Sunday, October 02, 2011

Xterra US National Championships

Heading into this race I have been feeling good and motivated and ready to race! I had high hopes, looking for a win! My season has been full of 2nd places in Xterra and I was ready to change that.

My race crew (Ashlyn, my mom, my niece, and I) headed out on Thursday morning bright and early for our long drive to Ogden. It went alright but I had hoped to arrive about an hour earlier than we did but it was no big deal. We drove straight up to Snowbasin on the way into Ogden so I could hop on the bike and ride the new section of the course. It was a good ride. I was feeling great and having alot of fun thinking it was great. But then I realized that they took anything that had been remotely technical for the mountain bike course out to make it even less technical than before. This generally does not bode well for me. I like a course that requires some bike handling skills. When I got to the top I had to make myself slow down and take in the amazing views because I knew I wouldn't do it the next time I was there. I love riding here this time of year!
After the ride we went and got some dinner and made some stops which put us checking in a little late. But we did get upgraded when I checked in which gave us a great room at Ben Lamond which is right next to the race expo area. Perfect location and very nice and comfortable!
Friday we enjoyed the wonderful breakfast included at the hotel then I headed out to get in a little swim and a quick run. Friday was race day for Ashlyn, after registering and getting a hair cut with Paul Mitchell I had to get her over for her race. However, she was sleeping pretty late and almost missed her race. It would be okay but she had been so excited about racing for over a week! She made it just in time and had a great bike!

"This is what Xterra is all about"

Race Day
Race morning came with a lot of extra hype surrounding the race because Lance came out to play. Yes, that is right, 7-time Tour de France winner himself decided to give Xterra a try. It wasn't hard to find him all day. It was fun to have so many more people around lining the course.

Swim --  26/89 women 12/72 amateur women 5th Age-group
The water felt good even a little warmer when I stepped in than it felt outside. For the first time in this race the pros got their own start wave 30sec ahead of us. I found a spot to start my swim which was similar to what had worked for me last year. The swim was difficult on the way out you have to swim directly into the sun and it is impossible to see anything. I felt pretty good besides the jam of jostling and kicking around the bouys I felt like I was able to find some space and swim at a good pace. I know my swim has improved alot this year but it is hard to know where you are coming out. When I got into transition I was happy to see some ladies I knew were faster than me just getting in too. I sped through and hurried to my favorite portion.

Bike 15/89 women 4/72 amateur 3 Age group
My game plan was to get the legs moving on the road out and then find my best climbing and hit the bike hard the rest of the way and hopefully catch some of the pro women ahead of me. It seemed like it took my legs a little longer than I would have liked to really fell good but I was passing people in no time and figured I must be towards the top of the women based on peoples cheering as I came by. I definitely favor a course that takes some skill on a mountain bike which this course did not have. The course was beautiful though! We climbed out from the swim at 4900 ft up to the top of the Sardine peak trail topping out about 7300 ft and then a fun fast descent into transtion at 6400. So very little downhill which I consider a strength! I was feeling strong but was chagrined when a girl in my age group passed right near the top. Didn't see that one coming. I was able to catch her on the descent but she pulled away on the short climb back to transition. I knew then that I had my work cut out for me on the run. This course convinced me that I would love to have a 29er in my race tools. Every amateur that beat me on the bike was on a 29er and this course was perfect for one... smooth gradual climb.

Run 25/89 women 12/72 amateur 4 Age group
As I headed out on the run I knew that I was going to have to push it. This has always been my weakness. I had a good transition as I slipped on my Newton racers for their first race! I could see the two girls ahead of me and just wanted to catch them. On my way up the first big climb on the run I was told that I was the 5th woman. Really? So, I ran. I did notice that all the camera men on the run where scuring around in front of me and really into taking pictures of the man in front of me. They would click and then pick up and run without taking my photos. I thought it somewhat interesting. Then I passed him and realized why...It was the bachelor Ryan Sutter. I could see the girl in front of me the whole time but could not quite muster enough to catch her. All I knew is that Maia, who has beat me all season was behind me and I was just hoping to hold her off. As, I descended the new part of the run which used to be on the bike I was feeling excited that I was almost there. I came to the end where we rounded the single track to climb about 50 meters up the steep road and then down to the finish. Right before I rounded the turn Maia passed me and I had nothing more to catch her. She got me by 10 secs. knocking me into 4th for my Age group.

Overall I came in 6th Overall, 4th in my Age-group. Not quite the win I was looking for but it was a great race. I knew that I raced strong and it was just amazing that we were all so close. I was less than 4 minutes out of 1st overall on a 3 hour course. That is tight to have the top 6 women that close! The next amateur woman was 5 minutes behind that. Now that is some good racing in the top women!

So now I sit with a mix of emotions being happy with my improvement and performance but also disappointed that it wasn't just a couple minutes better. This is the first time I look at the results and feel like my run time is comparable with the top girls. Thus, I am now fired up for my final push of the season as I gear up for Worlds in Maui on October 23th.

Below (other post) is the fun highlight video of the race and I made the cut! About 6:09 into the video you see me.

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