Monday, October 5, 2009

Xterra USA and Fall Colours

After a week of beautiful warm sunny weather in Ogden, Utah it has been hard getting used to the typical fall weather here in Southern Ontario, rain, rain, and more rain. Riding just isn't as enjoyable when it takes you an extra half hour to gear up. On the other hand we do get to enjoy the wonderfull fall colours. Xterra Nationals, A bit late (again) with the race report but here it is. At face value 9th does feel slightly disappointing considering my results throughout the season but breaking it down it was a really good race for me. Two factors that were against me right from the start was of course the altitude, especially since all but a couple of the girls that placed ahead of me either live at altitude or were able to do an extended altitude training camp, and the unfortunate fact that I had not been able to run in seven weeks after agravating my achilles (again) at the Xterra Northeast Cup race in Vermont. I was able to do elliptical training and aquajogging and was simply hoping not to have lost to much run fitness and to be pain free during the race. I did two really short runs Tuesday and Thursday before the race with no problem so I was pretty confident I would at least be able to get through the run and finish. The race was a mass start with about 300+ age group and professional athletes. It ended up being a wetsuit swim so I was a little worried about getting roughed up at the start and lined up far right on the inside line away from most of the other pro men. Seth was lined up right beside me and right from the gun he was off to a super fast start and I jumped right on his feet. I couldn't quite believe it but we managed to gap the field before the first turn buoy and continued to put on almost a minute on the next group. Out onto the bike I tried to just get into my own pace and keep the pressure on without risking blowing up at the top. With over 3,000 ft of climbing the bike course started at about 4,800ft and climbed up to 7,800ft. Mel passed me just before the top of the first climbing section and Shonny and Sara on the descent. Leslie, Jenny and Carina all caught me near the very top of the course and I held on to 7th on the descent back into T2. While Nationals was held in Tahoe last year, we did race the Snowbasin course as the mountain cup race so I did have the chance to compare the two. Overall I took about 8mins off my bike split on a slightly longer course and closed the distance between myself and the top women's bike splits by over half. I also rode the entire course without hoping off instead of several technical problems last year. (getting there) Next the run... I had held off both Danelle and Renata on the bike but could hear the cheers for them on one of the switchbacks as I was headed out. I knew the run for me was just going to be whatever pace the legs wanted to go. I felt pretty good considering the lack of run volume and kept putting one foot in front of the other hoping I might be able to hold at least one of the off. Danelle came by me a little over half way but I couldn't pick up my pace to go with her. At the top of the last climb, with only some downhills left to go Renata came flying by me. She has the ability to run downhill on rocky terrain faster than anyone I have every met and there was nothing I could do about it, so 9th it was. The really good news is that I scored enough points to hang onto my 5th place in the overall Xterra US Pro Series. Mel McQuaid 1st, Shonny V. 2nd, Renata Bucher 3rd, Danelle Kabush 4th - not too bad company to be hanging out with. I didn't get many pictures from the race, but Nils put together a great photo gallery. (yes that's me waving to the camera before the swim start)

So, onto Maui and Xterra Worlds. With four weeks between the two races I am pretty excited about the upcoming race. My achilles seems to be holding up great with a solid week of running already since Utah and the race on Maui is much more to my liking: non-wetsuit swim, no altitude, more short power climbing rather than long spin climbs, and more people to pass for those trying to catch me.

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