Sunday, June 23, 2013

Du it! XTERRA East Championships, Richmond, VA

I love geography, I love looking at maps, tracing the roads and the highways and imagining the different places I could go. So road trips are great! Funny thing about road trips, actually funny thing about maps, usually before a trip one will look at a map to determine the best route to take to arrive at said destination in the shortest amount of time. I said funny thing. As much as I love maps, I failed to consult one before we made the trek to the former capital of the Confederacy for the XTERRA East Championship off road triathlon. Did you know that it takes 14.5 hours to drive from Plano, Illinois to Richmond, Virginia? You probably did know that. Even with the advent of Google maps, iPhone, and yes the antiquated but still operable Mapquest, I failed to realize just how long Al and I would have to spend in the car.
Nevertheless, I kept somewhat occupied for the first hour, note the yellow toes and fingers. Wattie yellow! Yes, 13.5 hours to go! Miles ticked off slow, but at least the company was totally rad! Al and I have a new found love for Pitbull! Look at the way my husband can fist pump......go Al, go Al, go Al! I'm not sure how many cups of coffee we consumed, but it was way way too much! In fact I thought I might have been hallucinating when we saw a pickup somewhere in PA with the words "Whalebone Intergalactic" scribbled on the driver's side door. Oh, and "OY." Never underestimate the power of the internet to define the unknown mysteries in life. Like WTF is whalebone intergalactic? It's actually a word jumble, whalebone is
wholebean rearranged and OY is Oh Yeah! Whalebone Intergalactic is a coffee shop / bank, real anti establishment if you catch my drift. So there goes another hour.

Laughable now, well, actually laughable then, Al and I were pulled over by Illinois' finest State Troopers for speeding in the wait for it......the Prius.....robust laughing should now ensue! Yes folks, I'll say it again, slower now. The. Prius. Was. Pulled. Over. For. Speeding. We got a little professional courtesy and left with a warning. Phew!
By the time we made it outside of Illinois the rain was upon us. Torrents of droplets fell from the sky from Indiana all the way to VA. It sucked! Driving was slow going.

My mind was reeling, if this rain didn't let up, those trails were gonna be soggy, the roots and rocks would be slicker than snot. Shit!

Shit because this was the race where I wanted to earn my qualifying spot to Maui in October. Shit because there were only 2 of those sought after spots. Shit because my age group is tough as ballz. Shit because Maia Ignatz? Heard of her? No, how about her pro husband Ryan? Without giving too much away, Maia was the ultimate OA amateur winner while her husband was the second male pro finisher. Talk about a power couple!

So, reeling mind, yep, thoughts of endos, cracked ribs, scraped knees, walking when I should be riding all of it. But adversity is all part of XTERRA right? The adventure triathlon! But I'm not a strong technical rider. I'm learning, but just like anything skills take time and repetition to develop. Al kept telling me, it's the same course for everyone.

My anxiety kept my mind busy for most of the rest of the trip. We finally pulled into the hotel nearing midnight. Our friend Billie Jamison, also racing, also vying for a Maui slot, met us in the parking lot. We left Warpig and Filthy Whore to sleep in the car while we hauled the rest of our gear to our room. Still wired from all of the highway coffee we stayed up for a couple of hours talking race strategy with Billie and figuring out the next day's plans. Oh, big detail I have to mention here, we were smack in the middle of Tropical Storm Andrea. She was a real nasty bitch! She dropped over 3" of rainfall over Richmond the following day, resulting in the closure of the XTERRA bike course and and any chance of pre riding was not going to happen at the risk of being disqualified.
So see the picture at the right? That's what we did for most of the day Friday.
There was a short break in the rain Friday morning where we headed down to the race site to check out the swim course. There was rumor of a possible cancellation in the swim making the race a duathlon but nothing was official . . . yet. Heading back to the hotel we opted to get a short run in despite the rain that had started up again.

Later Friday to kill a little time and take our minds off the race and course conditions we caught a movie and went out to dinner.  Saturday morning came and there was still no chance of a pre ride. The course officials really wanted to give the trails a chance to dry out. The forecast was spotty, rain in the morning with clearing skies that night and the following morning. We headed down to the race location to scope out the swim clinic.

The picture at the left is the James River Friday morning. By Saturday morning the river had risen 10' and and wasn't expected to peak until later Saturday afternoon. The sandbars you see here had turned into raging rapids. Race officials made the decision to cancel the swim and replace it with a 1.6 mile run. Oh yeah, my first duathlon. I was pretty happy about this. Adapt right? Theme of the weekend.

The three of us wandered around XTERRA village, ducking under the vendor tents when the rain picked up.

Saturday night Al and I decided to play it safe and found an Olive Garden for dinner while Billie hung with his mom at her hotel nearby.

Race morning we woke to sunny skies. We headed down to transition, set up our rigs and waited the 2 hours and 45 minutes till the race start. Interesting thing about East Championships is that there were several races going on simultaneously with the AG
championship the last to head out. Coolest part of the morning was watching the pros start their race. Up close and personal with the best in the world.

Our time finally came, we lined up and the loudest tiny cannon in the world went off. Like caged animals finally set free we stampeded up the river trail under the freeway and through the streets of Richmond. I was back at Filthy Whore's side in a little over 10 minutes.

The thing about Richmond that made this race so different from any other XTERRA on circuit is that its described as an "urban" course. So, a lot of manmade objects to navigate. Including steps, walls, tunnels, bridges - wooden and rock. I took it in stride, I rode what I could, I hopped off my bike when I couldn't. More often than not I fell off my bike. But whatevs....I tried most off the obstacles. In the end I had a pretty slow bike time. Let's just say my 10K run at the end was a faster mph average than my bike. HOWEVER, there were moments of greatness when I was able to hit 25 mph speeds. So it goes to show you that this course didn't have a lot of what Al calls FLOW. Totally evident when I uploaded my Garmin and it looked like a seismograph. Lost my nutrition somewhere on the bike course too, not too rattled by this, I knew I had had enough pre race calories to hold me over. Nevertheless, I lost that blasted gel flask at mile 7 on the bike with 13 more to go.

Panoramic of the James River, Richmond, VA

The bike was a two loop course, my second loop was faster than my first. At that point I was really wishing there had been an opportunity for a pre ride. I muscled through, made it to the end, racked Filthy Whore and pulled on my running shoes.

I was stoked to be on my feet again. I knew I had energy to have a great run since my bike didn't physically exhaust me like it should have. I took off, feeling my groove and the miles ticked off one after another. Right around mile two I ran into a wall, literally. They lovingly call it the Mayan Ruins. Straight up, hands and feet climbing dozens of railroad ties to the top. Not much else got in my way after that. I flew to the end in :49 minutes, race time 3:30 and some change. Not enough to get me that automatic qualifying spot but good enough to get me a 4th AG and 11th OA female.
World Champion Lesley Patterson entering T1

Me #rockingtheW at the finish
Needless to say the top 2 amateur females were in my age group, I'm crossing my fingers I get a roll down in the coming weeks.

Big shout out to new friend Allison Linnell who rocked her 20-24 AG with a 1st and a well deserved Maui slot. Allison decided East Championships would be a good FIRST XTERRA. So impressed.

Also, I have to once again thank my awesomely supportive husband and Coach, Al for patiently waiting for me to figure out that I actually LOVE mountain biking . . . .7 years after I first tried it. Al finished nearly :45 minutes ahead of me, placed 33rd OA including pros, a few of which he beat, and 5th in his AG. He's such a rockstar! All of this on his 42nd birthday!

Lastly, I want to thank my sponsors, Wattie Ink, K-Swiss, Blueseventy (I was totally gonna rock the Helix in the raging James River), Speedfil (loved my F2), Fuelbelt, 454 Tattoo, PowerBar (some furry woodland creature is probably feasting off my gel flask right now), Scott, Reynolds, ism, Kask, Wedgie, Geneva Running Outfitters, North Central Cyclery, XF Muscle.

By the way, it rained the whole way home too. The day we left town there were Tornados in Baltimore and the Richmond airport was closed due to a bomb threat. This picture kinda sums up the weekend . . . . Oh Shit, hang on!