Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dirty Vegas- XTERRA West Champs Race Report

I'm actually sitting down to write this race report just a couple hours after finishing the XTERRA West Championships. [Edit: Ok, so now it is Tuesday night....d'oh!) XTERRA Vegas was my 2nd race as a pro, and my first ever off-road triathlon...I knew coming in that the mountain bike portion would be a battle for me, but I was determined to give it a go and see what this XTERRA stuff is all about...

Race morning, I walked out of the hotel, only to walk back in to find any sort of rain/wind gear in my suitcase. This is supposed to be Vegas in April people, think hot & dry. Unfortunately, the conditions were reminiscent of Oceanside 70.3 just 2 weeks ago. Rainy, windy and definitely colder than O'side. I had a few #FML moments as I couldn't feel my fingers or toes and the race hadn't even begun. I took a quick jog to warm up and then threw on my wetsuit. Honestly, I was totally dreading the 57 degree water for the swim, but I reminded myself that I'm a "pro" now and I need to suck it up.

Transition




SWIM: 1500 meters 21:20 / 2nd pro female
I dove into the freeeeezing water, and was once again so glad I had on my Zoot Prophet. This thing is fast, but it is also warmer than many other wetsuits I had tried. I struggled to put my face in the water and did a 2 minute warm-up with some head-up freestyle. In Xterra, the pro wave goes off at 9am, 3 minutes before the amateur waves. I lined up near the front and put my head down and went hard when the cannon went off. I was out of breath and struggling those first 300 meters or so, wondering again why I put myself through this (sorry, just being honest). BUT, after 300, I realized that I was with a nice little (3 people) pack and near the front of the race. AND, the pace was totally manageable. I caught a glimpse of Melanie McQuaid swimming next to me and thought I was in a good spot. At the turn around buoy, we found a couple more feet and I swam behind 2 men (Josiah Middaugh - eventual men's 2nd place and someone else) for the remainder of the swim.
Pro start
That's me in the pink cap down right...hangin on to feet!
I was swimming comfortably hard. The draft was perfect and there was no way I could pull around the boys, but I was also able to maintain the feet easily. This was perfect since my goggles were like 2 years old (packed wrong ones!) and totally fogged and unclear. I just kept my eyes on the feet. I noticed another girl swimming with me and when we exited the water, I saw it was Kate Major, another roadie (and awesome chica!) trying out the off-road situation. The announcers said we were 2nd/3rd out of the water and I soon heard him announce Melanie right behind us. I felt #soPro . I am SO happy I put in the hard yards all winter, making masters swim a daily routine because this "non-swimmer" is totally turning into a swimmer.

T1....wow...I don't even know what to say here. I need to get my act together. It was like Oceanside 70.3 part deux but worse!!! I had to put on gloves, arm warmers, and a Camelback in addition to my Mountain Bike shoes that have a clip/ratchet situation...All of this with complete ice blocks for hands. It was SO bad. Lesley (eventual 2nd place woman and current Xterra World Champ) was in and out while I was fumbling and so was Melanie. The only saving grace was that Kate M. was having just as bad a T1 as I was, so at least misery loves company...

Bike- 30k- 1:34:18 - moved from 4th (after transition) to 10th pro...

Thanks, Dane, for the photos! 

I think my cheer section, Jordan is yelling for me here, hence the smile! Or maybe I'm just laughing at myself ;) 



Okay, so the course is mostly fire roads, some single track LOTS of up up up and down down down and some loose & rocky descents. My only goal for the bike was to finish. I'll be honest here, I've ridden a mountain bike less than 10 times in the past year, so I know "where I'm at" and was willing to just go with the flow and not put myself in too much danger. I kept trucking along, and over the course of 18 miles, 6 women passed me and a bunch of age group & pro men. I crashed twice, one time wiping out fully right in front of Kate Major (sorry, matey!) and then dropped my chain on 2 climbs. Other than that, I was actually "impressed" with my ride and I must admit I kind of had fun. Ok, I was slow, but you can't expect to be a mountain bike genuis when you really don't ride one. I had to take all the technical sections really slow, but I rode them! I only hopped off my bike for one section on each lap. I was scared a bit on the bike, but also amazed at how the laps flew by. Before I knew it, I was heading back to T2, stoked to get my run on...P.s. I was SO impressed by these Xterra girls on the bike, damn they can RIDE!

And my Cannondale Lexi was amazing. It has two front chainrings (my old bike had 3) and I LOVE this setup. it makes the shifting so much easier. I think I need to tweak my position a bit- looking at photos, my saddle seems too low and my front end is way high- kind of like I'm heading on a stroll to the farmers market on Sunday, NOT a gritty off-road pro! #sonotPro

Run- 10k- (42:26 moved from 10th to 8th, 2nd fastest run) 
Ok, so the up up up, down down down thing continues here. There are lots of long/runnable climbs and steep quad ripping descents. There is also one holy-crap-you-want-me-to-go-up-this-thing? climb that requires 2-3 minutes of straight up hiking. It was NASTY. I passed 2 girls on the run, moving from 10th to 8th place, but I wasn't able to close the gap on Kate, who was in 7th. I ran strong and focused in my head on picking off all those age group men who had blown by me on the bike. I also focused on not giving up. I kept reminding myself that this was a race, but also a workout and I was making a nice deposit in the fitness bank with this one. I'm hoping to cash in a bit at Wildflower in just a couple weeks!
Happy to finish....


The real race- Lesley Paterson & Renata Bucher duke it out in a 1/2 sprint finish! 
All in all, it was an awesome experience. I finished in 2:41 (results here) and had an epic fitness adventure ;). I almost made a pay check (they paid to 7th!).  I traveled solo & got to spend some quality time with the Blanco fam - Jordan & Rich- who are becoming race family to me...I got off the race course and swore I'd never do another Xterra....Until about 15 minutes later ;)

*Thank you to Zoot for taking on the local girl and supplying the best gear & shoes out there- love my new race kit!!!! I'm swimming better than ever in the Prophet wetsuit and I love love love to race in my Ultra Tempo 5.0s.  Cannondale- LOVE my LEXI decked in SRAM, & although I didn't need 'em for this race, if I did I would thank Race Day Wheels. Thanks to Nytro for keeping it all in working, blinging' order and Studeo DNA for my bike fit & so much more. 
*Thank you to  Dan SelstadRehab United, & MRM for helping me build my chassis, recover quickly and stay healthy-.I use so many MRM products, but I couldn't function without my Hydration Factor & Reload. Rehab United- functional strength 2x/ week, ART with Selstad every other week...the secret sauce! 
*Many gracias also to ISM saddlesBetty DesignsBeaker Concepts & Bont shoes for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. 

10 comments:

MissFancyPants said...

Great job, you just inspired me to get back on the mountain bike that has been sitting in my garage....

JC said...

AWESOME job! "Brave Pro" is what I will refer to as. That S&*T is CRAZY!
Super congrats!

Christi said...

Great job in your new adventure! You are an inspiration!

Katie said...

Refreshing race report. It's nice to read that other people ask the "what am I doing question," during the swim. Great job!

Dolly said...

Nice work Beth. Great job on the Swim. If you can wipe out on a Bike and still feel like racing.. You are a badass!

Alison said...

I am ALWAYS questioning what I am doing there in the first 300m of the swim, and have to remind myself that enjoyment will kick in soon. Congrats on your race, and your awesome swim & run!

thechangeofpace said...

Sounds like another great race. In the pics it looks like you're having a lot of fun!
I'm glad you picked off all the age-group men in the run!

Wassdoc said...

Congratulations on another solid race! What a learning experience as well. Do you really need arm warmers, though? I find that as soon as I get going hard I warm up anyway, plus, they're a bear to put on after the swim. Anyway, once you get your transitions simplified, you're going to be tough to beat:).

Katie said...

awesome job - this sounds SO FUN!!!

Tracey Locher said...

I love the honesty that you write with! It doesn't matter if you're a pro or beginner, we all struggle with the mental race stuff... cold water... transitions... scary bike rides... hydration malfunctions...etc. Thanks for taking the time to share your story! PS - at least with the Camelback, you couldn't lose your water!!! :-)