Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My first Xterra!

I've wanted to do Xterra (off road triathlon) for a few years now but life has come up and mostly, I was not ready for the mountain bike.  I wasn't exactly perfectly ready this year, but I took the mountain bike out a few times close to home and rode most of the course a couple times.  I have probably been on a mountain bike a dozen times, max.  I'm using a line from friend Heath Thurston who put it well.  I wanted to 'not wreck, and not cause one'.  I was worried about holding people back (the thought of needing to pass people on the bike really didn't cross my mind) or falling over or something on this mostly single track trail course.  Oh and let me tell you about my mountain bike.  All aluminum, entry level components, bike bell for leading at IMSG, cage pedals, and even a trusty kickstand.  yes, a kickstand.  I bought it used a few years ago for $100 from a teenage girl who wanted to go to dance camp instead.  So while not at all idea, it basically got the job done and that's what I trained on. It's heavy, doesn't have rear shocks which makes you feel like you're bouncing around a little, the chain was starting to rattle which worried me it was coming loose, and the normal pedals were rubbing rocks and the side of the trail sometimes.  Anyway, a friend from Park City graciously offered me his very nice full suspension carbon bike to use for the race if I wanted.  I don't like trying new things on race day, but this sounded pretty nice.  I put my speedplay pedals on it since it wasn't worthy of cages, tried it out Friday night and after much deliberation decided to go for it.  I stressed in T1 before the race that I had made the wrong decision and felt like I was cheating on my bike, but it was a sweet ride!  Oh yes, and one more sentance before this paragraph runs on way too long.  My husband is traveling this week (and most weeks this fall) so I had to take kids to a friends house close to the race.  They got home from school and just wanted to relax and play with friends for a minute but eventually I wrangled them into the car....late.  My phone said the drive would take 1:20 to get up there, I had 1:15 until registration closed.  AHHHHH!  I stressed completely the whole entire drive especially when hitting rush hour traffic several times.  I called people up in Ogden to see if they could go in to register me but everyone was busy so kids and I just crossed fingers and prayed.  I pulled into the park parking lot 5 minutes after closing and RAN to the tent and by the skin of my teeth registered, the very last person.  Whew!  The kids were so cute with their nervous faces, asking me when I came back if I made it - I threw my hands up in the air and they cheered  :)

ANYWAY, lets move on, sorry.  I'll try to keep the rest brief although I do want to remember a lot of details for this virgin race.  Parked at the trail a mile or two before the swim to test out the nice mountain bike one more time about 6:30am and just decided to go for it.  Dropped that bike off in T1 at Pineview Reservoir about 7am.  Drove up to T2 and the finish at Snowbasin ski resort and gathered my swim stuff for the bus and dropped off my shoes in T2 and climbed on a bus the annoying naggy announced lady kept bugging people to get on (we still had 20 more minutes to catch a bus mind you).  Got back down to the lake, got marked with Xterra's big fat black number stamps which interestingly they put on the front of your arm, not side like I'm used to.  My nice number lady also put my 30 on backwards so I was E0.  Some guy later said it was backwards because I was protesting turning 30.  I like that logic but I'm ok with it  :)  Pro's cannon went off while I was getting ready and I eventually wandered down to the water to talk with Heath's wife who was saying the swim was very long today.  Didn't bother me any, I seem to do well on the swim lately despite not training for it this summer.  So there are 3 races at this race, the National Championship for the Pro's and age groupers, the same 'olympic' distance anyone can enter without qualifying, and the 'sprint' or sport as was the name yesterday which was shorter than the longer course.  A 1000 yard-ish swim, 12 mile mtn bike, 3.6 mile run.  I chose the sport because I didn't want to get in over my head and was worried about too many mountain bikes behind me that would have to pass and I didn't want to stress about being in their way. Well my wave was standing in the water for a good 15 minutes ready to go when they finally hollered over to us it would be another 15 min or so till we started.  What??  I had to get back down and get my kids and any delay worried me.  Kind of annoying, I just wish they'd have used their chatty swim exit announcer to tell us what was going on.

Swim - 20:34 Start was choppier than usual, I guess I don't usually start with men though.  A lot that went out too fast held it longer than usual but I eventually got some space although I did swim alongside the same guy the whole time.  Water was a bit choppy/wavy which I like.  Sighting was good.  Thank goodness I brought my Sable goggles this time.  Worth the $.   Great feeling swim, finished strong, first female out.

T1 - Definately longer than usual.  Weird to put on bike gloves and a hydration vest (since I don't have much time to take a hand off the handlebars with a mtn bike.  Also never use socks but did today incase any rocks got in my shoe, can't have any blisters going into the UROC 100K this weekend.

Bike - 1:35.31 Flat first mile or so on the shoulder of the road to get to the trail.  Dropped my gel - darn it!  I like calories and don't like littering, at all!  The initial trail worried me.  It's a steeper long climb, has big rocks, and I'd had trouble with it before.  Thankfully it is wide to give people room to move around when there's more of us, but I was still worried.  And while shifting early on my chain got jammed.  Awesome.  I didn't fall over when the bike locked up though, that was nice.  Climbed off and spent a few minutes pulling on it to get it back on but it worked thankfully.  Was just behind this guy that got locked up on his bike, fell over to the side and then rolled head over hills twice down the hill to the river - ahh!  I stopped and unclipped worried about him but he got back up embarrassed it happened, and worse yet in front of a woman and didn't say much.  I had to run my bike up a bit to be able to get on it again.  Climbed off and ran one more section that I hadn't gotten up before.  Embarrassing since others could do it, but oh well.  From there I was surprised to see I was making good time and needing to pass people while going uphill which went ok, you just have to wait for a little bit of space and then zoom by quickly with an "on your right/left".  We came to a long downhill section that I had done pretty well on before, but the pressure of people behind me coming up fast got to me and I held back a little.  Got passed a lot actually but most were very gracious about it and I tried to be good too about moving over as much as I could when I could.  Was excited to finally get done with it and make the left onto the rest of the trail that would be mainly uphill.  I managed to pass all the women that passed me and I'm pretty sure most of the men.  Happy about that.  I was a wuss and walked my bike down some steps to a bridge after zooming ahead so no one would see me :)  Took my remaining gel where I planned and drained my water and finished up the last section of the bike.  It really went better than I had planned other than the downhill section.  Loved that I had good control and power going up and flat.  These ultrarunning legs are strong.  Managed 3rd woman on the bike.
T2 - Not much to speak of except it stinks to have to tie shoes.  I wore the Altra Superior 1.5 that isn't out yet and I just didn't have time to go buy new elastic laces.  Tieing them isn't a big deal, just takes time, although my left hip flexor cramped bad while I was bent over to tie them.  Glad that didn't stay.

Run - 31:52 The first half of this run was very uphill, as in enough I redlined where I ran, and resorted to powerhiking some - on a 5k.  I passed a few ladies by mile 1, not sure which race they were all in.  We turned at where the 5k and 10k split and I saw one more lady up in front of me, so she must have been in my race.  It was hard to have to powerhike a little knowing that doesn't make up much time, but eventually right before we connected again to the 10k to go downhill on singletrack, I made the pass.  From there I ran fast, no holding back on that twisty switchbacky downhill.  I never looked back, I don't like to, but I figured if I run my fastest downhill, it would take a lot to catch me.  Fatigue didn't show up until the last 1/4 mile when I could feel my legs give more on the technical downhill but I still ran strong.  Felt great to open up the stride long.  The run was really hot, did I mention that?  That first half up up up in the exposed heat was rough.  The finish line is very downhill and that's a little hard, but I made it in HAPPY!  Fastest women's run by 4 minutes, only a few men faster.
Sorry buddy, it's just business  :)
I had SO much fun (while redlining) on the run!
2:27.57 for a sprint.  Yeah.  Welcome to Xterra  :)  I was shocked and excited to have WON!  Yes it was the shorter race, not the championship, but I did not at all come in looking to do so, I just wanted to survive the bike and experience Xterra.  And experience I did!  It was hard, I was breathing hard the whole time, required so much more, almost constant, mental focus, the technical skills need it are great and I've definitely got room to improve, but I am so happy with how my body did!
I can't say with certainty right now that this is the direction of tris I'll go in, but I will definitely do more and would love to see if I could qualify to race in the championship race next year.  All the races require travel out of state except one in Moab which is tough, but we'll see what we can do.  Loved the experience and all it's challenges!   

Didn't love the hours it took to get my T1 bag and wait around for awards though when I needed to get my kids.  They didn't
do overall awards which was a bummer but I got an un-engraved generic age group medal (that wasn't specific to the event) and a small bag of Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner.... I'm always grateful for anything and it wasn't about the prizes, I raced an awesome race, but when I'm hours late getting my kids because they start and delay awards and won't mail them, I kind of expect them to be something worth waiting for.  Done complaining now that I look like a spoiled brat.  I promise I'm not, was just surprised certain parts of a championship event weren't managed better.  I mean between getting there early, starting late, and waiting through the award delays, I spent 9 hours on site for a 2.5 hour event.  Done complaining, I don't want this post to end negative, I had a great time and the race itself was very well organized and fun!
1st Xterra was hard, fun, and done!


I must be crazy said...

This is impressive. How do you find the time to train? I am a triathlete, not a mother, and one of my biggest fears is figuring out how to do all of it should i take that step and decide to have children. I am sure your husband helps to support you in this, it is evident in your other posts. It is very inspiring to see that you can do the sports and fitness that you love while also maintaining your family. I suppose it just takes a lot of scheduling and coordination?

Thanks for the inspiration!

Will Kelsay said...

Nice work! You picked one of the "less exciting" XTERRA's out there, but sounds like you still had a great time. Love hearing that!

The Moab race is great, but I'd recommend getting on the mt bike a few more times before trying that one ;-) It's a challenging mtb course. Hope you have time to try a few more of them this year. You'll get hook, I know I did!

I'm gonna try using the Superior 1.5 for XTERRA's. I think they'll be light weight and fast for those shorter runs. Gonna do my first 100K in the Lone Peak 1.5.