I would say that this last year has been the best year of my life so far... I also know I have said that the last few years or as long as I can remember... "Things" are always just getting better and better and I am truly grateful for the time...and people. Working towards negative splitting life takes a lot of teamwork. I was able to keep my job, my house and my mind which was a task in itself.
I met so many good people this year and value the new and old relationships in my life. Relationships. They are what is and should be the lasting and valued resource for time well spent. Time on the trail was pretty good too if that is not too cheesy to add... I logged countless hours with training buddies and my wife this year and realized just what a passion I have for these people and activities.
In what is now my fourth year of racing I thought I would review 2009 races although most of the real good stuff happened between the races themselves on trips to or from adventures that Monique and I set out to do. I also realize that it is the trips and training where I learn the most and get to spend the most quality time with my training buddies and my wife. Sometimes the madness of packing/unpacking/repeat of races takes away that time...not to mention the money associated with it. 2010 will be different in this aspect. More training, more adventures and challenges but less travel...but back to 2009 for now.
I had some simple goals for the racing season and even a simpler training schedule. I just did what I "felt" like doing for the day most of the time and I still could not manage to follow a schedule. I did have goals I would try to hit for the week but no real goals or training outline. My goals for racing were
a) have fun!!!
b) learn what works for me (training by feeling, nutrition, intensity, etc)
c) remain injury free
d) beat my 2008 vision quest time, try to win a Cal Multisport race
e) try something new - top of the list was bike road race, paddle races and open water swims
f) run any race under 7min/mi pace
g) qualify for Xterra Nationals
I met just about all of the goals I had and they were simple enough to chase after with my training plan. It is funny how tempting it is to adjust/add to your goals once the season starts! I made progress. It has also been interesting to see progress not only through the season but now that I have done some of the same races for the last few years it is nice to see real progress over a longer time period and puts it in perspective what making the grade is all about.
Just like the last two years my "racing season" opened early with the Rio Bravo Rumble race in early January. This is always a good indication of where my fitness is at early in the year. I won this event the last two years but this year I got lost on the course and took a penalty to move into a 2nd place overall but it proved my fitness had been upgraded. Stoked! I am still working on the getting lost part... I realized after this race that it was the little things like nutrition, appropriate stress and recovery that would make this season a little different. That was the results I was looking for...
Next up was some mountain bike races. I love to ride my bike! I joined up with my buddy Wes Barton to tackle the 12 hours of Temecula and I must admit that it felt MUCH harder to race as a duo than to take it on solo. 40min of an all out effort and 40min of "recovery" for 12 hours is HARD! We ended up taking 3rd place and next time around I am going to race solo again ;-)
Then after a snowshoe race and a half marathon it was time for the Vision Quest Mountain Bike race. This has been a special race for me over the last three years. When I first got talked into signing up in 2007, I was struggling just to finish and that same quest has motivated me through each year. Being able to actually "race" it this year was a treat. Riding with the pros and finishing the first armature exceeded my expectations and I learned a lot about slow consistent progress. I am signed up for next year but still not sure if I am going to race it or not...more on that in another post.
2007 - 80th overall - place 8hrs 5min
2008 - 29th place overall - 6hrs 49min
2009 - 5th place overall - 5hrs 55min
After that I jumped into my first half Ironman race. The Oceanside 70.3 . I think this is the perfect distance race and was much more fun than expected. 2010 will have a lot more long course triathlon for me!
All along I was set to focus on off-road multisport this year. I really wanted to do the California Multisport Series and although it was discontinued I was stoked to have taken the win at the only paddle, mountain bike, trail run event in June.
This was the highlight of my year for several reasons. I love the people at the race, the challenge of diversity in the sports and the difficult courses that Team Sole puts their efforts into designing. Just like the Conquer the Bear series races. I got to participate in a few of them and really love the time wrapped around those events. Here are some highlights.
The majority of my other races were within the Xterra Off-Road Triathlon series. Long enough to require some endurance but short enough to to experience some of that good pain! I ended up jumping into more races than expected when I started using my frequent flier miles and got my goal of qualifying for the USA Championships.
What I did not have on my goal list was a qualification to race at Worlds in Maui and to win my region for the series points. I was really stoked to accept both! Although the Nationals and Worlds were not the races I was looking for, I learned a great deal from just showing up and I am grateful for that.
One of the "themes" of the year...even the last few has been sharing the training time, travels and races with Monique . She also qualified and raced Nationals and Worlds and just like always I was as stoked to see her cross the finish line. I cannot see myself skipping some of these races in 2010. Off-road multisport is rad.
Again, some of the best moments of the year had nothing to do with racing, training or the like . . . and I like that. Balance! The blog is all about training, racing and miles ! It has been a good learning lesson too. I am perpetually focused on the negative split now and although I learned the benefit of that from sport, I am eager to apply that to every part of life. Negative Split! This year I continued to learn how to do "it" right in training and racing and it really didnt start coming together until late October when I started to "get it" and "doing it". Nailing my balance, nutrition, rest and efforts to negative split and finish strong day after day and week after week. THIS is the stuff that is most important, most challenging and most rewarding. I just finally learned what works for me and how to keep it rolling. Interesting insights for me inside and outside of racing.
I also got to do my first paddling races, open water swims, trail running races. Mixing it up. This was also the first year that I did not do any adventure races. Something I really miss and I believe will be back in my life in a stronger fashion than ever in 2010... more on that later but I am looking forward to getting more trail time with a team next year and I really think it brings out the best in me pushing limits on a team.
We are off to Big Bear for a snowshoe hike under the full moon and then some good time next to the fire place with friends to bring in the new year. See ya out there!