Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Big Race: T-Minus 1 Day

The day before the race I started to get really nervous.  I'd trained really hard, but I kept hearing so many horror stories about the bike leg that I started to worry that I'd get out into the mountains and I wouldn't be able to do it.  I think part of my mood was the weather taking it's toll; it had been in the high nineties every day that we had been there, and I had spent every afternoon out hiking in the desert with my dad.  I felt like I had been baked.

On the bright side I had the best hamburger of my life that day:

This was the Drunken Onion Burger at the Slickrock Cafe.  They slow cook red onions in beer which was fantastic.

My dad and I also saw some pretty amazing scenery at Canyonlands National Park.  The views were amazing, there were canyons inside of canyons; I've never seen anything so big in all my life:

Then at dinner my parents and I went to this great Italian restaurant so I could carb up:

That night I had so much on my mind that I couldn't ever completely relax.  A few days before they had changed the start of the race from 9:30 AM to 7:30 AM which drove me nuts.  They did it because of the heat, but that meant I was going to have to get up at 4 AM to have breakfast!  I spent the whole night tossing and turning and trying not to think about hydration and wetsuits and transitions and flat tires and energy gels and on and on that finally my alarm went off and it was time to go.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Big Race: T-minus 2 days

When I woke up my lungs felt better so I decided to try a light workout on the race course.  My dad and I drove out to Ken's Lake and I did a bike/run.  The first mile of the bike course is one giant hill climbing up into the mountain, and once you get through that the course turns into this thick red sand that your bike just sinks into.  I realized that the bike course is going to be much longer than I expected...

The view coming out of the mountains was great, here is a pic I snapped:

That blue off in the distance is Ken's Lake (you can see how high the course climbs!)

I went for a short run afterwards, and that felt great.  My shoes are very minimalist, so I was worried that they might not have thick enough soles to handle the terrain.  But the trails felt fine, and more importantly my form felt good...smooth, strong, light.

Each leg of this race is going to feel totally different.  The swim leg will be the warm-up, because it is so short that I wont really be able to get worn out yet.  The bike leg will be the workout because it is the longest section and it goes through the most demanding terrain.  And the run leg will be the reward because this will be my first time running competitively since 2004.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Big Race: T-minus 3 Days

I spent my first full day in Moab, UT.  Not far from the town the scenery is pretty ordinary, just flat, brown desert.  But a few miles out of town everything changes.  Tall, steep canyon walls pull up out of the ground and everything is one of three colors: red (rocks), green (trees) and blue (sky).  Those are the primary colors of canyonland.

My dad and I toured Arches National Park and saw some really spectacular scenery.  Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the day: (click on them to see them larger)

That last arch was 300 feet wide; it looked like a giant suspension bridge.  If I had to pick one word to describe this place it would have to be "alien."  Everything just looked strange, otherworldly.  In fact there's a blown up photo of the Mars landscape in the Science Center at BYU and Moab looks just like that.

I got bronchitis during the middle of last week, so I haven't done any workouts other than my back exercises since then.  It's a little nerve-racking to have completely stopped training for so long before the race, but I knew that my best chance at making a full recovery was going to be by resting.  You are supposed to taper before the race anyway, so eight days of complete inactivity should leave me pretty dang fresh.  As soon as my lungs clear up I will head out to the course and do some easy workouts.

I'm not as excited to be here as I thought I would be, in fact I've been in something of a malaise.  Not depressed, but solemn, somber.   After months of training to finally be here and be so close I thought I would be amped up.  I think it's taking so many days off from training, I've started to lose that fire.  Hopefully when I get back out there and move around that thrill will come back and I can shake this gloomy feeling.