Xterra West Championships: Race Report
If you read that last post, you know I hit the water slightly distracted. “When can I call my friend Robbie and tell him I met Nick Diaz!!”
And then, “Oh, right. I need to swim. Focus. Breathe. Keep it calm.”
And I was swimming. Third time in the water in 2013, and I would choose this race to do it. But it felt good. Smooth, even. Breathing was steady.
Around the first turn. Sighting going well, all systems are go.
And then, it hits me.
I’m not going fast. I’m going, but I’m not even feeling like I’m swimming hard. Crap.
By the time I get out of the water, I’m inwardly cursing myself. People I know I could have gone faster than are already out on the bike.
“Don’t panic. Don’t rush,” I tell myself as I jam on my socks and shoes. “Put on sunscreen.”
The bike. Climbing up and hitting sand, sand and more sand. Trying to keep it steady, pass people. Not sure what my heart rate should be. Not sure how much I need to drink. I just know I need to drink. Water bottles on the MTB are not the easiest thing for me yet, and it’s something I need to work on, but for now, I know I need to do what I can and slam as much as possible.
Drink, drink, drink. Pedal, pedal, pedal. I’m picking people off, doing reasonably well, feeling pretty good. And then, we’re stopping.
A girl needed to be airlifted out, and we were stopped as the helicopter tried to land (it couldn’t). So, there went about 10 minutes, maybe more, of standing around, gossiping with fellow riders, debating how much to drink for the last seven miles of the race.
We were allowed to start up, but the pace was subdued. Seeing that, having time to let our heart rates drop, it was hard to get back in the racing mindset, and I don’t know that I did again. I hit sections that I knew and liked, and tried to use them to my advantage. The curving singletrack like I see in New England, passing people there. Hitting the pavement and trying to prepare myself for another six miles of desert running knowing that the placing I wanted was most likely out of reach. Since I was one of the first people stopped and wouldn’t have my time adjusted (acts of God don’t stop the clock in triathlon), I knew my already not spectacular race time was screwed.
Lacing up for the run, I felt good. Slamming water heading out of transition and onto the course, I was flying, feeling smooth and steady. About a half mile in though, my stomach started cramping and the sun felt like it was getting hotter. The pros were passing on their way back. I was getting disheartened and we were still climbing. But when I started seeing mile markers, I started feeling better. We’re at three miles already?
Some of the hills felt like bad jokes on the part of the race organizers. Surely they don’t think people can run up these, right? Or down these?
But they did, and we did. Rather, I ran when I could, walked fast when I couldn’t, and felt the clock tick, tick, tick.
Finally, last mile.
The most disheartening, unexcited finish I’ve had in I can’t remember how long.
But even feeling like crap, even feeling annoyed with myself and with my race, I felt good. As I was running, while I was in pain and angry at myself and the course, I was thinking. Planning what I needed to do for next time.
Anger and frustration are great motivators, it turns out.