Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eat Pray Xterra

As I am writing this race report I am looking back and seeing a huge void in my blogging life. I did not do it on purpose but it makes me feel bad that I have not captured what I would say has been one of the greatest summers. I am most excited about the future and what we are working towards and will work hard to capture the story and spend time sharing it. Every year Anne captures my Blog and puts it into print and I will admit looking back on my journal is a huge joy in my life. As it is said “ I will be back”.

On to Lory my FIRST Xterra triathlon

Way back in the early part of the year when a group of us started talking about Mt biking and trying an Xterra I did not realized how much joy I would get from the different style of biking. I have been working on my road biking skills for several years now and the first time I tried to go off road I was humbled quickly and realized I have entered a whole new environment of riding. This environment requires a different set of skills, effort and focus. Relaxing and getting into the best arrow position does not even exist on an Xterra course. The second you relax you will find yourself off your bike and off the trail. Focus, Plan and Execute are the reoccurring events on the bike to stay upright and it is game on.
Not only was it light when we pulled up to the race site but the vibe was much different than any other triathlon that I have attended. We were parking on a dirt road, athletes were cruising to transition in flip flops and no helmet and everyone was talking and chatty. For sure this was going to be a different style of race. Body marking was normal, transition was an open to place where you wanted and so Beth and I racked next to one another and an old friend Tim Stegner was on the opposite side. This was the first Xterra for us all.


The swim was down 4 red buoys and back and so when gun went off for my wave I took the left line and swam right into the sun. I had no contact until the 3rd buoy and it was just a bit of rubbing. My plan was to take the swim out fast and keep a hard effort the whole race. Around the 4th buoy and we were headed back on a short ½ mile swim. I was alone at this point which is normal. The really fast swimmers are gone up front and so I am in the middle of that group and the second big group that trails behind. I did not stand up until my hand hit the muddy bottom and I was just a few feet from the shoreline. The run up to T1 was only a few hundred feet but I was able to pull off my cap, goggles and top half of my wet suite. I was running up T1 and felt my HR in the high zone. Into transition I needed to take off the bottom of my wetsuit, put on socks, shoes, gloves, glasses and helmet before I was able to grab my bike. I usually am able to drop my suite and grab my helmet and take off but this was a whole different animal and so I decided to take my time, SIT DOWN and change to my riding attire. I had to laugh when I sat down cause this was not a typical action that I was use to.


We took a hard left out of Transition and were right onto single track going slightly up hill. I was able to catch and execute my first pass a short distance later. We popped out onto a road and had small downhill section that allowed for easy passing and a lot of that was going on. I had guys that were flying by me like I was standing still. I made the right turn and up we started to go. We hit single track again for a 2 mile climb that would take us up some pretty challenging terrain. I set a pace that worked for me and the whole time I was passing or getting passed. I was able to stay on my bike as others were stopping to climb up more technical efforts and I felt good about my pace. Having a racer behind me asking to pass and working a section of single track for two riders to be on was kind of fun. I was riding in weeds on the side of the mountain working switchbacks while another would take the other side and try to pass in as fast as they could effort. The second girl that wanted to pass hit a rock weird just as she finished passing me so I was able to go ahead of her again and giggle a bit. Unfortunately she repassed me a just a bit up the climb again and took off. I guess being about 105 pounds and fearless makes climbing a bit easier that my hot looking 184 lb frame. Or maybe it was the fact that she was on a killer bike and I was rocking the Mongoose! I am going to chalk it up to the bike difference and nothing else.
The top came pretty quick and now it was time to descend on very similar terrain. I was feeling good and ready to rock the downhill. Rather than yelling pass I chose to yell REPASS to all those that passed me on the climb and were taking the downhill slower than I wanted. I was able to repass about 7 racers and felt really good about it 7 times. We were flying down the mountain and I was seeing carnage all over the course with flats and broken bikes. I begged the Mongoose to hang in there and help me make it to the end of the bike. After we hit the flats we had several miles of rollers up and down. I was pushing a really good clip and felt good the rest of the bike.


Into T2 I was able to rack quickly, change shoes, grab my race belt and water bottle and take off. I was able to cut my T2 time in half from my T1 time, I guess not sitting down helps with the speed. Out of T2 we were directed to run the same single track all the way up the mountain that we just finished riding our bikes up. It was hot by this point and I had lost a huge amount of fluids on the bike and was only able to take 30oz of water while riding. On the slight uphill climb to where the real climb started I told myself I was going to set a pace that I was able to run the whole time and not walk one part of the run course. I grabbed 2 waters at the aid station that marked the start of the climb and off I went. I had a few runners pass again and they were able to do this much easier than on bikes. I kept my focus and effort consistent and just kept one foot in front of the other. I watch a runner ahead of me role his ankle and had to stop. That made me realizes that I really had to watch my footing. The Mile 1 marker came really fast for me and so I had one more to go to get to the top. I kept a good focus on foot placement and after one million switchbacks I was able to see the Mile 2 marker. I was thrilled that I did not stop and was still feeling good. The next .8 miles were around the rim and overlooking the entire Reservoir that we swam in. The view was great but short lived since the downhill was quickly approaching. I had saved enough energy to really push the downhill again and repassed several runners that passed me on the uphill. It was really fun and as such ended way to fast. I grabbed what I could at the bottom of the climb aid station and kept going. I was alone for the rest of the single track. When I popped out of the single track and headed for the final ¼ mile the spectators were cheering loud. I heard one yell to a guy that was trying to get past me to push it so I started a finishing kick that I did not think that I had. I was really moving the final turn to the finishers shoot and as I passed the finish line there was a huge slip-n-slide that I did a superman dive down to my back and slid all the way to the end where a pool of cold water was waiting. I struggled to get up and out of the water but was able to hold my place and not get passed.
I finished and felt great that I was able to execute so well on my first Xterra. I did not care about time or place and to this point still don’t. I had a great time and could not have given anymore anywhere on that course. I gave it my all and felt the joy of a great race. I watched as Beth, Jewles, Ryan and Melissa and Sandy finish. Keith broke his chain and finished early.
I loved the Lory Xterra and feel that I am made to race this style of racing. I love the low key vibe that Mt bikers seem to have and felt great at this race. I was proud of the group that I was with and look forward to Nationals a few short weeks away.

Love you Anne,