Challenge Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova is a town outside of Sacramento, CA. I have driven past numerous of times without paying attention to it and when I heard about the race I didn’t realize that it was the name of a town at first.
Challenge is the name of a series of races just like IronMan and HITS for example. The most famous Challenge family race is probably Challenge Roth but they are expanding with new races every year.
I had some plans to finish my season with Big Kahuna in Santa Cruz, a race that I have done a couple of times before. However because of my schedule I opted for Challenge Rancho Cordova (CRC) instead.

One of the deciding factors for me was the ability for me to pick up my race package the day of the race. I didn’t want to drive all the way up there on Saturday the day before the race and then drive up there again the day of the race. I also didn’t want to fork out money for a hotel in the area. So with that I set my alarm to 3.10 am and headed out. Made it up to Rancho Cordova around 5am in the morning.

This is when the cluster of having to different transition areas started. I needed to get my number and start package in order to get in to either of the two transition areas. There was no communication on where the packet pickup would be so I went first to T2 (where it was not) and then to T1 (where it was).
My plan had been to set up my stuff at T1, then drive over to T2 (where the finish also was) and then take a bus back to T1 (where the start was). This so that when I finished I had access to my car and all gear that would either already be at the finish or be transported there by race organization.

Since I had to spend time trying to find packet pickup I didn’t have time to drive back to T2 after setting up T1 and therefore my car was left at the start. This also added an element of uncertainty for me since I had to just drop a bag at the start with my running gear that would then be delivered to T2 and waiting for me there. So how would I know if it would make it there? Where would it be? etc? This was no problem, more on that later.

So I set up T1, dropped the T2 bag, loaded up with sunscreen and put my wetsuit on.

The swim was in Nimbus Flat State Park and the water temperature was 66F. So pretty good conditions. I would have been ok with a bit colder since you work up a pretty good sweat in the wetsuit and a bit colder temperature would be optimal.
The first part of the swim went really well for me. The second part didn’t and it was a bit frustrating. I felt that I was swimming ok, sighting ok but for some reason it was apparently pretty slow. One part to this was that the course was a bit confusing. Some people had said one thing before the race started, now everyone around me was swimming a different route and I was somewhat being nudged in that direction by the lifeguards in kayaks also.
In the end I didn’t have the fastest swim but also not my slowest for a 70.3 distance race. I could have don ethos swim faster. More to improve on for next year but its going in the right direction.
Out of the swim and on to the bike. T1 was pretty fast. Wetsuite off and stuffed in a bag (for transport to finish), sunglasses and helmet on and off I went. Lake shoes where already clipped in and I was really close to bike out. On to the bike and I managed to get me feet in the shoes pretty quickly.
Started off with a decent pace on the bike and started to pass people immediately. Didn’t feel thirsty and it wasn’t that hot but I knew it would be a long day and that the temps would get into the mid 90’s so I started drinking. Settled in and started eating after about 20 minutes.
The bike course wasn’t really one that fit me all that well. It was extremely flat with some minor rolling hills and a few stepper climbs that were extremely short. I think I do better with tougher and hillier bike courses.
I was passed by a total of 6 guys throughout the bike course, if my memory servers me right. Might have been a few more or a few less but it wasn’t many. I completely lost track on how many I passed, ~50 maybe.
Came into T2 and was a bit worried about being able to find my run-bag with my shoes. Turned out that T2 was extremely well organized. I left my shoes in the bike and dismounted. A volunteer took care of my bike and all I had to do was run to s long line of bags that was arranged in numerical order. Easily found my bag and quickly got socks and shoes on, grabbed visit and run belt and popped the helmet into the now empty bag. The off to run a 1/2 marathon.

I felt really good and went out with a really good pace. It did start to get hot at this point. I had tons of Gu packed up on my belt and in pockets. I quickly walked through every aid station that was basically set up at every mile. It was a 2 loop course and the first loop went by really fast. I felt like I was pretty much flying through the miles and had no issues to talk about up until that point. Maybe some tendencies to leg cramps but I was able to manage that. Then, boom at mile 7 both my hip flexors cramped up. Haven’t had it that bad before. I was able to run still but the pace went from an 8-ish min/mile to more like 10-11 min/mile. I had to take longer walk breaks but tried to do so in conjunction with the aid stations in order to keep motivating myself to keep running in between them. I had gotten far enough that I was committed to finish the race even if I had to walk the rest of the way.
Ended up with just over a 2 hour run. Definitely not good and I wanted better. However I had hip flexor issues leading up to the race so wasn’t surprised that gave me problems during the race.
Managed to sprint passed a guy in my age group down the finish chute. However I was passed by several during the last loop of the run so this one spot didn’t really make much of a difference and I ended up 18/51 in my age group and 109/470 overall.

So now that I had finished and wanted to get on the road to head home the cluster began. I had to take a shuttle to the start to get to my car. No one knew where the shuttle left from so I had to partially guess and moved in the right direction and finally found someone that could tell me exactly where. I missed the buss with 39 seconds, I actually saw it drive away. Had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. After about a 15 minute shuttle ride I got dropped off about half a mile or so from my car so had to walk that part. Got to the car and drove back to the finish where I now had to try and find parking. Then went into transition only to not find my bag with me wetsuite. Apparently my number fell off and the bag was in a pile of random stuff that didn’t have numbers in them. Luckily I had attached my Zoot ankle strap to the bag so I eventually found it. Collected the rest of the stuff and started a 2 hour drive home. It was about 95F the whole drive and the AC in the car is busted. Yes, the shower felt amazing when I got home.

Even with the issues on the run and not being able to push through a run the way I wanted I still got a PR 70.3 with a total time of 5:26:27.

It’s now time for somewhat of a break. Rest up and then start to focus on strength and flexibility. Probably not much more biking or running for the rest of the year. Much more yoga, strength training and swimming. Need to build a strong and flexible body that can handle IronMan training next year.

It’s been a great fun season. Not as good as I’ve hoped for but much due to some badly timed colds and because of being injured for a lot of it.

It’s been great fun to race with team Zoot the entire season.

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