Sunday, May 23, 2010

World's Toughest Half - Auburn Triathlon

This weekend found Dan, Tim and I heading off to the Sierra Foothills to do some damage. The World's Toughest Half boasts over 5,000 feet of climbing on the bike, and some rough trails for the run. Unfortunately, I think we would have been happier staying in the water.

Up at 3:45 to get going was rough with a 6:30 start time, and a 7 mile ride to T1, along with 40 degree temperatures is not fun. Hustling to get ready for the start, we get in the water where it is actually warmer than the air. This caused a situation none of us has faced yet, FOG. The gun fired and our wave was off. It was a fairly large wave as all the Under 44 groups were put together, and it was carnage for the first quarter mile. The water in the lake was up, so we even had to dodge a tree! This mass start was great for confidence in an IRONMAN swim start, as I freaked out a few weeks ago at Wildflower, but I held it together to stay with some fast guys. The fog on the lake was playing some nasty tricks for the two laps we had to complete, as we could only see the bouys when we got within 100 feet of them! Surely some people got thrown off course, but luckily my navigation, and the people swimming with me kept on track.

Out of the water and onto the bike was like jumping in the freezer! I surprised myself with a fast swim and caugt up to Tim as he was getting out of T1. Heading up the first section of the course was nuts as I quickly lost feeling in my hands. Somehow, I was keeping warm. Nearing the top of the first 8 mile climb, I catch up to Tim. I try to talk to him, but the only response I can get is "Its F'ing cold!" We ride for a bit and later he tells me, that's the only think he could get his mouth to say as he was shaking so bad. The temp was still hovering around 45 degrees, and that kid is all muscle and bones, so not his day. It wasn't Dan's day either. He flatted at about 10 miles, and then was misdirected by a volunteer, adding 10 miles to make today a great training day at least. I've had this happen to me, and while it is always the athlete's responsibility, it just sucks. (remember to review the race course)

Heading to the foothills and around the "roller coaster" section, it never dawned on me where I was in the race. This was just a "fun" race to do, and since I still have 30-40 pounds on some people, I figured it would be a mid-pack day. Riding up one of the last climbs, another rider rolls up and comments I'm putting together a great race, I say about the same, but then he says we are 7th and 8th overall! I couldn't believe it, and we both went charging through the rest of the bike. Turned in the 4th best bike split of the day, M2 the Mad Scientist has taugh us well to have consistent effort throughout the ride. People would mash the steep grades, and once it flattened out, I'd blow by them every time the grade decreased.

Onto the run and I'm feeling good. Probably a little too good for the three loop course. The first 7k I rip off at 28 minutes and blow by a few people. The second loop, the wheels start to come off. Due to the cold, I really didn't drink enough, or eat much, and it started to show. Half way throught he second loop I go for the good stuff, Espresso Gel and to top it off, some Coke at the aid station between laps. A few minutes later, the legs are back, and I'm charging again with some great turnover in my stride! Hammering the last 2 miles, I get back well withing our goal time of 5:15 and get 5:12! 6th overall which is awesome, but landed 4th Age Group, so no podium. The great news was the Tim, even though he was suffering from hypothermia, landed 3rd in his Age Group!

I grabbed this from my buddy's Garmin for the bike course.

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