Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Napa California Hits Race - #4 of 30 ( or more ;)

Napa Race Report

We are a Specialized family - Thanks Timp!
All set to head to Cali.

My kids travel really well!!

We loaded up all the bikes, all the gear, all 5 kids and headed to Northern California for IM race  #4 on the year.  I am now over the loss of New Zealand and will move on.  My kids travel really well and I think it comes from years of experience driving back and forth to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Canada.  A freak snow storm rolled through Donners pass in the Tahoe area on the day we were traveling.  They were stopping all cars and checking for chains for your tires.  Apparently, people in the area aren’t capable of driving without these chains..... this cost event cost me $76 unanticipated bucks.... On the upside, I now have a set of chains for future freak snow storm driving or an unexplained inability to drive in snow conditions.... Funny how I have been driving in snow all my life and have made it this far without chains... 
My friend and Iron Cowboy supporter Heath Haacke was super kind and booked my family and me a condo for us to stay in.  Thanks heaps bro!  It is generosity like this that will get me through this year... I can’t do this alone.... So HUGE HUGE THANKS SIR HEATH H.  The condo is perfect!  We checked out the arcade, the pool and the park - all very important!
Friday - Today was a day or relaxation.  The race site was in a very remote location so there really wasn’t anywhere close to stay.  The town and the surrounding towns where we were staying didn’t have much of anything in them but a local corner store, trailer parks and our nice condo.  I needed to take my new bike (a modified Specialized Venge) to test position, gears and brakes.  I only needed to make a few adjustments to it after my quick ride.  I think I am going to be very happy with the switch, especially on this Napa course.  After swimming with the kids, I needed to go for an easy 20 minute run.  I took Lucy and Lily with me, so they could get in some last minute practice for their kids race tomorrow.  The HITS series race series puts on a FREE novice/kids race after the morning Sprint and Olympic races on the Saturday before the Sunday Half and Full distance races.  After their ride and my run I sent them out around the park for a few hundred meter run.  The girls did great and they were SOOO excited to do race prep like dad.  I guess kids really are a product of their environments.... be oh so careful what you say and do around your kids... they are watching and listening very closely.
Saturday - With the kids race being at noon the whole family slept in, thanks kids!  We loaded up again and headed to the race site.  Like I mentioned before, it was fairly remote and we had a 90 minute drive on these windy narrow back roads.  I feared these were going to be the race roads..... We pulled up to the race site and got all the girls ready for their race.  They picked up their packets, checked in their bikes and set up their transition areas.  We had a little picnic before the kids pre-race meeting and then IT WAS ON!  With the water temp being in the very low 50’s we were concerned with the girls swim abilities and the shock factor of the cold water.  I threw on my wetsuit and was going to swim the 100 meter race with my youngest racing daughter Daisy, and I managed to recruited two people who were willing to swim with Lucy and Lily.  Susan and Dillon turned out to be the idea of the day as none of them would have made it through the swim without this help.  Daisy took three steps in the water and jumped on my back for the rest of the swim.  This suddenly became a tough 100 meters!!  Lucy and Lily also had a hard time adjusting to their first open water swim and needed help - it’s ok girls, it happens to the best of us.  And a side note, these 3 tiny bodies weren’t in wetsuits, just the raw 54 degree water! 

Look Mom, I get a number.

Ready for a fun day of Tri!  Thanks to our swim helper.... made all the difference.

Lily, Daisy and Lucy all  dominated!!  I'm a proud papa!

Daisy and I killing the 3 mile bike ride!
"Dad, it's race....can't you go any faster??!!
After the swim all three girls transitioned and headed out on the bike and run.  I helped Daisy transition... ok she waited for me.  Lucy was ready first and immediately went over to help Lily finish up her transition, what awesome girls!!  We all took off on the bikes and the big girls took off and dominated the rest of the bike and run.  I stayed with Daisy for the rest of the race.  The kids bike course had a long climb out and up to the turn around.  Daisy dug in on her Barbie bike, legs a spinning!  As we reached the top she told me her legs hurt and her back was sore.  We stopped at the turn around, rubber her back and gave her some liquid.  She coasted back down the hill and got her legs back for the run - so cute.  She shot out of transition not knowing how to pace.  The rest of the run was this sprint/walk effort.  She tripped on some uneven pavement and scuffed her hands and knees.  She cried for a minute then took off running for the last quarter mile to the finish.  What a CHAMP!  All the girls finished and got their well deserved shirts and finisher medals.  Way to go Lawrence girls, mom and dad are super proud of you all!
Race Day
Napa Hits Series Ironman 
We made a family decision to leave the family at home and have me head to the race site solo.  This turned out to be a good decision as there really wasn’t anything to do there and the water wasn’t warm enough for casual swimming.  I headed out the door at 4:30 am and arrived at the race site with enough time to get all set up and ready.  I have swam in cold water conditions before, but only for half the distance. All my previous full distance races have been in much nicer water.  The horn blows and I jump in the water. The cold water took my breath away and I instantly became a popsicle.  It took about 200 meters for my head to adjust to the cold temperatures.  My body was fine... it was my hands and feet that became cause for concern.  During this swim, I could feel my arms shutting pace became so slow it felt like the buoys were drifting away from me even though they were not.  It seemed like an eternity in the freezing water as my arms and my mind shut down.  I came out of the water and stumbled into transition.  I sat down and tried to put on my socks, shoes and gloves.  No dice.  I had zero dexterity.  The race volunteers came to my aid putting on my bike gear including my socks and gloves.  I wasn’t even able to clip the strap on my helmet.  Had they not helped me I would have had to sit in transition for 15 minutes longer to warm up.  Thanks crew!
I headed out on the bike and knew it was a challenging course with 6300 feet of climbing.  I settled into a good rhythm but felt awful, as I was still am ice cube on a bike headed down the road searching for any ray of sunshine.  It took most of the first lap to start to feel better.  28 miles into the first loop started the first of the real climbing (this isn’t to say there wasn’t plenty of climbing before this point).  This started an 8 mile climb over a mountain pass.  It was lowest gear slow, slow biking.  I live in the mountains and felt very comfortable on this course.  I really excelled on these big climbs and started to make my way through the small field.  The backside of this climb was steep and full of switchbacks.  I’m not a huge fan of this kind of descending and unfortunately no amount of this kind of downhill biking can make up for the lost time going up.  
I called my friend at around mile 60 to find out exactly what our time bet was for the year.  As a quick recap, the bet is that I need to beat his time in every one of my races. His first, and only Ironman to date, was a 12:27:14.  With the difficulty of this course, I quickly did the math and knew it was going to be close!  I stayed in control and by mile 70 could feel both my feet and felt much much better!  I climbed the mountain pass again and with about 20 miles to go, I had moved into second place.  Something magical happens once I reach 100 miles in an Ironman.  I feel light, powerful and strong!  This day was no different, it felt like I was floating over the last twelve miles of the course.  I hit the transition with 4:06:00 to spare.....This is gonna be a tight!!!
I zipped through T2 and headed out on the course.  The run course was also no joke with only climbing or descending as a road choice.  It was a double out and back course.  I divided it into 4 sections, out, back, out and back to the finish.  I needed to run these 6.5 mile sections on an hour each to keep the bet going.  The weather was hot, good thing I had my cowboy had to keep me shaded!  I kept a solid pace just above my instructed heart rate and completed the first section in :59 minutes.  I turned and ran back in over an hour. I had lost a minute with the hardest part of an Ironman to go.  I held back on the third section trying to conserve energy for the push that I knew was coming on the fourth and final section.  I reached the furthest part of the run course miles ahead of third, and first place was out of reach.  It was now me one on one against the clock! I hit the 20 mile marker and needed to run sub 10 min miles to get in on time. This seems simple enough, but keep in mind this hilly course and also the fact this is an IRONMAN.  I was now breaking my goal into single miles, knowing I needed to reach the next mile marker before my digital watched showed 7 in the minute column.  If I could get to each marker banking time, I would make it!  I knew by the time I was 3 miles out that I was safe.  My legs felt good (for the task) and I had already banked enough time.  I knew, at the worst, I could have run an 8 min mile or faster over the last mile had it come down to it.  It didn’t, and I finished with a 3:59:52 marathon!  This made my overall time 12:22:33!!!  I crossed the finish line and just took a moment and laid down on the grass.  I crossed in second place overall and could’t be more pleased with my day.  I don't have any pics of the race but if you look close there is a homeless man doing the run with a cowboy hat in this HITS video....

This was my slowest Ironman ever, done on the toughest course I’ve ever seen!  I am prouder of this race then when I did a low 10 hour Ironman in Cozumel!  Sometimes it is not about the time but about the battles that are won!  Thanks to the coolest wife ever who let me race on her birthday.  She is the bomb, but you all know that!  See you in South Africa this weekend!

Chilling at the condo pool!!!

Best Cheerleader ever!!  Thanks Dolly!!

Feeding the ducks.  Quinn chased them all day long.

Putting on the chains for the climb - DUMB!!!

Driving through the SNOW to get to the tri!!!

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