Monday, August 3, 2009

XTERRA Lock 4: Race Report

I'm back from the swine flue (seriously) and a week long (much needed) vacation on the coast of NC. I've collected a bunch of awesome pictures from the XTERRA race two weeks ago and am finally happy to release the race report!
Swim: 14:36 - 4th AG

The water temperature was 80 degrees of perfect. Water visibility - not so much. Racing in Lake Tahoe has forever spoiled me on the clarity and taste of open water racing. Brooks lined up right behind/beside me to take advantage of some drafting and there were so few racers that the start was actually a pretty civil affair.
I started off with long strokes that felt good, despite missing a bunch of swim workouts prior to the race. At the first buoy (200m?) I made the decision to kick up the pace a notch and went to breathing every stroke. I have no idea what about this season has me breathing every stroke when in all my training and almost all my other races I have always breathed every 3rd. Weird.
I swam alone for the last 600m and was mentally preparing for the bike. It was a comfortable swim and I exited the water to racks full of bikes.


Having a loud cheering section outside T1 was good and bad. All the yelling and screaming got me really fired up, but being fired up to put on shoes and gear isn't such a good thing. Looking back I wish I had left off the camelbak. The ride was too short to carry that and I struggled to get it on and buckled in T1. On the plus side my new shoes were super fast to get in and go.Bike: 1:17:48 - 3rd AG

This is where my race happened. The bike course (two six mile loops) was my hometown course where I trained after work when I lived in Nashville. Despite not having ridden the course in over a year I could still see the entire course in my mind. I spent the plane ride from Phoenix to Nashville playing the course in my head and planning for how I would ride each section of the course. This visualization was huge home race day.
I left T1 and immediately hit it hard. This is where having fans definitely helped. My goal for the course was to always be pedaling. The course is 90% tight rolling singletrack. When I've ridden here before there are plenty of places to coast and just let the course carry you through, but I knew that the only way I was going to finish where I wanted was to always be pedaling.
I was passed by two fast riders in the first 2 miles of the course, but they were the only ones to pass me. My legs felt strong and it was so cool to be back on one of my favorite trails. I couldn't believe how comfortable I felt riding Chandler's Niner MCR. I was little worried that the steel frame would be heavy, but I was happily surprised by how light it was. Only 80mm up front felt really small, but you really don't need anymore than that for this course. It is geared as a 1x9 and there were only a couple of times I could have used a big ring up front. He had his brake levers angled kind of high and the grips felt harsh, but I couldn't have asked for a better feeling ride on a bike I had never ridden before on a course I hadn't seen in over a year.
I exited the single track on my first lap to a ruckus (my Nashville bike crew). Awesome. I had the bike in the top gear and was giving it all I had around the peninsula before starting my second lap.
Lap 2 my goal was top push harder than lap 1. I was figuring that seeing the course and feeling out the bike on lap 1 would give me an edge on the second lap. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little less excited and a little over confident on the second lap and didn't ride as hard as I probably should have. That said, I had the time of my life on the bike. It felt so good to go so fast!


Super fast with my new Yankz laces. Seriously these things rule. I was in and out in no time.

Run: 36:05 - 7th AG

My run legs were nowhere to be found coming out of t2. Maybe it was really pushing on the bike or maybe it was having done 0 transition runs in training since April. Maybe it was both. My lungs and energy level felt good, but my legs were missing. I tried to keep pushing through the resistance and tried not to think about how much just 1 transition workout would have helped me now. Once I hit the singletrack the rollers got me going with a little momentum, but I knew it was going to be tough going. I tried focusing on the weather (upper 70s, low humidity for the south, and breezy). I told myself it was like running outside with the air conditioning on - this helped.
I felt stronger at the end of lap 1 around 2 miles into the run. As I came around the peninsula and knew I had only 2 miles to go I picked up the pace. One guy in my AG came blowing past me when we hit the singletrack and I jumped right on his heels. By my calculations I was 3rd in my AG and I really wanted to be on the podium for the 1st time in an XTERRA race. I ran with this guy until he started to tucker out and I kept the pace going. At mile 3.5 I snuck a look back and saw a guy blazing up the trail behind me. I knew from the start that he was in my AG and I knew I wasn't going to be able to run the pace he had going. My only chance was that he would blow up before the finish line. No dice. He passed me with a .5 mile to go and I decided to keep my strong pace and not risk blowing up and losing anymore ground. That decision cost me 3rd place.
Two weeks later it's easy to say I should have sucked it up and tried to run with him, but at the time it wasn't an option. Every race I learn something about that feeling and about that choice that makes me a better athlete and competitor. I ran into the final shoot as one of the top overall finishers, which is a first for me. To see guys like Craig Evans still breathing hard when I finish a race is super cool. For me this race was about the bike. It was about pedaling hard the whole race and railing turns with speed that I had never done before. It took going home and the support of dedicated friends cheering me on for me to reach that level and now I'm looking forward to never going back.
2:08:29 - 4th AG - 19th OA

PS - When I did this race in 2007 I did it in 2:23:15 and finished 5th. Some better competition this year for sure!


Zippy said...

Awesome job! Glad to hear you're better after H1N1. Was it as bad as the media mae it out to be?

Chris said...

Sorry to hear about the sickness, but glad to hear you're getting over it. My only regret from the race is that I was busy the night before and couldn't be there racing right beside (read: in front of) you to help with the motivation.

Erin said...

CONGRATULATIONS! You kicked mega ass! P.S. I like the entirely shirtless race.
P.P.S. Don't you have to kiss a pig to get that? I believe I read that in the New York Times...

Erin said...

P.P.P.S. I finally caved and set up my own iGoogle page, so I can stalk your blog entries from now on.

XTERRA 29er said...

Erin I don't know what you're implying about Amanda, but I don't think she'd appreciate it! The summer version of H1N1 wasn't that bad so I'm kind of glad to have been there done that prior to flu season. I asked the race director about wearing a shirt and he told me it was a "clothing optional XTERRA" and I could race totally naked if I wanted. I opted for shorts only.
PS I love that you're stalking me. Coming back to AZ anytime soon? We're thinking about a trip to Joshua Tree you guys interested?
PPS OMG, you start school soon don't you?

John Brilliant said...

To bad those dang brake levers weren't adjusted properly, probably cost you a podium spot.