Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Xterra race report

After putting in a half day at work Friday morning, we loaded up and arrived in Ogden around 3:00 Friday afternoon. We got me checked in and body marked, divied out the swag (Annie takes the t-shirt if she likes it, kiddies take stickers/tatoos/energy food, etc...), and got the girls registered for their race. Here they are in their racings digs..And they're off.... Bringing it home....You may notice that Kylie is having the time of her life. I don't have a picture of Chesney, but she came across the finish in the same condition - sobbing. I guess they don't respond well to Mom running behind them yelling "if you don't win, no dinner for you tonight!"all the way around the course. I mean, they're only 3 and 5.

That was a joke.

We coddled them when they came across the finish line and asked why they were crying - Chesney, still sobbing, says "the big kids passed me and I couldn't keep up" - how cute is that.

The medal ceremony made everything better..
Xterra does a great a great job involving the kids, Nori has been a favorite playmate for our girls the last two years, thanks to her for the special attention she gives them.

Spent the rest of the afternoon/evening letting the kids do the activities they had for them, watching the k9 challenge, taking in some race tips from a few of the pros, big spaghetti dinner with Erik, Jess, and their kids, and then an early night to bed for the kids. We stayed at the Hampton and had the traditional bed jumping contest before making them settle down. Not sure what it is about kids and hotel rooms, but it's 100% instinct to launch themselves from one bed to the other and back - even the 1 year old wanted in on the action. No question that this would have gone on for 17 hours straight if Mom and Dad hadn't intervened.

Saturday morning started at 6:00 am for me. Jumped up, grabbed a banana, some french toast sticks, and some eggs from the breakfast bar, and headed up the canyon to set up my transition areas.

The swim - I got in a little early and got maybe a 150M warm up before running my wedding ring over to Annie who was watching with the kids from nearby, no question the ring would be on the bottom of Pine View resevoir if I'd swam with it on. Wildly congested start this year, two primary goals for the first 200 yards; 1 - try to get positioned in the front 3rd of the pack & 2 - try to avoid getting your goggles kicked off while trying to establish goal 1. I was succesful with both, and got to the first buoy in what felt to be a pretty quick pace - a little too quick. Think I got a little anaerobic as I struggled between the 1st and 2nd buoy trying to recover and get back into a sustainable rythm. This became a quick problem for me, no matter how much I backed off the gas. Not sure if it has to do with the wetsuit, which was pretty darn uncomfortable during this period - felt like I was fighting it to get good, deep breaths. Rolled onto my back - that didn't work. Even slowed the pace to barely moving, which also didn't work. Ended up just sucking it up and facing reality that I was on the verge of blowing up the rest of the way in and settling into a crawl stroke that wasn't fast, but got me back to shore. You'll notice by my exit in the video that my first order of business coming out of the water was to try and recover - I was not in a hurry at that point. Lesson - I haven't learned to recover efficiently in the water - so don't go out with an effort that necessitates needing to recover in the swim leg, slower will be faster for me here. I exited T1 at 20 minutes, 8 seconds - a middle of the pack level swim, but 10 minutes faster than last year.

The bike - Had just one hiccup in the transition/beginning of the bike leg, left transition holding onto my gloves intending to put them on in the first few hundred yards. Between my wetsuit dripping on them a little and my hands being wet, the gloves got real tacky and were a serious hassle to get on while riding - ended up taking about a mile and cost me some seconds on a section where it's important to ride hard rather than fumble with trying to get gloves on. For those unfamiliar, the bike course goes from Pine View Resevoir and climbs up to SnowBasin ski resort - a solid 12 mile climb. You've got about two miles of double track after turning onto the dirt in which to get position going into the single track for the remaining 10 miles, This is critical, especially coming out of the swim in the position I was in with a lot of people in front of me. A hard effort here will net you a lot more than a hard effort once on the single track where it requires going off track into the brush to get by people. I went ahead and attacked hard right away knowing there were a lot of people to get by due to my mediocre swim. A small group of three of us formed early and we made really good progress in picking racers off in these first two miles. We crossed the road to where the single track starts, and it immediately jammed up to a pretty slow pace. This worked out well for me for the first few minutes as I needed to back off to a recovery pace. Then the process of getting around packs of riders, gapping up to the next pack, repeat, repeat, repeat began. It went at a moderate pace for the next couple of miles, and then we started the last climb prior to the downhill section where the course get's a little steeper. I began to get aggressive here, pushing the pace hard up the hill and taking aggressive lines on switchbacks, through the brush, anywhere a small hole would open to pick up a few spots in the long line of people climbing towards the midcourse descent. I felt remarkably good by the top of the hill and wasn't in desperate need of recovering on the downhill like I'd expected - this gave me some confidence going into the 2nd half of the course. The top half of the course got a little congested again, but I was able to remain aggressive the rest of the way up the mountain and spent good amount of time riding in the brush working to get by as many people as I could, and then ride as far away from them as possible. It took a while to get by the congestion, but by the last two miles, the traffic thinned out some, allowing for a good pace without having to go off trail nearly as often as the previous 8 miles to work around people. If it's your first time doing this race, it will set you up for a false sense of finish near the top. You begin to hear the microphones and music from the T2/finish line area and feel like your riding right up to it before the course, in a cruel way, turns you back uphill, only to put another mile in front of you before letting you drop down to T2 to exit the bike and begin the run. I had a close call getting off the bike, came in kind of fast and got my left foot caught in the pedal when trying to dismount - was within just a second or two from going down when it finally unclipped. Exited T2 in 1:43 having ridden a 1:23 bike split. 30 minutes faster than last year. The easiest way to knock another 5-10 minutes off my bike split will be to improve my swim split by 4-5 minutes.

The run - All the hard work on the bike was 100% defensive, purely an effort to limit the inevitable damage on the run. I came out of T2 feeling good. Melanie McQuaid, who went on to win the women's title, came by me about a quarter mile into the run, she had 2nd place about 90 seconds behind her and was putting the hammer down. Within the first 1/3rd of a mile I was cooked on the run had to slow to a fast walk, and at times even a slow walk, to avoid a blow up that would stall my race real quick. I maintained a walk to the top of the hill (brutal climb) and felt good going into the section that flattens out, winding through the trees - was able to return to a decent run pace here - but had given up a lot time and finishing places while walking. Was happy to see one, Erik Riessen, who came by at the bottom of the hill and kept a good pace all the way up it - stud. This next section through the trees flows well and you can almost pump the small rollers during your run, similar the way you'd pump a bicycle through these sections. You come out of the trees and the course turns back uphill, which put me back on the verge of another blow up and slowed me to a walk. At the top, the course turns sharply downhill, to the point where rather than trying to pick up the pace, you let gravity do it's thing and try to keep the brakes on just enough to stay in control. Rolling an ankle on this stuff would cause a serious injury due to the force your planting your feet with. I stumbled down the hill to the finish and crossed the line in 2:12 - another brutal run performance, but again, faster than last year.

All in all it was a great race for me - still see places I think I can go faster, so will continue to work, but it confirmed a lot of progress since this time last year, more than I had anticipated.

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