Wildflower Time Again!
The Ironteam season is coming along nicely and this weekend is going to be a big one: A half-Ironman practice race down at Lake San Antonio, which is the site of the Wildflower triathlons every year. Many of us on the team will be doing the half-Ironman race at Wildflower this year as a practice race for Ironman Tahoe, so this weekend is like a practice-for-the-practice-for-the-real-race. Very meta...
Wildflower holds a special place in my heart and it's the only race I do every year, without fail. My interest in triathlons has wavered over the years but I always do Wildflower. I started volunteering for the race in 1996 and after two years of that I was hooked and I had to try competing. I've competed every year for the last 15 years, doing the sprint course once, the Olympic course 11 times, and the half Ironman 3 times. I still volunteer every year.
The last time I did the half Ironman distance was in 2003, and my times were usually around 7:30. (seven and a half hours, which was 45 minutes swimming, 3:50 biking, and about 3:00 running) My shoulder is not is full race form for swimming this weekend but I'm hoping that by the time the real event comes around in May I'll be able to match or even beat my times from 10 years ago. I'm 10 years older but I'm WAY better trained than I ever was!
They say "Plan the race and then race the plan". The key points of my plan for this weekend are:
- Swim easy. Don't aggravate the shoulder. Does my new-to-me (heavily used) wetsuit fit well enough? Will it last until Tahoe?
- Bike smart. Aim for 80% - 85% of Functional Threshold Power, just like the book says. Test out the new bike/gears on Nasty Grade.
- Run/Walk strong. I've never felt comfortable with my run at Wildflower and I'm in better run shape than ever before. Test the 6 minute/ 1 minute run/walk strategy.
- Eat and hydrate. A lot. Nice thing about Wildflower is you can pee wherever you want. :-)
- Collect Data. Collect power/heartrate/pacing data for the bike and run. Real Wildflower is only 7 weeks away.
- Take In The View. Visit the lawn at the Visitor's Center and catch at least one sunrise and sunset each. Because I do it every year.
Greg liked Wildflower
Wildflower is extra-special to me this year because there's a strong Team In Training tie-in for me, because of my honoree, Greg Junell.
Back in 2002 I was living the dream in San Luis Obispo - beautiful town, beautiful people, perfect training conditions, at the top of my form in my late 20's. I got to see Greg on a regular basis and he was pretty heavily into massage therapy. His partner Dorene is a massage therapist too, and they were part of the volunteer massage team that went to Wildflower to rub down athletes before and after their races.
After my half-Ironman I paid my $20 and waited specifically for Greg to be available and lay down for a great 20 minute recovery massage. Half way through Dorene saw me there and so she joined in for a few minutes and I got the elusive four-handed massage for a while.
Those of you who knew Greg know that a massage from Greg isn't just about flushing toxins out of muscles and soothing sore legs - When Greg gets into a massage it's about connecting your energy with his and really experiencing recovery at a a deeper level. On this beautiful afternoon on the grass in the festival area, in the middle of everything that makes Wildflower such an interesting little temporary community, I got one of the best recovery massages of my life.
I talked to Greg later about what he thought about his Wildflower experience and he was really thrilled about it. He was affected by the same things I was 15 years ago - the huge gathering of healthy, fit, like-minded people focusing all their energy on something positive for the weekend. This was before smartphones and 3G and wireless Internet, so Wildflower was really a way to get away from your normal life for a few days, go camping, and immerse yourself in the lifestyle. You could go the whole weekend without seeing anyone smoking, or being negative, or talking about politics, or over-commercialized sports, etc. It was a weekend of pure existential triathlon bliss.
Greg was stoked by that, and I was stoked by it too. We all had a great time and no matter how many times I do Wildflower I'll always have that memory of that afternoon and that conversation afterward. Greg liked Wildflower and I like Wildflower too.