So this was my second time doing this race, 3rd Xterra ever (off road Triathlon). Serious props to these guys – I really enjoyed the race, low key but well organized without being a bunch of spazzes. Course was appropriately marked, swim support STRONG (Scuba divers, I think Indiana State Troopers) and so on.
I was unable to pre-ride the course due to family obligations, but I felt I had some memory of it so I figured I would be ok. It was 2 loops so worst case I take that first loop a bit easy and then try to gain some ground on the second loop. This is what happened last time I did it. 37 first lap, 32 second. They were warning water would be too warm for wetsuits – it’s a 1/2 mile swim – so wearing a wetsuit is really a “wash” in efficiency… I’ll gain some time on the swim only to lose it in transition taking the thing off. No worries. And the run? Well, the weather forecast was looking good – NOT hot, maybe 75 – so I was good there. My run wasn’t going to be strong, but that’s ok. Had direction from coach to take “liberal” walk breaks and just get through it. No worries!
Got up early, stretched, ate and drove up early, got there in plenty of time. Check in took all of 5 minutes. Transition setup? Another 5. This was seriously simple. I started stretching and doing some warmups. In the mean time I connect with Yoshiko – one of my online friends and fastie-Xterra lady and chatted a bit before the start.
She reminded me of some of the tough spots (she was able to pre-ride) so I went and pre-rode the first 1/3 mile or so. Oh crap. LOTS of tough spots. Ok, granted I was going easy so I didn’t have speed enough for several of these, but still OH MY ! Well, I could also tell the legs were not going to be happy about this. Perhaps I wasn’t recovered enough from last week… or shouldn’t have had the margarita’s last night? (hey! don’t judge! I was trying out new pre-race fueling…. guess that won’t work. BOO!)
I got a quick run and swim in as well. Pretty low key. Chatted up a few folks who saw the Alcatraz jersey and Ironman tattoo and answered questions… very friendly crowd. I low the vibe.
So eventually they line us up… more or less and blow the horn. We’re off. Since Xterra swimmers, as a rule, suck at swimming (there are 2 waves… survivors and competitors! LOL) I got myself on the inside line 2nd row. I figured I’d let the testosterone laden 20yr old men go right ahead and blow themselves up and I’ll catch up later. Not real sure how my swim was going to be.. my training has been less than consistent. Maybe 1 swim every week or two? Yeah, not quality. I zoom off and immediately the feet in front of me are going too slow. REALLY? Oh come on, zoom off and blow up people! Nope. I try to work right, get behind some tiny lady feet… no progress.. move back left… big huge ugly dude feet… I’m boxed in. Dang it.
So I cruise behind this armada of feet… all 3 swimming side by side. I’m not going at max effort, but I’m not going easy. But I stuck in a box 3 across and people to the left and right. The people left and right come and go, but there is always someone there. Around the turns they STILL have me boxed in – but they slow darn.
Around the 3rd turn the lady drops back, but so does big ugly feet guy. So now I have someone directly left, directly ahead, and directly right. This bites. And once in a while they squeeze me. If I was actually WINNING I’d say this was on purpose!! This keeps up. Some minor jockeying but really, the same freaking configuration.
Near the final turn, suddenly the guy ahead starts to sprint. I work to stay on his feet, but end up getting split apart. The box is broken and I get some clean water – for all of 150ys. Swell. I have no idea my time but I suspect not fabulous.
Finally I stand – 16:50 OUCH. Last time? 14:30. In retrospect I should have either just run over the person to the left or right or just dropped back and found clear water. Instead, I got stuck at their pace. Oh well.
Hopped out, got my sandals on and ran up to the transition. Mananged a pretty decent transition, already had my shirt on (swam with it) so just put on heart rate monitor (just for kicks so I can see how high it gets on the bike), helmet, glasses, shoes and RUN with the bike.
Past the mount line I hop on it and start peddling. Heart Rate hasn’t recovered from the run to transition and it in the high 160’s. That’s too high. So I pick an easy gear and try to spin up the initial hills. Doesn’t really help. I’m gasping for air and just trying not to hit any trees. I end up dismounting on a couple of small hills with roots. I could have taken them if the heart rate was down, but it wasn’t, so easier to run it up the hill and get back on. Did this 3x in the initial 1/3 mile. *Sigh*!
Then right around 1/3 mile was this steep root/drop off – like a little 2ft ledge. There was a little path around it, but it was just too tight for me, so off I go again… run down it… and remount. This was actually pretty cool.
This is overlooking the quarry we just swam in. No safety rail or fence. If you botch the little drop off, you could wreck and your bike go off the cliff! (ok, unlikely but sounds dramatic!) It was a big stone sheet and we road around the edge and back into the woods. Very cool.
Back into the woods, a little more stuff but then a nice flat section. At this point I had been passed by maybe5-6 people. I had passed a couple too. Once we got to the flat section, I caught 3 of the guys again. This pattern would continue the entire bike – both laps. Same 3 guys. They would catch me on a hill or technical section and I would fly by them on the flats. You can guess where my experience lies!!! But If I can practice more on this technical stuff in particular, I can see my times drop dramatically I’m sure.
Much of the loop was a blur… I’m seeing a pattern here – that when you heart rate is so high you just cannot remember things as clearly! So here are some memberable moments…
– There was a technical section followed by this really steep decline, with multiple turns. I wish I pre-rode it. I ended up running it down but I bet with some practice, I could take that hill. The first time, however, I ended up with a huge stick stuck in my back wheel!! Arg! Had to dismount AGAIN to yank the thing out. No visible damage but I had to waste time dealing with it.
– There was a creek crossing – that was unridable because it had a 3ft+ ledge you had to climb up on with your bike
– Soon after the creek was an almost verticle climb, maybe 10ft, which was also unridable. Climbing it, with bike, was a real bear. Wasn’t sure if I should push or carry the bike. I pushed it, but I’m not convinced it was the best choice.
I finished the first loop in 32ish minutes. Second was 30. I was a bit dissapointed it wasn’t faster but oh well, it’s an improvement! Heart rate was fully under control duriong the second loop, so I guess I was not pushing as hard as I could. I didn’t get passed on the second loop at all that I can remember and I picked off easily 5-6 people.
One scary moment was on the second loop, near the start there are those 3 hills with roots and such. One has a decent sized lip, maybe 12″ so you need to pop your wheel up a bit to make sure you clear it. The guy ahead of me DID NOT, he ran into it and his bike pivoted over his front wheel and he went head over heels down. This is NOT good. This is a sure fire way to break a collar bone and a “worst nightmare” for cyclists. Well, I asked if he was ok – he was – and he was picking up his bike (not likely able to do that) so he got lucky. Scared the CR@P out of me though and I know was a bit more cautious on that second lap.
I got back to transition, had a bit of issue with my shoes , but generally got out of there in a reasonable time.
I began the run with a simple concept. Survive it. For months I’ve been only do 2 mile run so really, I’m in no shape for a 4 mile TRAIL run (much harder) so I was just shooting to finish it healthy. I figured I would do 2 minutes run, 1 minute walk – similar intervals to my current training runs. Just repeat that as long as I could and adjust as needed.
I started off strong – but heart rate was STILL high from the bike. I trotted along and around 90s I was unable to control my heart rate, so I took an early walk break. But ended up doing 30s not a full minute. I ended up repeating 1.5 or 2 minutes and 30s break and it worked well. I had nothing for the hills though. Man, my legs were toast from the bike, no question.
I saw Yoshiko right before the big hill. She, literally, PULLED me along for a while. I asked if she was pulling me up the BIG hill then she let go! LOL! She caught me right during the start of a walk break. She was on her second loop – so she was doing GREAT.
The trail run here is nice, not too hilly but some minor stuff – except around the 1.5mile mark there is this HUGE hill that everyone seemed to walk. Or climb. Whatever, it was STEEP. 50-75ft? Virtually straight up. Wish there was a rope!
After the big hill I was actually able to start a decent groove. Pretty much a 90s run, 30s walk rhythm worked well. I was getting some “real” running going during the 90s and the 30s was just enough to recover. With all that, I was doing about 14min run pace.
I got passed a ton. I’m used to it. Didn’t try to count how many. Lots of words of encouragement. I think most thought I was faltering on my 2nd lap. SURPRISE!! LOL.
I passed a few folks but not too many. I managed to keep a consistent 2nd lap, 90s/30s worked well.
In the end, I pulled off about a 14min pace, which was just fine by me.
Total time was 2:20:50 – I beat 2010 so I’m pleased. I had a blast, which was really goal #1
A lady came up to me and said she remembered me from 2 years ago. She said I asked about her Ironman tattoo and said I’d told her I was doing an Ironman. She saw, from the tatoo, I had done that! Her and her husband “Welcomed me to the club!” LOL. Very nice. We chatted a bit – later I saw both husband and wife accepting awards. Speedy!
Yoshiko managed 1st in her AG! Way to go! We chatted with some folks she knew – including the Worlds Champion last year (or year before?) and her daughter. Very nice.
All in all, good times. I really enjoy the Xterra vibe – and the mountain biking is something that I think in time I can show some major improvement. Although I am done for the year, I’m definately not done with Xterra. I’ll be back for more next year. Whether or not it becomes a season focus – that’s to be determined.
Oh yeah, and I lost my shoe. Must have dropped it on the way back to the car. BOOOO!!!!
So the stats…
18:04 swim (includes run up beach – 2010 was 18:04 but included t1)
1:21 T1 (in swim time)
1:02 bike (2010 was 1:09:47)
1:19 T2 (2010 was included in bike)
57:49 run (2010 was 55:39)
2:20:50 overall (2010 was 2:23:30)