winners, WTS series competitors and dudes like me...rookie pro's looking for some experience. I had no idea of the pay out...or that there was one, but luckily they paid 10 deep....because I came in 10th. I'll lead you through the progression.....
Swim: A noon start time is not normally in my wheelhouse. It's tough to figure out how to properly start the day but it's really nice to watch the AG race. Coming from the east coast makes it harder to actually sleep in...but I I managed as usual. Luckily the kelp was almost nonexistent and there was a flat, chilly 2 loop course for us. My race started with goggles full of water, followed by the standard...phrase of "shit I hope I'm not last". LUCKILY, I wasn't and there were 3 of us to bring up the rear. All in all, another intense swim.....complete! For what it's worth, I know I learned a lot from this one....most notably; SWIM STRAIGHT! (yes, I'm still working on that) Karen said we took more of an arc than a straight line...like the McDonalds arc.
Draft Legal Bike Racing: I've only competed in 6 or 7 draft legal races thus far, only making it into a bike pack a few times. This race did not disappoint, we did some work! The Scott Foil and American Classic wheels felt great....I love doing some hard work on a road bike. The top swimmers and those with other various national titles were definitely in a race of their own. Draft legal triathlons break the race up into multiple races....we were definitely working our butts off trying to catch up as much as we could. Luckily, myself and one other strong cyclist were able to catch 4 or 5 fellas and we soon formed the last group of stragglers...knowing we would all have to seriously run hard and fast in the near future (or at least try to). It's a cool dynamic. Here is the strategy: Temporarily work together for a common goal knowing we'll be against each other shortly after. Oh...by the way, I'd like to say thank to Scott Giles for calling out the splits as we made our 4 laps. Sadly, the gaps were getting bigger.
Running: It's no secret, I've been really blowing the run over the past year. It's been tough but hell, how else do you learn? I started strong, felt awesome but on the 3rd lap I really started losing ground. The legs and lungs just couldn't do anything more with what I had given them. None the less, the new kits looked great and I appreciated running into some awesome friends along the course. I had no idea I knew so many people in Pacific Grove. This lifestyle has proven to be a fantastic way to meet amazing people.
What Else Did We Do?
If you've got a few more minutes, allow me to unveil an epic trip which started immediately after the awards presentation! I'll keep it brief but I recommend everyone visit some of these places. First off, let me highlight the initiating factor of this journey. My friends Brad and Hila held a wedding ceremony in beautiful Murphys California and we were lucky enough to be invited. After the race, we drove 4 hours, right outside Sacramento. We arrived to a great "get away" town in the middle of no-where. Ton's of great people and great energy gathered together for the rehearsal dinner (to which we arrive late). After a short "hello' we needed some sleep...off to the hotel. I woke up in the morning and knocked out this fun little ride. Being from Florida...I totally take advantage of the opportunity to climb a mountain pass if presented.
After catching up with some good friends at the wedding ceremony which was held at a beautiful vineyard, we tried to plan out the assault on the next day. The plan was, drive an hour up to Lake Alpine...a beautiful serene lake at 7000ft. This plan was awesome until I woke up in the morning and decided we should drive 3 hours to lake Tahoe and enjoy the altitude, sights and beautiful drive. We ran 12 miles along the lake, I jumped into the clearest water EVER....we grabbed some lunch and food for our picnic dinner and headed back to the hotel. I decided I would ride Ebbetts Pass on the way back and Karen played leap frog with the car, making sure I was safe. It was some of the toughest riding I've done in a long time with 24% grade switch backs....totally awesome descents too. This all lead us to a terrific picnic dinner at Lake Alpine!
As I wrap up the blog I just want to say thanks for taking your valuable time to read and most importantly, thank you to USMES for organizing such great sponsorship. I've been more than taken care of this year and it's all thanks to a long list of supporting brands....they can be found HERE