Podium Spot at Canadian Cross National Championships: Race Report (and What it Means!)
The race itself was incredible—between the incredible clear lake at the Kelso Quarry, the super fun, flowy MTB trails, and the ultra-technical run, it was a great course. The only down side is that it was the last race I had on my schedule for the season, and now I desperately want to race more! Might have to find some more, but I’m pretty booked for the rest of the weekends of the season. Wahwah.
Remember that freakout I had back in CA at the Xterra earlier this season? I was so worried about that happening again. But thankfully, the water was clear and inviting, and for some reason, I wasn’t stressed out at all.
I had a solid start, though I had the buoys wrong in my head and had to sort of redirect myself. The first 500 meters were solid, I was comfortable in the pack. Then, my goggles just fogged up. Wicked bad.
Suddenly, I couldn’t sight at all, or even see swim caps in front of me. It was so bad that I was taking 20-30 strokes, taking the goggles off and looking around, then repeating. Annoying!!
Still, I was feeling good running out of the lake, though I could stand to practice with my wetsuit (especially taking it off fast!) more. I was the seventh female out of the water, but still 4 minutes behind the woman who was first. I think with better goggles, I’d have saved 2 minutes, but I could have gone a bit harder at the start as well. All in all, my swim is getting fairly strong, but it can always use more improvement!
If you were to design a bike course for me, this would be pretty close. Not terribly technical, good flow, some climbing, some doubletrack—compared to the crazy technical stuff I was hitting at Richmond a couple of weeks ago, this was nothing!
That said—I wish when Peter and I were there the day before the race, I had pre-ridden the correct course…. we accidentally rode the Tuesday night MTB race loop, so most of the course I was on was unfamiliar. Bummer.
But it was similar enough that I wasn’t terribly stressed, and it was a fun loop. Crazy climb up a ski hill, which felt a lot longer on lap 2, and some tech-y corners that were a little rough for me to do quickly, and blind. Starting back a bit farther than I wanted after the swim was a bit of a hassle, since there was a ton of singletrack and passing was a little tough. Not impossible, and the Canadians were ultra-nice about getting out of the way, but still, it took more time than I’d have liked to get around a lot of traffic.
I was third overall in the bike, just 10 seconds shy of second place, though the first woman flew by us and ended up 3 minutes faster. Nadine (first in the bike) actually chatted with me a bit before we pre-rode the day before—super nice woman, and lucky for her, she pre-rode the right course, unlike me!
I love when an Xterra has a run more technical than the bike—often the run feels like an afterthought and ends up largely on roads or in fields. Not the case here, since it was on the Bruce Trail. There were a couple spots where I had to pause a bit just to figure out where I was going!
Love my new trail running shoes as well—the Merrell Women’s Barefoot Run Bare Access Trail (a little beefier than my Merrell Glove sneakers). They’re ultra-comfortable and still have the barefoot feel but enough tread so I’m not wrecking them on the trails.
Anyway, the run went well. I probably could have drank a bit more on the bike (especially with the Skratch Labs mix that I had in my bottle)—and I think if I had, I would have had a bit more pep. But in all, I felt pretty solid. It was about a 7:32 pace with a lot of technical terrain and climbing, so I was pretty stoked.
That said, I was surprised that I was so far back from the leaders in the run—(4 minutes and 2 minutes, respectively)—since the run is where I’m strongest. I could definitely add some more hills and speedwork to my runs, for sure!
The biggest part of writing a race report, in my mind, isn’t so everyone can read about my day. What I love about writing these reports is that it gives me a chance to reflect on what I need to work on, and what I should do better/different next time.
- Go harder in the swim. Even though my swim time is OK, if I just empty the tank a bit more to get out of the water earlier, I could save myself a lot of time getting through the field in the bike leg.
- More open water swimming! This is always ultra-difficult for me, but I gotta sneak these in more.
- Get better goggles. I’ve been putting this off because I’m cheap and I don’t swim much, but I would have saved myself precious minutes in the swim if I had non-fog mirrored goggles. And if I’d hit the bike earlier, I would have dodged traffic a lot easier.
- Cornering. I know my technical mountain biking needs work, and in particular, if I can get through corners a bit faster, I think I’ll be in better shape overall.
- Drink more! On the bike, I am awful at drinking, and I need to get a whole lot better.
- Obstacles. I really, really need to get better with some of this bike skills stuff. I can navigate a ’cross course, sure, but the big stuff on MTB courses—technical downhills, big logs—throw me. Thankfully, I know the best guy in the business!
- Add in more running speed work. I love running because it’s simple, but maybe I need to start making it a little bit tougher and put in some more hill training and speedwork.