Xterra USA Race report

It was an early start to the day. Because of the timing with class, I had to get my race numbers and such in the morning before I could set up my transitions. Had no issues, but just needed to get up a little earlier. It was still dark at Pineview Reservoir when I got there. I unloaded my bike and headed over to the packet pick up. It was early enough that there was no line and the volunteers were more then helpful with getting everything for me. I got my number on my bike, decided to get body marked (the nice thing about being a pro - you're ageless!) and found a spot on the empty racks for the Tomac. Time to head up to T2. The Ogden course is a two transition affair, with a pretty decent drive between the swim and the SnowBasin lodge. The recommended set up was to drop the bike off first, drive to Snowbasin and T2, set up T2, then take the shuttle back down to T1. The only issue with this kind of set up is the chance of forgetting something. I didn't want to have to worry, so I took my time, focusing on each part of the race individually to ensure that everything was where I needed it.

Got back down to the Pineview with plenty of time. My bus got a little delayed by the runners in the half marathon - they were running on the bike course. But there was still no worries. Once at T1, I started getting all my bike gear set out - shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, camelbak, gloves. The amount of cameras around was just incredible. I couldn't even take my bike out for a little spin without the cameras following me around. I'm sure that none of the footage they shot of me will make into the final show (wasn't fast enough, I'm sure). At first, it was kinda cool, then time to ignore them. I just wanted to get ready for the race.

With the issues I've had with getting out of the wetsuit, I decided to go overboard on the Beljum Budder. That stuff works so well for helping get the wetsuit off - I have a tube in my transition bag now. After getting the wetsuit on, I looked around for a victim, er helper to zip it down (reverse zipper on the Helix). I feel sorry for the people who helped! It took a little to figure out the reverse zipper, and while they were fussing with it, the camera crews and photogs noticed the pink cap in my hand. Plenty of great shots of the volunteers tugging and yanking on my wetsuit.

There was no special treatment in the swim. Mass start, all pros and age groupers together. I lined up with most of the other pro women - easy to find in our pink caps. Kahuna Dave's tiny cannon sent us on our way, into the boxing match. I have not done a mass start swim since Kona and it was a shock. I was getting kicked and swum over and punched. I'm sure that I was doing my fair share of kicking and grabbing and swimming over other athletes. After the first turn, the water opened up a little and I was able to start picking up speed. I knew that Christine Jeffrey was way out in front - that woman is a fish! But there was only one other pink cap nearby. I was able to keep that pink cap within a few body lengths the whole swim. I felt good in the water this time. My strokes were smooth and I was breathing comfortably. There were a few times that the camera crews floated over to film us and there were scuba camera around the turning bouys - I know, I almost kicked one of them!!

Got out of the water right behind Melanie, and that was the last I saw of her. Her transitions are lightening fast. There were a few other women within a minute of me. No problems with the wetsuit - the Budder worked great. Out of T1 as fast as I could, and onto the bike.

I started the bike in fourth place. That wouldn't last as Sara and Lesile passed me on the road. I knew the train would be coming as soon as Shonny et all got on their bikes. On the double track climb, I felt great. The first year I rode this course, I was in my granny gear dying. Now I was in the middle ring, and pushing hard. Not hard enough, as Shonny and Carina passed me about a third of the way up and Jenny caught me two thirds up. I still felt good. It had taken more time for the great riders on the circuit to catch me.

We crossed the road and got onto the winding single track. It was a steady, deceptive climb through the trees and open meadows below the Snowbasin ski area. The trees were so colorful, but you had to concentrate on the trail. Renata caught me shortly after we started the single track. I was able to stay on her wheel for the short decent, then she pulled away. I was still in my middle ring, still pushing. The Tomac is a great bike for the climbs, stiff, responsive and light. I was able to clean things that I struggled with three years ago. I'm pretty happy about that. Danelle and Rebecca passed me just as the climb started up, with Emma right behind them. I rode Emma's wheel to the top, then passed her on the first long descent. It didn't last, and I couldn't stay with her.

We rode right past T2, with Kahuna Dave directing traffic. A right hand turn and all you see is the wall. The course follows an access road for the ski slope up, and it's a mean, steep, ugly up. That was the only time I had to use my granny gear, and I was completely pegged. This was just a brute. Once at the top, it was time for the decent. I had to play it safe, and took it easy. Not pre-riding the course definitely hurt coming down. I was still able to catch and pass a few of the age group men in front of me.

I'm still getting better technically on the bike. I didn't wipe out or unclip at all this time. The speed and strength will come over the next few years. Then hopefully, the train won't catch me as quickly!!

Finally a run that I can be happy with. I felt awesome coming off the bike (a sure sign that I did not ride hard enough). I fixed the issue from the first three cup races and was able to open it up on the run. This was a technical run, on rocky, twisty trails. I like the technical running because it requires strength and balance. The more technical the trail, the harder it is for the speed runners to get away. Right away, I started catching the age group men who'd passed me on the bike. There was plenty of climbing on the run, but I was prepared. I've been running the hills in CMSP and Stratton, focusing on the form needed to really attack the hills. Took a tumble on the run, twisted my ankle and scrapped up my shoulders. I caught a toe on a rock and went flying. Instead of trying to stop the fall, I decided to roll with it. Didn't lose too much time, but it was a bit of a surprise. I don't think any of the camera men caught it on tape, though.
I made up some time on Emma, but not enough. I finished in 12th place overall. I really can't complain - this was my first season and I still have a lot of learning to do.

After the race, I saw two athletes wearing the Operation Rebound kit. I went over and introduced myself, saying that they were an inspiration to all athletes and that I hoped my small efforts of raising money and racing in the OR kit could raise awareness. To my surprise, they both wanted a picture taken with me! That was a new experience.

Loved the race, loved the course. Ogden is beautiful this time of year, with the tree changing colors. It was a technical course, but fun riding and running. I'm looking forward to next year already.


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