Saturday, October 29, 2011

Xterra World Championships 2011

I have been looking forward to this all year! I qualified back in April and have been building for a strong performance on the world’s biggest stage for off-road multisport.  Drew was unable to make the trip to Hawaii with me this year but my brother-in-law so kindly used some miles to get my sister a ticket and we had a mom’s getaway, oh, and race!  We flew on the Thursday before the race and I was hoping to get over and get out on the bike course for a pre-ride.  However, by the time we got bags and got through the line for our car and got over to the race venue I only had about 10 minutes to get on the course.  That was not likely to happen, so we just checked into our place and I went out for a little run to get my body going after all the travel.  I was a little disappointed because I would have rather done the pre ride 3 days out rather than 2 days before. Friday morning I headed to check out this new bike course.  I had heard all kinds of reports so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  There was a lot of climbing but it was nice because it was shorter climbs with a lot of different stuff in between including all sorts of environs and terrain.  The longest sustained climb was about 7 miles in bringing you up to the high point of the course and then sending you down a long fast descent.  I liked the course and was pretty excited for this change.  Saturday was a pretty relaxed day, I headed over for a swim at DT Fleming beach.  The water was calm and I was hoping that it would remain that way and the storm with the 7ft swells they were calling for would hold off till after the race.  After some pointers from my coach and a few practice ocean starts with Michael Stone, I headed back for big breakfast then checked out the bike to make sure it was dialed and ready and then it was just resting up and preparing for the big day. 
Sunday Oct. 23 Xterra World Championships

Got up and had my nice pre-race breakfast (eggs, with sweet potatoes, a fruit smoothie and, of course coffee) and headed over to transition on my bike to get my legs spinning.
Set up transition waited in the long line for body marking and got ready to go! Jumped in the water for a little swim warm-up and then found my spot on the beach and waited expectantly for the cannon to blow.  BOOM!

Swim- 30:54   63/170 Women  11/25 Age-group  38 /145 Amatuer
It is always fun to run into the ocean and start swimming with 650 people.  A lot of bumping and kicking and pretty much chaos, but the nice thing about the ocean is there is a lot of room to spread out, that is, until you get to the buoy.  I thought I was getting into a good pace and groove and going right toward the first bouy but when I got out there I was pretty far inside because of the current.  I came into the mass of crazy swimmers and an angry lady on a surf board yelling at everyone to get around the bouy! I had to join the mass chaos of treading water to get around it.  After that I felt like I was able to find a good rhythm again and I felt pretty good. You have to do two 750 meter laps with a short beach run in between.  The whole first lap I was happy to find that I could see pink caps (pro women) right in front of me the whole way.  I pushed a little through the second lap and thought that I had a decent swim.  I was annoyed that my goggles had leaked a little so my eyes were burning with salt water the whole time!  I exited the water and ran up to transition to find out how things really had gone. 

Bike- 1:45:20  19/170 Women  2/25 Age-group   4/145 Amatuer
Hot climbs!
I didn’t have a very fast transition but I wanted to make sure that I was ready for a hot bike ride!  I headed out and found that I was in the train with tons of people!  I did expect this and knew it was going to be a little frustrating because the first three miles have some spots that I knew would get clogged up with riders having trouble. The course was not technical by my standards but it is mostly single-track leaving little room to get around all the people who it may seem more technical for.  One comes off, and then everyone gets backed up and comes off!  This is where bike skills really come in if you can do it all really slow behind everyone!  This is also when I realized that I must not have had a great swim after all because I was passing a lot of girls right away and continued to the whole time!  Every chance I got to scoot around people I took and then I hit it hard on the last long climb around mile 7 knowing I had a great downhill to follow and I really didn’t want to get stuck behind anyone because this is where I am able to gain some more ground.  Some sections here were a little scary because you would be bombing downhill and then into a cloud of dust and could not see a thing!   I made sure to get in plenty of water and nutrition.  I had two flasks of EFS for bike and run and it was great!  All in all I had a good bike I felt good and was hoping I gave it enough.  I knew I would have to dig deep on the run and I started preparing my mind in the last mile of the bike.

Run- 56:34   26/170 Women  3/25 Age-group  13/145 Amateur

After another fairly slow transition I came out right behind a girl in my age group who I had just passed at the end of the bike.  I tried to focus in on my run form and tell myself that I can run and I can pass people!  I have found I lack confidence in my run and I have to change my mindset at the beginning. I started a little conservatively to get the legs rolling in a new way and was surprised to find that I was feeling pretty good.  I passed the girl right ahead of me and set my sights on the next female up the way, a pro.  Very soon I caught her as well.  I was so excited to be passing people on the run!  I just continued like this and kept passing more men.  The run course pretty much goes up for 3.5 miles and then back down to the beach and is filled with twisty turny trail through tight forests. Right at the top of the run Maia (champion for my age-group) caught me.  We had a short friendly exchange then she raced away like it was nothing.  She is a fantastic runner and I was just trying to keep her in my sights as long as possible.  Shortly after a short climb a nice guy gave me a little push as I passed and encouraged me on that I was “3!”  I was hoping that meant 3rd and not 3 in front of me.  I raced down the course with the fear of being caught again by the last girl in my age group that I had passed. I did not want a repeat of last year when I lost 6 places on the run.  I hit the beach and knew that I had to keep digging near the end I got into the cheering path of Kathy Tank!  She cheered me on like no other and then I hit the last grassy hill a grueling final climb to the finish and gave it all I had.  I got passed right on the last corner by a 15-year-old, grr.  This was, however, by far my best run in an Xterra yet!  I was very happy with my race. 
Grueling long slow run up the beach

Finish 3:16:19   21/170 Women  3/25 Age-group 30-34  8/145 Amateur Women
Nice and dirty
I was pleased to find that I had made my goal of a podium finish at World Championships!  I was third in my Age-group, 8th amateur, and 21st woman! Not bad. I am very happy with how things turned out but I am a competitive athlete so I always want more.  Now I keep thinking how I will be faster next time. 
Too bad I kept looking somewhere else and not into the lights.

Season Wrap

It has been a good season!  I won all but one of the mountain bike races taking the overall title.  I took a number of 2nd place finishes at Xterra South Central Championships, Mountain Championships, Moab, and Indian Peaks.  A very strong and close race at US Nationals for a 4th place finish and now culminating the season with a podium finish at World Championships.  It has been good but an Xterra win has again eluded me.  I’ll be back.

I have so many to say thanks to this season!  A big thanks to my coach, Jared Berg, who helped me make huge improvements this year! My brother Erik for helping push me through those hard runs.  My sponsors Real Estate of Winter Park for the Epic Single Track Series, Winter Park Competition Center helped me get to worlds and they put on the best mountain bike series in Colorado that has helped me develop my bike racing skills.  I had an awesome time racing with MORF racing this season, the first team I have been on. Thanks Newton for the amazing running shoes, Maxxis tires, Redstone Cyclery and First Endurance.  Huge thanks to Dave at Bolle Eyewear for the awesome shades! Marie Koepke is amazing with reflexology and Mara Pacyga the best PT!  Also, thanks to Amy at Bella Vita.  There are so many friends to thank for your encouragement and support those who come out and cheer and those who just give words of encouragement.  Special thanks to Sarka for helping me with some equipment, amazing!  And thanks Keith for the bike box.

Most importantly I need to thank my family for their sacrifices.  My husband and daughter are amazing and they put up with all my training and weekends racing.  My mom, for all the hours she spends with Ashlyn making it possible for me to get out for some quality workouts.  You are the best! 

*If you would like to see more results you can check it out here
*Go take a look at the course for yourself in the highlight video here.

1 comment:

Sian said...

Debby - really enjoyed reading your blog. Didn't realise you had a daughter - amazing that you race so super fast as well as being a mom. Enjoy the winter and see you at Xterra next season! Sian