2011 XTERRA Pacific Championship, Santa Cruz, CA

The winning streak came to a halt this weekend when Lesley Paterson ran away with the win in Santa Cruz, California.  We haven’t seen her yet this year and obviously she is in great shape so it was a well deserved win.  Renata Bucher had a solid first race in the US taking second and my Specialized teammate Emma Garrard took a career best third place in front of Shonny.  I took fifth rounding out the podium.  Obviously every race I am there to win but this wasn’t my day.   I can’t be at 100% every race and I can’t hope to win unless I am.

After the disaster week in Spain I had no choice but to cram a solid training week in advance of the coming 70.3 races I plan to do.  That complete week off in Spain was not going to be good in light of the half Ironman I am doing in three weeks.  I don’t even know if it was the training that had me feeling not only physically tired because I was pretty tired mentally as well.  That whole Spain experience was draining and I am not sure I was excited enough to hit the circuit again.  Having a World Championship in April is weird as it is kind of like “another race” in the middle of a bunch of races but asks for a little more intensity.  My team mate Conrad handled it beautifully, continuing his solid season on the XTERRA tour taking the win this weekend and I think he was the only one who came back from Spain in full form.  I just wasn’t as consistent.  It isn’t really the racing but more the travel and the training around that travel that hurt me.  Thanks so much to Specialized for sending along the awesome pro race support to help with our bikes.  It was awesome to have the trio of Myron, Jeff and Joe to help out the pro tri team this weekend and having that help really was an energy boost for me.  Couldn’t have gotten to the podium without you guys!  Also, big shoutout to Simon Dunne from Specialized, our Advocacy and First Gear guy who finished not far behind me.  Way to go Simon!

Getting my head together to suffer enough on the very tough course in Santa Cruz was my main focus starting the weekend.  The course really didn’t play into my hands with the legs I brought as the almost all uphill bike course left nowhere to hide and the flat and fast run course would have normally been good for me but not so this time around.  Despite the challenging course it was still the tightest top five finish we have seen this season so I was beaten in a very strong field which is nothing to be sad about.   It just goes to show how competitive XTERRA is… winning is a tough ask on any course!

The most inspiring part of the weekend was Jamie Whitmore’s return to racing.  After a 3 year hiatus from riding a bike due to cancer surgery, Jamie’s third ride on a mountain bike was finishing the XTERRA sport event in Santa Cruz.  Did I mention how much climbing was on the course?  Or the fact she doesn’t have a proper brace for running yet?  That girl is a racer, through and through.  Wow perseverance.  Welcome back gutzytrigirl.

 

I really enjoyed the town of Santa Cruz although I am really tired of the complete lack for summer weather we are having on the west coast.  It was downright cold in Santa Cruz with low 50s water temperature to add to the challenge.  BRRR!  After our icy plunge we were sent out on one of the most scenic bike courses on the circuit.  The views from the top of the bike course looking over the Pacific were really spectacular.  I also enjoyed the fun sections on the bike course meandering through the eucalyptus… so yummy smelling!  I liked it very much although I thought it was tough riding through the bumpy grass on the uphills.  I knew I was in trouble when I got dropped on the road at the beginning of the bike course, a part of the race where it should have been easy to get a free ride to the trails.  This is the first time, um ever, that I have not ever reached the front of the race on the US tour.  Also worst finish in a long while on the US circuit so disappointing and motivating to turn it around.

The run was an exercise in mental fortitude because the howling headwinds along the cliffs were crazy and it was tough to gauge how far along we were.  Regardless, I am fitter for having tried my hardest, I still got the points I need in order to stay in the hunt for the overall and really, it wasn’t a bad result.  I am always stoked to be on the podium.

2011 pacific podium

2011 XTERRA Santa Cruz Podium (everyone but Emma looks really cold, haha, crazy Alaskans!)

The team (Conrad, Emma, Dan and I) had some fun after the race when we all went to Hulas for dinner.  We were joined by Lesley, Jess, Craig and Brandon which made for a super fun evening.  The tour has really cool people on it and I am so happy to have Lesley back in the mix.  The more fast girls the better although she is doing less of XTERRA in order to focus on the 70.3 races.   Maybe I am crazy to try to do it all but might as well continue trying because so far it has gone fairly well.  For the coming weekend I am planning a much lighter week so that I can race with some better quality in Alabama.  I really enjoy the course in Pelham but so do a lot of the other girls so it should be a good battle.  We’ll see if some rest helps me find the top step on the podium.  According to Conrad, no training is the best answer but he is a freak.  I think somewhere between my 27 hours and his 4 hours of training might be the right answer for me.   I am sure his swim workout drinking beer at the bar is NOT going to work for me (you have to ask him that story).

I was happy to see Meiling Yee and Keri Grosse sharing the women’s podium representing MelRad Racing.  Way to go girls!

I would like to send big shoutout to Lisa Heisinger who is not only the top amateur for the Pacific Champs but is also my favourite winery general manager in California.   With a busy full time job overseeing two (now three?) wineries she still finds time to keep herself the fastest of the amateur women’s field which is pretty amazing.  Looking forward to my visit to Sonoma and some fun road rides with her in July.  Does JC know how fast you are?  I need to talk to him about sponsoring you (I like my guesthouse sponsorship.. thank you very much!)

Until our next race in Pelham, I have a birthday to celebrate in the dirty south.  Looking forward to visiting my awesome Southern friends and continuing to enjoy this exciting season.

Keep it rubber side down.

 

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