Monday, August 8, 2011
XTERRA Tahoe City took place in late June in (tah dah) Tahoe City. This year's plentiful late-season rain at home means snow in the mountains, and we got to find plenty of it.
Swim: about 52 degrees, if the announcer was correct. Apparently it had been warmer the weekend before, but windy weather cooled the surface just in time for our race. Water levels were fairly high though, eliminating the hobble-over-mossy-rocks action that I experienced last time I raced here. Swim was two loops with a short beach run. First loop felt strong despite the ice cream headache, second loop felt sloppy, I think because I was losing control of my extremities. I also saw a craw fish and am getting really good use out of my squid lid this year. I think I was the sixth woman out of the water, seventh to transition because I dropped my goggles and swim caps while I was trying to run and escape my wetsuit with my frozen claw-hands.
Bike: I really need to climb more. And spend time at altitude. And climb at altitude. There is probably a quarter mile of flat-ish road out of transition before you hit a road climb and then transition to a dirt climb. Then you continue to climb, descend a little, climb more, flat, rinse repeat. I kind of hate this course. This years highlights included dust, followed by snow piles, followed by running water and muddy fire road, followed by dust. I don't remember crashing, just lots of cursing. So it was fun.
Run: this run course is heinous. Follow the bike course up the hill. Continue up the hill in a slightly different direction. Keep going up the hill until you run out of hill. Run around at the top of the hill. Run down the hill. I got (continued to be) lazy and ran walked a bunch. I would have been excited about the long descent, except there were big snow piles that were slippery and slightly unnerving, so I kept stopping to tip toe across them.
I was pretty much the last person racing, but got a pint glass because there were only three of us in my AG. I also got a raging sunburn. Souvenirs are fun.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
In early June I packed up the bike and headed east for a long weekend of visiting my mom in Maryland and racing in Richmond. As is to be expected it was HOT and humid, but it was tolerable. Day 1 highlights were puppies, the mini donkey, and Walmart people watching at my mom's small town and mini-zoo. We drove down to Richmond the day before the race, right in time for a thunderstorm that prevented any pre-riding on my part. The restaurant we found for dinner was fabulous though, so I really don't mind.
Swim: this was probably the most comical swim leg of a triathlon ever. It takes place in the James River in the middle of the city, and the start takes place under a railroad bridge. The water was silty brown, so visibility was about 6 inches. The riverbed is studded with massive boulders, some completely submerged, some poking out like icebergs. The course is shaped more like a star than anything, so there are plenty of opportunities to change direction to fight or take advantage of the current. We were warned about the current repeatedly, but I didn't find it to be any worse than in Waco. The water temp in the James was about 75 degrees, which is waaaaay too hot for my tastes, even without wetsuits. I came out of the water 4th in my AG, after getting fairly battered on submerged boulders and the like. There was a submerged sandbar in the middle of the river, so I swam over and ran across it to avoid the current for a bit. I wasn't the only one.
Bike: This bike course was FUN! It takes place in an urban park, so there were plenty of man-made obstacles to ride over, under and through. Almost exclusively singletrack, and almost always under tree cover, this is my kind of riding. While there were no giant climbs like we tend to have at the western races, there were plenty of rolling hills and enough techy steep climbs to make life difficult. We rode over ramps and bridges, through tunnels, dodged trees, crossed streams, and navigated roots and rock gardens for two glorious laps. I had one crash where I lost my front wheel on a slick bit of rock, resulting in a bruised arm, scraped knee, and a bruised nose from impact from my glasses. I almost got run over by World Champ Conrad Stoltz.
The cool part of it being a two lap course (and my being slow?) was I got lapped by the pros. Shonny and Melanie were together when I saw them, and I later found out Shonny put another 3 minutes on Mel for a pretty decisive win. The not-so-cool part was the heat, which was definitely getting to me as the day warmed up.
Run: The run was the least fun part. It was nearly all exposed (read: boiling hot) and a lot of it was on sidewalks and gravel roads. There is a section called the Mayan Ruins that features giant railroad ties as stairs, and requires some scrambling to get up. Another fun section was over sometimes-submerged river rocks, where the "trail" was little more than arrows painted on the ground. A ladder to climb out completed that bit.
I didn't qualify for anything, and didn't race or place particularly well, but I had a blast and will do it again. Next time I'd like to pre-ride, and I may have to seek out some heat for training to help deal with the eastern summer temps.
Next up, XTERRA Tahoe City!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The forecast was for rain, and we got it, along with wind and a sunburn (for me, anyway). It was raining over Hwy 17 as I drove in, but instead of constant cloud cover, it was little mini storms floating along in clear skies. That kind of weather makes gear planning a little tough.
Swim: 1500 meters in the ocean, alongside the Santa Cruz Wharf. Oh my, that was cold. In retrospect it probably wasn't as cold as the REAL race in March, but the time in the water was longer, so more time to feel the affects. As per XTERRA usual, the swim was two loops with a short run in the middle. First loop felt good. I stopped for a bit on the second loop to pee (I didn't foresee having a better opportunity to do so for the rest of the day), and lost the group I had been swimming with, and a little of my mojo. The second loop felt sloppy and I got off course a bit. The weather was also deteriorating at that point, so things were more choppy than they had been.
I went through T1 feeling completely swim-drunk, and shoved my numb feet into my shoes for the ride.
Bike: the absolute hardest part of this leg mentally was the mostly-flat road section right out of T1. I was so cold that I didn't feel I could move my legs, and we were riding into a headwind that didn't make things any warmer. I kept trying to jump on wheels as people passed me, and I just couldn't get my legs to keep up. So frustrating!
I had pre-ridden the course a couple times prior to race day, so I knew what to expect. The only thing that was different was that the overnight rains had turned the dirt to mud, so some of the previously fast sections were pretty sketchy. My bike split was slower than I would have liked, but the mud and the weather definitely had a hand in that. The storm that was headed in struck when i was at the top of the course, so my descent in to T2 was in the rain. Brrrrrrr!
Run: this actually went pretty well. I kept my riding vest on as I headed out of T2, because it was still raining and I needed all the clothing I could get. After about 10 minutes, the sun came out, and I got a little too toasty a couple times. I only got caught by one person, and I managed to hold him off until the finish. The run was mostly flat, enabling me to find a rhythm and slog it out. The only "XTERRA" section of the run entailed running down a cliff, running across a little beach (ugh, sand), and scrambling back up the cliff on the other side. Super fun, I hope they add more sections like this in the future.
I crossed the line about 5 minutes slower than my time goal, and was told I got fourth in my age group. Just missed the podium! When results were posted online on Monday, I was listed in 3rd place. Awesome, but a little bummed I didn't get the podium pic, as it was my first legitimate, I-didn't-get-last, podium at one of the big XTERRA races. Oh well.
Next up is XTERRA East Champs in Richmond Virginia. Fingers crossed for a Maui slot!!!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
XTERRA REAL took place on the first non-rainy day after a 2-week deluge. To say it was muddy was an understatement. As the bf put it, it was "the kind of conditions that make drive trains cry." The race was the day after my birthday, and the weekened that my dad happened to be in the Bay Area, so I had my favorite cheerleader in tow.
Swim: water temp was 48 degrees. That was extremely unpleasant, but is good incentive to haul ass so you can get out quickly.
Bike: Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I had one good crash, an endo about 50 feet outside of transition. running water obscured a hole and I stuffed my front wheel into it. The two-loop course featured running-water singletrack, mud pits that swallowed whole wheels, and carnage galore. I managed to escape largely unscathed, and proceeded to get stuck in my bike shoes for about ten minutes in transition because the buckles were jammed. I recruited two guys to literally pull the left shoe off my foot. Not an ideal situation.
Run: Started off feeling pretty good, but I think a lot of that was adrenalin from the shoe incident. After a mile or so I lost my motivation, and slogged it in.
Finished 2nd out of 2, about ten minutes back, curiously close to the time I lost with my shoe. Oh well! It was fun because it was so ridiculous, and still one of my favorite courses.
XTERRA South Central in Waco was a bit of a mess. I had skipped the Vegas race the previous weekend because recent events had left me feeling a little run down. The Waco course is better suited to my strengths (less climbing, more technical) so I decided to make the trip. I managed to slice the tip of my finger off in my rental car in Austin, which left me wondering if I should proceed with the race at all.
Swim: declared wet-suit legal at the last minute, I think someone was being generous. I raced this last year with no wetsuit, and decided to try it with this year. It was toasty. Swim is in a river, half with the current, half against. Any time the tree cover gave way to sunlight, I started baking in my suit. It felt like the swim took forever, but I guess that's to be expected since I had been skipping the pool.
Bike: fun course, but I never felt like I got my bearings. No real crashes, but not a great performance either. This course is strange in that it is so twisty and tree-covered that you hardly see anyone on the course. I kept thinking I was off-course or the last person racing, luckily I was wrong on both counts.
Run: this run course starts out with a climb up a giant staircase, which is best navigated usings ones hands and feet. The rest of the course is a mix of pavement and trails, and I looked forward to seeing other people, just to have something to try to catch. At some point during the race I irritated my left shoulder, and by the end of the run it had become very painful
I finished 5th in my age group, made a beeline for the med tent to clean my finger, and got a massage to relieve the issue in my shoulder. I now have a massage therapist in Dallas, should I ever need one, who thinks I'm tough. So random. I also made friends with a girl in TX who lives in Redwood City, and we have gone riding a few times since. It's a small world, after all.
Next up is the brand-new XTERRA Pacific Championships in Santa Cruz. I even get to sleep in my own bed!
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I am happily amazed at how different the arrival of 2011 was than that of 2010. The start of last year brought months of tears, feelings of betrayal, and a terrifying bout of unemployment before it all turned around in April. This year, despite a head cold I picked up while visiting family in Minnesota, I rang in the new year feeling loved, content, and confident in myself and my loved ones. Oh, and asleep, but that's neither here nor there.
Apparently I didn't make any goals for 2010, but I'd like to write something down for 2011. Here goes:
1. Take steps to improve my resume. Specifically, look into and start down the path of APICS Certification and/or a business degree.
2. Do a better job of sticking to my training plans. I have an awesome coach, and I have been guilty of failing to follow her plan 100%. I saw significant gains in my racing in 2010, and I believe I can do better in 2011.
3. Race in Spain in April. I don't care if I race well or not, I would just like to enjoy the experience.
4. Take a minimum of 5 minutes off my race time at all XTERRAs I race this year. For Nationals, I want to take off 15 min. I'd also like to qualify for XTERRA Worlds, if possible.
5. Yoga. Lots of yoga.
6. Pay off debt. Have at least one bill wiped out by June.
None of these goals are outside the realm of what I'm already doing, I just want to be sure I continue down the path I've started.
All the best in 2011!