Monday, April 28, 2008


April 26-27 has been booked on the calendar for several months. The Get in Gear 10K was slated as my key running race of the spring, and the Iron man bike ride on Sunday would complete the weekend Brick (reverse order). As many know, MN spring weather is unpredictable, and for this reason, I procrastinated with pre-registration for both events. The forecast was looking grim, and by Thursday morning (I think there was a least 6-10 of us) decided to save the $45 entry fee for the bike ride, and do our own ride in the hills of Wisconsin. The forecast was calling for lows in the 30s, highs in the 50s, so we figured it would be best to control our departure time/route etc. By Thursday mid afternoon, I was hosting a Trainer Party in my basement (forecast now included snow, rain mix and high in the 40s). Of course, I still had the 10K on my plate for Saturday morning, and was planning to register Thursday night at the local running store. I jokingly sent an instant message to my husband before I left work asking if we had a good reason to skip the 10K (I knew it would be painful with Saturday morning temps in the 30s with snow). Sure enough, after as few IMs back and forth, we stared working on booking flights to sunny Arizona. We had a few free tickets in the bank, so we called Sun Country, and they got us on a flight Friday afternoon. Awesome!! “Unfortunately” they had no Sunday return flights, so I quickly asked my manager if I could work from home on Monday, and I received two thumbs up! I really needed to race on Saturday, so after a quick search to find a 10K in the Phoenix area, I found a 5K-That should do.
Friday morning I did another search for races on the Phoenix area and found an International distance Tri. After some discussion with my coach we decided that doing a spontaneous tri would be a great challenge. I was already in route to the office and planning to go directly to the airport from work, so I made a quick call to my husband asking him to pack a few race essentials (Wheels, wetsuit, aero helmet). I was now ready tp race!! Luckily our flight landed on time, and we knew exactly where to go for registration. The Saguaro Lake Triathlon is a fairly low key race (450 total participants), and they allowed registration until 7pm Friday night. I have done this race in the past in both flavors (they do this alongside the Xterra Desert Extreme Tri). The two races share the swim, T1, T2 and the run. The roadies do a 30 mile bike with LOTS of climbing, and the off-road folks do 27K mtn bike. I did the Xterra version in ’06 (two weeks post IMAZ), and remembered how tough the run felt back then. At that point, I simply chalked it up as being post Ironman fatigue, and was looking forward to redemption this year. Saturday morning, less than 24 hours since I found the tri online, I was prepping my stuff and heading to the race. The swim was a 1300 point to point swim, followed by a very challenging 30 Mile bike, then finishing up with a brutal 5 mile trail run. It is actually extremely beautiful in the desert as you climb up and look out of over the Canyon lakes, however, due to the extreme, narrow single track, taking in the scenery is not recommended! All eyes must be focused on the single step ahead!

Swim Start:
Deep water, mass starts are certainly not my favorite, but I was able to survive the early trashing, and get myself in good position early. This was my first wetsuit swim since Ironman Florida, and as I remembered, it feels great! The water was a perfect 68 degrees, and the lake had minimal chop. The water exit was a little sketchy, and the run to T1 was hard on the feet, but I had to remind myself that this was Xterra. I quickly hopped on my road bike (I keep a road bike at the condo here, so no tri bike for this race), and started climbing out of Butchers cove. It’s a very beautiful course, with plenty of fast descents to make up for ALL the tough climbs. I had Kerry and the girls in the car following me, taking photos and giving me updates. It was as special treat to hear “go Cathy go” every few miles. I love hilly bikes courses, so I was having a blast. I finally made it back to T2 and the volunteers were awesome, they took my bike, gave me my T2 bag and I was off climbing on the run. I had heard that I had a good lead on the women behind me, so I knew I didn’t have to kill myself on the run. Regardless, I wanted to run hard to truly test myself. Wow, TEST MYSELF was an understatement, right out of T2, you make a steep switchback single track climb...I think I managed to run up that, but I did surrender and walked another point of the course. This was probably close to the half way point of the run, and I was SO exhausted. My legs felt terrible, and the inability to get any solid footing made it much more difficult. All attempts to work on running form were fruitless. Feet were going in one direction, hips in another, and arms, well they were all over the place. In true Xterra fashion, we were running in very lose sand most of the way down. A few men passed me on the run, and I had nothing in the tank to stay with them. I eventually made it to the finish line and recorded my first win of the year! That race kicked my butt, which is just what I needed in April. A True Reality check, and I’ve got work to do!!! .
Although this race is extremely well run, and typically includes a fun filled awards ceremony. I decided to spare the family more Cathy centered time and get back to our Vacation. The kids were troupers; up early, taking photos, cheering galore, but 90 degrees starts to take its toll when you’ve been doing the race Sherpa gig for 5 hours. It was time for us to go play in the pool and hang out.

Kiersten and I rested on floaties and enjoyed catching rays while Karin entertained us with her Butterfly stoke (she just started swimming competitively this year, so butterfly has been her nemesis). I eventually submerged and helped Karin with her flip turns, and butterfly drills while Kiersten resorted to the lawn chair to study for her AP US History exam. Kerry did a quick loop of the bike course, and then joined us at the pool. It didn’t take long for hunger and thirst to override all other needs, so we headed off to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.

It was a fun day with the family. We received the scattered update from friends back home that snow had accumulated and winds were gusting close to 25mph.

It was a great weekend for spontaneity.