Thursday, May 27, 2010

Xterra South Central Champs, Waco TX

Race morning finally came after a surprisingly good nights sleep. Usually I toss and turn trying to fall asleep, then wake up a couple of hours early and can't get back to sleep. Having my homestay just a minute or two bike ride from the race site made things extra easy and stress free, no worrying about drive time or finding a parking spot. I got to transition and got set-up and was already sweating up a storm, it was definitely going to be a warm one. Got in a good warm-up and headed over to the swim start. Again the pros got there own wave start and this time we had plenty of room for a clean start. The one loop river swim headed downstream first for 375m, then a nice 750m stretch against the current, and finishing up with another 375m downstream. Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, and I quickly made our way to the front of the field with Conrad trying desperately to hang on. I was planning on a nice draft and was glued to Craig's feet around the first two buoys, but the pace slowed down heading upstream so I moved around to the front and put the hammer down. I figured the boys would be able to hang on but apparently not and I found myself with a nice little gap off the front. The river bank had a nice muddy steep bank so it was nice to get there first and have the full attention of the helpers waiting to pull me out.
The pro women hanging out before the start brows furrowed, not sure why
Into transition and smoothly out on the bike, I had two minutes on Mel and a couple more on the rest of the women. I knew the bike was going to be technical and tough and just kept my eyes forward and the pedals turning. I got through the first half with just a couple of uphills that I needed to run up and the course was definitely running much faster than anyone had anticipated. The sport race athletes that were on the course ahead of us were absolutely the most courteous athletes at any race I have ever been to and were amazing at letting us through. Mel again caught me quickly then Renata and Shonny. The second half of the course had a short loop with a couple of tricky climbs. With some seriously tired legs I definitely lost sometime having to get off my bike more than I wanted and with the fatigue setting in I frequently had issues getting clipped back in leading to a bit of frustration. The last section before the straightaway to the finish was a cool newly built section where you swooped down through a huge drainage culvert onto a skateboard like ramp bridge. The local MTB guys had just finished building it for the race and overall did an amazing job with the trails and course, definitely hope we come back to Waco next year.

Into T2 in fourth and I could see Shae Rainier right on my heels as I headed up Jacob's ladder, this huge set of stairs right out of transition. I was feeling a little sluggish on the run as I had taken a little more than week off with a sore hip going into the race and was missing the snap and turnover I had in Vegas. I have to admit I really got stuck in no man's land and thinking back on it definitely eased off the pace. There was literally no one in sight either behind me or in front and on a couple of occasions I even started to wonder if I was still on the right course. That was until we came out of the trails and onto the road with a hundred meters or so to the finish and Emma came just flying by me. I heard her just seconds before she caught me and tried to make it a sprint finish but she was just moving way to quickly and I had to settle for fifth. Solid race, but could have ridden the bike smoother and definitely could have dug deeper on the run.

Women's Podium

Big congrats to Renata for taking the win and Emma for her highest placing ever. Post race I again showed off my excellent bike handling skills by completely wiping out trying to hop the smallest curb ever on the cool down ride with Branden, Renata, and Ryan. Thankfully, other than a bruise on my hip, embarrassment was all that I inflicted on myself. Next up ALABAMA!!! Can't wait. I almost think of it as my second home now as I've trained there for the past two winters. Oak Mountain has some of the best trails in the South and overall it is just a great venue for a race. If you were even considering travelling to an Xterra race this year definitely come to this one!!!

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