Rocky Gap Xterra EX2 Off-Road Triathlon 0.75mi swim, 14mi mountain bike, 5mi trail run
3:17:48 5th AgeGroup 35-39 Don’t know how many racers in my age group or overall place because official stats are not posted yet. Approx 400 racers total.
What a superfun race! I apologize in advance for my longwindedness...I'm just so excited about the race that I wanted to write everything down! This was my first off-road triathlon. I was nervous the night before the race, so didn’t get a lot of sleep, especially with the 4am alarm. I met Bob Reid in Frederick at 5:45 to ride up to Rocky Gap State Park together. He was a huge help in telling me what to expect as a 3x veteran of the race. I highly recommend this race to anyone who has any interest in mountain biking. Everyone was very friendly and a great spirit of camaraderie envelops the entire race.
I had never ridden or run any part of the course, but knew from previous race reports that it’s a very challenging course. The best advice I got from Kristina Adams was to “Have FUN”, and that was my #1 goal for the race – totally accomplished that with tons to spare! 2nd goal was to finish under 3 hours (though I have no idea how I came up with that number – didn’t look at past years results or anything – didn’t make that goal). 3rd goal was to Smile and HAVE FUN (yes, I felt it was important to repeat that goal!)
Swim – 0.75mile total, Loop 1 15:08 (including 200yd run); Loop 2 14:31 (including 100yd run); run from edge of water to T1 (300yd run) 1:16
This was my first beach start for a tri, and first coed start – we ran 100yds down the sand (that was tougher than it looked) and dove into the crystal clear warm water – 75 and gorgeous! It was a little disconcerting to swim through seaweed that actually stuck out of the water because of its height, but that only lasted for 30seconds or so. I was so glad that Bob suggested swimming through that before the race as a warmup! A lot of bodies in the first half, but I was glad I had started mid-pack since the swim is not my strength. The bodies thinned out about halfway through the first loop. After 0.375 yds, run up and down a hill for another 100yds and then back in the water for loop 2. I think my second loop was faster since I got relaxed and into my pace quicker. After the 2nd loop, a 300yd run to transition.
T1 – 2:35
I was out of breath from the run to transition, so I sat down and took my time getting everything ready. Even though I felt like I spent a lot of time there, it went pretty quickly. I was happy to not have any decisions to make about what to wear – that definitely saves time!
Bike – two 7mile loops mountain biking. Loop 1 - 1:03:07; Loop 2 - 46:34
I was nervous for the bike part of this course. I’ve been mountain biking for almost 3 years, and I have improved a TON from when I started...but I had heard this was a really rocky course, and rocks are generally not my favorite. Kristina told me to remember that rocks are my friends, and that actually helped a lot. I absolutely adore mountain biking – I love feeling like I’m a little kid riding my bike in the woods. As a result, my rides are usually social rides where we stop at the top of every hill, chat and wait for slower riders to catch up. As I was huffing and puffing out of breath, with my back screaming in pain from pulling so hard up the hills, I realized that I’ve never gone all out on my mountain bike and certainly never ridden hard for more than 20 minutes without a break! There was a lot of single track, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could keep up with most of the people around me, and even passed quite a few! I had to remind myself to SMILE and HAVE FUN quite a few times on the first loop. The happiest point of my race was making it up the rocky cliff – Evitt’s Revenge - without hopping off my bike. Everyone around me was walking up the hill, and I had heard from previous race reports that this is a tough hill technically and physically, especially because sometimes you get stuck because other people are walking in your way. But I just zig-zagged around and made it to the top. I debated the wisdom of pushing so hard when it took the next 5-10 minutes of very slow riding to partially catch my breath! I only walked 2 places the bike – I didn’t see anyone riding either of these places. The first was up a set of stairs and the 2nd was an extremely rocky section labeled XXX DANGER. Both of these were very brief periods. By the time I was ¾ through the first loop, my back was screaming in pain – I’ve never felt this way mountain biking before because I always take breaks. I was going down one very long rocky section that was quite technical so I couldn’t relax, and I actually considered stopping while going DOWN the hill just so I could give my back a break. I couldn’t imagine at that time how I could possibly complete another loop. Well, my bike figured out a way to give me a break for an unwanted reason – flat tire!!! Of course it happened right AFTER the really technical part. Since this was my first time changing my mountain bike tube, it took me a while (and of course it was the back one). I didn’t count the time exactly, but somewhere between 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t moving super fast cuz I was sharing tools / stories with the guy behind me. I wasn’t complaining about my flat because 1, I got to rest my back, and 2, the guy right behind me broke his chain as well as derailleur and couldn’t finish the race. At least I could keep going! This rest helped immensely, even though it was sort of disappointing to know that I had been doing so well and now lost all of this time. The good thing is that the course cleared out quite a bit, and I could really ride at whatever pace I wanted. I actually took it a little easier on the 2nd loop in the non-technical sections so that I wouldn’t be in so much pain on the technical parts. Also, the run goes over the same trails as the bike for the first part, and it was kind of neat to overlap with the guys going for the win in the race. Sadly for me, they were actually running at a faster speed than I was mountain biking!!! That tells you how many uphills there were!!! 2nd loop I felt pretty good – again sore back, but at least not screaming with pain. Very happy with my time for the second loop – guessing my first loop would have been even faster than that without the flat.
T2: 1:09 Nothing special.
Run – 5 miles trail running 53:22
I was pretty tired starting out on the run, but my legs didn’t feel especially dead. I found a nice gentleman running a very similar pace and unashamedly just hung on for the first 2 miles until I felt strong enough to pick up the pace. I was super happy to reach the 2 miles to go mark. I was at a 10:30 pace at that point, and thought I could probably pick it up a little and maybe dip into the 9:30 region and try to get my average under 10. Well, apparently I hadn’t read the course description carefully. Mile 4 was HELLISH!!!!! There were many rocky steep climbs. At one point, I was walking behind another guy up a steep section, and I saw a photographer ahead and suggested, “hey, let’s run for the photographer”…only to realize seconds later that this was impossible. There was a wall in front of us. The photographer laughed and said, “how ‘bout climb for the photographer.” We happily obliged clambering up boulders on all 4’s!!!! I can’t wait to see the pictures! My 4th mile was 13:43, and I was sucking wind the entire time from pushing so hard!!! The last mile was mostly on roads and dropped down to and 8:02 for a nice solid finish. Guess those training runs where I run the Billy Goat trail at Great Falls really paid off on this course – there were many parts that were similar, though this was much, much hillier!
This was an amazing race, and it was so fun to rehash the entire thing on the way home with Bob. Oh, and despite my flat tire, I still managed to snag 5th in my age group! 3rd place was 9 minutes ahead of me, so I think I could have gotten 3rd without the flat. Oh well…now I have something to shoot for next year if I decide to make the long drive from Columbus. Thanks to the other MMTCers who shouted out cheers during the race – it was also wonderful to hear them as I was coming into the finish. I love our club, and I will miss everyone immensely when I moved to Columbus, OH in 2 weeks!