Xterra West Championships - 2010 Race Report

The first race of the 2010 Xterra USA Tour is in the books. The Xterra West Championships, held at Lake Las Vegas was on the 25th of April. It was another brutally hot day in the desert, racing in the barren landscape north of Lake Las Vegas. I’m pretty happy with my race. I felt much better racing on that course then last year – I was able to use the power I’ve been working on at CTS on the bike and I was able to finish with a decent run. Shonny won – with a smoking fast 1:17 bike split, finishing in 2:24:14. I finished 9th – swimming 24:15, riding 1:36:41 and running 45:34 for 2:46:30. Still further behind the rest of the women in the bike, but it’s coming along. I have some pictures from the race and of the race course here: http://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/XterraWestChampionships2010#

It doesn’t matter where you are, the water in late April is cold. A real shock to the system after a winter of warm pools! The swim start is at the Lowes Lake Las Vegas, in the little cove they have. It’s a really tight channel to the first buoy and the start was pretty physical as a result. I managed to fight into a good position after the second buoy, using the pro men for drafting. I think I was about fourth at that point, but there were a number of pink caps all around. I settled into a decent pace, slowly making up some ground on the pro men. For a first open water swim, I was feeling pretty good. No wetsuit issues, just nice steady tempo in the water. At least until some of the speedy age group men caught up. I somehow got tangled in a pack and lost the train I was on. The rest of the women didn’t and I watched four pink caps swim right past. My mistake, I wasn’t as alert as I should have been. I finished with the 9th fastest time leaving the water.
Getting the wetsuit off has been one major issue of mine. This time I decided to try something different. I’ve been using a combo of Body Glide and Beljum Budder to make it easier to get off – usually just on the legs. Well, I smeared a liberal amount of Beljum Budder around the wetsuit at the hips, hoping it would help. And it did. Had no issues – the wetsuit just came right off. Smooth transition and it was time for my nemesis.
Because I was further down the field after the swim, there was not as much of a train passing me right at the start of the bike. Last year, the West Championship course killed me – I couldn’t produce the power I needed and had no strength on the climbs or flats. It’s a challenging course, with a few very technical climbs and descents. The rest is flat or gently rolling. There is no shade and it’s hard to see the nuances in the terrain because of the sun. It was going to be a very hot day - I was happy I had put an extra Motor Tab in my Camelbak. I set my sites on two women ahead of me and started pedalling. Slowly, I was making up ground. About the time I passed them, Renata, Shonny and one other women passed me! So much for moving up in the standings! At least this time, I was able to keep them in sight a little longer. I was gaining ground on the climbs and the descents, but loosing it right back on the flats. I felt much stronger on the bike this year – both on the climbs and the descents. It was nice to see that I had improved over the last year. I caught another woman and we kept going back and forth until the end of the bike.
I was about 30 seconds behind that other woman as we entered T2. I quickly racked my bike, pulled off gloves, helmet and Camelbak. She left transition as I was slipping on my shoes. I grabbed my visor, number belt and flask of chicken broth and set out in pursuit.
I was dreading the run. The run is hot, exposed and hard. It’s two laps, straight up, turn around fly down, then repeat. The footing is loose on the downhills, making it very tricky. Last year, I started the run and my legs were toast. I could not run at all last year. I was hoping that things would look better this year. And it did. I hit the pavement and felt great. I focused on the blue suit of the woman in front and slowly started closing the gap. At the start of the first lap, I’d shut down the lead she had. We ran the first lap together – every move I made she matched. We weren’t sure where we were in the race and we both wanted a top ten finish. The wide open course afforded little opportunities to get a break and get out of site. Starting the long climb for the second time, I put in another little acceleration. This one held. I slowly built the gap up to the far water station. At that point, with one big hill to climb, I opened up on the down hill. Time to start taking chances and be a little reckless!
Ninth place against some very strong competition is good. I can tell I’ve made improvements in my power on the bike and my ability to ride with the rest of the field. I didn’t give away as much time as I have in the past. I was also able to get off the bike and put in a respectable time on the run. This was a good early season race and I’m looking forward to the next few months as the racing season heats up.


  1. It's always good to read of improvements from one year to the next. The power improvements seem pretty significant. That's a course which truly shows one's power, or lack thereof. Especially good that your were able to push on the run after that bike course.


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