Ogden Recap

It was a great day for racing at Snow Basin on Saturday and the competion both in the Xterra USA Championship Race and the USA Series was fierce. Melanie won Xterra USA in 2:49:57, holding off a flying Lesley Paterson (2:50:39). Shonny finished third in 2:53:29, Jenny fourth in 2:57:23 and Christine holding onto fifth after leading out of the water in 2:58:00. I finished well back in the pack in 12th, with a 3:12:27.  In the Xterra USA Series, Shonny won, followed by Melanie, Renata, Emma and Christine. I held onto my sixth place postion by one point!

Despite not meeting my goal of a top ten finish, I am still pleased with the race and how I handled the conditions on the course. I managed to keep the rubber side down the whole race (except once - and that was due to a collision with another racer). I had a strong swim, coming out right in the mix of things, really worked hard on bike and actually rode faster this year despite a longer, harder bike course, and a decent run. Now comes time to settle down and figure out what changes to make for next year so I can continue developing on the bike and bring my run back down to acceptable (in my mind) speeds.

Logistically, the set up for Xterra USA is crazy. The race started a 9:00 and I was driving up to Pineview at 6:00 after eating my oatmeal and making coffee for the drive. Part of the reason is the distance between the transitions and the timing with other races. I got to T1 around 6:30. Still pitch dark, with only a little light from the moon. I was happy I had a headlamp with me as a I filled my tires a little, dropped off my bike and got body marked. Then back in the car to drive up to Snow Basin and T2. Everything was going smoothly at that point. Then I started setting up T2 with my running shoes, number belt and visor. As I settled everything on my blue towel, I noiced something was wrong with my right shoe. The elastic lace looked odd. Upon closer inspection, the elastic lace was actually sheered right through and half-unlaced. Not good! I had to take apart the lace lock device, unlace the whole right side of the shoe and re-lace with a knot at the bottom to keep everything together. I left T2 hoping that when I arrived hours later, the shoe would still be laced!

The bus ride down was quiet - I had debated riding down to elimiate one stop, but remembered about the trail run. Even if sitting and waiting on the bus was a pain, it would still be less stressfull then trying to ride down Wheeler Creek with the runners coming up! In no time, we were back at T1. Time to get everything organized for the bike and start struggling into the wetsuit. One thing that is cool about Xterra USA and the Xterra TV crew there is that even though I'm not a famous pro, the cameras are out and about. Last year was a little freaky with the camera men following everyone around, but this year it was fun.

Swim
I joined the majority of the woman pros on the right hand side of the starting line. With the mass start, I was looking forward to a good swim and fighting the insanity. I've always liked the mass starts - gives me a chance to beat up some of the guys before they ride away ;) Kahuna Dave's cannon blasted, releasing the pent up energy of 300+ athletes. I had a good start, found some fast feet and smooth water and struck out for the first turning bouy. Naturally, we were swimming straight into the sun and couldn't see that first bouy at all. Xterra TV to the rescue -  the helicopter filming the race was hovering right over that bouy. I was right in the mix, with pink caps all around. I think I smacked on of the videographers in the face though. Hit something really hard with my hand and it wasn't another swimmer. Rounding the first bouy and the madness was starting to settle down. I was doing a fair job of holding onto the pink caps around me and we were all moving up through the age group men who'd started a little quickly.

Starting the second lap of the swim and I was right next to Emma (she was easy to spot - had on a yellow cap under her pink cap) and two other pros. We were all taking turns in the lead of our little group and were making up ground on the races in front of us. Things had definitly cleared up and finding smooth water was pretty easy. There were still plenty of boats and camera crews watching our every move, but the helicopter had moved off. In short order, we were approaching shore and T1. It was a longish run from the water to the transition and my right achilles was aching by the time I reached my bike. Not good. I put the disconserting pain out of my mind and focused on stripping the wetsuit and getting ready to ride. Thanks to my Beljum Budder, the wetsuit slid right off. I quickly donned socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses and camelbak. Threw wetsuit, goggles and such into my plastic bag for transport to Snow Basin, grabbed my bike and was off.
26:14, including T1 (After the race, the consenus was that the swim was long. Even Christine turned in a 21:42)

Bike
Off on the bike and I felt like I was in a pretty good postion. There were a number of pro women and one AG woman very close in front of me and I was hoping to be able to keep in contact with a few of them. The first two miles of the bike course follow the road, crossing the dam before dropping into the Wheeler Creek climb. I felt that my swim would give a bit of a cushion over some of the uber bikers and was very surprised when Shonny blew by before we even hit dirt. Talk about a blow to my confidence! I shook it off and focused my attention on the two women directly in front of me. I was slowly reeling them in on the double track climb, maintaining a steady pace up the hill. I was climbing comfortably, not struggling at all on what had been a steep, miserable start last year. It was also a nice boost when I was able to easily clean the more difficult lines when I needed to pass people. I had just made the catch and was starting to pull ahead of the AG woman when Murphy struck again. I had one guy passing me on the left, leaving decent space between us. Well, another guy decided that there was plenty of space for him to sneak between us instead of just waiting the five seconds for a clean pass. I didn't see him coming up the middle and he didn't call that he was going to pass so I didn't move off my line. He hit my bars with his bike, throwing me to the ground. Luckly my bike was fine and I was uninjured (I would find a lovely bruise on my hip later that evening). While I didn't lose that much time, I was a little shaken and had to re-pass the woman I'd been riding with. I also lost contact with several of the pro women right ahead of me.

Once I got my rhythm back, it was almost time to start the single track meandering up to the Snow Basin lodge. Both Jenny and Renata passed me just before the road crossing. I felt comfortable and was riding smoothly, using the whole trail as it twisted through stands of scrub oak and aspens. I was passing a few guys and had plenty of guys pass me - one of the hazards of being a slower rider and a faster swimmer. But everyone was cool and all the passes were nice. I was riding in a harder gear then last year, making good progress up the hill. This second section of the trail was the easiest and it was possible to ride much harder then was smart and not have anything left for the top loop. I made sure that I wasn't pushing to hard, but still enjoying the brief sections of down hill. There were also multiple bridge crossing that last year I'd had a little issues with. This year - easy and simple - maintained speed over all the bridges.

Onto the first sections of down hil and life was fun. I'd made it through the false flat climbs and was still feeling good. I tried to open it up a little on the down hill, railing the switchbacks and catching a little air over the water bars. Felt a lot better on the descent even compared to pre-ride, cleaning everything and even catching and passing a few guys! We crossed the road again for another long climb. This time we would be winding our way through thicker groves of trees, with red and gold leaves covering the trail. Shortly after we started heading up again, another woman passed me. I tried staying on her wheel, but soon was struggling with the pace. Not willing to start suffering that early in the ride, I backed off and returned to my steady tempo. Fewer guys were passing me now and I felt that I might be able to hold at least until the top loop. Then both Jaime and Carina passed me. I was able to hold onto Carina for a little, but Jaime was long gone within minutes. Depsite being passed by three more women on that section, I was still happy - I had cleaned  two technical pieces I had struggled with last year.

We rode through the base area and headed up the service road to start the top loop and final climbs. The service road was steep and loose and just plain ugly. I grudgingly shifted into granny gear and tried to spin my way to the top. Even in granny, I was struggling. I was very happy to take the left hand turn and get back on the single track. With the course change this year, we were climbing more, but it was a gradual climb and on singletrack, not straight up a fire road. I was able to catch and pass a few guys on the steady, rocky climb, but my legs were starting to hurt and I was ready to be off the bike. I was needing to focus harder on the trail to prevent making silly errors and techincal goofs. A few more switchbacks, a few more steep hills and the traverse across the ski slope and it was time to start the last descent into transition.

And it was a fast, flying descent with tight switchbacks and narrow single track. The new section of trail was getting loose and dusty, with the riders in front of me kicking up clouds as they rounded the switchbacks. I cleaned all the corners, remembering to keep my weight back and spot the trail. I also remembered about steep little kicker before we popped out on the fire road again and was ready for it. The trail quickly returned to singletrack for another short, fast and twisty descent back to the service road. Straight down the steep hill other riders were still climbing and a sharp left hand turn to re-enter trees. Traversing ski slopes and plunging down tree-lined chutes, we twisted and switched backed down to the lodge. I was really enjoying the ride, allowing the bike to float around the corners and over the little rock gardens. Too soon, the ride was over and it was time to run. I quickly swapped cycling garb for running shoes and hat (the lace was still tied! I was saved!) and headed out into the unknown.
2:01:00 including T2 - slightly faster then last year.

Run
I called the run the unknown becacuse I hadn't looked at the course (could have riden it, but didn't think to) and didn't know how my achilles would handle the steep rolling hills. I also hadn't run in a week and a half, hoping to let things settle down and heal up a little. Right away, I knew that I wouldn't be able to push the pace on the uphills - the steep hill out of transition was enough to make my right achilles start complaining. Once onto the rolling, rocky single track of the first few miles I was able to settle in a good pace and start catching some of the age group men who'd passed me on the bike. Running on the flats and downhills was good - not much pain at all. I kept my eyes to the trail, watching for the little rocks and tight corners. I didn't know where any of the other pro women were, but was hoping to at least catch one of the AG women who had passed me on the bike. I kept pushing the pace, knowing that I would have to slow down on the hills. And I did. First long winding up hill and one of the age group guys passed me back. I backed off until the pain in my achilles subsided to a bearable ache and maintained that pace. Still a good clip, but not as fast as I wanted to be running.

After the first water station and I had to walk for a little on the steeper hills. I tried running, but it was more then I wanted to risk at the time. A fast walk, while slower then running, was still making good forward progress. And I was still catching some of the guys. I did see the leading AG woman coming down, back into the water station and knew that I wouldn't be able to catch her. But maybe Jaime. Once the trail tilted down again, I was able to run with minimal pain. But the down hill didn't last long and I was reduced to walking again. Luckly there was no cameras around this year! Even my pride would have taken a bit of a hit to be filmed walking up the hill! The final climb of the run popped out right where the cyclists were taking the left hand turn onto single track. We plunged down the hill, took a sharp right to meander down some steep singletrack and then returned to the service road. It was a little crazy, with riders struggling uphill and runners heading both up and down. I made it through the congestion unscathed and let gravity do the work as I flew towards the finish. That hill is steep enough that bubble wrap and a hamster ball might be faster then running!
45:13 - slower then last year, but still decent considering situation.

I finished in 3:12:27, as the 12th pro and 14th overall women. I was a little dissapointed at first - I had really wanted to break into the top 10. But it was a strong race for me - a decent swim, I worked hard on the bike and I was able to hold it together on the run despite the injury. I also know that I can do better. I know what I need to work on (no marathons without training for them, for one) and have plenty of time over the winter to improve. Every race is a learning experince, and it's only a failure if you don't recognize those lessons!

Comments

  1. Good job Tracy. Injuries suck & you should be proud. I hope to you soon, maybe in Waco!

    Cat

    ReplyDelete

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