Wednesday, October 8, 2008

XTERRA US Championships ‘08 - Race Report

The Swim:

I was pretty concerned about the water temperature in Lake Tahoe. Official word was that it was 59 degrees and that was a far cry from the 80 + degree pool water back in Phoenix. I talked with the Tri Diva on the beach about the pros/cons of getting in prior to the start. I compromised - waded in a little- and realized that the temp was fine.

(by waded I meant feet in the water)

The cannon went off and I ran into the water with (315?) other athletes. It was extremely crowded and I had a hard time finding my rhythm. I was breathing every stroke as I planned and the water felt great –seriously. It helped that it was crystal clear and tasted great. The first 300m were way too crowded and not a lot of fun.

After that it thinned out and I could focus on my stroke. I tried standing up too early on my exit from the first lap and should have kept stroking all the way in, but that was my only hang up. I felt strong and fast with no thought of the altitude. This was one of my favorite swim experiences of all time.

(off to T1)


It was a ¼ mile run from the swim to T1. I didn’t leave shoes or a jacket and didn’t feel like I needed either one. I did take my time getting to T1 and got passed by plenty of people sprinting the ¼ mile. I had lots of clothing options in T1, but based on what I saw other riders wearing leaving transition I went for only the UA sleeveless I was wearing under the wetsuit and slid on my bike shorts over my jammers. I had placed hand warmers in my shoes and gloves which felt great on my hands and feet. My core was extremely warm. I’m really disappointed that you don’t get a strict swim split from the swim, because according to my amazing wife/cheerleader/equipment manager I was out of the water less than a minute behind James Walsh and the Diva, but my jaunt to and wardrobe change in T1 tacked on quite a bit of time.

Bike: Yin & Yang

I left T1 feeling strong, warm, and excited to see what this bike course was all about. I fell in behind several other riders and drafted the paved section until the start of the jeep road. Here is where the trouble began.

I’m no weight weenie, but my all mountain rental with a thru axle was quite the porker. I’d dropped the front end down and firmed up the rear shock, but it was still a beast of burden. The sand/gravel road wasn’t helping but I kept a solid cadence and was feeling confident.

Climbing, more climbing, and still more climbing. I hadn’t been training enough for this much granny gear action, but I was still making good progress. I was being passed by the slower swimmers, but stronger riders, and only had to walk twice. I got some nice heckling from passers, “That must be a rental.” Thanks buddy.

The flume trail was everything it is made out to be. One of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to go back and ride it for pleasure since I only snuck one or two glances at the incredible views. I knew I needed to fly on this relatively flat section to make up for my lack of climbing speed, and after passing one slower rider at the dismount section I rode hard and alone until the climbing started again…

(Flume Trail - not my image)

On the Flume section I started to get hungry. I knew this was a bad sign as I had only one GU with me on the bike. I ate it at the end of the Flume trail had enough power to hammer the Marlette Lake section and then things got bad. The trail climbs to 8,900ft and the temperature dropped quickly. I lost my strength and then my confidence. I felt hungry, weak, and cold on the climb to the top. I was having to get off the bike and push and had trouble keeping my balance on the bike at low speed. I was passed by one large group of riders and then all alone on the trail. This meant I had fewer people to chase and probably slowed down more than I would have had there been others around. When I finally hit the DH section I was weak and having trouble picking clean lines on this unfamiliar course. Opening up the suspension meant I could take some monster hits and fly on the jeep road back to T2. It’s true that I smiled pretty wide flying DH on this beast of a ride, but the 2:30:00 it took to go up and the 20 minutes it took to come down were not worth it.

(at least it looks pretty?)


I knew it was almost over. Took off my bike shorts, slipped on some mesh ones real quick and I was out. Happy to be off the bike.


I hit the first aid station for some Gatorade and it tasted delicious. I quickly found my legs and lungs and just tried to stay steady until I got some strength back. I was starving. Next aid station I got some GU and water and ate/drank while on the move. I built over the entire run course just getting faster. The twists and turns make it hard to carry any speed, but I could tell such a difference after the initial calories and knew I was going to finish strong.

(almost there)

4:28:38 - Ouch


I was disappointed with my time, but proud to have qualified and finished. I was also feeling really good physically post race, worlds better than on the bike, which was good, but also kind of disappointing. I learned so much at this race and am grateful I had the opportunity to explore such a beautiful locale and spend a great weekend with my wife, who was a trooper even in the cold. Many a thank you and lessons learned coming soon…(the view from the lookout)

(best wife ever)


Zippy said...

Feel no shame, man: that course is BRUTAL and everyone hates that climb coming out of Marlette Lake up to the top of the Rim Trail. You made it to Nationals and that's something to be proud of. Nice job.

Erin said...

Way to tear it up! I agree with zippy. Making it to Nationals is rad because you get to race the rad course. It's like Ironman--the bragging rights come from finishing, not your final time. Plus, you got a ton of great photos...which is also rad! :P