Summertime

When I got home from Arkansas I was Fried.  Capital “F” fried.  I was so burnt out on travelling you can’t even imagine it.  I started travelling in Little Rock at 10 am and didn’t get home until 12:00 PST.  To fly for approximately THREE hours!  The storm season in the US seems to be early and terrible this year.  Anyhow, I hit the wall when I came home.  I have never had a schedule of XTERRAs as compressed and aggressive as we have had this year.  If you think of it, an XTERRA is about an hour longer than your average mountain bike race so racing them back to back to back is very hard on your body.  You always find a million little bruises on your legs and arms after a mountain bike race, not knowing where they came from and after this many races I was finding bruises on my bruises and a lot of fatigue.  When I added to that the travel and lack of training I think I was just feeling “off” this week.  Like, I don’t care if I ever do another triathlon kind of “off”.   Don’t worry, it has passed with a couple good training sessions but I was in need of some respite for sure.  We did one of the most beautiful rides in Victoria… here is a pic of us.. before we were lost and frozen.

It was a rainy day but still pretty cool to be out there.

While I was gone, Ross put the finishing touches on his baby to make it driveable.  Yep, Ross built himself a hotrod.  I can hear him coming from about a kilometer away.  🙂  He loves it.  It is a really, really cool car.  Makes him look extra hot in my opinion but maybe I am just a tirebiter at heart.

Ross and his baby

Read more for the nerdy training recap and the schedule for the next week and a half…..

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Gillian Kicking Butt

Gillian is Ross’s sister’s daughter.. so I guess she is my niece-in-law!  Haha.  Anyways, all of us are so proud of Gillian for winning the all around competition in her first dressage show.  She and Florine took 2nd place in her first dressage test, 1st place in her 2nd test and won 1st place overall (High Point) for the morning as she had the highest dressage test score of all.  

Gillian and Florian – the class of the field

I just wish I looked as beautiful and elegant at the finish of my races!

A long, long time ago, I started as a horsey person as well.  Although, I was always about speed as I barrel raced and did all the rodeo horse speed competitions.  I NEVER was able to ride as well or as beautifully as she can.  Congratulations on a fabulous performance Gill!

 

XTERRA Cup #6 Little Rock Arkansas – Survival Of The Sweatiest

Shonny V ended my run towards an undefeated season with her well earned victory yesterday in Burns Park at the XTERRA South Central Cup in Arkansas.  In actual fact, I was not going to be able to sweep the entire series as I was always planning to miss one of the events but it still was looking possible to be undefeated up until halfway through the run yesterday.  Although I kept it together to hold onto second it was still somewhat déjà vu to Alabama 2008 as stupidly hot temperatures made the race one of heat managing attrition which I succumbed to like so many other athletes competing.  I was shocked to come off the bike with Seth Wealing and Brian Smith directly in front of me, two pro men that are normally light years ahead after the first two legs of the race, so weird race dynamics were evident.  With the temperature reading 100 degrees in the afternoon and the heat index registering a much higher temperature of closer to 106 degrees I think that was the hottest day I have ever experienced in my life.

I was lucky to have wonderful people to hang out with during the week.  Dan Lysk and his girlfriend Addie were incredible hosts.  I had lots of fun with the two of them as they are a couple I could absolutely see Ross and I hanging out with.  Dan owns Arkansas Cycling and Fitness in Little Rock and together with super mechanic Brandi (the best female mechanic ever!) got my Specialized Era race fit before the event.  I was lucky to have a guided tour of the course with Addie pre-race which helped me get familiar with the area and I also got a new boyfriend for the week.  Turd the cat stalked me, following my every move and cuddling at every opportunity this week.  Very cute.  I very much appreciated the help from both Dan and from Fred Phillips, the race organizer, putting on a fabulous event in a great venue and rolling out the Southern hospitality at every opportunity.  Orbea really profited from their sponsorship of the event with their athlete Shonny bringing home the title so congratulations to Tony and his team on some big success there!  It was a small contingent of MelRad racers this time around.. but Fred Smith and Todd Poole absolutely rocked it. 

I now have a pretty miserable track record for very hot races with stifling humidity.  Hawaii seems to be fine but East coast and the South not as good.  This history may have also created a crisis of confidence more than actual ability and Shonny won being altogether faster, tougher, harder and more motivated than I on the day.  I really have to give her 100% credit and admiration for being focused on the task, ignoring the uncontrollable elements and executing a winning race plan.  I, on the other hand, decided to focus on some bad luck, on past failures and the stupid thermometer all week long which I know did not improve my chances of taking the win. Read on for details… 

What I was all fussed about… 98 degrees in the MORNING?

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Calm Before The Storm – Meditating On The Farm

Saturday is go-time for #6 in the XTERRA US Cup Series.  The race is being held in Little Rock, Arkansas at Burns Park.  The course is fabulous – as soon as you get out of the water.  The swim, um, yuck.  Luckily there is a fantastic pool at University of Arkansas so I can do all my pre-race training in a chlorinated environment.  I didn’t sustain an injury like Conrad’s but I did manage to cut the bottom of my foot in the James River in Richmond as well so my big toe has been a headache this week and more nasty water was not going to make things better. 

I have had the chance to ride a number of loops on the bike course and I really, really like it.  The run course seems incredibly long but I think that was the result of me procrastinating training up to the point where the mercury rose to 100 degrees and I could feel the bottom of my shoes melting to the pavement.  There is a very long run on pavement to the trail I couldn’t find so it is going to be HOT.  Very, very hot.  I think the water is hot too.  My favorite.

To keep sharp for this race I wanted to do a bit of intensity but not too much to be tired given we only have a six day break between races.  I was going to do efforts Wednesday on the course but it was so hot my heartrate went to 183 bpm without even trying on the hills so I decided just to ride it steady.  I did two laps both in 45 minutes trying to NOT go hard so I think we will be below 40 minutes on race day.  My run was a run/walk so it can’t even count as training.  I have done two swims this week, one with 24×50 on 60/50/40 as ez/race pace/fast then 1000 pull as 50 ez/50 fast, 50ez/100 fast and 50 ez/200 fast x2.  Yesterday I did 16×50 as 3 race pace on :45/1 ez on 60 then 5×200 as 100 fast/100 cruisy swimming  1:07s for the 100s.  Gotta love yards.  Today I slept in.  Bike work, ez spin (maybe try to find the run) and a swim.

So while I distract myself from how freaking hot it is here I thought I would entertain you with a baby scrapbook of my farm.  Yep, I have nursed these little seeds to adolescence and I am super stoked they aren’t dead yet.  Ross did an incredible job of building me some raised beds so in addition to my patio farm I now have a backyard farm as well.  We had to put fencing around the plants in the backyard as the deer tend to use it as a salad bar hence the black netting.  Read more for pictures….

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And Richmond Makes FIVE…

The XTERRA in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend was a full-on drag race.  The race starts with a ridiculously short swim that is mostly downstream followed by a short and fast bmx-style mountain bike course.  Add to that a fairly flat but notoriously hot and exposed run and this race leaves little to strategy and everything to fitness.  Some construction on the bike course led to a detour eliminating a significant portion of single track and climbing making this year’s race even faster and shorter than ever before.  This year the US Cup series is really demanding the most of an all-around athlete, as the chance to win these events on the swim, the bike or the run alone is truly non-existent and instead, a solid day in all three disciplines is required.   Even Idaho and Vegas, very long races where we spent nearly all of our time on the bike did not necessarily favor cyclists over runners.  Both required more fitness than finesse as very non-technical races meant bike specialists would not really find those races favorable.  More than ever, XTERRA is going to well rounded athletes and I think this is certainly benefitting both Conrad Stoltz and I.

I got to my friend Jay’s house in Richmond on the Thursday before the race.  After a casual evening catching up I went off to bed early as I was planning an early morning in the bike shop.  I was greeted in Richmond by a present from Specialized.  A brand spanking new Era was waiting for me at Conte’s Bike Shop for me to christen on the Richmond trail network.  CJ did an awesome job in sorting out the build for me although he was deathly ill with some kind of flu and I unceremoniously detoxified the bike when he was finished with it with multiple antibacterial rinsings.  Sorry CJ!  You are an awesome guy but I was afraid of your germs.  My first ride on the bike went perfect and the bike was fitting and running like a dream.  I really do love the Brain forks and shocks as it requires no thought on my part.  Just set them up and off you go.  Read more for the race story…

 

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XTERRA NW Cup – Farragut Equals Four

The race course at Farragut State Park in Athol, Idaho is beautiful.  Between the cool clear waters of Lake Pend Oreille (read: cold) and the loamy, fast singletrack in the trees, this venue really showcases the beauty of nature in the Northwest.  There is also a large amount of military history in the area as Farragut was once the world’s second largest military installation in WW2.  I guess Idaho was far enough from the ocean that bombers could not reach the area so the navy was stationed there.  Many areas of the park are named for war heroes and today they still use the lake for submarine hull testing as it is very, very deep in areas (1,158 feet).  As a local (well, it takes 11 hours for me to get there but I am from the Northwest) I was really looking forward to this event.  This corner of Idaho is less than four hours from the Canadian border which may have contributed to a lot of other Canadians feeling good about this event as well.  Top three on the pro women’s podium were Canadian with Danelle Kabush, Christine Jeffrey and yours truly rocking the top three places.  Both the male and female age group overall winners (Cal Zaryski and Rosemarie Gersbache) were also from Calgary, so go Canada, eh!   This race makes four for four for Mel.

We were fortunate to stay at Casita de Church, the guest house of our friends Connie and Steve Church in Hayden Lake, Idaho so the course was a short drive from our door.  It almost felt like we were sleeping in the woods it was so quiet and serene in the area. Thanks guys!  Your house is incredible!  The race itself was part of Adventure Sports Week (http://www.adventuresportsweek.com), where they are having 24 different races including trail runs, the XTERRA, an adventure race and some mountain bike events to name a few during the week.  Over 1000 athletes will get to sample the fun in Idaho and we ended up one of the first events on the schedule.

Idaho is the first of three XTERRA Cup events I am planning to race on back to back weekends.  This is a tricky challenge as some athletes contending for the overall are planning to miss one or more of the events to save up for other ones.  I want to be strong for three weeks straight.  The challenge is planning enough training to be fast for three weeks but not so much that I am tired for any of them.  This last weekend in Idaho went really well for me and obviously I am pleased to come away with the win.  However, it was the hardest race for me this year.  I think I may have done a little too much in preparation for my three weeks of racing.  I am not sure the course particularly suited me so it was going to be an extra challenge in that regard.  I was certainly running scared as speedy Danelle was hunting me down.  To top it off, I chose to have my worst swim ever in my history of triathlon just to give Christine Jeffrey an enormous lead to start a race that had one of the fastest and not particularly technical courses we have raced on this year.  It was a very, very hard day at the office.  READ MORE….

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