The 2009 World Championships, Maui, HI

2009 is a wrap.  A perfect series of six wins, two second places and now a third place at the Worlds to cap the season.  I am not 100% happy with third honestly but given the legs I had on the day, I am happy that I did my best with what I had and took a podium spot at our biggest race of the year.  It was a tough season of racing and on Sunday I did what I could.  I got through without any major mishap and kept my podium stats at 100% this year.

 

My amazing, incredible and awesome friends who came to watch and cheer.  LOVE YOU!!!

I really thought I was in better form but like all of my races since late July, I faded near the end.  I had some great workouts, I was motivated and I was focused.  Maui is a special event.  The islands are beautiful and magical and offer an incredible venue to celebrate the end of our season.  However, this particular race course would not be my first choice to represent the ultimate XTERRA-style challenge to showcase the best “off-road” athletes.  Don’t get me wrong, the athletes that won the event this year were incredibly fit and talented and such deserving champions.  I do think that the World Championships is a one day showcase of who is best on that day so it is anyone’s opportunity to shine.  That is what makes it so special and exciting.  Eneko Llanos is now a three time World Champion in this event, as is Julie Dibens.  Julie, in particular, was awesome.  Julie showed absolutely zero weakness with an astounding performance on Sunday.

Trying to hold it together to keep my podium streak going

However, over a season of racing with the broadest spectrum of races I have ever done I had my best year of success.  I won six XTERRAs including the US Championships, won the US XTERRA Championships series, was on the podium for an Ironman 70.3 event, was on the podium for a US Cup mountain bike race and created a team to back me up.  That was probably my best display of versatility and I look forward to building on that success next year.

One of my favorite training partners, Jasper Blake, who had a day that made me very grateful for my own.  LOVE YOU JAZZ!

I race offroad triathlon and would hope that having great technical skills would help me win the race that I train to win.  On this year’s Worlds course that was not the case but my disappointment has been mirrored in the past with some courses for mountain bike worlds as well.  Organizers do what they can with the terrain they have.  As they say, it is what it is.  Even if it was more technical I was not my best.  I showed weakness in my swim and both the bike and the run when I faded near the end of the race to be passed for second by Lesley Patterson, hence my third place.  But even if I was at my strongest, with no technical challenge to exploit any weakness in Julie’s riding, this race certainly did not swing in my favor.  The course has changed a lot since 2006 when I won by 8 minutes.  The road was graded, now covered in gravel, smoothed and buffed and doesn’t really suit a mountain biker.  I am disappointed I didn’t peak as well as I would have liked but I certainly wasn’t the only one who struggled, so I am happy I took a podium spot.  Sharing the podium with Julie Dibens, Lesley Patterson, Carina Wasle and Shonny Vanlandingham is pretty incredible.  All things considered, I had a great season with nothing but success. 

So given the reality of this race, I will adapt.  I knew the writing was on the wall for this event in 2007 but I secretly hoped a monsoon would hit on race day or something.  I even brought wet conditions tires I specially cut for clay mud, but no, the weather was perfect.  So for next season I will look at what I need to do for XTERRA Worlds.  Mountain bike racing is not really going to help here… a strong run and swim will help.  I will adapt and come back with my weaknesses buffed and smoothed like the road we ride on and my legs strengthened to handle the race up the mountain.  Read more…

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Last Note Before The Race

Sorry the site has been so quiet lately… I guess I was just head down, get ready and stop thinking for a few weeks.  I thought about posting some of my progress but then I ended up not.  I did a bit of twittering but the proper posts were missing.  It also didn’t help that I don’t have a computer ready to go right now but excuses, excuses….

So tomorrow is the BIG ONE.  We are in Maui rested, relaxed and ready to go.  Tomorrow I am going for a fourth title and Ross is going to be Twittering the events as they unfold.  You can find his posts here at www.racergirl.com on the left hand column of the site, on my facebook page and on my twitter page at www.twitter.com/racergirlmel.

I have been asked the question “How do you feel?” so many times this trip and it is tough to really put my finger on exactly how I feel.  Ready, excited and motivated are a good place to start.  This race is very unpredictable so coming here at your best form can sometimes not be enough.  I hope that this year that will be enough.  So I am going to do what my friend Lynley suggested and “embrace the opportunity I have to be here”.  That is a very good way of describing how I really feel.  Grateful, fortunate, happy and proud to be here, with a big group of my friends and Mel’s Rad Racing Team.  Life is good.

Until tomorrow.. when it is show time!  If you are here in Maui to race, please come visit me at the Specialized tent at 11 am downstairs at the Makena Golf Resort.  We are giving away posters and goodies to racers!

2009 XTERRA USA Championships

 

 

 

The XTERRA Cup series finished in Ogden, Utah on Saturday September 25th.  After great races in Las Vegas, Battle Creek, Pelham, Farragut, Richmond and now at Snowbasin, I won the US Championships and the overall series again with a perfect score of 600 points.  This year the series was truly a challenge to find the best overall triathlete given the variety of the courses favoring different strengths so I couldn’t be happier with how it ended.

I am not sure the US Nationals has ever seen a stronger field.  The depth of the field both in the pro and the amateur ranks was truly outstanding and I congratulate anyone that raced last weekend in Snowbasin.  The Ogden course is very challenging with the high altitude, the difficult point to point course and obviously the huge elevation gain with a race starting at 4600 feet and topping out near 8000 feet.  It is a hard race to master.  I also send out my big congratulations to all the age group athletes coming from flat and sea level hometowns who bravely tackled this high altitude event.  It is much easier for me to race there given I have the freedom to travel to altitude well in advance to prepare.  For those coming in at the last minute to bravely do battle, my hat goes off to you!  I congratulate Shonny Vanlandingham, Lesley Paterson, Carina Wasle and Jenny Smith for their strong races to round out the women’s podium.  It was a tough race for everyone.

I felt pretty confident coming into the race.  However, after the pre race dinner I was absolutely inspired.  Fourteen of Mel’s Rad Racing team made it to Ogden.  Of the six that didn’t make it, four were dealing with pretty major illness/injury so it was just bad luck they were not there.  I was so proud of the team that qualified and attended.  No one was chosen for this team based on their ability and ALL stepped up their game to come to Ogden.  I have never been so proud of such a strong, determined, focused and dedicated group.  Then they went and almost made me cry with a thank you gift of two of my favorite things:  a trip to the spa and a gift certificate to Haillemaille Restaurant in Maui.  I  can’t believe that they are thanking me, when I get so much back from this team already. You guys rock and you made my race.  No doubt.  After that evening I was determined to lead by example when that cannon went off.

Although the course profile in Ogden does not exactly play into my strengths, I have a pretty good track record at this race.  I needed to prepare well in advance both physically and mentally for this event, which is why I went to Colorado and Utah five weeks in advance.  Without any altitude preparation earlier in the season, I needed a solid block to be ready.  Also, the five weeks up high had a secondary benefit.  This would be my big quality base phase in preparation for Maui. 

In general, Ogden has always represented a “do or die” situation for me so the pressure didn’t really bother me.  The biggest issue I was struggling with was impatience.  I wanted to get it done!!  This year was different from every past season in that we started very early, raced a LOT then had an enormous two and a half month break before the US Nationals.  Most of the rest of the field was busy doing other races but I took a big fat winter-style break.  I thought I would be sharper, stronger and hungrier in Maui if I let my nervous system rest from racing.  I only needed to bring myself back up enough to race well in Utah… and after so much time up high I was a bit nervous that I was under-cooked for this race.   READ MORE

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