What a flippin' blast! It's called California Multisport. Friends of mine have set out to bring some new endurance event adventures to endurance athletes in So Cal. After experiencing it myself I can tell ya, I'm on a mission to recruit (and inspire!) ya'll to come out and join me...mix things up from time to time...both on and off the road...with these (and other) excellent endurance experiences.
This one in the series was up in the mountains at Big Bear Lake which is an outdoor adventure playground just under a two hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. The race start was a relaxing 11am...which makes it easy to get to the race from LA or SD on the same day. Many thanks to Paul and Karen of Team Sole and the heart and soul of California Multisport who have opened their home up to me with open arms anytime I want to come play (and train my butt off) up in Big Bear.
Also check out Open Air Big Bear for additional events throughout the year including snowshoe 5k/10k, mountain biking, multisport, paddling and a marathon.
It was a 9k trail run / 20k mountain bike / 4k trail run.
Big Bear sits at 7000ft altitude. It might sound daunting, coming from sea level, to do a race at that altitude. Luckily I'd spent a weekend up there just a few weeks before with some killer training sessions and found that I couldn't really tell where the challenge was coming from: the altitude, the efforts on the climbs, etc. It was just one big great challenge and I didn't feel like I necessarily 'felt' the altitude.
After a relaxing morning with good nutrition, I got to the race start with more than enough time to enjoy the music, do some great movement prep and get ready to race.
I started the race thinking "keep it easy." I've learned the hard way that its extremely easy to go too hard too soon at the start of running races. I needed it to feel as effortless as possible for as long as possible. Pretty quickly I found myself passing by all but 2 men in front of me, and kept asking myself, "Are you really going easy or does it just SEEM easy since its still the first mile?" There's a big difference. I settled into a pace that I felt good about, running my own race, not worrying about who was ahead or behind. However, pretty quickly we hit the climb and that was the end of easy. It was a steady uphill that took about 30 minute to reach the top. I was happy to see the top AND the gorgeous Pacific Coast Trail that we then got to run on to decend all the way down to the finish. I thrive on combining footwork, agility and speed to maneuver as efficiently as possible on the trail. My speed seemed to get the best of me at one point however (on wide, flat section of the trail??) and I quickly found myself diving toward the ground. Slammed my right knee and hip, and must've rolled a bit too...seeing as how dirty I was coming into transition. Oh well. Go fast, take chances. Got right back up and forgot about it in a couple steps and made my way back to transition. 57 minutes...a LONG 9km!
Once again my speedy transitions helped out. I came into T1 in third place, 30 seconds down from 2nd pIace, and left transition in second place (albeit ever so briefly!) Love that!
The bike was pretty straight forward. There were 2 long climbs over the 1 hour and 20 minutes. I got into a rhythm and did my best to relax every bit of my body that I didn't need to get me up the hill, including my neck, shoulders and face. I tried to maintain my posture and keep the pedals turning over smoothly. It seemed to get hard at the end to maintain...all I wanted to do was round my back over and curl into a ball...but I did my best! A few times I had to remind myself that I'd just ran hard for an hour prior to this so it was ok to feel not quite as flash as I would have had I just jumped on the MTB fresh. I also kept reminding myself that everyone else was probably feeling the same way...I wasn't out there alone! I pretty much rode solo the entire way. I kept wondering when the killer Big Bear local mountain bikers would come flying by me, but...apparently I'd put enough time on them in the run that I never got to see them. In the
last few minutes decending back to transition, adventure racer extraordinaire Addy Goodvibes blew by me. Thought I might be able to re-pass him in the run...but no chance!
In T2, the volunteers and Karen herself were awesome. I was kind of confused when they told me I had to keep my helmet on for the run...but I went with it, and quickly forgot it was on. I was trying too hard to pick up my knees and put one foot in front of another. I was pretty fried and it never really got any easier. Hitting the finish line, as usual, was awesome. Those last 20 meters or so, as I've mentioned before are always the best! This time though...there was a twist! Sometime between our start and finish, ropes had been placed on the finishline scaffolding. Just when I thought I was done...
We had to jimmy up a knotted rope to the top of the scaffolding, climb over and make our way down a giant net to the official finish. HOW MUCH FUN IS THAT??!! I was thankful for my upper body and core strength which made the challenge more fun than anything. It proved to be quite a feat for some people...yet in the end everyone agreed it was such an awesome accomplishment to top off an already epic day!
NOTE: See photos worth 1000 words HERE.
In the end I ended up 1st among the women and 4th overall. Got to pop my first bottle of champagne on the podium! I did alright if I do say so myself...no less than 25 people got soaked haha. And they hooked me up with, among other things...my very first altimiter watch. The first altimiter that has been made to fit a women's wrist: The Highgear Axio Mini. Adventure racing here I come?!
THANK YOU CALIFORNIA MULTISPORT!
As I mentioned, I hope you'll keep an eye out for these off-the-beaten path type races...and join us for the fun!