Race Report

Getting the Xterra Season underway, and a Xterra Worlds slot!

My season this year is a little different, with more mountain biking in the mix than usual, however I wanted to still put in a solid Xterra schedule starting with the regular Xterra Real, followed up a few weeks later by the Xterra West Championships in Las Vegas.

After the worst drought conditions this winter in California, the day of Xterra Real brought torrential rain and temperatures that dropped as the race proceeded.  The swim was choppy, but not as cold as usual, and thankfully short enough for my lack of swim training recently!  I didn’t have a great swim but I wasn’t expecting much from it other than to exit in one piece.  After a long run up to transition due to the low lake levels I had a pretty poor transition (yes it’s worth practicing these too!), managing to forget my glasses which wasn’ t a great idea with the impending mud fest on the bike.

 

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On the bike it was tough to get going as I was far enough back out of the water that I was stuck behind much slower bikers for quite a while at the start of the singketrack but after navigating through them I had clear ground for the rest of the bike.  I was biking steady but not at full capacity and technically did not ride as well as I would have liked which was surprising with the number of times I have raced this same course this year already!  The first lap of the bike was wet, but the second lap was plain muddy with the trails turning to streams and puddles – it was really kind of fun.  I passed the girls I expected to pass but realised 1 & 2 were probably too far ahead to hope to catch even with a fast run, so I focused on my own race and riding each section as well as I could.

 


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A smoother transition (after pouring the water out of my Inov-8 TrailRoc 246s) from bike to run and I found I couldn’t feel my feet – guess it was colder than I thought!  I started running hoping my legs would come around and sure enough I was clicking along pretty well.  The run trails were in very wet and muddy shape but the TrailRocs handled the conditions excellently, even though not quite designed for these kind of conditions.  Energy levels were goo and my legs started getting better as I went so I hit the hills at the back end of the course with enough power to run up them for once.  I gave myself a secret high 5 as I crested the biggest hill on the course, then headed for home.

granite bay 5

I finished 3rd female overall, 2nd in my age group – there were bigger time gaps than I would have liked to 1 & 2 but the season is still early.  This race is great fun and a perfect early season adventure, even thought this year I think I was wetter and colder at the end of the race than after the swim!   Thanks Yi + Rosevilel Cyclery Team for the support, and the post race heater – genius!

 

granite bay 4

 

 

Xterra Vegas brought somewhat different weather conditions, with temperatures hovering around the 90 degree mark; we also got pretty strong winds to contend with on race day.  Just like last year, I had to be in Vegas the week leading up to the race for a busy week of work at a trade show – all week on your feet is never good preparation for a race but I was determined to do a better job of it than last year and have somewhat fresh legs by race day.  Julie at O2 fitness had stretched my training block an extra week (yes I was about as tired as you can possibly get at the point, barely being able to turn my pedals over on my final ride before my rest week!) before I left for Vegas, leaving the week leading up to the race for recovery the best I could.  I planned early nights, focused hydration, decent food and a mid-week massage (best idea I’ve ever had in Vegas!) then by thursday I started moving again with a couple of short runs, a swim then some bike course pre-riding.  I was feeling ok and hopeful I’d have a good race, but it was going to be a mental challenge more than anything to keep the heat from affecting me.

I stayed right at the race site with great friends so race morning was relaxed and not too early and I had plenty of time to get a short warm up in before being on the beach to watch the Pro Swim (they started 45minutes head of the age groupers).  I was so excited for friends and training partners Kara LaPoint and Debby Sullivan, making their Xterra Pro debuts that it actually helped keep me relaxed going into my race.

I swam in a wetsuit I borrowed from a friend since I put a big hole in my at Xterra Real – I loved the borrowed Blue Seventy Helix and it really helped my swim.  I’m lacking swim endurance so the last few hundred yards I could feel myself tiring, but I was pleasantly surprised to exit the water right alongside some top age groupers.  A decent transition had me on the bike quickly and in a positive frame of mind and I focused on pedaling smoothly and trying to find a good rhythm.  I tried to hang on to the wheel of Meghan Sheridan who is frequently top 3 amateurs but it didn’t last long and sadly I didn’t ever really find the good powerful legs I was hoping for.  That said, I had really good mental focus and was able to keep pushing hard despite not finding the power I wanted.  Every up hill was into a headwind or a crosswind taking more energy than usual, but I wasn’t getting caught by people and made a few passes, so it wasn’t turning out to be as bad a bike as I thought.

I was hopeful that I had fueled and hydrated well – I opted to bike with a camelbak full f Osmo and drank the whole thing, along with another bottle from an aid station so I went into the run knowing I’d done everything I could to set myself up for a strong final leg.  I went with Inov-8 Roclite 268s for this course due to the very rocky terrain and fast loose downhills -I wanted some foot protection while still keeping things lightweight.  The shoes really performed well and as it happened so did my legs!  By taking each section of the course one piece at a time, I made my way up each of the steep hills in turn and used the downhills as short recoveries before attacking the next hill.  I passed a handful of guys on the run, as well as a couple of women and only got caught by one woman (not in my age group) right at the last half mile.  I had raced smart and mentally strong which was a new achievement for me – I’ve given up in races too early before and today I didn’t.   I was racing not knowing what position I was in in my age group, but as I crossed the finish line I knew I was going to be happy with my performance regardless of where it placed me.  It took a while for my results card to appear but when it did, I saw a ’2′ meaning second in my age group and thus also a qualifying slot for the Xterra World Championships.  I haven’t qualified for Maui since 2011, and never at this race where the field is always tough so I’m pretty excited to get to to go back this October.

While it was far from a perfect race, this was the best I could get out of myself on the day – it took as much mental focus as anything else and this may be the biggest lesson so far from my new coach Julie at O2Fitness.  Also, the hydration provided by Osmo really excelled in these hot dry and windy desert conditions – I couldn’t recommend the Osmo products highly enough for both a long work week in the desert as well as the race itself.

Race Report

Early Season Fun

TBF Racing starts the racing season early for us in California – offering Trail Runs, Duathlons, Triathlons (on and off road), MTB races and even Kids triathlons.  The races are ideal for getting on your bike or putting on your run shoes early in the year and finding your racing feet – the trails are fun and fast, the event organisation outstanding, the entry fees more than reasonable and the weather unpredictable (yes, that adds to the fun!).  I’ve raced these races for several seasons now, and this year raced all 4 early season MTB races and the Xterra Real mud triathlon.  I had more fun than ever this year as many races had fellow team mates from Roseville Cyclery, the ever present Orange tent of Roseville Cyclery and the awesome support of their mechanics, Rick and Eddie, and Shop Manager’s and Owners Oliver and Yi.
I raced some of the races on my new SingleSpeed MTB – a great training tool and new way of enjoying the trails, and super fun to race, others on my hardtail and got on the podium in all the races.  The placings were beside the point – enjoying riding; being a part of some extremely strong female fields and getting out there for Roseville Cyclery were the aim’s of these races and all were accomplished.
not always muddy
Race Report Training

Changes for the new season

Changes.  Well there are many for 2014, all good as far as I can see and all choices; none forced upon me.  Along with a permanent move to the mountains came an engagement (yes, I have a wedding to plan this year as well as all those races).  Also I made a coaching change;  thanks to Kevin Coady of Triforce I have made huge improvements as an athlete in the last 3 years – I will be a lifelong TriForcer at heart, but the mountain bike and the dirt were calling and knowing that I was going to be tackling the beast that is the Leadville 100 mountain bike race meant a new training strategy was needed.   I knew just the person and lucky for me she was willing to take on the challenge.  Julie Young of O2 Fitness has an extensive and ever growing depth of knowledge and experience both as an athlete and a coach with a world class athletic resume that has to be seen to be believed.  Predominantly a cyclist but also having won a plethora of Nordic ski races, Xterra’s, and trail runs, she continues to educate herself in athletic training from a basis of science and selfishly for me lives just down the road.  I’m excited about partnering with Julie and am so far enjoying the change and variety she embraces as part of my training program.  A new coach led quickly to new cycling friends and then a new team supported by Roseville Cyclery.  I will be riding for the Roseville Cyclery Women’s team – an amazing group of women with a variety of cycling interests and personal goals; I’m excited for everything each person is going to achieve this season both individually and as part of this team.  We are all feeling honoured to represent Roseville Cyclery and hope we can do Yi, Oliver and their team proud this season!

tbf racing SS1

While my focus has shifted slightly to the cycling end of the triathlon spectrum, I still have several Xterra’s on the schedule with swimming and running ever present in my training plan.  I hope to also add some trail runs to the schedule.  I am lucky to be part of Team Inov-8 again this season for my off-road triathlon exploits; I am a huge advocate of their range of trail running shoes and apparel for all types of terrain.  As the snow falls outside I am already looking forward to making fresh tracks in my Inov-8 Oroc’s tomorrow morning.  I once again hope to be a great ambassador for the Inov-8 brand.

It may only be February, but racing is underway in California and I already have 2 MTB races under my belt.  TBF racing puts on the most fun and friendly series of early season MTB races, leading up to the first Xterra of the season at the end of March. There are Pro’s and Con’s to starting to race so early in the year when the season stretches through October, but these races are hard to pass up, especially with the severe lack of winter we’ve had in the mountains so far.  I’m mixing it up and trying a few things out with the main aim of keeping if fun.  For the first race I jumped on my recently built new toy – a Singlespeed mountain bike; being the only girl out there on a bike with one gear meant a very different kind of race for me but wow do I love riding this bike!  It’s like learning mountain biking all over again – I had no idea how different it would be to race singlespeed vs. gears.   You might think having only one gear would be hell on any hill, but the fact is, it’s far more frustrating on the flats where having just one gear means revving the legs at 110+rpm and still not being able to go anywhere near as fast as gears would.  I surprised myself and was within a very respectable few minutes of the expert and pro girls on geared bikes and had a massive grin on my face when crossing the line.

The next race I had tweaked my knee slightly snowboarding a couple days before so I rode gears to protect my knee a little; the race was one more lap than last time and I went out hard at the front of a strong and fast group of girls, too hard it turned out.  The nice little lead I built up over the first 2 laps was whittled to nothing by the start of the 4th lap and I battled with dead legs to just about hold on for 2nd.  A great lesson learned and one I hope I don’t repeat again now this year.  Another note on a Singlespeed is that it enforces pretty good pacing – you can’t really push on the flats but have to ride hills a certain speed or you’re reduced to walking.  Next race in the series is next weekend and I think the Singlespeed is coming out again.

 

tbfracing SS1

Equipment Race Report Training

2013 Season Catch-Up/End of Season report

Well,  I’ve officially been horrible at any kind of updates this year, so he goes a quick summary of my season.

March:

Awesome start to the year –  Overall win at Xterra Granite Bay!

 

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topthree

 

April:

Trade show in Vegas for a week for work, followed by Xterra Las Vegas – rough race in the raging wind.  Great swim but no energy or strength for the Bike or Run; finished a ways down the age group rankings here – not a good performance.

 

May:

Wildflower Long course triathlon; wow, what a tough race!  Hottest race day they’ve had here in years; persevered to the end, very fulfilling to finish such a tough day but again not a great performance.

 

Horseshoe Lake Trail half marathon – Overall female win!  Unexpected win at a local trail race but I ran fast (thanks inov-8 TrailRoc 246s!) and hard to take the win.

 

horeshoe lake trail run

 

 

Hammerstein 24hr MTB race: two-person team win!  Race report here.

 

June:

Xterra Tahoe City: worked hard on sluggish legs to get the age group win and 3rd overall female with a strong run.

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July:

Vineman 70.3 triathlon: PR of 5:12 with a great run in my inov-8 Road X-treme’s.  13th in a very strong age group.

 

Tahoe Trail 100km MTB race – strong and steady long distance MTB race for me – the longest I’ve ever spent on a bike in one go!  Placed high enough in my age group to get a qualifying slot to the Leadville trail 100mile race in 2014!

 

August:

Moved to the mountain playground of  Truckee in lake Tahoe!  Smoke from forest fires hampered training for a couple of weeks but we mountain people are tough!

 

Xterra Lake Tahoe – not feeling on top form but got a 7th overall in a strong Xterra field and 3rd place age group.

 

xterra lake tahoe 2013

 

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Great Flume MTB race/Sierra cup series in the smoke – 1st Expert female

 

Fantastic long training run on the PCT from Sugar Bowl to Squaw – one of the highlights of my summer for sure!

 

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September:

Squaw Fat Tire festival/Sierra Cup MTB series finals – 2nd place expert female claiming the Sierra cup series win.

MTB trip to Leadville for some course recon – just a stunningly beautiful area of the world with some big mountains to climb!

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Twin Lakes before heading up Columbine

 

Xterra US Nationals – well, hmmm, DNF.  Crashed out on the bike near the end resulting in stitches in my shin – no permanent damage but I sure was hoping for a better race here this year…oh well, on to next year!

 

A memorable season for a mixed bag of reasons – had some great and unexpected results, but at the same time missed my goals in other areas.  Time for a change-up in focus over the winter and leading into next year.  I’ll be doing a half marathon trail race in December as part of the North Face endurance series some snowshoe running and races over the winter with possibly some XC skiing thrown in there.  Next season will be a mix of trail running, Xterra and mountain biking, (I’ve had enough of that road stuff for now!) – gotta get STRONG and TOUGH to be able to race my mountain bike 100miles at Leadville next August!

 

Race Report

Hammerstein 24hr MTB Race Report – 2-person team win!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1B3L19-4EFnXqJ2B-spIuDkA2ZPyoAGxrWENLh7y90f0/edit#heading=h.xb2hzfo51byt

Race Report Training

30 runs in 30 days challenge and Kaiser half marathon

I started this challenge on December 28th – early new year’s resolution I guess. I kept it simple:

- A run is 30mins or more
- Pace, terrain or heart rate does not matter, just run (walk breaks are ok if really struggling)

For 30days I ignored what my run workouts should be (easy, tempo hills, long runs etc) and just found 30mins everyday – how hard could it be? Swim and Bike training was as per my training schedule, and if I biked, most times I’d force my 30min run to be a transition run. Day 30 was set to be a week before Kaiser half marathon so if I completed the challenge, Kaiser would be a good test of whether this type of run training had good results.

Some (vaguely interesting) stats:

- I ran 18hours, 107miles in the 30 days.
- I did 8 of the runs in the ice, snow and altitude of truckee.
- The coldest run I did was -8 degrees F – see photo (yes that is ice on my eyelashes)

running in -8 degrees

- Slowest run was 15min per mile; no kidding – ice, altitude, hills and a snowstorm will do that
- 26 of the 30 runs were between 2 and 4miles long, at somewhere between 9 and 15 min/mile pace at heart rates in the 130s-150s (super low for me)
- My 5km time trial for the Triforce Sprint tri was right in the middle – recovering from that to ‘run’ the next day was fun
- I spent 9 days travelling for work on the east coast
- Only resorted to the treadmill 4 times – all while I was travelling and most times at 5am in the morning; I was so tired for one of these that I barely remembered doing it at all!
- In the final 10 days I did a 7, an 8, and a 5 mile run and hit sub 9 pace briefly.
- There were many days where I had no idea how I would ‘run’ 30mins; splitting it into 2*15min helped – I’d take one dog for a 15min loop, come home, grab the other two dogs and take them on the same 15min loop. It got me through! And the dogs loved it.
- The third week of the challenge saw me hit a 30mile run week for the first time ever (preceded and followed by solid 20mile weeks)

My legs generally held up pretty well, and by the end, running everyday just felt normal. I stretched and foam rolled pretty well during this period but not as well as I could have, and I didn’t get even one massage the whole time either. I ran in 4 different pairs of running shoes – switching things up between road, trail, snow, treadmill seemed to keep it interesting.   When travelling I tend to take the inov-8 Terrafly’s with me; they are versatile so run well on roads, most trails and the treadmill; they even coped with snow fairly well – the GTX version is nicely waterproof too.  On the snow and ice of truckee I’ve been using my inov-8 Roclite GTX with Kahtoola ice/snow spikes and for the bay area trails I’m loving the inov8  Trailrocs.  My inov8 road X-tremes are my road running shoes right now – they keep getting me PRs and no blisters so I’m sticking with them!

This challenge is not about speed or watching what pace you are at or HR you are pushing – I think had I run any harder than whatever felt ‘easy’ on any particular day for too many days, I wouldn’t have made it through. I did feel like I was doing a fair few junk miles but for 30 days I blindly and quite robotically put in the prescribed time and treated it very much as a science experiment. The last 10 days or so I did feel like I could put some longer runs in and still take 30mins easy enough for a couple of days after to get some form of recovery – this allowed me to do 7/8mile exploratory runs in Newburyport and Boston where I was travelling for work (the 7 miles was at 6am in a pretty thick snow storm – my new company think I’m an a complete nutcase but it’s good that I’m setting expectations early).

I got to day 30 and had a week to figure out a plan for Kaiser half marathon.  My half PR was 1:37:40 (7:27pace) from last October, my 5km TT was 6:43pace. To better the 5km time trial as per mcmillan running for the feb triforce sprint tri challenge, I was going to have to average 7:19 miles.  Now, based on the knowledge that I’d been running 9 and 10 min miles for the last 30 days I was pretty skeptical!  But, a test steady run with some tempo reps a few days before Kaiser had me thinking maybe it was possible.

So, Kaiser:

Official: 1:35:53, 7:20 pace
Strava/Garmin half marathon: 1:34:48, 7:13 pace, average HR 186 (!), just about a negative split

I was basically running by feel as I had so little training data to go on – I set my garmin to just show me my current lap stats, autolapping at each mile.  I didn’t therefore know my cumulative time until I crossed the finish line and for most of the time I lost track of what lap/mile I was on. The first few miles were not fast (2 or 3 miles were close to 7:30 per mile and way off pace really) – I felt pretty bad through miles 4 and 5 so was losing hope of hitting my target, but the downhill of miles 5 and 6 allowed me to gather myself a little and put some time in the bank; I stuffed both Gu Roctanes I had with me down my throat along with a cup or two of water and started feeling better, so miles 8-13 looked like this:

Mile 8 7:14
Mile 9 7:19
Mile 10 7:17
Mile 11 6:58
Mile 12 7:09
Mile 13 7:02

 

kaiserhalf

 

I actually felt remarkably good at the turnaround around mile 10 so told myself it was just 5km home and went for it.  Close to 2mins PR (more than if you believe the garmin measurements vs official but that’s wishful thinking) and nearly 5mins faster than Kaiser last year. My run training the back half of last year was definitely sporadic so I’m quite convinced that 30runs in 30days has some science behind it. As well as the faster pace, one thing I did notice this year vs. last was that my legs felt solid the whole way – no ‘pounding’ effects or weird twinges or lack of strength to keep running. I was able to push my heart rate high for a long period of time and my legs could keep up. Last year I definitely had tired leg muscles and my quads took a pounding on the pavement; the increased frequency and volume of running has done wonders for my leg endurance for running. I’m sore today for sure but nowhere near the damage I did last year.

I’d definitely do 30 runs in 30 days again over next winter, I’d maybe even do 15 runs in 15 days mid season if I thought my running needed a bit of boost. Not much more than a year ago I was amazed I was running 8min per mile, now I very occasionally see a ‘6’ as the first number in a mile split – pretty cool.

Race Report

Marin County Triathlon

I signed up for this a couple weeks before, having never raced an olympic distance tri on the road. I thought it would be a fun way to wrap up the season and I had some friends racing who encouraged me to give it a shot. That said, it was an expensive olympic to enter so I was planning on making sure I raced hard to make the most of my money! It is definitely a grass roots race but you never know who will show up to these things – there was a huge mix of equipment on show from super fancy bikes, to people riding hybrids and mountain bikes with slick tires; team in training had a huge presence and their own swim wave. So, Coach Coady set me up with a ‘one week race specific plus one week taper’ oly training plan and I jumped in the moderately chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay on the morning of Nov 4th with 2 goals: 1) Have fun, 2) Break 45mins for the 10km run.

The bay water was around 60degrees so almost perfect wetsuit temp (for me at least – I like it a little colder if possible), although there was a current so they changed the regular point to point swim which would have been 100% against the current to a loop which looked a little on the short side (not necessarily a bad thing in my case!). My wave was quite small and a couple of girls set off at a speed there was no way I was keeping up with (one swam 21mins) and I was left in between those two and the pack behind me kind of in no mans land. I am usually right in the middle of the swim group so have always had heads to follow rather than really sighting on buoys but this time I had to find my own way. I realised that a lot of people were swimming closer to shore on the way out which I guessed was related to trying to avoid the current but they were swimming further – I took the direct route but probably battled a bit more current. At the turn around I coincided with one of the speedy girls who’d evidently set off too fast and swam most the rest of the way back with her, this time with the current. I got confused with sighting at one point as we were headed into the sun and they changed the shape of the buoys which had be triangles on the way out to rectangles on the way back – not something I’d have thought would confuse me but in a race I showed up to with little idea of the course direction at all definitely threw me off a bit. I swam pretty hard the whole way to see if I could sustain the pace I’d set out at and was credited with a 26.41 swim and 3rd out the water in my wave which is unheard of for me, even in a small tri like this. So good swim and time to see what the bike was all about.

No point hanging around on the bike so I set out hard up the nice hill out of transition and soon found the course had many more rolling hills than I’d thought, with a bumpy road surface and relatively technical twisty downhills. It was 3 out and back loops (totalling 22miles so a bit short for an oly). On each loop I challenged myself to stay in the aerobars for more of the bumps and twists and by the last loop was loving flying round the bends – I think using a TT bike vs. road bike is worth it on this course but it’s definitely a fine line. I rode hard up the hills, out the saddle for many of the climbs and passing several guys on the way which was pretty fun. There were lots of beginners who were shaky on the corners and wobbling around in the middle of the road so that meant some time lost to make sure I didn’t scare anyone off the road by passing when they weren’t expecting it! Turned out I had the fastest bike split (1:09) for women by quite a few minutes and passed the super fast swimmer in my wave at some point without realising it.

Onto the run to see how the legs were. Exiting transition there was a nice hill climb for a few hundred yards that I actually found useful to get the legs into run mode with a high cadence without risking blasting out of T2 too fast. Legs felt good so at the top of the hill I settled into a pace I thought was sustainable but tough enough for the mostly flat 10k. It was a two lap out and back and after the first turnaround I spotted a couple girls, one ahead and one behind so spent some time figuring out whether they were in my wave (the one ahead went off 15mins ahead of me I thought) and the one behind was in my wave and trotting along quite nicely so there was no way I could slow down too much. At each turnaround I was judging how much she was catching me and I figured I had enough of a lead if I kept my pace up. The last couple of miles were hard work but the legs were still moving well so I just made sure my brain stayed in gear too – there was a good half mile or so of up hill before the final down hill stretch to the finish which was tough on the hamstrings but I toughed it out and got to the finish with a 43.36 10k – a PR by almost 2mins. The girl chasing me down did run a minute faster but I had a big enough lead from the bike to hold her off.

I wasn’t sure I was first but my supporters (thanks Dennis, Theo and Lisa!) thought I was and the girl that had been ahead of me pointed the waiting paparazzi (no kidding!) from the marin local paper to me instead of her as I guess she knew she had started in a wave ahead of me. This is a fun little race on a good course, although don’t enter it for the prizes: they are all about sustainability so my trophy is one they had left over from some other race!

Pretty successful first Oly race and end to the tri season. A mixed season for me – I didn’t reach my goals for Xterra but had some great results at other races I did last minute with no planning and under less pressure (my mental game needs a bit of work!), with half marathon and 10k PRs thrown in for good measure (on very modest run training to be honest, rarely even reaching 20miles a week) and a couple of hard fought mountain bike race podiums against good competition. A lot to think about and assess from this season to figure out what to shoot for next year – I’m almost spoiled for choice!

Race Report

Barb’s Race

So, I raced barb’s race yesterday. It’s a 70.3 women’s only race run on the same day at the full vineman and is pretty much the same course as vineman 70.3 – the run is just a little different, being an out and back rather than a loop. Barb, who the race is named after, has volunteered at vineman since it started and has fought cancer twice and is now in remission – a race was developed under the vineman brand in her honour as a fund raiser for cancer related charities. It’s a great cause, a great atmosphere and Barb hands out the finishers medals and prizes – pretty cool.

Having been training almost entirely on a mountain bike and running on trails and having ridden my triathlon bike just 3 times since oceanside in march, this was a race for ‘fun’ and a longe training day and a ‘see what happens’ day. Very little in the way of planning went into this and I even managed to forget my wetsuit so bought a new one at the expo when I picked up my packed on friday afternoon (luckily I was planning on getting a new one soon anyway so it was a good enough excuse). I stayed at the deloach winery guesthouse and got looked after by Lisa so things weren’t exactly stressful.

My wave started just after 8 so I got to sleep until 5.30am. Parking at the start is a little crazy so Dennis dropped me off to get my stuff all sorted out (I’d done pretty much nothing the night before). The vineman people had already started so transition was pretty busy and finding a spot for my bike was a little challenging but it all got figured out – it’s a pretty laid back race. I pulled the price tag off my new wetsuit and squeezed into it and was in the water and swimming before I knew it. I figured I had nothing to lose so I’d see what happened if I swam and bike fairly hard then I’d figure out the run when I got there depending on how I felt – not the best race plan but it seemed like the no stress, fun, laid back thing to do and it suited the atmosphere of the race pretty well.

Swim went well, I was worried I’d get too warm but it was just about perfect even in a full sleeve wetsuit as the morning air temp was only 50 degrees or so. I started pretty much at the front with a plan to try and draft; I caught the wave in front of me pretty quickly so had to swim through a lot of people. There were a lot of people swimming all over the place so finding someone to draft became more effort than it was worth and I just focused on swimming myself in a straight line. I stood up and ran round the turnaround buoy as it was packed with people doing all sorts of weird stuff so I created myself some space by standing up. It was definitely quicker swimming back downstream and I got out the water on 35mins – swim times are gradually creeping down in the right direction.

My oceanside transitions were horrible and were the one thing I wanted to make sure I improved here. T1 went well, found my bike easily and got out of my wetsuit without too much trouble (other than the silly timing chip on my ankle that always gets in the way). I was in an out under 3mins and up the hill onto the bike.

I can count the number of road rides over 50miles that I’ve done on one hand, but I’ve done plenty of 3+ hour MTB rides so my plan on the bike was to make sure I did my power I’ve gained from mountain biking some justice on the road so no lolly gagging or spinning up hills as none of the hills are long and I shouldn’t fry myself too bad. It was definitely risky if I wanted to run well but I was prepared for that to be the case. Felt pretty strong and let myself push up some hills; I secretly wanted to average 20mph – my race results say I did, my garmin says it was 19.8 so I’m believing the former. I biked 2.47 and was 6th overall coming in off the bike and feeling good. T2 was quick (fastest overall it turns out) and I hit the run having no idea how I’d feel.

First couple of miles I ran too fast for sure, my butt got stiff and I realised I needed calories so I got 4 gels down me in the first few miles of the run and some more water. I had a rough time miles 3-6 then felt ok again miles 7-9 then it was about getting to the end. My legs and feet were hurting and I’d been passed my 2 girls already on the run but they weren’t pulling away that fast so a lot of people were finding the run slower than we’d thought at the start. This is a much hillier course that I thought but at least I wasn’t feeling the heat – apparently it got to nearly 90F but it didn’t seem like it – the hose showers at the aid stations must have done their job! Pushing fairly hard on the bike, not training on the TT bike, not putting in enough run mileage and generally not training for a 70.3 made this definitely my toughest run for a while but I’m proud that I battled though and averaged just over 8min/mile for a 1.47 run, making it a 5.15PR (I went 5.25 at oceanside) finishing 3rd in my age group and 8th overall.

It’s a fun field of people that come out for Barb’s race – I made friends on the run course and everyone was smiling wishing everyone else to do well; I’ll definitely be back for it next year.

Race Report

ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships/Xterra South East Championships, Pelham, Alabama

The ITU beginning to ramp up their recognition of off road triathlon – they call ‘cross’ triathlon.   I had planned to go to the South East Champs Xterra this year before the ITU partnered with Xterra to make it the ITU cross World Championships, but racing for GB again gave me even more incentive.

Oak Mountain state park in Alabama is beautiful with some of the best mountain bike trails I’ve ridden.  The organisation of the event was flawless so I hope Xterra and the ITU combine for more racing in the future.  I’d pre-ridden the course so knew what to expect and was pretty comfortable with the rocky windy trails.  The weather was warm (85 degrees) but not stifling hot and not too humid and with us starting at 8am in the morning it was near perfect racing conditions.

It was a non-wetsuit swim as the water was 79degrees – I definitely swim better in a wetsuit now so it was going to mean I had to work harder in this swim that the ones I’ve done so far this year.  I swam pretty hard, sighted well, didn’t get too beaten up and managed to draft some great feet for the whole second lap (thanks Tammy!).  I came out the water in around 28:50 which in a non wetsuit swim is a massive improvement from last season; still plenty of time still to try and find but all going in the right direction.

I was excited about the bike; apart from it being a little shorter than I’d like and not quite enough climbing, it was a great course for me (and the bike I borrowed yet again from Dennis – he’ll make me get my own at some point!).  My T1 is still slow so I need to work on that but I hit the singletrack hard; I was pretty confident I could ride hard the whole time and still have legs for the run.  I passed a bunch of people and was in the zone, then a stupid mistake clipped my right handlebar on a tree and I went flying!  No real damage, other than my chain that came off which took too long to get back on; 3 or 4 people I’d just passed came past me and I had to work hard to re pass them – I probably lost a minute or more during this little incident which was pretty annoying.  I rode the climb hard and knew I wanted to pass everyone I could before I hit the downhill of the Blood Rock section – I knew I could ride it clean while many wouldn’t attempt it and I didn’t want anyone to get in my way.  Blood Rock was over before I’d thought about it and the crowd standing there was cheering – it was a great experience and really motivating for the rest of the course; that was my major victory of the day, and I just discovered it made the race highlight video – I edited a version which I’ve put here:

The original full length age group highlights video which I edited for the shorter ‘sian focussed’ version is located here: http://www.usatriathlon.org/multimedia/media-center.aspx?tag=bd06797b-ed79-468f-bbe3-ce37802a5416&type=photo

I had pushed hard on the bike but started the run feeling relatively good.  The run, in Xterra terms, was pretty flat but still twisty and had a couple of little rises through the trees.  I’d thought about running in my inov-8 Bare X Lites – they are great for transitioning too for triathlon, but the sole lacks a bit too much grip for trails (I’d love an equivalent trail version from inov-8!), so I opted for my trusty RocLite 268s).  I had no idea where I was in terms of position but knew I had to run hard.  Most of the bike and run was in the trees so the heat wasn’t too bad but I definitely started to feel it during the run.  The water from aid stations went straight over my head to make sure I kept as cool as possible.  I was running quite smoothly but it wasn’t easy – I spent the whole run telling myself not to slow down under any condition!  It was a two lap run and the second lap I was feeling better than the first – maybe it’s just because I knew what was coming and knew I was close to the end.  I passed a couple of girls during the run, and some guys too who had started before us.  I knew I was racing hard and going to post a pretty good time so I was pleased with how I’d pushed myself the whole day, being able to swim, bike and run hard shows some good signs of fitness.

Turns out I finished as 10th amateur overall, with a time that was the closest I’ve ever been to the winning time.  I was 5th in my stacked age group but all very close in time, maybe without my crash and dropped chain on the bike I’d have made up the minute I needed to get 4th place and a qualifying slot for Xterra Worlds in Maui (I’d have got in it any other age group!) – competition among the 30-34 year old is tough but it’s only going to make me train harder!

Congrats to Amy who raced great, had a fab swim and bike split and achieved her Maui Slot.  Also, fantastic day for Tammy who became ITU Cross World Champion to add to her Xterra World champion title – she completely kicked butt with no one in her age group coming close to challenging her.

The Pro’s usually race at the same time as us Age Groupers, but because this was ITU, they had their own separate races later in the afternoon, on a slightly different course.  It was extremely fun to be able to watch the Pro races unfold and provide support for them all out there in the hottest part of the day.  Lesley had yet another amazing run to come from behind to track Mel down and claim her second off road triathlon world title – I have no idea how she runs like she does, there is definitely a bunch of talent there but also many years of hard work – so great to see if pay off, and all the better than she is also on team GB.

Race Report

Xterra West Champs – Las Vegas

A last minute decision and support from friends driving my bike and stuff all the way to Vegas for me and giving me a bed to sleep in put me on the start-line of this race on a cold and rainy April morning in the middle of the desert.  I wasn’t going to do this race as I don’t really enjoy the course and have never raced that well on it, but a bit of peer pressure got me there and it was a good opportunity to see where my fitness on a mountain bike was at.

A few early morning mishaps (including a flat tire on the car that was pumped back up with a bike tire pump) and we were ready to race.  The water and air temp was cold but I had a good swim – more evidence of the winter training paying off and was out on the bike to try to warm up once I’d found some feeling in my hands to be able to get wetsuit off and shoes on.  The bike course hadn’t changed from the previous year but it was slightly damp from the rain so it road faster and smoother than before.  I biked ok but was definitely lacking power for the short steep hills and this really showed itself when attempting to run on dead legs afterwards!  The race felt short after racing 70.3 a few weeks back so that’s definitely a good sign.  I got passed up by more people than I would have liked on the run but still, all of my splits were faster than last year so plenty to build on.


Thanks to inov-8 for the shoes and kit – great to race in it at last!  Also, huge thanks to Amy and Teresa for getting my stuff down there and cramming me into the car for the trip back.  And also, many thanks to Amy’s Uncle and Aunt for the hospitality in their home for people they have never met, for coming out to support and take photos’ of the race.