Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xterra Northeast Cup Vermont

After two beautiful sunny dry days the skies opened up as we were headed out to the pre-race pasta party at the Mt Ellen lodge, Sugarbush Resort and the rain poured down. Gallows humour was already in full swing as we all knew the bike course was likely a river of mud running down the mountain. It let up after a couple of hours and looked like it was going to clear but I remember waking up to lighting and thunder with pouring rain about 2am. After a rather fitful night of sleep it was up a 6am for a 9am start. In ironic fashion it was a beautiful sunny day and we were all going to get covered head to toe in mud!!! I had been trying to stay positive for the days leading up to the race and was only doing a mediocre job at it. I had aggravated my right Achilles on a running interval workout the weekend before and had come down with a cold Wednesday morning complete with sore throat and running noes. Add to that the muddy technical bike course and nothing but uphills and downhills on the run course and I was feeling rather unmotivated. I was surprised and happy that the stomach was full of butterflies and nervous energy was flowing as that meant that somewhere deep inside I truly did care about the race and just needed to get the brain on board and thinking in the right direction. As it was a two transition race Emma and I allowed a little bit extra time to get everything set up and ready to go. As it turned out one of the buses bringing racers down from T2 to the swim broke down and the race was delayed. Thankfully we decided to bike down on the road as warm-up and didn't have to deal with that extra bit of stress. The water temperature was 70deg. which caught a couple of people off-guard who were expecting a wetsuit swim and had forgotten to bring their swim skins but made me happy to have that little bit of extra advantage over the none-swimmers. Mel jokingly said before the race "just keep moving forward and you are doing good". As it would turn out this would be my motto as I slogged through the bike leg. Betsy and Bill, our homestays, even showed up to haul our gear, cheer us on and take photos. The pros got a minute head start on the amateurs and with a rather small field I got plenty of clear water to swim in. I took the lead around the first buoy with Seth and Brandon close behind me and pushed the pace as hard as I could. Again I was surprised and happy with how good I felt and within moments all doubt and negativity got put aside, the race was on and I was committed 100% to having a great race. As expected the bike course was a mess. I hiked most of the first couple of miles straight uphill and was off and on my bike the whole way, but I kept moving forward. Mel and Renata caught me early on and Shonny came by me a bit past halfway. I slide out a couple of times and hit the ground but nothing major and felt like considering the conditions and my whole 22months of mountain biking experience I rode the course to the best of my ability. I arrive in T2 still holding onto a solid 4th position with nobody in sight but knowing stellar runners Danelle and Emma were somewhere behind me. Heading out onto the run my legs felt light and ready to go and while the uphills still went on forever I kept up a good pace for the two loop course. 4th, done and covered in mud. Renata had a stellar race to pass Mel on the run for the win, and I ended up only a couple of minutes behind Shonny, having outsplit both her and Mel on the run. Danelle used her swift feet to move up into 5th with Emma right on her heels. The result moves me up into 3rd position in the overall US Pro Series, not bad, though Renata has only scored four races and will likely move ahead of me next weekend in Beaver Creek. After some quick post race food and a quick bike wash I decided to pack up and get on the road. It would make for a marathon day but would get me back home and able to do some work on Monday. I made the drive in just over 9hrs, pulling into the driveway about 1:30am exhausted. I parked the car, left everything inside except the toothbrush and crawled into bed. I had added Xterra Beaver Creek to the schedule as backup to make sure I scored the five races for the series, but after taking with coach Gareth post race and taking stock of the how the body and mind were feeling we decided to pass and take a nice mid-season break. Good thing because for the past two days I have been so sore just walking up and down the stairs has been tough and tons of bruises, cuts, scraps, and a sore wrist joint have appeared courtesy of the bike course. Up next I get to try something new and watch a triathlon as the sister, Karen, is racing the Gravenhurst Triathlon on Saturday, for now though, it is a nice week of relaxing and getting caught up on work!!!

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