One of my favorite parts about Cal International is that it is really close to my hometown so I get to work a visit with my family in on the weekend of the race. My mom got up with me at 4:30 am, she is such a trooper and told me 'I don't mind being up early as long as you take me for coffee after the race! :)' DEAL!!! We got to the race early and setup went smoothly...being a smallish event the logistics are simplified some which is nice and makes race morning a lot easier than some races. I got started early with warm up...when you are really run down it can take forever for things to loosen up so I wanted to do as much as I could to get things up and running before the start. I went for a nice run on some of the fire roads around the quarry, did some stretching and accelerations and my legs actually felt pretty good. I wanted to get in the water early and get a lot of swimming in too because I had not been able to swim the day before or much at all the week before. I always forget how long it takes to put your wetsuit on and I think I only got about ten minutes of swimming in before we had to line up for the start and my arms felt a bit heavy.
We started in big waves and I had not even looked around to see who was there so I didn't know what to expect but all that mattered was that the day was hard and I was ready for that. Right from the start I felt like my arms just could not get up to speed...like I was stuck at 80% and there was nothing I could do about it. There were a couple of people in my wave that were clearly really good swimmers and I tried to follow them but my body was not having it. I know with heavy training this is a normal feeling so I just kept telling myself that it is a long day and there is plenty of time to make up the difference later on. At the first turn the leader was already close to a minute ahead and there was someone else that had about thirty seconds. It is hard not to think in situations like this that you are having a terrible day and swimming sooooo slow but I had a good idea about who these two powerhouses were and if I was right I knew there was no shame in loosing time to them in the water. One more guy passed me at the second turn and got fifteen seconds on me by the swim exit.
At the swim exit I saw Dean Harper, the coach of UC Berkeley Triahtlon, by the barriers and he yelled out 'Great Job! Shelly is a minute up!' My suspicions were confirmed...the two speed demons out front were his two kids Shelly and Greg. This was kind of a relief because I have been getting my butt kicked by them for more than a decade starting back when I was in college, training at Aquabears in the summers and getting shown up by eleven and twelve year olds. Those are people I should be loosing time to. The question was 'How much time did Greg get?'
I had a very smooth transition and got out onto the road. The first section of the course is a looooooong straight away and I could see Shelly about a half mile up but then looking ahead I couldn't even see the lights on the lead motorcycle! I did some estimates in my head and I figured that meant the gap to Greg was at least two minutes! The bike course suits me because I like consistent rhythm and there are a lot of long straight sections where you can just put your head down and focus on putting out as much as your body can handle. There were also two long out and back sections so I was glad that I would get a couple of opportunities to see what the gaps were. I passed Shelly after a couple of miles and we traded encouragement :) Everyone keep an eye out for that one! She is going to win a lot of races and will smile more than anyone else around while doing it. The first long out and back section is on Collier Canyon and as Greg went by he had a very calm look on his face which kind of worried me but the gap was down to about a minute and fifteen seconds which is a lot more manageable than that huge two minute plus juggernaut. The course opens up a little in the middle section and if I strained I could see the lights from the lead moto which helps a ton...if you can see it you can gauge your progress and I focused on keeping my legs hot and reeling in the gap.
I finally caught Greg at about the eighteen mile marker and I tried to go by with enough momentum to start building a lead on him but after a couple of miles I looked back and he was right there. I hoped that trying to keep up would have him on the limit and I had no idea who might be chasing us so I kept the hammer down for the last couple of miles. I couldn't remember any of Greg's running splits from previous races but one thing about someone as young and talented as him is that no one knows what they can do on any given day so I made transition a short affair and hit the run course with quick and fast. It took about a half mile for him to make up the ten or so seconds that I had on him and he came up on my shoulder running stride for stride with me. I could not hear him breathing so it was hard to gauge where his limit was but my legs felt good so on the first long flat section I let them open up and took the pace up to my limit. Around the first mile marker I could hear a small gap had opened up and that gave me solid motivation to keep pushing. By mile two the gap was more than thirty seconds with more than a minute to the next person and I was glad that it was not going to turn out in a foot race. The run course is nice but there are a bunch of little hills along the way and each one was hitting me like a ton of bricks. I tried to keep the early pace up but from mile three to five I was hurting a lot...the last mile I started to feel a little better and ran solidly to the end.
It is always fun to get the win even at these smaller local events and to be able to have someone to actually race and push you along the way is always an awesome experience! As per my training plan I had about an hour and a half worth of extra stuff to do after the race and it was heating up so I was glad to get some heat adaptation in for the day as well. It was so nice to end the day with fresh ice cream and peaches as well as a nap on my parents back porch which has to be one of my all time favorite places.
|Left: Pear Pure & Champagne Sorbet - Right: Toasted Almond and Bing Cherry Ice Cream|