May 8, 2007
Race Report for Wildflower 2007
Getting to the course was about as difficult as the training. It all started 4 days before leaving from Chicago. I had to go on business to Columbia, South Carolina, so instead of flying directly to LAX, I started with a 3 day trip to the campus of USC. Looking back it was not too bad as I had to pack and sit back 3 days before leaving. The trip was actually very relaxing, but I was ready to race and wanted to get to Los Angeles.
On Wednesday night I had planned to fly to Chicago, stay in a hotel and leave at 6am Thursday morning. Things where right on schedule until my plane from Columbia to Chicago cancelled. So back to the hotel in Columbia I went. I cancelled my hotel in Chicago and made flight arrangements to make it in time.
Thursday was hectic as I left South Carolina at 6am and arrived in Chicago at 7:30. I did not have too much time to catch my LA flight and I still had to run to the car and get my bike and new set of bags. I ran to my car, switched bags, and ran about 500 yards with a backpack, bike, and new roller bag. I took a quick train to my terminal and got checked in with about 5 minutes to spare. I made it.
I was hoping the movie on the flight might be a “Rudy? type. Something to get me fired up. All I can say is never watch the “Painted Veil? if you want to get ready for a race. Maybe it was better as I was not wasting energy screaming for Rudy to get in the game.
After a downer of a movie, I landed in LA, turned on my phone and saw 10 voice messages on my 1st phone and 8 on my other. Yikes. I think I was the last one to land. After answering a few calls, and catching the “Kahuna Shuttle? to the El Monte RV, I was set.
I drove the 30 foot hotel on wheels back to LAX to pick up my group of people. I can’t talk much about the driving of others, but TriBoomer hit my RV just 30 minutes into the trip. I wonder where he got his drivers license. The plan had been to drive up as a group, but the “Kahuna RV? and “Colorado RV? decided to get a jump start. It was just TriBoomer and My RV. No directions to the race, just a general idea that it was “North.?
Mind you that TriBoomer had already hit my RV once, so I was a bit nervous. After making our way to the 8 lane LA freeway, TriBoomer radioed me and said he was going to take a bathroom break. I thought he was kidding, but I guess not as he pulled over ON THE FREEWAY. I didn’t have many options so I had to do the same thing. I can tell you that while the RVs are easy to drive, they are not easy to pull over on an 8 lane road. After the bathroom break, we where back on the road and heading to Wildflower.
After a few more bathroom beaks, dinner at a cool roadside gig, a stop at the grocery store, we made it to the HUMUNGOUS campground that would be our home for the next 3 days. We made camp on the side of the road and slept.
The next morning I woke to the most incredible of all views. The Kahuna and other RV mates sure did pick the spectacular location. It was simply awesome. The nights are cool, but the days were perfect. It was now Friday, and most of the day was spent getting ready for the race, and packet pickup.
The Wildflower “experience? is something that grew on me. At first I was not sure it was going to be all that cool, but as time went on, I can see why thousands of people want to race this wickedly hard race. Everything about the race was awesome.
The weeks leading to the race, I worked with Coach Mike to set my race plan. My power numbers had been set, but since Wisconsin doesn’t allow me to ride a lot of long 3+ hour rides in early Spring, I had done most of my tests inside. My FTP (functional threshold) was at 196, but my first outside test put me at 220+. I was a bit worried as I felt a 3+ bike race at 162 average power (using my FTP of 196) might not allow me to kick the ½ marathon, so I talked to AJ (another awesome coach from D3) about a race strategy. After talking, we agreed that it was important that I get to the 13.1 run with something left in the tank. The plan was set.
1st hour: about 140 Watts
2-2.5: Between 155-160 Watts
Last 30 min: 170 Watts
I woke about 4:50am, got up and started to eat and drink. My plan was to eat a bit more than usual. I tend to feel hungry before many races, so I added a few more calories. I drank some OJ, water and a little Gatorade. The entire week prior to the race a felt like I was not drinking enough and my body did not feel 100%. I felt sluggish and even sore. Not sore as in “workout sore?, but like lazy sore. Do not know how to explain, but it was driving me crazy.
The plan was to ride the bikes to the start or take the boat. Yes, take a boat. We left the RV and went to the boat location. We jumped on a pontoon boat that took us on a 15 min boat ride in the most amazing of all scenery you could imagine. It was certainly the most amazing start to any race day that I can remember.
The pontoon took us right to T1, so we only walked about 100 yards to rack the bikes. I relaxed and was ready to go. I was not “hyper,? just ready to go. I felt a strange calm. With Coach Mike by my side (he was actually not with us, but he has guided me well), I was ready to kick some tail on the day.
I racked my bike and was ready to go. I was early and had about 90 minutes to wait. I just sat on sidelines and watch the world go by. I was thinking about my nutrition plan:
I was going to drink at least 2 bottles per hour with 1 scoop of Carbo-Pro and 1 tablet of NUUN. I had 3 bottles on the BMC, so I had 1.5 hours before I needed to stop. My plan was to carry small bottles of powder and NUUN with me. I was going to stop and mix my bottles midway. The plan was basically the same on the run. I was going to carry the bottles in my shorts and a bike-type bottle in a carrier on my back waist. I got a lot of comments from people about this, but after doing the race – It worked GREAT (thanks to my friends at Endurance House.)
The gun went off and my plan was to swim SLOW. I needed to have a good day on the bike. I went slow and tried to get on the feet of a few people. That worked on and off, but I got clocked about 100 yards in and I saw blood. Darn. This was like an Ironman race. My nose was not broken so I kept going. I was having a great time. I worked on good form, swimming straight, and staying well within myself. As a side note, I did notice people swimming 100’s of yards off route. Do people not understand how important it is to swim straight? I sang a bit to myself, laughed at some things that happened during the adventure getting to Wildflower, and basically had a nice and very easy swim.
I took a glance at my heart rate a few times during the swim. I know I can swim a 1:03 at Ironman distance, but I was thinking I would do about :30 today. I exited the water in :32 minutes. I felt totally relaxed, and was feeling like I just did nothing more than a warm up. I had a mantra for day – “I’m in total control.? I had done the training, and I was ready to do this bike. The swim and run where not as important to me. I NEEDED a good day on the bike.
Official Time on the swim was 32:38, with a 2:26 T1. So far the plan was perfect.
I got on the bike and looked my new best friend, the 2.4 Powertap. This, along with BMC and Zipp wheels have made huge differences for me. As I excited T1, I looked at my trusty “yellow friend? and kept it around 140 Watts. There was a big hill at the start so I obviously had to pull a bit more wattage, but I kept it around 190-210. Coach AJ talked about “burning matches,? and that you only had a few to burn during the day. I thought I would burn one here, and one at “nasty grade.? At the top on the hill I felt perfect and ready to go. I did not like the fact that I was getting passed. I did not let this get to me, but I was a bit bummed that so many people were just flying past me. Was all this training for nothing? I was so upset, but stuck with the plan. I started to think about the day, and got back into the right mind set just repeating the mantra “I’m in total control.?
The 1st hour I averaged 147. Just about perfect. The last 15 min, even at about 140 I was starting to pass people. HUGE smile. My plan was now to push the watts up about 10-15 or about 150-155 total watts. I was instantly starting to pass almost everyone. I was in control and rocking. I never really noticed the wind because the PowerTap just takes all that out of the mix. If you stick to the plan, you eliminate hills, wind and speed. Kinda cool. I never even looked at speed. It doesn’t really even matter when you have a PowerTap.
We turned back with the wind at our back. In the past, without a PowerTap, I would have gone a nice cool 20mph. With the wind at our back, I was going 20 at about 135 watts, so I kept it up about 160 watts and was flying past people. I had a huge smile as I watched people look at my butt on these sweet 606’s. There was one point I was going 32mph with no hills. Ok, I admit, I did look at speed from time to time, but I do not use it as a guide. I just kept the power at my plan, and was now flying past the people that passed me the 1st hour.
I was almost to nasty grade (the huge hill that everyone warns you about), so I decided to hit “lap? on my PowerTap. Yeeee Haaaaaa. 157 watts. The plan was working perfect. I was now at mile 41. I was actually excited to get to this part of the race. While it was a hard climb, I was ready and had almost a full tank of gas. When you have a plan, things are just easier.
I was also nailing my nutrition. I had stopped to mix my Carbo-Pro and NUUN. It was tasting perfect and I was getting in 300 calories and plenty of fluid thanks to NUUN. I just love this stuff. I mixed the tablets up so I was never sure what flavor I would get. I love the new flavor called Kona Cola!
Ok, so Nasty Grade was hard, but nothing I wasn’t ready for. I kept it around 190-220 most of the climb. I was nailing it. When you train right, coached right, and have a nutrition plan, the days is so much better.
I’m still not the best at 40mph descents. I tend to hold the breaks a bit, but these were a lot of fun. At mile 53 I was ready to get to the run. I felt perfect, but not sure how my legs might react.
Official Time on the bike was 3:24:57, with a 2:29 T2.
Power numbers: Leg 1: 147, Leg 2: 157, Leg 3: 155
So far the plan was perfect.
I felt like I needed a bit more sodium so I doubled my NUUN in the first bottle. I got to the run and after about 100 yards I was just amazed – I felt great. Not just good, but great. I was so ready. Could this really be right?
I was in total control.
I was in a weird position. I had put so much thought into the bike and nutrition that to be totally honest, I did not think about the run much. I laughed to myself at about mile 1. What’s the plan Stu? I looked at my HR and I was feeling about a 5 (perceived exertion (RPE) scale), but thought I could stay at this point all the way home. Looking back I went out a bit too fast, but not by much. Looking back, I was about 7 beats too high at the start with my HR. I was flying and passing everyone. I was running with a 60 year old guy and we just kicked all the 20 year olds. (I’m sure that is the first time I’ve ever thought about being 40 and kicking the 20 year olds.)
I was feeling perfect until about mile 5. This route was brutal. All the talk was about the bike, but this run route was very difficult. I was running up this one hill and was almost started going backwards. Even with the unique “Cal Poly Coeds? helping about mile 6, I was sill not feeling the best. That is also the first time I’ve seen anything like that on a race course! Gotta love college.
I finally hit a level part of the route and said to myself, “You are in total control.? I stopped taking in Carbo / Nuun for about 1.5 miles and started to feel better. I had to drink again to keep up the pace. I think I ran into problems from going out a bit too fast. I started drinking my mix slowly and finally felt good again. This is how it was the rest of the race.
I did not see anyone from the team the entire day until I got on Brett’s feet. I saw the jersey and was past him with only a few words said. I was surprised I did not see Greg all day. Did I miss him?
I kept running and came up to a long mile downhill run. I was feeling great but not sure how I would feel coming back up the same hill. About ¼ mile up the hill I saw Greg. I looked at him, we both looked at our watches. The game was on. I had two choices. 1) lay back and cave in, or 2) give it all I had!
For some reason I had it in my mind that I had him by 2:47. Don’t ask me how I thought that, but since I started 5 min before him, I had to kick it, our I was done. I figured I needed to “be in control? so I just kept on moving. I knew the last mile was down the hill so I figured I would run it in about 6 or under.
I was hammering down the hill, and to be honest, I was not even thinking about Greg. I had a plan, I stuck to it, and I nailed it!
I finished strong. I was so hoping to go sub 6, but the victory was in the plan. This was an important stepping stone for me. Very important. Maybe one of the most important of all times.
Official Time on the run was 2:00:46
Official Time: 6:03:16
So the bottom line is very simple. I was ready, and the plan worked.
Now I plan to beg Coach to give me a week off before starting to train for Ironman Wisconsin. I know now that I CAN do it.
I’m so excited to keep up the training on the bike. The PowerTap, wheels and bike have made a significant difference, and now I’m more excited than ever. I’m ready for the rest of the journey.
The swim will start to rock once I can leave the pool and train exclusively in the lakes. Once June 1st comes to Wisconsin, I leave the pool for the season and join my buddies in the lake 2 or 3 times a week.
The 2:00:48 ½ marathon was NOT what I wanted to see. I can do so much better than that. I have worked so hard on the bike that I’ve been just trying to “maintain? the run. Over the next 18 weeks, I really want to ramp this up as well.
We watched our fellow buddies and teammates race on Sunday, and headed back to LA about 3pm. We had to spilt up for logistical reasons, so AJ and I spent the night just off the beach. We woke about 6am to take a short jog to the ocean for a nice walk in the water. A perfect end to a perfect week.
I needed this race. I needed it for so many reasons. I needed the confidence that I just did not have on the bike. I needed the confidence that I could have a nutritional plan. I needed to know that I could execute a plan. At the end of the day “I was in total control.?
I’m so ready to start my training for Ironman Wisconsin, and even more ready to say on September 10th 2007 – “Greg, I got you again.?
As I drove home I realized how lucky I am to have great friends, great family, and the ability to train and race in this great sport of Triathlon. Life can change so quickly so I plan to enjoy each and every moment of this Ironman Wisconsin journey. I hope you will enjoy the ride with me.