Wednesday, November 18, 2009

fin de la saison

bem-vindos a Brazil
Last week I headed down to the sunny (or more like scorching) village of Huatulco, Mexico. It was a quiet little tourist village situated on the Pacific side of Mexico. It would have been great for a vacation, but it was torture for a triathlon. In addition to the 100 degree heat there was a monstrous hill (600m at about 18%) that we had to go up 8 times. In the end, I don’t know if it was the heat, the hill, or my bike fitness, but I ended up on the wrong side of this statistic: only 22 people out of the near 50 who started, finished. It was that tough.

I left the night of the race to get back to Texas ASAP. I was heading to Brazil this weekend, so I only had a few days to recover and train before some more major travel. On the way back to Texas, I had to overnight in the Mexico City airport. Let me say it was an experience. I could write a long blog of that adventure. We will leave it at you should avoid going through there if possible, and if you must make sure you have LOTS of time between connections. Since we had about 10hrs, we made it ok. Once home it was only 3 short days before I boarded the flight to South America.

The travel was long, but painless. I was really excited for my first trip to Brazil, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was an incredible place, and I am definitely going back if/when I get the chance. The people were friendly, the weather was perfect, the beaches were serene, and the food was amazing. I came to Brazil to race the Cambirou ITU Continental Cup to gain ever important world ranking points, to secure funding for 2010, and to pad my frequent flier account for next year. It was a success on all fronts.

The race was nearly a repeat of Huatulco: an ocean swim, a ridiculously hilly bike, and a warm run (albeit, Cambirou was much cooler than Huatulco: 80’s and humid). I swam like a beached whale, but still made the first pack easily. The bike was tough, again. There was a 450m hill with a gradient of about 16-17% we had to do four times (plus 4 more on the backside of the hill). I stayed out of trouble and fared much better this time on the hill. I had a little snafu putting on my shoes and ended up starting the run way behind. I eventually worked my way from 11th to 5th by the finish. A solid result, and a nice way to finish the season.

Well, it wasn’t quite done. Manny Huerta and I decided that we wanted to try to attempt the Cambirou “double.” 90min after the ITU race finished was the Cambirou GP Sprint triathlon. This was a non-drafting sprint triathlon that started in time-trial format. There was a 10,000USD purse on the line, so of course we were in. Gotta make that paper somehow!
During the middle of the ITU race (about 8k into the run, actually) I decided there was NO way I was doing another race right after. Well, after a little chiding, goading, and coercing w/ the others after the 1st race, I decided I was in. And that decision is still affecting me now. I am still so sore I can barely stand up and walk…but it was great fun!

The course was the same as the ITU race (just half the distance) so we had to go up and down and up that hill several more times. To make matters worse, since it was a time trial start (one person every 30 seconds), you had no idea where you were in the standings. You could be winning, second to last, or battling it out for the last pay spot and you wouldn’t know the difference. The horn goes beep, and you flog yourself for another hour from start to finish. I ended up 8th, and just out of the money. Ouch! It was good fun, though. I got revenge on Manny who beat me in the ITU race, so that was a small consolation for the flogfest!

After the race, we hung out with the race director, Juca “di Luca” Salvadori. He showed us a great time exploring the city. He is a great guy, and was really kind to me and Manny. He went way out of his way to make sure we had a good time in Cambirou. I think all we did was eat: fried shrimp, pao de queijo (cheese bread), and of course meat! We went to an authentic Churrascharia where I am sure I ate my weight in beef. Overall it was a great trip, and a nice finish to the year.

Now it is time for a short break before I lay the foundation for next year. My first race of the season is actually January 10th so my break better not be too long! Unlike the previous years, I actually am really excited about training right now, and am looking forward to getting back into the heavy training pretty quickly.

Team America
you cannot believe how much meat I just ate!

Me, Juca, and Fred champagne toast!

Remember, winter miles = summer smiles!!