Day 5: Finally in my element

Today wasn’t much of a riding day in Collingwood unless you wanted to tack on extra distance. I have a mechanical issue with my bike, which hopefully will get sorted tonight, but it meant I didn’t ride at all. Oh well, my butt could use the break.

The day started with an early “3k” ocean swim race. The distance turned out to be closer to a full 3.8k iron distance swim, but the water was pretty shallow so there was some walking through the water vs swimming. I did 1:02 or so and wasn’t last (close, though). It felt good to swim in the wetsuit instead of the 50m pool swims we’ve been doing.

After brekkies, it was time for my element: the 2-hour trail run. We headed out to one of the well-known “tracks,” which involved a long drive on a gravel road that had several stream crossings just to get to. Once there, the trail led inexorably upward; John Newsom was going to stop at around 1h 5m, and we had to run to him before turning around.

The trail was very rocky and uneven, as opposed to the relatively smooth Northern California trails I normally run on, so that made my Newton shoes a questionable selection. I started the climb within myself, trying to keep my heart rate at 140 or below. I was surprised to actually catch John on the ascent, but he was taking it easy in order to make the run doable for everyone.

John repassed me with just over an hour gone, and I kept waiting for him to stop. Finally he did, as Heath, a pro from Utah was coming down, having been a minute or so ahead. I turned around and was now really in my element &mdash downhill on trails &mdash so I took off in pursuit of Heath. I latched on to the back of him (so to speak) as we cruised down at a healthy clip. Actually, less a cruise than a controlled freefall, a little like mogul skiing. Both of us turned ankles and/or almost went down several times.

I took over the lead when we passed some hikers, and I really let it fly. I made it back to the vans in 1h 56m, which meant a 49-minute descent for what was probably 8 miles. And I had some fun!

The level of the participants continues to amaze me. One guy, Steve, tacked on another 2h 30m run in addition to a 60k bike. I, on the other hand, napped, tried to fix my bike, and then had a beer and some chips. I’m definitely the slacker of the camp.

Tomorrow, it’s back to Nelson over that Takaka Hill climb, with detours to do a 2k swim 8k run aquathlon as well as a stop at a winery outside Nelson at the end of the day. I may not get back on the bike after the winery…

Oh, and Bevan Eyles interviewed me for a podcast that should be up at http://www.imtalk.me.

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