June 29, 2010

XTERRA East Championship Race Report

“Understanding motivation is important because it is an essential part of any negotiation. Many jobs require negotiation with others - athletics requires negotiation with one's self!” -Gordo Byrn

I really had to examine why I was trying to get back into an Xterra, trying to get to Worlds again to qualify to do "the double" and why I was dreaming of attempting "the triple". I could negotiate some pretty interesting deals with work and figure a way around the travel and money to get there but could I find the mojo to keep it rolling? In the "zone" of race time there is only one person to negotiate with and you save yourself a huge load by being brutally honest about your motivations. If you can walk away with a win-win reason behind your efforts you have all the fuel you need to get you to the next station.

We have had a pretty busy travel schedule the last few weeks. Our plans to get out to the EC camp in Boulder were just about finished before I managed to sneak in a layover in Richmond Virgina so Monique and I could race the East Coast Championship race. It was just about the only Xterra we would be able to race all year and I have been missing the high heart pounding fun in the dirt. We had about 3 days back from Hawaii to ship our road bikes to Boulder, unpack and pack up our mountain bikes for some off-road racing. Xterra Time!

Last year going to the Xterra CUP races was just about the limit of my ability to "race" and I thought it was at the edge of my endurance. After a few months of training and knocking out an Ironman I was not really worried about my endurance but the pain of a short race. With temperatures in the triple digits the event organizers decided to cut a few miles out of the bike course to make it even shorter. One thing that I have learned over the last year in racing and training is that, as Chris McDonald said "racing short course is HARD!! I will take 8 hours of dull pain over 1 of shear hell any day." Going back to a 2 hour race was a good reminder but the condensed experience of the race was just as much fun...just intensely more fun than what I have gotten use to...I would prefer to spread it out over a day. . . or three.

All of that hard swimming I have been doing with Nova and the recent open water races must be working. As we started the swim and headed up the James river I pulled out a group on the right side. I could see the lead pack and made my way up to them and got in the 3rd or 4th position. MUCH easier than trying to stay on the feet of Michael Collins during our team time trial race. I pulled up to the lead swimmer and just hung out in the draft swimming and switching leads at what felt like an easy pace. Good start to a quick race!

We made it to Browns Island and were off on our feet to sprint over some dirt roads around the island and back into the water. That got my heart back pumping in my throat! I think there were 3 or 4 of us who regrouped after the island to the next buoy and then I just decided I may have a chance to be the first out of the water and really felt like I was not doing any work yet so I turned up the pace. Its a short race anyways right?

I'm glad I took my blueseventy PZ3 suit! Not only did it help me swim faster but gave me some protection against the shallow rocks. Monique and I both had our hands and knees pretty scraped up from swimming over rocks at times... Adventure in the water! After the next buoy, I turned up the pace and just held a comfortable hard pace until we finished. I got ahead of the group and was able to get out of the water first right before my buddy Fred Smith. Cool! Now back to the heart in my throat running to T1.

The bike course was pretty sick! At one point we were carrying our bikes up about 5 flights of 6 stairs each. There were areas where we were in a deep forest that drowned out sounds from all around. I rode most of the course with Fred and Damian (just like the start of Worlds last year) and Fred got off course then I followed Damian and it sounded like a lot of folks were getting a bit off here and there. I was definitely sore from all of the technical bump and grind. I have not been on my MTB as much recently and it showed.

Getting into T2 I knew Fred was just ahead of me and we had been riding with some of the pro field that had a bit of a head start so I knew we were somewhere near the front. As much as I thought the race would go by fast my body was not use to holding that much lactate and the bike felt like it was so long! The run was a bit of the same where I felt like I could dial it back 10-20sec per mile pace and run forever but that fast pace was just a foreign feel. In true Xterra style we found ourselves crossing streams, jumping rocks, over bridges, running up stairs and ridges that required pushing both hands on your knees to get enough power to keep you moving. Between some of those sections were all out flat sections were it felt like a track session...only I have not been to the track! The adventure of the scramble was a huge motivator.

At mile 5 I was told I have about an 8 minute lead on the next amateur and I knew Fred was up front and out of site. The last section over the bridge and back to the finish line I could get a good view behind me and decided to hold back the pace a bit. Running in the heat with the next week of Boulder camp at elevation began to come to the front of my mind and my negotiations of sprinting the finish started. Perhaps one of the first races I didn't go "all out" until the end but I believe it was fitting. I finished 15 minutes ahead of the next guy in my age group so looking back I am glad I made the call to dial it down a bit. Boulder would prove I needed all the mojo I could muster!

The venue was VERY cool and as much as each Xterra I have been to incorporates some of the best views of the area, beautiful single track and challenging climbs the Richmond course was quite unique. We were buried in the heart of a city where we would run and ride up and down stairs and bridges but we would also ride and run some technical single track that made me feel like we were a million miles from civilization. Swimming in a river with a side current, climbing over rocks in the shallows along the way to a run through Browns island before finishing the swim was just the fit for such a diverse course. One of the many reasons why I love Xterra.

I could learn a lot from Trevor! He had another solid race and he is one of those guys I wish I could hang out with more often. He has the negotiations in check inside and outside of racing...balancing life, business and charging full speed ahead! Getting back to a shorter race reminded me that every second counts and in a race this quick you don't have time to dilly dally...Commit and stick to the plan! Monique had one of her best races and strongest Xterra efforts. She is mentally tough and it is scary to think what she could do if she trained for some speed. I wrapped it up in 2nd place age group (2nd amateur) and that got me a slot to race in the Xterra Worlds. Now with the opportunity of racing Kona (Ironman World Chamionsips) and Maui (Xterra World Championships) I can combine my finish times of each for "the double". I think it would just be fun to be at both races and maybe finish out the year with another big race but I am still waiting to hear about that one. I also qualified to race the first ever ITU Cross World Championships next year in Spain. Monique has her eye on a trip there anyways...


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allison said...

So cool to see you guys killing it. Loved the post!