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Dawg Dayz of Summer- Arkansas Race Weekend

June 23, 2009

vertical goat pathI’ve had some pretty good results at Xterras lately, so I thought it was time to up the ante and sign up for the South Central Cup race in North Little Rock this weekend. Colleen and I left Austin for kinfolk housing in Terrell Thurs night. Friday morning we finished the remaining 300 miles to Little Rock in good time to setup camp, pre-ride, do packet pickup, and go to downtown Little Rock for a little sight seeing. I usually travel far for the race itself, but if I’m going to travel far I always try to get in as much sight seeing as possible and make a mini vacation of the trip. Knowing that the race would be very hot the next morning didn’t keep me from enjoying some samples at Bosco’s microbrewery. It was warm tent camping Friday night, but nothing a cold shower couldn’t fix. By race start 10am, the heat index was already 100 degrees. This did not initially concern me since I ride in the heat, I run in the heat, I even live and sleep in the heat, all so that I can perform better in the heat, and Texas has a lot of heat. Swimming in the heat, however, is something entirely new to me.The temperature of the water was in the upper 80’s and not wetsuit legal. It was also regulation 1500 meters, something else this bread and butter cross country mountain biker racer isn’t used to. A slow start in the steamy water eventually turned into, well, a slow, uncomfortable, very challenging swim. It was very frustrating and very disheartening. The people I was hoping to compete with got out of the water in 24 minutes-I exited in 39.This would prove to be an insurmountable gap, but I would sbike1till race as if I had a chance. Having been in that hot tub for nearly 40 minutes took its toll on me, and I had a hard time getting up to speed on the 17.5 mile bike. After 1 of 2 laps things finally started to click and I began to make up some time. A quick T2 transition setup for a good start to the 6.2 mile run. I was really dreading this run now that it was super hot and a lot of it was on the road, fully exposed to the sun-plus I don’t consider myself a very good runner. Something was different this go race though. My form and cadence felt great heading into the steep “billy goat” scramble- a very rocky climb to the top of a cliff towering above the Arkansas river.(Look carefully at the photo and you can see a fence at the top. This fence only protected about ¼ of the Cliffside run. The other ¾, well, you bestcliff1 keep a safe distance!) The view and run along top was nice, but the switchbacks back down the hill were a welcome relief because it meant no more climbing, and the turn around point for the run. I was on cruise control, picking off runners one by one. My confidence got stronger and stronger, as did my pace as I neared the finish line via the road that the course went out on. Then came the right turn up one more long, gradual, sun filled hill. It was strewn with demoralized, dehydrated racers walking up it at snails pace. I myself walked a good chunk of it, but still ran as much as I could because I suspected there was water at the top. Sure enough, there was, and it was cold. Just what I needed to get through the last mile of running, mostly downhill to the finish. The race results had verified what I was expecting. No

run1

podium finish this go round, and 19th overall. A disappointing variation from the age group podiums and 5th-6th overall I had been earning. It only ate at me a little bit though, because further examination revealed I still had a very good bike split and an even better run. This was also an Xterra Cup Race, and the competition was much stronger. It’s obvious where my weakness lies, so from here I will invest a lot of time and energy to become a better swimmer. Assuming bike and run times will continue to improve (they’re already pretty dang good), I’ll be hanging with the pros in no time. 😉

Sunday

With no crash the day before and seemingly minimal soreness from the Xterra, it was a no brainer to enter the Pro/Cat 1 XC race sunday morning. Just like in Oklahoma last month, some familiar faces from Texas showed up, as well as several locals and even a Pro from Colorado, who had also raced the day before. The sprint was uneventful and didn’t spread the field out much, even though it was a good 1/2 mile long. I entered the singletrack mid pack. The eventual top three finishers (Brian Smith, Ray Hall, and Bryan Fawley) all took off and left the weak ones behind to fend for ourselves. After the legs were warmed up from a half lap, it was go time. By the end of the first full lap, I had moved up to 4th, a position I would not relinquish and only build a gap on. Big Tex was really ripping the trail that day. Uphill, downhill, rocks, roots, smooth hardcover, you name it. I didn’t let off the gas except to pass riders from other categories. I wa really overcome with joy most of the race. The pace was fast, very fast, and I made very few mistakes, if any. It’s what a cross country race should have felt like. Considering I had raced the day before, I couldn’t have been happier with my finish on Sunday. It was nice redemption for what felt like a shortcoming in the tri. The drive home was long and uneventful, except for short stop in Terrell to have dinner with Dad and family for father’s day. A little time off this week and watching my horns play ball and hopefully bring home another title, and I’ll be ready to race the crit Thursday night and then a road race in Fredericksburg Sunday, with perhaps some Enchanted Rock camping thrown in too. Should be a good week. Thanks for reading.
Caveman

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 7, 2009 2:39 pm

    Nice!

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