MICHAEL LOVATO | Professional Triathlete




Baja Ironman 70.3

Date: 5/20/06

Location: Ensenada, Mexico

Rank: 7th

Time: 4:19:00

Amanda and I had quite the adventure last weekend, as we traveled to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. We thought it’d be a fun trip, and a good race to jumpstart us both with the racing. I had been feeling a bit stale from sitting around post-Arizona (I sure did take the resting on my laurels seriously!), and Amanda was just ramping up her training for the year. We flew in to San Diego on Thursday afternoon, and were greeted by our driver, Pablo. He indicated that we were his only pick-up, so we gathered our things, and made our way for his van. En route to the van, we got a call from Jack down in Texas, saying that Desiree Ficker was at the airport as well, and that she needed a ride. She had been waiting for quite a while, so she was glad when we showed up and brought her along with us. Our van was filled up and we were on our way. We hopped on I-5, and headed south. After thiry or forty minutes, we found ourselves in a bit of a traffic jam. It seemed like the border crossing was a popular activity that afternoon. Hundreds of cars were waiting to cross into Tijuana. After about half an hour of waiting in stand-still traffic, we saw three news helicopters circling above. Then we noticed a camera crew pacing up and down the rows of parked cars on the freeway. Something was up. After two and a half hours of moving an inch or so per minute, we found ourselves directed into a left lane, and we were moving along suddenly. Next thing we know, we’re in a U-turn lane, and we’re heading back to the USA. What happened!?! Well, the border patrol agents wanting no part of explaining it to us, so we followed the orders, and headed north. After a quick call to Roch Frey, Amanda’s coach, we found a place to stay: with him and his wife Heather. We had no idea when the border would open, and we had enough of sitting in the van, so we opted to try again on Friday. We had a very enjoyable time hanging out with Roch and Heather that night, and we even got to see our friend Kristin, and her son Gavyn. The next day we did an easy run and swim, before heading back down to Mexico. This time our trip across the border was delayed by the race director calling to tell Pablo (and us!) to pick up two more athletes at the airport. This was really going to be a full house now. We loaded up the others, but by then it was about 2:00pm, and we still had to cross the border. We were hoping there was not going to be another shooting, which, as it turned out, was what caused the previous day’s shutdown. We finally made it to Ensenada, about four o’clock that afternoon. We drove about looking for our hotels, and we ultimately got checked in and settled. Our friend Pablo was kind enough to take us to registration, where we signed up for the race and got our packets. After a decent dinner with Desiree, Amanda and I headed back to Party Central, also known as Our Hotel. We went to bed, and tried to ignore the screaming, singing, and loud partyanimalbeerdrinking. This was an adventure, I warned you. Saturday morning came way too soon. Amanda was up and ready for a dip in the pool. I was up and ready to go back to bed. After Amanda’s swim, we headed out to check out the bike course. I hadn’t been on the bike since Wednesday, and my legs tend to tighten up with too much rest. Sounds strange, but it’s true. The bike felt good, but I knew my legs were in for a tough day on Sunday. After our ride, Amanda and I joined Desiree and her father for a quick tour of the bike course, in a car. We had heard the recently changed course included some tough climbing and tricky descents, so we thought we should see it before the race. It was tough: hilly, windy, and a bit scary, when you considered that the lack of guard rails was most likely responsible for the abundance of abandoned (crashed) cars in the ravines off to the (don’t look!) side. By the time our tour ended, it was late afternoon. Amanda and I stopped for a late lunch, and followed that up with a late nap. Next on the agenda was to get the bikes and gear ready for the morning. It was getting late, and we still needed to eat dinner. Let’s just say that we were just then realizing that we weren’t exactly following our standard pre-race routine. Oh well, ice cream and a later dinner (nearly 10:00pm) couldn’t hurt us that badly…. Ok, the race report part of this story: After dropping our shoes off at T2, Amanda and I rode over to T1 to set up the bikes. It was about 5K away, so we had a bit of a warm up. Once there, we set up the gear and opted not to do a pre-race run: not sure why, as it would have helped… maybe. We made our way down to the start, only to find that our start time was pushed back about 40minutes. By the time the gun went off, I was very hungry. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but I am tough, and I figured I could overcome that. I had a great swim for about 500 meters. I think that’s when the tank emptied out. I was in for it! I made my way through the rest of the swim, and struggled up the LONG transition. I was really in for it! I jumped on my bike, and set out to make up some lost time. I only made it about five minutes before I went for my first Power Bar. Normally I don’t eat much until later on, but I was desperate. Before I drone on and on too much about the race, suffice it to say that the bike ride went pretty badly. I was slow on the flats, slow into the wind, and slow up the climbs. I don’t think I was particularly fast down hill or with the wind, but it felt a lot better. I was just not in it, and I couldn’t make myself get in it. I am a very competitive person, so normally that helps, but on that particular day, I didn’t have much umph. Oh well, I still figured I could run myself into the money. Normally I run quite well after having a slow bike, but this was an exception to that rule. I started out well, but by about halfway, I began to peter out. Partly my muscles were achey and a bit sore, but mostly, I just felt like cruising. I think things would’ve been different had I not been ten or twelve minutes down… from fifth! I was really in fo it all right! Ah well, I finished up, and proceeded to the highlight of the race: the massage! I was finished early enough to have two therapists work me over, and they were good: not afraid to work the muscles; no fluff here! I enjoyed the massage and waited for Amanda to join me. Soon enough she arrived at the finish line, after a very solid nine or ten miles of running. She had been a bit out of it on the swim and bike, mostly because she was terrified on the bike. She’s really only brave when she gets the chance to pre-ride the technical sections, and she didn’t get that chance. So she started the run a bit disenchanted, but redirected about five k’s into the it, and pushed the pace. Way to salvage the day! The rest of Mexico was fun. We drank and ate (corona and tacos); we tried to rescue a puppy (see Amanda’s blog); we hung out with some fun folks (Rhodesy, the Leghs, Desiree); and we enjoyed some incredible lattes. And then we set the goal of getting READY for our next race: Lubbock!

Michael Lovato

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