It feels like lately every other post is a race recap. It's not actually quite that bad, but it's getting close. That's because I'm deep in the midst of the summer race season, which is particularly intense this year (thanks to a book project I'm working on). I'm basically racing every two weeks - race, spend half a week recovering, a week resuming my training, a half a week tapering in advance of the next race, and then repeat the process.
My most recent competition took me to the Branched Oak Lake State Recreation Area northwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. (Read: 500-plus miles and 7-plus hours of driving to get there from Boulder, Colorado...) From a gluten-free nutrition standpoint, there were few surprises here - I stuck to my usual dietary plan as enumerated in previous posts. But I did have a comical moment the night before the race.
For my pre-race dinner, it turns out that there was an Outback Steakhouse less than two miles from the race packet pick up location in Lincoln. Having successfully eaten gluten-free there many times in the past, I decided that was my best bet for contamination-free dining. However, I can't remember the last time I ate at an Outback without Kelli. (She stayed behind in Colorado for this race...) Whenever we go to Outback, we share a meal: salad with tangy tomato dressing, garlic mashers, steamed veggies, and the Outback Special steak.
It had been a while since our last visit, and apparently Outback had modified its portion sizing since then. For the Outback Special steak, the server offered me the option of a 6oz, 8oz, or 11oz portion. Since it was just me dining solo, and since I knew that an "official" serving size of red meat is just 4oz, I opted for the smallest option: the 6oz steak. When my plate came out from the kitchen, I almost laughed out loud. Compared to typically monstrous restaurant-sized portions, the 6oz steak was comically tiny. It was a miniscule sliver of meat sitting on a giant white plate.
The chef in the kitchen must have felt bad about that juxtaposition because - and I say this without exaggeration - he literally filled the entire balance of the plate with my garlic mashers. We're talking more or less a dinner plate worth of potatoes. I don't know whether to openly admit or not that I polished off the whole thing...I mean, I had a raging hunger from the long drive, and I needed to carbo-load for the race, right?
As for the race itself, the season continues to get better. After an average to good swim in Branched Oak Lake, I cranked hard on the mountain bike, passing racers and moving up my position. I nabbed a few more spots on the run, and crossed the finish line in 5th place in my division (out of 20 starters and 18 finishers). Importantly, I scored some much needed points for the Xterra series, and I continue to grow stronger as a racer.