April 01, 2008

Xterra REAL Race Report

The rain stopped sometime yesterday and it was just enough to keep the course wet and muddy... Perfect day for racing with low temps and about two hundred plus mass start in the water. Get ready for Xterra!

This was my first triathlon of the season and a good marker for fitness, identifying limiters and keeping reality in check. Last year I went into the race with a high running volume (and poor form) that left me injured for the race and most of the season. This year I have been focusing more volume on the bike and only about 5 miles a week running but lots of focus on form. Time to test the waters...

Did I mention that the water was FREEZING! C O L D. "Suck it up" I told myself and just tried to get my face in without loosing my breath. I think that the water at Tahoe last year had to be much colder and when the race started I all but forgot about the cold...I knew it would disappear when the gun went off so I just needed to warm up my arms. Done.

The Swim-
The gun went off and the laughter began... Mass start with everyone running, diving, dolphin a few times and after I take a few stokes I feel the bottom. I look up and everyone is running again and cracking up after hitting a few shallow sandbars on the way to the first buoy... Hearing everyone laugh was a great way to start the race with a fun attitude.

My swim was pretty uneventful (thankfully) as I settled in after the first buoy and tried to find some feet. That didnt quite work out but I was happy to keep pace without getting kicked around also...but it didnt last for long. My goggles got knocked around after the second buoy just enough to fill with water but I just closed my eyes and tried to feel out the water. It actually helped because I focused on my breathing and going smooth and easy.

Swim complete. Long run to the transition ahead and I elected to put shoes on at the bottom. Probably a mistake looking back as I was so numb fumbling around with my shoes I had about 10 people pass me. One was Jon Clark who was flying up to the transition... Why are these people running so fast? We are just starting here? I jogged up and saw a few people who sprinted at the bottom already starting to walk... p a c e.

The Bike-
Now I see the reason for the scramble up to T1. Single track and loads of people in line. After about half a mile the trail hits a road and I flew past a bunch of people knowing that the fist climb (more single track) was just ahead. I fall inline right behind Jon Clark. Nice. Usually, if I can see Jon I know that I am doing good ;-) Last year at Snow Valley I tried to keep pace with him but I was smoked after the run and elevation . . . So now my goal for the fist lap was to try to pace him (without blowing up) and try to get passed as many people as possible. . .it worked out perfectly. We probably passed 10 or more people and it was easy to navigate around people when Jon was clearing the way. The first lap was solid and I still felt fresh.

Lap two and I try to pick up the pace. Still keeping an eye on Jon but we are now starting to pass through some people on their first lap it was getting crowded on that beautiful single track. The mud pits were getting wicked and the heat is turned up just a bit more. Somewhere in the middle of the lap Jon started to fade but I didnt realize it until we got passed by a few people... Should I pass him? I was reluctant but I had to know and go at my own pace so I pass and then push past a few more people. At one sand trap when it was piling up I tried to sneak by a few people and went over the bars... Good thing it was sand! Transition off the bike was perfect. I got my feet out before the last sand trap and stepped off into T2 and slapped on my shoes for the run.

The Run-
Here it comes... This is always the moment of truth for me. Did I go to hard on the bike? Did I get enough to drink/eat? Can I still pull enough to pass or am I going to get run down??
Mile 1 goes by and I pass a few people. I felt really good off the bike and was going at a good pace without feeling like I was pushing it yet. I guess the few miles I have been running have been off the bike so that was a big help. Shortly after the first mile marker Jon came up behind me flying by and we encourage each other as we climbed around a hill. By the time I got to the top he was around the next bend. Dang hes fast! I was holding out for the last big climb to really push and then it is a flat mile or so to the finish. This is where the fatigue really hit me and I was just trying to hold my pace. I couldn't see anyone close ahead and only the same guy far behind in the distance so I had a nice run into the finish line.

I got back just in time to get some water, chat it up with a few people and hop back on my bike to take some pictures of Monique. . . I'm so proud!! Her first Xterra and she was charging off through the run passing people.

Monique had a great race and ended up placing in 3rd place for her age group!! Killer job!! I got a 4th place finish for my age group and we both scored some points for the series. Here are some random pictures from the day.

(Monique on the podium!)

(Part of the run course. Do you see the trail? Exactly)

(Jon and I walking back from the podium)

(monique in T2)

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