Monday, May 4, 2009

Wildflower - Race Day

May 2, 2009 -

Let me start by saying Wildflower is NO JOKE! What a course!

The day started around 5a after about as good a sleep as you can get in a mummy bag, on an air mattress, in a tent. We picked up some of the noise from the college party as they raged on into the night, but not too bad. Luckily we were far enough away.

The morning was pretty chill. We were all pretty much just focused and the good 'ol pre-race poo. This is a critical and important part of the race morning prep and getting this out of the way before racing is crucial. For breakfast I ate a tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with some juice, a banana with tons of peanut butter, and two packets of instant oatmeal. I also mixed in some coffee, gatorade and water.

Around 6:30 we headed down to the boat dock for the shuttle to the race. This was about a 10 minute walk with all our gear where we jumped on a pontoon boat with our bikes for about a ten minute shuttle accross the lake. Then you grab your bike and gear and hike about 50 hards up this steep dirt hill from the dock up to the transition area.

Once in transition I got my body marking and transition all set up. I ran about a quarter mile to warm-up and hit the porto for one more evacuation. I was cranking some tunes on my ipod, stretching and downing some powerbar gel tabs. At 8a when the pro's started I threw on my sunscreen and wetsuit and headed down to the swim start. The swim start is always this eerie feeling of nerves and excitement.

At 8:20 we got in the water after that wave took off and I swam a couple minutes, peed in my wetsuit and got back out of the water to the start line. Then....."10 seconds athletes". 9....8....nerves....7....6....uh-oh this is real.....5....4.....3....fear.....2....1.....go! I ran in the middle of the pack into the water, dove in and started swimming. This was huge for me because in the past I usually wait for everyone to go and then I start, but now I am confident and faster so I just powered over some people and found a nice clear spot about 500 yards our after the first buoy. The swim was great, I was stong and swimming well and only occasionally had to deal with a bump or a grab from another swimmer. Also, for the first time I actually passed swimmers from waves ahead of me....sweet.

After the swim I ran up the boat launch and to my transition (about 200 yards). Peeled off the wetsuit, applied sunscreen, threw the gear on and took off on the bike. Directly as you leave on the bike you roll out through the campground and immediately hit "beach hill". This was about a mile long steep hill to get you warmed up. After that was out of the way, it was about 40 miles of rolling hills, not bad at all....then mile 42. This was "Nasty Grade" followed by "Heart Rate Hill". The first was a 1000 foot 8% grade ascent over a couple miles and then another big hill follwoing the down hill. It was a hard hill for sure, but nothing like everyone made it out to be. You just grind through it and then enjoy the downhill. The most annoying part of the bike was the last nine or so miles. It was all these nonstop rolling hills, but steeper than the ones in the first part of the race. That last 15 miles on the bike just destroyed my bike time, but I got through it fine. On the bike I went through a couple bottles of water with carbo-pro, two powergels and a splash of gatorade which I ditched for plain old water.

I cruised into transition, racked the bike, sprayed on some more sunscreen and went running. This was the worst! I new in the first mile this was going to be a hard run, but I had no idea what was in store for the rest of the run. The run started off immediately with hills running out through the campgrounds to get to this dirt trail. The challenge on the trail was there were tons of loose rocks and it was HOT. Then the hills. They just kept coming and coming and coming nonstop it was so brutal. I was overheating and trying to take down water and gatorade, but I was so full. Too full for any gels or nutrition so I just kept hydrating at the aid station and running super full. The drinks were warm too which was tough because I was so hot. Mile five was the first major hill, which was a mile long steep hill that virtually everyone was walking portions of. It was as steep of a hill as I have ever ran. After that it was mostly flat for a few miles with just smaller hills but they were still taxing. Then, mile 11 was one mile downhill to a turnaround to one mile uphill. This was the icing on the cake. This last mile long hill just cooked me. After I battled up it, then it was a one mile downhill to the race fininsh.

The finish was a really cool shute about a hundred yards long that was lined with flags from around the world, tons of spectators lining the shute and filled up in bleacher stands. I attempted to kick through the the finish, I picked up the pace, tried to look like I wasn't dying and crossed that glorious line. "Welcome Josh Clark from Kirkland coming in strong" from the announcer, and then it was over. I had to just stop and lean over the rail and try to breathe for a couple minutes before I actually made my way out of the chute.

I caught up with a couple buddies who finsihed before me and then another friend came in right after. We all got some water and oranges and went back down to the lake to cool off for a bit which felt great! We packed up transition, caught the shuttle boat back to the campsite and celebrated the great race and strong finish. One of the guys from our group brought down 27 racks of ribs from SanFran, so we got showered up, built a fire, and just chilled and fed out. I hit the sack about 10p totally exhausted.

Day 122 Training Log - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run from hell. You know it, another half in the books! Results coming on tomorrow's installment.

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