Monday, October 5, 2009

California's Toughest Tri

A couple weekends ago (Sept. 27th to be exact), I headed out to Folsom Lake, just east of Sacramento, California to compete in the Granite Bay Sprint Triathlon. Now for those of you who are wondering why the hell I would sign up for a tri so far away, well, I was out there already, on vacation, and of course, me being me, I will search out the best ways to workout while I have even more time to do so. This tri seemed perfect.

And it turned out to be a damn good one. I drove up to Sacramento on Saturday the 26th from LA and wandered around the deserted streets of the State's capital for a while before getting frustrated and needing to rest up. So, bopped into Old Town Sacramento for a bite (holy tourist location!) and then high tailed it to the Granite Bay area to rearrange my transition bag and get prepared for the race (I remembered my goggles this time, brought two pairs even!).

Now a little back tracking: A week before this I was in San Francisco, checking out the sights and having a blast, when I came across a great looking bike shop right next the Whole Foods called Pacific Bikes and Boards. The place was a two-storied bike warehouse filled with amazingly nice and intelligent bikers who were all so open to answering questions and helping out. San Fran is known for their bike culture, and from my understanding it can get a little cultish (think CrossFit...) and elitist. But every person I talked to here was great. They hooked me up with an 08 model of the Giant TCR Composite 2 which rode like a charm and felt great (I ended up getting an absolutley increadible deal on the price for keeping it 8 days! $250!!!).

While it took up a huge amount of space in the car, it was great to have it along so I was able to get a couple training rides with it. On Tuesday I had a speedy 10-miler from Lopez Lake to downtown Arroyo Grande outside of San Louis Obispo, CA. And on Friday I hopped the car and rode a hilly ride from Malibu to Santa Monica, a great, scenic 21-miler. I was also able to myself into some water along the way too, thank God. This was what had me a bit nervous. I had hit the new pool in Tenley Town at Wlson High School in DC right before I left and literally felt like I had never touched water before. I needed to get into the water a couple times just to rememebr what it felt like. So, being able to get into a little pool at a resort/spa style fitness center just south of Santa Cruz was perfect. I was also able to jump into two hotel pools (both about 14 meters in length...lot's of laps...made it feel like I was swiming insane distances when it was really only about a quarter mile after 8000 laps...). But, with that extra work, it really paid off.

Bright and early on Sunday morning I got to the registration, signed in, got my number and all, set up the transition station and waisted time waking around chatting people up and checking out the great scenery. A couple things I found out: The year before, the swim start was about 50 yards from the transition area. This year, same transition area, same swim start, but thanks to the crazy dry spell and heat, the start was now over a quarter mile away. Folsom Lake was slowly dissapearing. Also, one of the reasons it was claimed to be "California's Toughest Tri" was that it was 103 degrees and most of the run took place in the sand, or trudging up a "rolling hill" after mile 3...(rolling hill really turned out to be a practically sheer cliff of about 200 yards).

When the started horn went off I jumped into the water and just found a rythmn. After what seemed like about an hour, I came out of the water and began the 1/4 mile sand trek to the transition station while lloking down at my watch to see what the damage was: 28 minutes. Well, for those swimmers out there, keep your mouths shut, I know it's bad; BUT, it was 5 minutes better than my last 3/4 mile swim attempt and I was pumped!

The bike, well, I feel really good on the bike. I passed a lot of people and nobody passed me, all 13 miles. The run. Geez. Hot, sandy, hilly. 5 miles. Only got passed by one guy, I passed a ton of people. I crossed the finish line at 1 hour 51 minutes, good enough to take home 5th in my division and 61st overall (out of just under 200). I felt real good about it and look forward to next fall when I can train like crazy for these things and perhaps compete for a top podium spot. I really like these races, I feel so good being out there with all these amazing athetes, swimming, biking and running around. But right now it's time to get focused on the marine Corps marathon coming up in a few weeks. Then two weeks later the Riding With Courage Marathon!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

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