I secured an excellent transition location and had plenty of time to get ready for the start of the swim at 6,300 ft. My XTERRA Wetsuit fits perfectly and is slippery fast in the water. I was pumped.
It was a dry start so we all ran into the water. I’ve only ever done in-water starts so this was a little more hectic in some ways, but I made it into the water with an early pack. Things quickly went awry as I couldn’t find any clear swimming and everyone in front of me was stopping or swerving into me. Not my best start. I finally found a rhythm and some open water. I was breathing every stroke instead of every three at about the 200m mark, while at first very awkward it really helped off-set the altitude.
It was a 1 ½ loop swim (1000m total) and at the 400m mark I was all alone, in the zone, and cruising. I could have pushed a little harder, but I was making good progress and keeping my heart rate in control. I stumbled a little exiting the water – not as acclimated to the altitude as I thought and ran into transition.
Not a fast transition and I knew it wouldn’t be. I decided to take a breath and get my gear and nutrition in order before heading out on the bike. Besides, since I was going to be riding platforms and running in the same shoes as the bike I figured I’d make up some of it in T2.
I left T1 feeling strong and not as out of breath as I had feared. I hit the first climb and passed two people by just keeping it steady. I held my position on the entire climb and then had a super fast and clean descent. One deep area of sand threw a lot of riders, but the big 29ers just tore through it. At the bottom of the first 1/3 of the bike I started to get passed by the stronger riders (including Steve). The next 1/3 was all climbing and I gave up more ground, but stayed on the bike. Amanda gave me some encouragement and I pushed too hard when I saw her leading to my only blow up of the whole thing. I walked for maybe 25ft of one section after that, but otherwise I kept it in the little ring and road the way John is always telling me to ride hills. My second loop on the descent wasn’t as clean, but still better than my pre-ride. The lines and trail was in much better shape Sunday.
PS – at the bottom of the bike I turned off my shock to make the uphill climb easier. Must have been the altitude and not having Chandler there to remind me, but I never turned it back on – riding rigid on the second descent. I wonder if that’s why my back is all jacked up.
I dismounted, ran the bike in, threw it on the first open space, and took off…to the aide station. There was an awkward moment where Amanda was yelling for me to go… go… go…and I promptly stood my butt and drank a nice cup of Gatorade. Oh well, I was thirsty and there was just more climbing ahead.
All I can say about the run is that it was all pain. Climb after climb and then the downhill was open ski slope with chutes you had to run through on your way down. Loose, rocky, and uneven ground made for screaming quads going down and screaming calves going up. At mile marker 1 (of 4) I was questioning my ability hit the run as hard as I planned. Pretty soon there were climbs where no one was running, jogging, or even moving quickly. It was hands and feet death march to the top. At mile 3 I was really struggling to keep my heart rate under control and breathe regularly. I stopped for a brief rest to try and get some air and then made a final push for the last mile. One guy found me after the race and told me I made an awesome recovery for the pace in the last mile – I just wanted it over. It was downhill to the line and I coasted across with no one in front and no one in back feeling glad to have survived