PreRace: Drove up with Kristina A. and made awesome time (and conversation) leaving at 5:15 a.m. with no traffic. We arrived just before 7am and got our registration packet. Race time was 9 a.m. Then made sure we got a good racking spot. It was first come, first serve. We had plenty of time to set up and relax before the race. The XTERRA atmosphere is very pleasant, I love it. I also met Steve L. from MMTC, who I think placed in his AG? The RD gave a pre-race meeting before the start and the one take-away was his reference to this venue being the best “Playground”. I could not agree more. I think back to a time when I was between 11 and 15 and loved riding my BMX bike back through local trails. What a playground that was for me! I remember so many summers riding with friends and making trails and jumps. XTERRA brought me back to that.
Swim: Water temp was a wonderful 78 degrees, so no wetsuit. We didn’t have the 200M run to the swim start this year, which was a bonus. They had two waves and also added a duathlon this year. My wave was AG 39 and below, all male. The guys were typical brutal in the swim; pushing, shoving, etc. I felt good, but couldn’t catch a draft. I had a draft for a little, until the guy went off course. It was two loops with a 100M run in between each loop (uphill out of the water).
Bike: Happy to be on the bike! But T1 takes longer than a road tri. Add gloves, socks, Camelback; all necessary for mountain biking. The first mile is on the grass, but uphill to the road, then uphill on asphalt, until you hit the trails. On the trails it gets tight trying to pass people. My first mistake was negotiating between two trees. The right tree won the battle when my handlebar smacked it sending my shoulder into the tree for a nice scrape and raspberry, and then sending me off course. I felt good for a while, until I hit Evitt’s Revenge, a steep loose, rocky climb. Everyone was walking it and blocking the trail, which gave me no chance to climb it. Ugh, had to lug my bike up with the rest of them. I saw a handful of spills, which of course happened in front of me, making me stop. Then it came my turn to crash on the second loop. I came across a rock garden and my front wheel hit a rock and twisted too hard to the right, sending me crashing down. Not sure what whacked the back of my leg, but it hurt like hell and thus my second battle wound of the day. The guy behind me asked if I was OK, and I had to think for a second, but said I’m OK. Twenty feet later, he crashed! Opps. I told him not to follow me! The back of my leg hurt for a long while but wasn’t enough to keep me down. Kristina caught up to me just before the 2nd climb of Evitt’s Revenge and again, the people walking their bikes up it prevented both of us from making the climb. The rest of the ride was great and I felt good coming into T2.
Run: I felt good starting the run and the weather was awesome. The camaraderie of XTERRA is incredible. I was feeling it and giving it back! The first couple miles of the run are typical trail running, then comes the run up Evitt’s Revenge… yet again. Most racers walked up it, as did I. At the top of the climb we headed left towards very technical trails. Going downhill is a matter of finding foot places and holding on to trees. It went down so steep you knew the up side would be worse. I had to tighten my laces halfway because the downhill hurt by putting so much pressure on my toes. Then came the climb. OK, imagine walking uphill so steep you are at lactate threshold. Yes, walking at LT! Then towards the top, you use your hands to boulder up the last section of rocks, with a photographer taking your picture as you are in oxygen debt. At the top of this lung pumping climb is a short section to the final water stop. I knew from there it was a one mile, most downhill section left to the finish line. My dang shoe laces came undone and at fist I thought I could run it out, I changed my mind and re-tied them. I was passed by two guys while tying my laces. When I started running again, I saw the next guy was in my age group and I picked it up to keep pace, hoping to gain the lead in the final stretch. Well, he picked it up too and I lost ground. A quarter mile to go and I was gaining ground and was close to passing him. Then, 50 meters before the finish line, his son came out to run with him and I said to myself, I can’t pass him now, so I enjoyed watching his son have a run to the finish line with him. I know how great that feels.
Post Race: A cute water stop story: At mile 2.2 of the run, there were a few kids at the water stop. The youngest of the boys asked if I wanted water dumped on me. I said yes, and crouched down and bowed my head, expecting him to dump the water on my head. He threw the water on my leg and said: “Did that feel good?” I laughed and just said “Yes, thanks, Man!” It was great to see Kristina get some hardware to bring home at the awards ceremony (2nd in her AG; 4th overall) and Patti Harden (1st in AG). EX2 also had a beer garden afterwards, featuring Pacifco Beer, a sponsor. Tasted good, but we think any beer would have tasted good afterwards.