It was a green weekend due to the 26 days of March rain. Allergy sufferers like myself rejoiced at the low pollen levels.
For me there were two things leading into this event that had nothing to do with wildflower the event, just that it was a date I was training for. Which I have to admit, I wished was later in the year then cinco de mayo weekend, even June 1 would be better.
First off, coming into the event, I’d never ever run more then five miles in the same day. Building up and from my mistakes of last year, when I started the season with injuries, I’d made a point of only doing running exercises, and not doing a lot of actual running and doing my cardio and weight loss (which white guys need) on the bike.
Second, last year I upgraded from my ten year old and little too small for me Cannondale 14-speed (double with 7 cassette) to a Giant carbon fiber OCRc3 which has a 105/truvativ triple drive train. From the start I regretted getting the OCRc3 triple instead of the TCR double. Why? Derailleur problems. I could not get the range of gearings necessary to enjoy it. Specifically I could only get to six gears on the big chain wheel, four on the middle and two on the smallest without loud annoying rubbing sounds. And even with that, it was all just too non-robust, mis-shifts galore. Not even my local giant reseller, whose name I will mention only if you ask, could get it right. I have the shimano PDFs on my desktop which I regularly refer to while tuning the derailleurs myself. Also, the middle gear was a 42T which meant I was regularly in the wrong torque band. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a compact double and ten cassette for a while. Only thing stopping me was the $700 in parts for a full 105 2006 drive train replacement.
Before I get into the report, just let me say that growing
up I was a serious competitive swimmer from 6-17, (although it’s unfortunate
there was no internet then or you could check my times as things like cal
division 4 meets as a kid or north coast high school meets, because if you
could you’d see that when I was a freshmen my high school won the division II
national championship.) and a serious bike rider. And watching Dave Scott in
I’d never been to wildflower before. I’d submitted my time estimates based on a flat course. I’d found out a few weeks beforehand that it was hilly and difficult, and boy was I glad that I train in the Oakland hills and redwood road.
I arrived Saturday about 3pm as the roads opened and the long course event was winding down. I found a campsite kind of far out in the overload section so I could have some privacy without bugging anyone. Being new to the event, I thought I’d find my to the hoopla upon arrival, unfortunately without putting on suntan lotion and butter on my walking sections.
The pre-race talk was pretty cool. Terenzo Bozzone and Samantha McGlone who both set long course records were on hand to talk and answer questions.
I went back to my tent early that night hoping I could get some sleep. I was really happy to get in six hours worth (11:45-5:45) although it was full of pre-race nightmares including one where torrential rains washed my tent away onto an Amtrak train that was going one-way to some working town with no scheduled returns.
I crawled out of the tent at 6:15 after light flexing/stretching and took my time to prep my two small bags, check the bike, snack on cliff bars, mix Gatorade and futz about before riding over to the transition area racking, prepping, staring and aimlessly walkig around, running into friends and killing time.
A friend of mine (youngster) was in the wave before me. We were joking around about his pink cap and girly suit and pictures when his wave got in for their brief warm up and his goggles snapped. I had a spare set back in the transition, but there was no time. He went without.
As usual I did not warm up at all. I’ve found that I need about 500 yards of swimming to get going and as I guessed, my wave (largest of the day at 215) took a few hundred yards to get settled in and stop playing water polo. I started off in an easy stroke and reveled in winding in all the guys from my wave that took off quick.
I caught the first of the pink wave ahead of me at the first buoy, and thought their pink caps were appropriate as I saw dog paddling…
Turns out I wound in a lot of the pinks as well. I saw a bunch of them, mostly because those youngsters seem to have issues with tracking and swimming in a straight line, but even more as I got out of the water with two other greens to hear one of the volunteers tell us we were doing well and only had yellows in front of us.
That moment of glory ended quick for me, as that was the only time I appeared to be a contender for finishing high on the charts. As I mentioned, I was saving everything for the run. Looking back, cruising through the swim and having my time come within six minutes of the top ten swimmers was very satisfying.
Getting onto the bike was fun and funny. I’d picked a bike jersey for the ride/run that I thought was funny, Arrogant Bastard Ale, which I’d trained with. I thought I should give them some props. Problem is bike jerseys stuffed with a spare tube, cliff bars and gu are really hard to pull on a wet body. Can’t someone invent a “Dry Spray” that would dry your entire body instantly?
I took off easy on the bike as I did the swim. And once again it was nice to catch people late into the bike ride that took off and passed me early on. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch up to nearly as many as I did on the swim. And so it goes.
I took it pretty easy going up Lynch hill. I just made sure I maintained 6mph. About 2-3 miles into the ride I realized I’d forgotten to start the bike computer. I don’t have full stats, but my favorite was the 43mph max speed.
I was caught off guard getting all mental just after the turn around as it’s a long slow climb back up to the first peak. If I was just on a four hour bike trip I wouldn’t have been concerned, but that six mile of I’ve never done it before run and I’m wasting my legs on the bike thoughts beat down on me and caused undo stress until I hit the peak.
I found the draft rule to be fun and funny as well, as I think I was the only guy paying attention to it. It was generally no big deal, but there were quite a few times guys should have gotten penalties as the pre-race talk told, but I know they didn’t as there were only bikes within eyeshot.
A few times guys would pass me near the peak of a hill and then want to tuck and coast down the other side. I like to pedal down hills in my drops and gain as much speed as possible. I’d then have to re-pass these guys at speed who didn’t care to stay to the right as huge SUVs pulling boats bore down on us from the other direction. I could have hit a max higher then 43mph if I didn’t have to brake at some of those annoying moments.
Starting off on the run I immediately took long strides to stretch out and actually enjoyed the first of the small rolling hills as the uphills allowed me to stretch out and the downhills took little effort.
Around the ¾ kilo mark a volunteer told us “Down hill coming guys, have fun!” and so I asked her when we started climbing. “Right after this downhill, which is why I’m telling you guys to enjoy the downhill!”
She wasn’t kidding.
On the third of the long uphills I started walking with some other guys in long strides in front of one of the leukemia coaches, and he yelled “Hey guys, run don’t walk” and I said I was stretching my muscles, to which he yelled, “Don’t tell your self that crap, come on!” and gave me a high five as I got back to running again. I’m happy to say that that was my walk, rest was run.
One thing I loved about the event was the race support. Besides the on course coaches, from the start the Gatorade endurance bottles they were handing out like candy. Before the race I set my bottles aside, took theirs, and was very satisfied with tossing empties into the bin (or near it) on the ride like the pro cyclists and grabbing new ones from the SLO and Cal students.
Run note, although I liked the rolling hills at the start I found them distracting later on as I could not settle into my run groove for longer then a few minutes at a time. There was always some obstacle to keep me out of it.
In the end I’m glad I’m injury free and planning my next race. I gained two valuable things from this event which tie directly to those I mentioned above. I also have some funny sunburn lines as the spf25 body lotion I used seemed to wash off in the lake. (I’ve got a one inch horizontal stripe where my whore stamp should be.) but at the same time, a day later, not really sore and after ending with stuff in the tank, for a race I’d tapered for, I wish I’d pushed harder in the run after I knew I had it in the bag. Not in the last two downhill kilometers, but in the few coming up to it. Oh well, there’s always greener grass next year…
Back to the two things that played out over the weekend:
First, I ran the entire six miles of that hilly course without getting winded. It was only my running muscles that suffered. I cannot stress how much that boosted my confidence level. Knowing that I still had gas in the tank, that I could have done another few miles was very satisfying.
Second, the day after the event I decided that the cheapest upgrade to ease my triple woes was to replace the 42T with a 39T. I went out and bought one, put it on and started testing the deraileurs and magic happened. Something of the combination of the fine adjustments before the race, the new middle chainring, and testing I found myself with a completely new bike. How so? I can now get to seven gears on the big chainring, six on the middle and seven on the tiny chain wheel. That was the reason I wanted to spend $700 and replace my nearly new (2000 miles) drivetrain. Not only do I have a new bike for $28, I got a valuable learning experience. (not all bike shops provide good service and the internet is your friend.)
Thank you Girls Gone Wildflower!
dave at calbeers dot com