Survived my second Xterra race in Ogden, Utah, and yes, I was actually a little scared that I really wouldn't survive. If I'm ever to do these again, I really need to learn to swim properly!! You know you're not doing good when another racer stops you and asks if you are okay...haha, yup that really happened.
As a pro, we got a 30 second head start over the age group categories in the swim, which I really liked as there was probably 3 times as many starters as the Whistler race.....it was nuts. I was on the look out for Lance Armstrong, but it was really hard to tell who was who in our wetsuits, swim caps and goggles. Off the start I felt good, steady but easy pace, not worried about trying to keep up with the rest of the pack.....I figured at altitude I really didn't want to go out too hard, especially in the water, I'd be in real trouble. Everything was going great, until the age groupers caught me, which really didn't take that long :( All of a sudden I was swarmed!!! And being yanked on, hit, and I panicked again. I actually did some full on back floating this time, no back stroke, but FLOAT....and I still had trouble catching my breath. I feel like I was hyperventilating for the entire 1.5 km (it was actually longer then the announced 1.5km because the leaders were way off pace too). Half way to the first buoy I was thinking "What the hell am I doing out here!!!!!", and I still have to do a second lap.
Alas, I kind of pulled myself together a little, not much of a rhythm to be found while hyperventilating, but I managed to get a couple stretches of good swimming in. Sighting while open water swimming is another thing that really needs some attention...I keep making things harder on myself then they really need to be. I had one stretch of my "good swimming", feeling good about how it was going right then, only to run smack into a marshal kayaker trying to get me back on course .... I had managed to get myself right in the middle of the triangle course......just what I needed, more distance. If you see any of the helicopter footage of the swim and see a little pink swim cap in the middle all by itself, it's more then likely me!!
But I did survive, and I didn't trip coming out of the water this time!!! Small victories are so important at this stage. I'm also proud to say that my bike wasn't the very last bike on the pro rack, there was one more right beside me. I guess the pro guy that racked right beside me beat me in the bet as to who would be last out of the water..hehe.
Transitions are another part of my game that needs a little focus, but this one was much smoother then my first one. Off on the bike, I hammer the road section and pass a number of people, gluing my front wheel to the back of some fast dude for as long as I can hold him. It takes me about 30 mins to finally catch my first Pro woman. FINALLY!! Although the bike is by far my strength, with a 1000m of double track climbing and only 550m of fast non-technical descending, this isn't a course that suites my riding style.....and at altitude non the less. I manage to motor through a number of people, passing a couple more of the pro women before I get stuck behind a small pro descending rather too slowly for my liking. I follow behind her for a ways, but when it opens up, open it up to pass. THUNK!!! One of the 5 rocks on course, and I nail it. I hold my breath.....but it seems to be okay...so I keep motoring.
5 minutes down the trail I realize my back wheel is starting to get really squishy :( I jump off and get to finally use the Genuine Innovations Big Air that I've been riding with all year. Yup, that's my first flat of the year, and as usual, the Big Air works awesome. I throw a bunch of air in the tire, it seems to be holding, so I jump back on not loosing any positions and cruise off. Just as I'm closing in on another pro woman, I realize I've gone flat again....so I get to test out my race flat change. I can't quickly find a hole so the Genuine Innovation tire plugs aren't going to work unfortunately, that would have been a much faster fix, so out comes the tire lever and the dirty ole tube that's been pasted on my seat tube all year. I should have timed myself because I'm pretty sure I did a really good job on this one, and my Big Air had just enough CO2 left to fill the tube. Back in the saddle, I realize I'm in last place again....haha....and I'm stuck behind a long string of people. Slowly I pick off as many people as I can, and only 2 pro woman...so at least I'm not last.
I hit the run feeling pretty good. I guess the good thing about altitude is that you actually can't push your body too hard, it's physically impossible because you just can't breath good enough to go really hard. I pass a whole wack of people up the first nasty run. Ya, I can't believe that I was actually passing people running up hill.....small fast steps really work. It's an almost 10 km trail run on way more technical, rolling terrain then the bike and I find that although I crack at the 3 mile marker, I'm really enjoying myself. Around the time I crack, I'm going a little cross eyed, and I see a big black fuzzy butt in the woods......another black bear!!! Nope, MOOOOOOO......just a fuzzy black cow. The run finishes with a mile downhill singletrack running....I've been grilling everyone about how to run downhill...and although I know I'm still not great, and I probably looked anything but graceful but I was able to successfully run downhill better then my last attempt.
The killer was the last 50m steep uphill stretch just before the final small descent into the finish....this is where everyone was watching...I really hope I wasn't drooling too much at this point. Almost 30 mins behind defending super fast champion Mel McQuaid, I finished 15th in the Pro Women category.
What now???? Hmmm, I think I'm going to stick with cross for the rest of the season...hehe. Thoughts of Fort Collins are dancing in my head at the moment....maybe :)