Wednesday, May 22, 2013

XTERRA Last Stand, feelin da flow

Dude, it's time to get dirty! First road tri over and done with. Now let's PARTAY! 

Sunday marked my season opener for XTERRA. So being the intellectual that I am :) it would be S.M.A.R.T. to  get one under my belt before vying for a Maui slot in Richmond June 9th at East Championships. 

Saturday Al and made the short drive to Michigan excited for good weather and fast times on the course. Since we couldn't check into our hotel until late afternoon we made good use of our day by driving to the park doing a little recon of the transition area, dipped our tootsies in Eagle Lake (not cold by St. George standards) and unloaded our whips for a pre ride. 

I totally wanted to upload some of the pre ride video Al took with the GoPro, but blogger is being douchey and won't allow it, so I have a few pics that will have to do. 

Initial thoughts on the pre ride up until mile three, BORING. Both Al and I uttered the words "hammer fest" at the same time indicating the lack of hills, obstacles and twists and turns would mean the bike portion at least would be cranking and panting from start to finish. Glad we were wrong. We came up on a turn into the woods and the trail came alive....literally with mosquitos. Fuck, I'm pretty sure they snapped and snarled at us. Michigan, you have a mosquito problem! The trail did improve. There were log crossings, water crossings, bridges, climbs, sandy climbs, steep descents and plenty of flow and go!

By this point on the bike course most of the directional arrows were up. However, we learned a very valuable lesson, don't ride ahead of the marking crew, you'll get lost, and we did. Stopping wasn't an option either with the blood suckers flying about. Well the bike course was advertised as 12.5 miles, we ended up riding 16+ and race day I noted 14.5 miles on my Sigma. Well played XTERRA, well played, my kind of measuring!

Once we got back we opted for a quick 1 mile run and then it was time to pick up our packet, check in to our hotel in Battlecreek and find some good eats. 

Pre race dinner was scrumptious. Ate at a little restaurant called Maia and I had the wild mushroom fettuccine. Not usually the one to indulge in dessert, but Al and I went a little nutz and ordered some sweet treats! 

Race morning food deff not as good as the dinner the night before. Hotel breakfasts just don't do it for me. 

Rockin' the W in a really bad selfie
At the park Al and picked up our timing chips, racked our bikes. Unlike most XTERRA's the host club Elite Endeavors gives every participant a specific spot for racking your bike. So once I got my transition area set up to my liking Al and I went for a quick mile-ish run to warm up before slipping into something a bit more comfortable . . . oh that means putting our sweet ass custom Wattie Ink Blueseventy Helix wetsuits on. 

Last Stand was a mass start so men women and children crashed into the waters of Eagle Lake and were off to the races. Simultaneously the duathletes ran down the beach and headed into the woods for a 2 mile loop before rejoining their triathlete buddies on the trail for a little bike ridin'. 

I came out of the water at 12:16 (half mile swim @ a 1:23 per 100 avg.) Just a few seconds behind Al and at the same time as our good friend Ian. Running into transition I went straight to Filthy Whore (that's my bike's name, cause she likes to be dirty) helmet on, gloves on, shoes on, glasses on and ready to rock in 1:21! 

1:05:14 later (13.34 mph and the same bike split as the overall female winner) I emerged from the depths of the tree line and made my way to T2. Bike racked, shoes on, hat and race belt in hand I bolted out of transition in 00:41 seconds. Knowing there was 1 girl for sure who passed me on the bike early on, I knew I had work to do. However, what I didn't find out until the first mile was there was one more gal ahead of me who just had an astounding 9:50 swim (4th fastest OA swim split). I didn't know how fast of a biker or runner she was so I couldn't really gauge whether or not I could catch her. But I was gonna try! 

Al bringin home an AG win and 3rd OA
I ripped through the first few miles clocking a 7 ish minute per mile pace. I got a few updates from racers and volunteers that I was in fact the third female and the other two were anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 minute ahead of me. faster! I did make up quite a bit of ground but just not enough to get me that OA title. In the end I raced a 7:26 avg. mile for 4 miles and finished in 1:49:12, 2:15 behind the leader and 2 minutes behind numero deuce. My run was actually 9 seconds per mile slower than the OA female and 30 seconds per mile faster than number two. It was a close race on all accounts. I do have to give mad props to number two girl for racing like a beast for a 1 hour bike AS A 50 YEAR OLD. Damn mama!

So the Wades brought a couple pieces of hardware home to Illinois, both Al and I placed 3rd OA and 1st in our respective age groups. Pretty excited to have developed a bit of confidence going into Virginia. That is by far my A number 1 race. 

My AG win and 3rd OA chickadee
Totally stoked for the AG win but what is more pleasing is how well Filthy Whore responded for her maiden voyage. She is the best bike evah! Steel may be real but titanium is by far a gals best friend, fo sho! 

Al took a gnarly fall and ended up with a hole
in his knee
I gotta tell ya, the XXI set up is the cats ass. I am just over the moon for it. With that, I gotta give many thanks to my ever devoted husband, moral support, psychologist (probably really need a legit shrink) and all around bike wrench extrordinaire for the build. I also gotta give a great big should out to wheel builder and friend Chad for the awesome job he did lacing those pretty white rims with just a touch of gold bling! A girlz gotta have a little jewelry! 

Insert quick product review here: I rode with the Speedfil F2 during this race and gotta say, it worked out really well. Obviously technical sections aren't ideal for taking a swig of water, but you can't drink out of conventional bottle or Camelback when you're crawling over roots and baby heads (imbedded smooth rocks) either. The F2 fits nicely in the "up a level" bottle cage I already use given to me to demo by sponsor Tom Schopf of MyWedgie. Al used zip ties and   a small length of velcro to afix the length of hose to the frame leading up to my handle bars. I tucked the mouth piece between my brake and shift lever on the right. I had enough hose to half to bend over slightly to take a drink. The bottle was a typical 16 oz water bottle with Speedfil's patented quick fill cap that keeps dirt and debris from craping up your water.  

Lastly a big thank you again to all of my sponsors including Wattie Ink, Blueseventy, PowerBar, K-Swiss, 454 Tattoo, Speedfil, Kask, ism, Fuelbelt, Reynolds, Scott bikes, wedgie hydration systems, Geneva Running Outfitters, and North Central Cyclery.

Me, Al and our new friend Brad. Princess shot this pic
Got to say, aside from the mosquitos, I dig Michigan. The trails didn't disappoint and Al and I had a great time with old friends, Ian and Amy and made some new friends, Heather, Brad and Princess! 
Until we ride again!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

St. George 70.3 Race Recap or What goes up makes me sad :(

It's been a few weeks now since I raced in St. George so that means my memory is such that I only have good thoughts in my heart!

Truthfully, this race was pretty awesome! My results didn't measure up to my pre race plan, but then again, maybe I was a little over ambitious.

As a Midwesterner a May race is tough to train for, especially this year. Secondly, as a Midwesterner a hilly race is also tough to train for. The logic that "we have wind her in the Midwest" yeah, that's bullshit, hilz is hilz folks! We definitely don't have hills that last for miles and miles either. Thank gawd Al and I sought out the hilliest place we knew of relatively close by and hit them hard during our "Misfit Immersion Camp" on the Kentucky Tennessee border in early April. Great showing by the way - insert sarcasm - which included me, Al and our friend Nicholas Sikes from Team Kestrel.

Vegas Baby! Why does
everyone say that? 
So back to recapping. We left for Utah on May 2nd flying into Vegas and making the drive into St. George. The four of us (myself, Al, Kyla and Stan) stayed with friends in the area making the entire experience less stressful.

Day 1 included a quick 4 mile run to shake the legs out and get the travel off our bodies. Threw in a few 2 minute stride-outs feeling those muscles wake up. Food during our stay was on point. Niki and Dean, our hosts, prepared an assortment of vegetarian / vegan options that worked well with our diets. Personally I find traveling totally messes with my tummy, I'm a creature of habit with my food and race week is notorious for wrench throwing!!!

Later that evening Dean, a veteran of the St. George full Ironman, took us for a guided tour of the bike and run courses filling us in on some key tactics! This year both he and Niki were race captains at the 5 / 8 mile aid station on the run course.....the best aid station BTW!

Al, me and fellow Wattie Jake Steen sportin' our custom
Blueseventy Helix wetsuits
Day 2 included a quick 2 mi run up Snow Canyon and a peek at the notorious "BEAST." The 4 mile hill on the bike course near the end of the race. For most of us (except Speedy McSpeederson Wattie Teammate Mike Larsen) this was the point in the race your avg. mph laughed in your face, single digits folks! Later that day we dropped our run gear at T2, checked in and headed out to Sand Hollow Reservoir for a dip in the ice bath (no jokes kiddos, water was said to be 54 degrees) then we rode a few miles of the bike course and racked our bikes. Pre race dinner was nothing fancy, just a veggie sub.

Kyla and Stan in Snow

Waking up race morning was easy, I slept soundly, went for my coffee, banana and almond butter sandwich and called it good.

We drove to the downtown square, parked and walked to the busses near T2. I popped in my earbuds and tried to visualize my race. My race mantra "the faster you race the higher you place."

Fellow Wattie Jake Steen, Al and me with our bikes at
at Sand Hollow Reservoir 

Now the good shit. My swim, goal time: 34 minutes, actual time: 36:28. was cold guys and gals, really cold. My salvation, I wore the Wattie Blueseventy Helix full sleeve wetsuit. This was it's maiden race voyage. Thanks to Ryan Vanderloop and the good people at FedEx our suits were delivered two days prior right to Dean and Niki's front door. Let me tell you this suit is EVERYTHING your suit is not! It fits how it's supposed to fit, it sheds water like its supposed to shed water, no chaffing on the neck, no tightness in the shoulders, it's just AWESOME! I chose to double up swim caps opting not to wear the neoprene cap. Once the initial OMFGawd chest clenching I can't breath shock wore off I relaxed and fell into my swim groove. Glide, stroke, glide, stroke, breath and repeat. Never really had to battle for real estate in the water, the wave starts enabled enough room between groups for that. Boom, out of the water and up to transition, a little hypoxic, a little wobbly and feeling more like a pirate with peg legs than a Wattie Ink Elite age grouper I made my way to my bike.

My bike goal: 2:46, my actual time: 2:57:22. I feel like, no wait, I know this is my weakest link in the tri. If one wants to be faster on the bike, one must bike A LOT and FASTER. Well, I'm workin' on it, promise. The bike was incredible. The views, sweeping, the ascents, brutal, the descents, pee your pants scary, but scary with a smile on your face. I won't break it down mile by mile but I will say the bike went by faster for me than it ever has during any other race. So something in my training is working....could it be that I actually am beginning to like the bike? Let's keep that under wraps.

Into T2 I had a little potty emergency, remember that travel belly I mentioned before... yeah, about that.... Soooo K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights on my feet, PowerBar energy gel in my tummy, I was set for a run.

 Smoochin' my man after a hard earned finish!
My run goal: 1:37, my actual time: 1:51:25. This. Was. Disappointing. Not sure what went wrong here? I've run hilly courses, I've done the Z2 training.....all signs pointed to a much faster minute per mile than what I ran. What can I say, one foot in front of the other, pick people off one by one, see a 30-34 on the back of that chick's leg, run. her. down! That's what I do, the run is MY event. It's where I shine. I guess not every day is graduation day though.....

So total time: 5:31:57, you can do the math if you want to see just how far off I was from my goal time.....just don't laugh too loudly. Let me just say, It is attainable, I was close to breaking the 5 hour mark last September in Cedar Point, even won my age group. Different course, different terrain, different time of year. But still, you get those numbers in your head and you think, maybe just maybe there's a chance I could best that time.

Moral of the story is, goals are great, but don't get hung up on them. Race plans are invaluable, but don't live and die by them.

Looking forward I'm pretty stoked to say I'm putting road tris on the back burner for a few months and hitting the dirt. Stay tuned for my XTERRA race recap coming shortly......