Tuesday, July 29, 2008

XTerra Vashon Island

My first XTerra (off road) triathlon was a couple weeks ago on Vashon Island and I truly enjoyed the experience.

We left a day early and stopped at the Clear Lake Triathlon for Jacobs third try at this race and he improved again finishing under 20 minutes!

After, we continued south to spend the day with my Grandma and took her a surprise lunch in honor of her 91st birthday and then spent the night at my parents. We all got up early Sunday morning and were off to catch the 6 am ferry to Vashon Island so I could pre ride the course to check for dangerous sections, roots, logs, rocks, sections where I could pass and spots to conserve a bit of energy.

We were second in line for the ferry behind other Bellingham triathletes (Tjalling and Dan) headed over for the same pre ride. It was great to be able to pre ride with these experienced XTerra studs (both have raced at XTerra world championships in Maui).

The guys at BuDu Racing were still setting up when we arrived, so we went out for our pre-ride before registering. Lots of the tape marking the course had been cut down so we took our time and reset what we could and I think pre riding helped me out during the race.

We got registered and walked down to the starting dock and given the course description and I almost had to laugh... Swim out and around this red sailboat over there and then head to the green one over towards the other side of the marina. trouble was there were three green sailboats to choose from. we got it all settled out and I, being a slower swimmer, was just following the swimmers in front of me so not too worried. and we were off, nice salty water (ug!) but only about half a mile so not too long and was out of the water in under 15 minutes and up the football field of mud at low tide (made for a shorter swim and was actually runnable and not too mucky)

I don't have click style pedals for my mountain bikes and just wore my running shoes for the bike and run. I got quickly onto my bike and was off out the parking lot and a very short section of road and right onto a tough, sandy, steep up hill section that I had to get off and push my bike, and being a race wanted to run while pushing and I was very soon huffing and puffing and pretty much red lined on top end of my HR.

Once up the course has less up and down and lots of winding single track which made it hard to know where other competitors were, but I just tried to keep on pushing myself and kept up some speed. We do this lap twice and it was easier the 3rd time (counting pre ride) and never crashed but did get banged and scratched up from how narrow the single track was with all the bushes and stuff. Great fun!

The final half mile or so of the bike course is on paved roads and mostly downhill so it made for a nice fast ride back into transition and since I already had my running shoes on, I had a very quick T2 and was off running.

Coming right out of transition is a steep hill that you must go up and across the road for a short on road uphill then onto a trail that, you guessed it, continues uphill, but once up was back on windy, up and down single track and again not knowing where other runners are kinda makes you run scared. There is a long paved road (maybe 3/4 mile) in the middle of the run that I was able to open up a bit more and then after is the flying descent back to the finish line right at the bottom of the same steep hill you went up to start.

All in all, I had a great time and enjoyed the event and course. BuDu has always put on a great event in my opinion.

I gathered up my stuff quickly as we were trying to catch a quick ferry off the south side of the island for the start of our trip to the Oregon coast staying at Cannon Beach. We made a couple wrong turns and when we got to the ferry dock, the ferry was just offshore headed over to Pt Defiance in Tacoma, so we got an extended rest waiting, but then were off the Debbie's parents for a shower, drop off the bikes, some lunch and quick visit then down to Oregon. Check out our trip pictures here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lake Padden Triathlon 2008

This was my second run at the competitive version of the Lake Padden Triathlon and was hoping to improve on my previous time from 2006. Last year I was at a little race over in Coeur d'Alene 8-)

Got up early and drove to the park and got the closest parking spot one could get and then rather than just sit and veg I decided to jump out and help Lance and his crew setup transition. It was fun setting up the racks and then being able to set my bike at the premier spot (first row closest to bike exit).

As more and more people started to show up I stopped helping and was able to visit with friends and before long was in my wetsuit and down at the beach for a short warm up. We all got out of the water for pre race messages and then the first wave went off. I was able to get into the second wave and we went off about 3 minutes after the first.

Got into a nice groove and actually swam pretty straight. Hit the turn around buoy with lots of other swimmers still around me, so felt good about keeping pace. Way back to the beach it was definitely thinning out, but still enough to help keep me swimming straight. Hit the beach at 14:32!

Run up the grass hill and into transition and saw Debbie and the kids, they found the cattle bells and were ringing them for me, awesome. Real quick transition and off up the steep driveway out of the park and onto Lake Samish road.

The bike course is pretty hilly, but all that goes up must go down, so we get lots of downhills too. But first we must climb up and out of the Lake Padden area up towards the parking lot people use at the bottom of Galbraith. I was trying to keep a good pace, but this first hill is always tough on me and got passed by a couple riders, but was able to keep them close and on the long downhill into the lap around Lake Samish passed them back.

Kept a good pace around the lake and then back up that long downhill towards Lake Padden, but we turn at the freeway and go onto Old Lake Samish road that is generally downhill towards Chuckanut Drive. I like this section as you can really hammer it and get back some time.

Once on Chuckanut it is uphill again but it is short and get to come right back down the other side into Fairhaven and then we turn towards the freeway and the climb kinda starts before the freeway but once under it really turns up and this short 3 block climb is tough and pretty much straight up, but once at the top you come out onto Lake Samish drive and just another mile or so back to the park.

My bike split of 1:02:20 (20.2 MPH) was 3 minutes faster than 2006, woohoo!

Quick transition and off to run around the lake twice. This part is always tough to run past the finish for your second lap. The finish is right there but you cannot use it, must run around again.

I was running at a pretty good pace and it felt like I ran at a consistent pace not slowing too much. Each lap was within 30 seconds of each other. I was able to run the finish with Jacob and Alex and stopped the clock at 1:58:06 44Th out of 256 overall and 9Th out of 29 in my age group (M35-39). I was VERY happy to improve by 4 minutes on my 2006 time!