Oh my, it has been a loooong couple of weeks and I am finally home. Yesterday was my first XTERRA race of the season, XTERRA Four Corners in Farmington, NM. I headed out of town with a Jeep loaded with stuff, Abi, and the dog and met up with Wes (he was in Phoenix for the week), Jayne, and Don. By the time I reached Farmington after a full day of packing on Thursday and 8 hours in the car with Abi I felt like I had already done the race. We rented some cute camping cabins (we love those things!) and turned in for the night, then back up at 4:30 am to head to the race. Jayne played with Abi, it was great to have Wes all to myself.
The race had an interesting format: Swim 1800 meters, Run 6 miles, Bike 19 miles. The first and second transition areas were in 2 different places, so it really felt like you were going somewhere (always a perk for me). After dropping off my
baby bike at T2, we headed to the lake and set up my running stuff in T1. Then I waited in lines for body marking and timing chip, jumped into my wetsuit, and it was time to go.
No warmup (mistake). It was a mass start with all the men and women together, so like the newbie that I still am, I placed myself squarely at the back of the group for the swim start (mistake #2). Once we were in the water and I went about 30 yards I came completely unglued. I couldn’t get my heart rate under control and I couldn’t figure out how to swim like I practiced with all these people everywhere! I started froggy-backstroking! I wanted out! Like now! I could see the safety kayak nearby and then I started to calm down. I was going backwards and there were still people all around me. I wasn’t last. I also found out that some people hum to themselves while they swim. That made me laugh and the laughing let me start swimming again – really swimming – like I have been working on all winter. Wes says I was at the back of the main pack and swam a very consistent 2 laps.
When I get out of the open water I always feel like my eyeballs are still trying to swim. Does this happen to anyone else? Anyway, I stumbled myself into T1 in a bit of a stupor. It’s still a sickening feeling to get into transition and notice that most people have already gone through. But I kept on going. I got on my running shoes and GT Dirt Coalition Jersey and got moving. Once I got out on the run course, I knew that no matter where I ended up that day, I was in for a real treat. The course was well-marked and well-staffed. The volunteers were so nice and friendly. It was a teeny bit overcast and 70 degrees and a beautiful trek through the high desert to T2. I was actually really pleased with my run, I have taken a step backwards with my knee recovery lately, so pulling 10-minute trail miles off was nice. I can only go up from here. The run took me 1:03 and I felt pretty decent but like I could use a nap.
Once again, getting to T2 and only seeing a handful of bikes was not exactly a big rush. But I knew I could make up at least a few minutes on the bike course, and I got rolling. The bike course was the MOST. FUN. EVER. There were exactly 73 whoop-de-doos on the course. Well, not really. But how can you ride over something called a whoop-de-doo without a smile on your face? It was desert riding at its best, mostly hard packed, rolling with a few climbs and lots of fun twisty stuff. I felt so on top of my new GT Marathon, It handles so well and I made full use of the lockout on both shocks for the few brief road sections. I passed 3 women, one in my age group, and a few men. I was really missing Wes. I realized the whole racing thing was way more fun with him. Then he magically appeared near the end of the course and started heckling me! He made me realize I wasn’t pushing hard enough. He disappeared, only to reappear a mile or so later. I passed 2 more men right near the finish for a total time of 3:39 and a bike leg of 1:55. I finished and felt like I could go do the whole thing again. I guess that’s what base training does for ya. It was also a good indicator that I didn’t push as hard as I could have. Since I had almost no one within sight to catch, I didn’t go as hard as I normally would.
Post-race, we were treated to a hot catered lunch (delicious!) instead of the typical bagels-and-orange-slice fare (nothing wrong with that either). I brought my bike up to the pavilion after having no luck with my tent. The awards were great, with the biggest prize of all (a custom mountain bike frame) going to the person who displayed the best sportsmanship instead of the fastest person! I received a Zuni-Indian painted bell as a trophy. Overall the race was really well run and I can only suggest better directions to the course!
For the first race of the season, I was 2nd of 3 in my age group, gaining some points towards nationals. I wasn’t thrilled with my finish time, but I know what to work on. I really feel that I have a lot more to give and some speed work is now in order to get ready to rock the next few XTERRAS. I was also comparing my time with a fairly elite crowd – for a small race, the field was STACKED and heavily favored elite amateurs, there were very few middle-of-packers like myself to chase down. This week is going to be devoted to training to get ready for Buffalo Creek XTERRA in 2 weeks, including those interval workouts that I have been putting off *begin Rocky theme music now.*