Its a few days after the Xterra USA Championship race and I am just starting to wrap my head around what happened. It felt like a long trip and I have unfortunately spent the last two days laying on the bathroom floor throwing up out of both ends... It should have been apparent that I was running myself down but I sure didnt see this coming. I am just hoping it is not the swine flu.
Ogden is a beautiful place and the race was a good experience. A great venue for an Xterra with a real mountain bike course with lots of climbing, singletrack and some technical sections that continued into the run. My goals for the race were to A) come into it feeling fresh / race ready and B) to have a solid run off the bike. Unfortunately, I didn't get either of them. I have a long list of lessons learned from this one and was actually pretty disappointed about my race. No complaints or excuses just an experience to learn from! It is one of the challenges of racing to get it all right and this time it was just not my day.
I have a long list of mistakes I made and will definitely learn from them. Like my good friend Josiah told me "sometimes learning is better than winning...". Not that I was planning on winning but this was an important race that I thought I had dialed in... I wanted to test my fitness and have a race that peaked the end of the season. I had felt much better in the weeks leading up to the race and just didn't have a snap or feel fresh on race day. I guess cramming in some projects at work, standing around at Interbike and staying up late drinking the week before the race is not the optimal taper week. My biggest weakness was not sticking to a plan and it was my mind that was just exhausted. I had some of the best preparation in the weeks before the race but when I was reduced to walking on the run I really just wanted to crawl under a bush and go to sleep.
The course started with a mass start swim in the Pineview reservoir and I blew up getting to the first buoy. I am not sure if it was the elevation or the fast swimmers all around me but I found myself breast stroking and dizzy. I am sure Worlds is going to be a bit crazy swimming with a fast field also. I made the call to swim off to the side and try to get clean water. No drafting but I was able to calm down and swim it in before we started the climbing on the bike.
I have never dropped a water bottle on the bike before that I can remember but I dropped both of my water bottles right out of the starting on climb. I didnt think it was a big deal but looking back I should have gone to pick up the one I dropped with my calories(vitargo). The course climbed, climbed and then climbed some more. I got some really good beta about the course from some locals at Edge Composites who ride the course every week and I was so glad that I did. After about 16 miles of climbing you get to the base of the Snow Basin resort and that is where the steep climb starts. The last 3-4 miles are technical singletrack and a lot of fun.
I have been working on my run with more focus than ever and the first three miles clipped by pretty quick. We started with a climb right out of transition and I was able to run the entire climb without pushing to hard. My goal was just not to walk at all and negative split the run course. This should have been easy with the remainder of the course on a singletrack downhill slope. My legs felt ok. My lungs felt good. For some reason I started walking, and walking and walking. Even on the downhill sections. It didn't feel like a bonk but I was not into racing. Sounds strange and bugs me more than anything else but it is honestly how I felt. Was it mental? Was I bonking? Was i beating myself up mentally and just gave up? I kept telling myself this was an important race but just didnt care as herds of people ran past me. I ran the last mile or two and just wanted to finish. To be honest I was surprised to break 3hrs because it felt like I was out there all day. When I finished I realized I took two GU's in my pocket on the run and never even thought to take them. lame.
Monique put down an awesome race. I saw her running down to the finish and I really didnt even recognize her because she was running so fast. Her technique looked totally different and she had a strong finish. Four plus hours of solid racing.
I am feeling much better today than yesterday and just hoping to get things dialed in for Xterra Worlds. I just want a solid race and THEN after the race I will be on the beach with a drink in hand!
I really didn't plan on racing Xterra next year but I kind of miss it already. I have learned so much, met some amazing people and had the time of my life this year. I realize that I was racing best when I was racing more often. Some of the races that I felt best (May-June) were in a mix of 5-6 weekends of racing in a row. Besides the Santa Barbara tri (where I skipped the run) I have not raced for over 13 weeks when I did the Tahoe Xterra. That is a HUGE gap for me and maybe part of the lesson to be learned.
We got to see some of the Mountain to Metro events and festival before we left Ogden and it was a good reminder to "get out and live" . . . or race an Xterra and "Live More". After laying on the floor for a couple of days it sounds awfully good and just something I cant see myself not doing in the future.