Triathlon version: "My fitness is there, training's been good, I'm just going to give it my best shot and race hard." Coach Mace and I pretty much had this talk over beer (ok, cider in my case) and (boneless) wings at Buffalo Wild Wings after Armed Forces last weekend.
So, I finished last at the XTERRA East Championships this past weekend. I wasn't totally surprised by the result, nor am I embarrassed by it. Given my outlook on my new elite* racing career, this was the perfect race to debut because it was so low-key, my expectations wouldn't have even been that high racing as an age grouper, and mountain biking and trail running are just so much fun even when you're in dead last place. I'll elaborate more on the decision to take the elite license in another post at some point.
*I prefer the term "elite" to "professional" for two reasons:
1) It's actually the term used by USA Triathlon and the International Triathlon Union, aligning with Olympic sports as a whole. In triathlon terms, "pro" is really more of a slang-type term, but is also how race organizers refer to the elite field. Instead, "elite" often means "elite amateur" or something like that. Those athletes are not elite license holders, but just fast age groupers who want to race for the overall amateur title and are removed from typical age group awards. Any time in the last few years where that category has been offered, I have raced in it.
2) "Professional" implies, at least in my eyes, certain things about income, occupation, primary focus, and so on. At least for the foreseeable future, I will not be putting my primary focus on racing triathlon. Most likely, I won't be making any money from it either.
|First things first: I would have never made this venture into triathlon without my first real foray into endurance sports as a high school cross country runner. It seemed fitting to use this bag as my transition bag for the race.|
I would have liked to preview the course a bit more than I did because it *seems* like it's close, but 2 hours each way means it is an all-day affair to go ride in Richmond. I've tried this year not to let triathlon completely take over my weekends, especially when the weather is nice. Combining that healthier outlook on not allowing a hobby to consume my life with my primary focus on Armed Forces, a draft-legal road tri, I only made it up to Richmond one or two times. Oh well.
Meredith and my parents were there to support me in this wonderful little endeavor, which was really great to have all of them, and I'm endlessly thankful for their support, standing around in Richmond for several hours in temperatures approaching 100 degrees.
So the swim started, with a small field of only 12 of us, it was pretty tame. The current had me going all over the place, but eventually I settled in with Karsten Madsen. I did what I could to avoid swimming into the occasional boulder, and part of me wishes I had bridged up after the shuffle across Belle Isle, but I didn't have it in me at the time. With the afterward knowledge, I realize that Branden Rakita put in a huge dig afterward, so that makes sense why Karsten and I lost his feet.
|Awkwardly steep, soft river bottom made exiting the water a bit tricky. Photo credit to Mom, of course.|
|It was a pretty long run for T1. Karsten and I both had on the awesome Champion System ITU suits, both in some pretty spectacular color schemes at that. Photo credit here to Barry Raltston|
|Glue the strip into the place of the buckle|
and the strap. Voila!
|Step 1: Remove the buckle. This|
one happened to have a small screw
|Loctite/super glue of some sort, and in my case I used the picture-hanging strips.|
|(This is actually leaving T1) Eyes looking toward the exit, body weight shifted, not bad. But it looks like my hips are pointed towards the outside of the turn. Whoops! Photo credit to Barry Ralston|
After the Dry Way, I struggled up the hills on Belle Isle, finally taking it home across the footbridge and onto the paved road for the finish. I knew I wasn't going to pull any time back, but I was in it for a little bit of pride, just trying to have a reasonable run split. I had among the slowest elite run splits, but I was ok with how it went, all things considered. I certainly could have stood to do some more hill work prior to this, including running stairs or even some of the more technical trails in First Landing State Park (which do exist! I didn't believe it until I started running them!), as the flood wall and Mayan Ruins really just put me in a hole I could never get out of.
|So hot. Donezo. Photo credit to Mom|
|All I wanted to do was sit down in the misting tent. It was great.|
Jesse Peters Photo Gallery
Strava for Run
Strava for MTB ride
Really, check that Jesse Peters gallery out. He got some amazing shots of the race, below are two of the better ones of me. I really like the one that captures the party atmosphere of the rock slab.
|Party Rock! I've done probably 50 unique races, and I've never seen anything like this. It's even better than it was when I last raced here 4 years ago. Photo Credit: Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography|