Monday, August 8, 2011

XTERRA Stoaked

So, my final little off-road adventure for a while. I got up to Hanover, NH the day before, rode a lap of the course, watched a little bit of the kids' race, then ran/walked a lap of the run course. Aside from that, the most eventful part of the day before the race was discovering how little I know about camping and that the "extra piece" that was with my 1980s-era tent was in fact the rain cover. I found that out real quick when it started raining, but fortunately my Honda Element is designed to fold the front and rear seats flat to sleep, or else I might have stayed in the tent and drowned in my sleep. Warm up was my usual backwards tri of a run of roughly a mile to get the legs and HR up, then bike a little bit, then put on the wetsuit and splash around in the water pretending to swim 5 yards at a time.
Swim (1,000 m): 18:26
I hope that distance was wrong, or else I'm in trouble for Age Group Nationals in a few weeks. I was hoping to break 20 minutes for a 1,500. Aside from the time vs. distance, I thought my swim was pretty good. I was able to draft off of one or two people for longer stretches than I normally do. It was a straight out and back, so it wasn't too crowded around any of the buoys or anything like that.
T1: There weren't times for T1/T2 because this race wasn't chip-timed...they just wrote down our numbers out of the water and out of T2. Anyway, most people put some sort of shoes down near the water because there was a long run along some gravel and a grassy hill that my Google calculation estimates it to be a 15% grade. Being a good swimmer, I said no way was I letting anybody make up any time, so I did it barefoot, and it wasn't really a problem. My toes kinda dug into the mud a bit up the hill, then I was able to quickly get everything all set.
Bike (~17k/11 mi): 1:37:44
TONS of climbing. Drew wasn't kidding when that's all he had to say about this course. I spun out on some of the grassy climbs, but I don't feel like I could run much lower tire pressure without risking turning my circular wheels into squares, so it's just something I have to deal with being my size and not being tubeless. The singletrack sections were trickier on race day than I remembered from the pre-ride, probably because I was going faster and there were people around, but it still bugged me, especially getting passed, which was pretty much a constant thing. I had some issues with some ghost-shifting/shifting into the spokes which led me to get angry and yell at the bike a few times, but eventually it stopped/I learned not to shift when climbing. I don't have the exact data, but I'm almost positive my second lap was faster even though it was definitely muddier, as it'd been raining quite a bit. The last time I looked at my Garmin on lap one it read 49 minutes and something. There were no major crashes to speak of, either, which is a plus. Plenty of little stoppages/lost momentum and put a foot down, but the only blood came from scratches from overgrowth and from reopening old wounds, so this ride was a success in that regard.
T2: I'm getting much better at my transitions lately, even though I haven't practiced them...I don't know why. The only sketchy part about this one was the insane downhill/turn coming into the TA that was just a mud bath by the time I reached it.
Run (7-8k/4.5ish mi): 37:21
The trail was called the roller coaster. They weren't screwing around....I don't recall a single flat spot. I was blazing through the first lap, passing people all along. I love the look I get when I pass somebody who had clearly written me off when passing me on the bike. You don't get the same prick-level in XTERRA as the guys in road tris, but people still tend to think that you're going slower on the bike because you aren't good overall vs. you just can't bike very well. Some of the hills were so steep I walk/hiked up rather than blow away the energy trying to run. I only needed to do that for part of two different hills on the first lap of the run course, but the second lap it was a lot more frequent. The worst was about a mile into the second lap entering out into this big grassy meadow that the course just winds around along a hill side for probably half a mile or so. As soon as I hit there I started to feel it real bad and nearly stopped on the first uphill, but once two or three people passed me, I just started shuffling and eventually I started semi-running again. It was really a survival to the finish, especially because the finish was just at the top of the ridiculous hill for T1. Fortunately I had about 10 seconds gap in either direction, so I didn't feel any need to push the hill, because I don't think I could have.
Overall: 2:33:32, 3/7 M20-24, 26/75 male finishers
I thought this went pretty well, all things considered. I've really had a road focus lately with the exception of my weekly MTB rides. This was a good sign that I need more hill work running, though. The Age Group Nationals run course has really only one hill towards the beginning, but it's long and gradual, and I remember Cranberry has some rollers all throughout.
Afterward, I went over to Burlington, VT to stay with UVM's team and checked out the course for Age Group Nationals (hence my comment above). Should be interesting. It's not insanely difficult, but it will at least thin people out. Thanks to everyone from this weekend, including Drew, Emily, and Ryan/his family.

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