And now to the litany of excuses, what ifs, I shouldas, and general commentary.
Although I did not bring many expectations to this event other than enduring a long day in preparation for the WHWR in June, it is hard not to compete with past performances.
I find it rather puzzling that I could put together a very similar performance as last year when I had IMNZ and 4 weeks of WF specific training under my belt. This year, I got on the bike trainer a handful of times for about an hour, did one ride of 45 miles, and swam twice. I have been out on long running escapades and used to going for hours on end. You pretty much need to be an excellent cyclist to do well at this event because even if you are reasonably trained the bike course just pummels you at the end leaving you at the mercy of the run.
My favorite pre-race advice that they trot out every year from some pro is not to spend all of your energy on the "nasty grade" around mile 43. Well, the problem with that advice is that essentially means falling over sideways on that hill.
It was typically warm (all sun and mid 80s) but not the inferno of two years ago. I was well organized this year and had Julie as my crack support team. The morning always holds such promise and anticipation. The lake was reasonably warm and the swim is always fun. Unfortunately, it gives way to reality on the first climb up from the lake. I quickly discovered two things: first, taping your gu gels to your bike frame is quite handy but the location is rather important as mine were strategically positioned to slice the living crap out of my thighs every time I stood up in the saddle; and second, having a nice bike designed for the aero position doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot unless you a) practice biking in general and b) practice in the aero.
I tried my best to enjoy the 3+ hour blur of a ride taking note of the scenery where I could (I actually saw a gas station with a price of $4.08/gallon!) and enjoying some of the well earned downhills. I found that my ultra training actually started to kick in during the last 10 miles of the bike where I felt reasonably well. Throughout the run, I basically felt good, running most of it and walking some of the grades but without the pain of prior efforts. My motivation was definitely lacking and I just couldn’t justify putting myself in real distress because there are only 6 weeks or so until the WHWR.
All in all, it was Wildflower. It is a long day, the bike is painful, the run is relentless, the sun is constant, but the competitors respect and love that course and many of them are very inspirational. Since the park clamped down on alcohol consumption, the aid stations (manned by Cal Poly SLO students) have become much more enjoyable as the people there are paying attention and were incredibly friendly and hard working.
In the last 6 weeks I have done 2 50k runs and a half Ironman. I think it is time for some rest!