Saturday, November 14, 2015

XTERRA 20th World Champs

Finally, I am making myself sit down and do this race report. I have been terrible about race reports for the last part of this season. Mostly because I just didn't know what to say. I raced Mountain Champs, Downieville Classic, and USA Champs. All three just felt lack luster or anticlimactic. Nothing really went wrong but they were just not the performances I want or think that I am capable of. Maybe I haven't figured out how to race altitude now that I am a California girl. Which just irks me since I was born and raised above 8000 ft! Anyway, time has passed and the races are done. Now onto World Championships!

Obviously after having the second half of my season feel like this I was battling my mind coming into World Championships. I had a good block of training to get ready after Nationals. I started working with a new coach, Josiah Middaugh, and I was hoping that things could come together and I could finally have the breakthrough race that I am looking for. However, I was also battling those discouraging performances. Usually, I think I am pretty good at putting these things behind me and moving on but I can't say that I was doing that well this time around, but I was still excited to get to Maui and give it my all and see what the day could bring. 

I arrived on Tuesday to have some time to pre-ride and
acclimate to Maui. Wednesday the entire course is open to preride. It had rained leading up to this day and the course was a bit slick and pretty muddy. That is cool but it only got worse as we climbed the steep climbs to the top with super slick mud that just cakes to your tires. I was coming down one little technical part through the trees and sliding around I went to put a foot down and the second it hit I just slipped and fell hard right on my tailbone! Ouch. Its all right we kept going and I was still having fun on the course. It was a bit painful pushing any hills after that though. Then as we were descending my spacers on my headset were rattling a bit then all of a sudden the screw popped out and I lost it all. Fortunately I was able to find all the pieces and thank goodness my handlebars were nice and tight! Needless to say this pre ride lasted a bit longer than we were planning to be out there Not quite what I had in mind. Thank goodnes for Pax Tolosi, whom I was staying with. He figured out the problem and fixed up my bike easy. We just needed a new part and screw. Turns out the screw broke in the middle of the screw.
That was a new one.

The next couple days were spent trying to get that tailbone to feel better and get rested up and ready to race. I had a few nice swims in the big waves before the surf calmed down before race day.  

Pre Swim fun with CJ, Beata, and Pax.
We woke to another beautiful day in Maui. The ocean had calmed down but also the winds had died down which makes for a hot race. This didn't bother me much as I was confident in my hydration and nutrition plan and prep hugely in part to the help of Stacy Sims of Osmo Nutrition. I had followed a protocal leading up to the race to get me ready for the heat. After my race breakfast of eggs and sweet potatoes I rolled to the transition and started getting prepared. Because of the heat I did a small warm up out on the bike and the grass but did the majority in the water. I always feel better at the start when I have a good swim warm up. The race start is always electric at Maui. Everybody standing anxiously on the edge of the surf waiting for the gun. It is hard to hear anything by the water with the age groupers all crowding up to the start despite that fact that we had a 5 minute head start. Then the gun went and I jumped in with the group I lined up to grab some heals. I felt like I had a good start and was feeling good in the pack of swimmers I was with to the first bouy. Rounding the bouy I was swimming along with Kara for a good bit and also trying to grab onto the heels as another girl came past. Somehow I had dropped of just a bit as we came into shore and did a short beach run for the second part. I dove back in catching back onto Kara. Somewhere in that lap I lost everyone though. It seemed that on the return trip I went  a different route or something cause everyone seemed to be far to the right. I came out feeling Ok about the swim but a little disappointed with the second half. 

Photo: Pax Tolosi

I arrived in transition ready to get on that bike! Apparently a little too ready as I almost forgot to take off my swimskin and wasted some time. It seemed a bunch of girls got out ahead of me. I got on the bike and started to get the legs rolling into the first part of climbing and singletrack. However, I found that I didn't have alot of push in the legs right away. I was forced to spend more of that first 5 miles riding more in the grass than on the trail as the top age group men were pushing past. I continued on the climbs and as they continued to go up I just couldn't get that power in my legs until we started coming down, ha! Then I had to sit back until I had the opportunities to pass. Finally at the bottom I was able to put a little more in and caught a couple of women as we came back across. I got to the final 5 miles of single track and was actually feeling alright in this section. I enjoy having that challenge of the twisting single track at the end of the course. Now that the race has been here a few years this part of the course is riding alot better than it did originally.

Photo: Pax Tolosi
In transition I heard the announcers calling Josiah in the lead almost to the finish and I was so excited to hear the news! I was rooting for him to win. I tried to go with that as I headed out on the run with a frozen flask of Osmo that felt amazing to hold! As I headed up the first big hills that follow the bike course I had managed to move up a couple positions in the field but I was really just focusing on my own race. I actually felt pretty strong climbing those hills compared to years past. I climbed to the top of the hills feeling relatively strong with no cramps (maybe not fast, but strong). Once I reached the downhill I was so happy. This is my favorite part of the the course. The run down has trees and obstacles that keep it fun and interesting and after you climb the final steep pavement hill it is a nice descent down on a hillside and then through some tall trees across a creek bed and then onto the beach for the final stretch. I definitely didn't have a lot left as I finished. I was 17th. Not quite the race I was hoping for but it wasn't as bad as last year. It wasn't an awful race, just not what I think is in there somewhere. My time was slightly faster than last year despite the course being longer. So that is good (or just a testament of how bad my race was last year :)  

Photo: Jesse Peters

That is a wrap on the 2015 season! So now here we go back to the drawing board. I have spent some time processing my season. This season felt a bit like a plateau. I made the decision to dive in and step up to the Pro level last year after taking the World Champ title for 30-34 in 2013. However, I felt like this year I didn't really step it up to that level. As my brother-in-law always says we don't learn anything by winning all the time. So, now we go back and figure it out. I get back to the basics and figure out how to step it up next year. I am motivated and hungry to have that breakthrough race. The race I actually feel I am capable of having. It comes with consistency and hard work and there are ups and downs, highs and lows but we enjoy the journey and embrace the process. It is sometimes hard when talking to people about being disappointed with 17th at World Championships or 8th at US Nationals. But I guess maybe that is just part of what makes us professional triathletes, runners, etc. We reach one milestone and know that we could do just a little more or we just want a little better, a bit faster. There is something satisfying knowing that you put it all out there and gave all that you had. Why do I do it? This is another thing that I have contemplated alot. We have reasons for the things we do but it isn't always that easy to answer or to put into words. For me there is the competitive spirit inside that is always hungry. I have found such a challenge in off-road tri. I love that. It doesn't come easy. I have no swimming or running background. It all takes work and dedication. But it is fun and inspiring. I want to be an inspiration. To inspire my daughter. I want her to learn hard work and not giving up. How to chase after her dreams and I also want her to see the balance. My family will always be more important and sometimes that makes my triathlon career look alot different. 

I am so grateful for the love and support of my family as I have chosen to dive into this adventure! Thank God for the life and the opportunities I have been given.
Thank You! Photo: Pax Tolosi

I want to thank my sponsors for all of their care and support this season. Tom at Massage Vudoo for keeping me moving and believing in me. Folsom Bike and Liv Cycling for an amazing ride and care this year! Vince Hoffart for his patience and persistence in being the other piece of keeping things working. Dave at Bolle for continuing to provide the best eye protection for years. Thanks to Stacy at Osmo for all the work that she has done for women's needs, and always being willing to offer some knowledge. My friend Justin for helping so much with getting to the point I am at. Josiah for taking me on late this season and jumping in to help me get stronger and faster. Joan Marenger and Paragon swim group for keeping the pool fun. You all give me something to look forward to at the pool. There are so many more too! Thanks to friends and family for the encouragement and cheers and my fabulous friends and competitors who are inspiring and always driving me to be better! You all are amazing athletes!

Thanks for reading. On to 2016!

Swimming into the sunset. 

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