Return to Lory - 2011 Xterra Lory Race Report

On August 27th, athletes from all across Colorado and the surrounding states gathered at Lory State Park outside Fort Collins for the second annual Xterra Lory. This was one of the last races before the national championships and it brought out talent throughout the age groups. Tribe members were racing for points and for fun at one of the most beginner friendly events on the circuit. We got to enjoy the crisp, clear waters of Horsetooth Reservoir in one of the most protected swim venues I've been in. The swim was followed by a fast and dusty ride along the single track trails in the valley of Lory State park and the race finished with a hellacious climb towards the sun run up and down the mountains behind the park. The weather and the racing was hot this year. Sara T posted the women's win in 1:45:57, I took second in 1:47:49 and Louisa B finished third in 1:51:19. Xterra Lory lived up to it's reputation as a good event for beginning Xterra athletes and a fun time for seasoned off road racers. The Without Limits team did a fantastic job with organization and making adjustments to the race based on athlete feedback. I had a great time last year, an awesome time this year and look forward to next year.

It was a cool morning, but I knew things would warm up quickly once the sun came up. The forcast was calling for a high about 95 that day. Setting up transition was easy - laid out shoes and such on my towel, then watched everyone else for a while. People watching in the transition area is always a great time! Then i decided it was time for a short warmup - with this being such a short and fast race, I knew I needed to be on from the start. I headed out on the bike, found a bathroom without a line, then returned to the race site and did a final double check to make sure everything was ready. With race time fast approaching, I headed down to the swim start for an in water warm up and the race briefing.

Swim - For the pros, this was a non-wetsuit swim as the water was about 73 degrees, but our wave was filled with age groupers swathed in neoprene - both men and women. This year the waves were set up on both swim time and mountain biking ability. The goal was to reduce the amount of passing required on the bike course. No worries, but I knew the start would be crazy. At the gun and we were off. It was a fairly aggressive and fast start, but I held my own against the men in wetsuits around me. I got on some good feet and settled into a hard tempo. I didn't know where the other women were, but knew it would all shake out on the bike. One group of guys besides me started veering off towards the wrong buoy line - I ended up swimming through them to follow the right buoys! Reach and pull, rotate and breathe - smooth power in the water. Around the turning bouyes and heading back in towards shore. I was still holding that steady tempo and was starting to catch some of the guys ahead of me. I hit the shore and started the run towards T1 - first woman out of the water.

My transition wasn't as smooth as I wanted. Not sure what happened, but I fumbled a few things - my cycling shoes and helmet for sure. It just didn't seem to flow like normally, despite not having to fumble with a wetsuit. But I still had a quick transition and was heading off on the bike as Sara entered. The chase was on...

Bike - A different course then last year - no huge hill and fun, technical descent. Just two laps on the gently rolling, sweeping singletrack through the valley that forms Lory State Park. That meant the bike times would be fast and ability to pass might make the race. There was a long stretch of road prior to entering the singletrack and I used that time to get my gloves on. Then onto the trails. While it wasn't a technical course, the speeds still made it hard. There were plenty of off camber turns and sandy sections, mixed with a few rock gardens, switchbacks and tight bridge crossings. Sara caught me on the first sustained climb, but I was able to hold her wheel. I actually passed her back on the descent - happy that I had pre-ridden, I was able to hold my speed better in the corners. But she re-passed me on the next climb and got a decent gap. I was holding my own among the guys and not getting passed like last year.
Onto the second lap. I was concerned about having to pass some of the slower racers - bad mojo to make bad passes... But the riders on their first lap were pretty spread out and I didn't have too many issues. Most of them were really nice and moved over as soon as I came up on them. It helped that I started calling "rider back" as I approached - gave everyone one a warning that a faster rider was lapping them. I followed each pass with a thank you and continued on my way. Sara was pulling away, but not that quickly. I was doing a decent job of holding the gap. As we entered the last section of single track, I was hopeful that I might be able to run her down and defend my win from last year.

The bike to run transition was much smoother. I didn't get my shoes off on the bike because I knew there was a small rock garden before the dismount and wanted better control. But it was still smooth - camelbak off, running shoes on, grab race number and visor and off I went. Sara was already on the single track when I left T2.

Run - It was already hot when I started the run. With no shade on the run course, I knew it would be extra challenging. It's a deceptively easy start to the run as the single track meanders away from the lake towards the foothills. Passing the first water station and the climb starts for real - about 2 miles of climbing, switch backing up the hill, fully exposed to the sun's fury. I could see Sara a few switchbacks ahead of me. She was moving really well, but it seemed like I was gaining some ground at first. Then the wheels started coming off. Between the heat, the pace on the bike and the prior weekend's adventures, I was really struggling to maintain my pace. I kept my eyes on Sara, but I was starting to lose ground. I kept pushing, kept moving forward as fast as I could. Finally, the top of the steep slopes and the trip across the saddle. I tried picking up the pace as the trail tilted downward, but I was hurting. I wasn't loosing any ground, but I wasn't gaining. I was able to pick up the pace on the traverse back to the finish line. It was too little to late to catch Sara. I cruised across the finish and into the Slip-n-slide in second place.

But happy with my race and my effort. It was kinda redemption from the melt down at Beaver Creek earlier. Xterra Lory is also just a plain fun event - from the relaxed feel at the start to the slip-n-slide at the finish. I don't know many other races that do slip-n-slide races for a free wetsuit! Without Limits did a great job again this year, addressing concrens from the prior years to make the event more enjoyable for everyone. As much as I liked the bike course last year and how concerned I was about passing issues this year, everything went smoothly.

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