2012 XTERRA USA National Championship, Ogden, Utah

The last race in the US XTERRA Pro series was held at Snowbasin Resort just minutes from Ogden, Utah.  This was also the USA Championships race where the top age groupers compete for their national title, as do the American pros in the field.  This year Lesley Paterson and Josiah Middaugh proved the strongest on the day.  Lesley continues to impress with a fantastic season taking the overall title for the women and finishing the points series with an excellent race in Snowbasin.  After the dust settled, I took fourth on the day and squeezed second place out of the series in a tie break with Renata Bucher.  It was a hard battle and I did everything I could on the day leaving it all out there on the course.

Photo by Nils Nilsen/ N2Photos.com

At the race this weekend I had a decent swim but as soon as we were heading up Wheeler Canyon I knew it was not my day.  I was getting dropped by Suzi and I couldn’t push the gears.  I rallied for a little while but about halfway up Sardine Peak I detonated and shortly after was passed by Lesley.  I went onto the bike second and then just tried to keep myself together on the run when I held on for fourth.  The run was longer than last year which made the race even tougher.  I will definitely benefit from having some time to singularly focus on one event.  I don’t have my best power on the bike at the moment and that throws off my whole race.  I will use the hard day to toughen up for the final event of the year.

Photo by XTERRA photos.

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Just another awesome week in Utah

I arrived in Park City on Tuesday night.  I am staying with Rob and Linda Karz again this year along with their dog Jake and serial killer cat named Dexter.  I love it here.

First step towards finishing this year with strong performances on the offroad scene is XTERRA USA Champs in Ogden. That requires some acclimation to high altitude.  I find the best base for all my training for triathlon is here in Park City.  So far I have managed to string some good workouts together leading up to the weekend and I though a pictoral representation of that training was best.  I managed to win the Tour de Suds race again this year and my time was slightly slower than last year but given the dry and loose conditions my guess is the roads were slower because I actually went harder than last year, especially near the top.  Hard to tell.  Regardless, I think we’re good to go for the big show next week at Snowbasin. You should come to Utah.  It rocks here.

Tour de Suds race profile.. ouch huh?

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2012 IM 70.3 World Championship, Las Vegas, NV

I gave this advice to a friend of mine who had a bad race recently while everyone was watching.

 sh$t happens, it is what you make of the pile that matters 

Look at me.  Look at the pile.  Now back to me. No one was watching me in Vegas because I was so far back, one advantage I had on said friend I offered that advice to. Now I plan to utilize it myself.

The top performances at the Worlds aside, there were highlights that stuck with me personally from the race in Vegas.  Watching Leanda win another World Championship 5 years after her last, after a season of up and downs, punctuated with a super dominant performance was excellent.   She was a favorite to win for sure but she blew the doors off that sucker.  Kelly Williamson powered to second place with a phenomenal run and I heard some doubts from her the day before.  All of us sometimes waver in our confidence but I know she was game face only by race morning.  Lastly, seeing Angela Naeth finish the race after sliding down a cheese grater at mile 19 was most excellent.  They grow us chicks tough in Canada and that Angela makes me proud of our culture of triathlon in Canada. 

My performance was forgettable and as a professional I have some people to whom I owe an explanation and there are some people are just interested in WTF.  In hindsight I have learned it is better to just know when to pause and re-evaluate.  I have made a series of decisions this season that left me injured for weeks and ultimately unprepared for Worlds.  An overstuffed schedule continually alternating between XTERRA and 70.3 meant I disregarded warning signs in my body until I left myself little time to get prepared for one of my biggest races.

When the injury was finally diagnosed and changes to my cleats and time trial position were made, I pursued therapy aggressively.  I experienced over the top effort of Jamie Grimes at Synergy Health, Paul McIntyre at Broadmead Orthopedic Physiotherapy and massive amounts of massage from Markus Blumensaat and Alex Forsythe.  I had 2.5 weeks post Trekworld to salvage the Vegas worlds and XTERRA Canada.  There were rays of hope that pushed me down this path.  Those people worked so hard to get me back on track and I was energized by a good performance in Canada.  However, I couldn’t get it done.   It isn’t because I am not capable of riding at the front, as I have done so numerous times this season with these same phenomenal athletes.  I just couldn’t on Sunday.

To be honest, injury management aside, I did learn something which was positive.  My preparation for the extreme temperatures was not ideal and I won’t go straight from Victoria to the burning inferno of Vegas next year.  Certainly feeling like dried roadkill did not speed me up at all.  I was headed backwards before the heat got me but it did and that is bad.  A bit more time would have made the experience a lot more comfortable. 

Scheduling this year has been an issue.  I like racing EVERYTHING and that isn’t working out that well.  Some girls did about 5 races.  I multiplied that by about 5 if you include all my training events so maybe I found the breaking point?  It did not work up to now, anyway.

Not finishing and earning the rotton finish waiting for me would have meant compromising my XTERRA season, finishing a bunch of races in a terrible position to qualify, earning the confidence of sponsors and friends and leaning on my awesome boyfriend Mike (who sat in the boiling temperatures cheering for WAY too long) would have been for absolutely NOTHING at all. I never quit if at all possible and I think being a somewhat graceful loser gives me an opportunity to be a better winner.  I think dropping out gets easier every time you do it so I avoid it.  Everyone struggles out there… so embracing the struggle is important to me.

My main goal in racing 70.3 was to challenge myself at the highest level and push my limits.  I want to win all kinds of events including 70.3, mountain bike and XTERRA events and getting out of my comfort zone has been good.  I am just having trouble finding my way right now and am a bit frustrated with the half Ironman stuff.

XTERRA is a much different sport but like all triathlon it has a cast of super strong characters.  Knowing that, it is time for me to do everything I can to be ready for the US Nationals and the XTERRA Worlds because those races are going to be FAST.  I think this last race is a poor reflection of my ability which includes winning the Oceanside 70.3 with the top girls from Worlds in the field, earning a top 3 and fastest bike split at the Calgary 70.3 with an injury and winning Richmond and Canada XTERRA events this year.  I am stronger than the long workout I performed in Vegas might indicate. 

My next opportunity to race the best in the world happens to be on the dirt… just where I like it.    I did work really hard this season and all these disappointments, although tough to swallow, are motivating me. I’m looking forward to finding my fastness again.  I am going to make it a bit easier on myself though…no more riding two horses with one ass….it is all my Trek Superfly, Bontrager monster truck 2.2 tires and Shimano XTR shifting from here to the end of October.

Thanks to AVIA, Polar, Rudy Project, Powerbar, Esi Grips, Powertap, Champion System, USANA, Genuine Innovations, Nineteen Wetsuits and Trigger Point Technologies.  Big thank you to my local supporters: Trek Procity Victoria,  Synergy Health Management (Jamie Grimes and Kate Button in particular), Broadmead Physio (Paul McIntyre) and Markus Blumensaat, RMT and new supertalent: Alex Forsythe, RMT.   I am really well supported by phenomenally talented people and spectacular products so I look forward to showcasing this advantage properly.

2012 XTERRA Canada- Canmore, Alberta

This year XTERRA Canada was held in Canmore, Alberta.  Canmore is a little ski town famous for hosting the 1988 Olympic Nordic venues and for the plethora of large wild animals that roam near town.  Bears and elks and deers, oh my!  This year they hosted the XTERRA event along with the Highland Games which made for some busy streets filled with cute skirts worn by men.

The swim was held in Quarry Lake (pond) and the bike/run courses were up in the Nordic trails near the Nordic center. The venue was so pretty. Having raced the Canada Cup mountain bike series years ago I was no stranger to most of the trails so it wasn’t all new but it has been a few years since I have visited Canmore.  Like always, it was pretty much freezing.  Doesn’t matter what month you race in Canmore, it can be winter.  One time it was snowing in winter in July.  No big deal to show up in September and have it snow on the mountains the night before the race.   

The field for the women was spectacular with almost everyone showing up.  However, we all knew that Danelle was the one to beat given she lived in Canmore and has done a few races on that same course already this year.  Forget about a technical advantage on these trails, she knows them better than anyone.  Also, her win in Beaver Creek was no fluke and with flat tires I lost the opportunity to try to race with her at the front there so I had to guess where she is at.  I guessed it was at pretty freakin fast.  But she wasn’t the only one of the allstar cast that showed up, we had Renata (Vegas 2012 winner), Suzi, Chris Jeffrey, Katie Button, Chantal Widney (ITU girl 3rd at Apple Tri) and super mountain biker Brandi Heisterman. That is a good international field for an otherwise smallish race.   It meant there were definitely not going to be any easy money spots… it was a battle for all of them.

Pressure

 

Kate Button and I rock starred into the event at 1am on Saturday morning with our departure out of Calgary scheduled for 4pm on Sunday.  This was a minimal preparation event solely because Mel is having a torrid affair with her Trek Speed Concept.  The impending battle frightened me somewhat because my schedule was a bit insane.  With Trekworld smashed in my training block, I was crunched for time and there was no option but to train right up to this race in order to have a decent go at the 70.3 Worlds next week.  I was feeling good with that training but it was pretty heavy.  Also, that training was definitely different than what the Canmore event demanded, I was running a lot of pace on a flat road in a straight line, and same with the bike.  I did get in a long mountain bike ride with Buttons which was fun but I haven’t tried to ride a mountain bike fast since Beaver Creek in July.  The first fast ride was the race on Sunday and I think some of the cuts and bruises on me show where my skills are at. The run was the toughest though, with no flat sections and constant vertical up and downhill sections the complete lack of rhythm challenged me a lot.  I think this was our toughest XTERRA Canada yet. 

The 4 degrees Celsius morning was a good kickoff to the challenge ahead of us.  We had a mass start in Quarry Lake with a 3 lap swim on tap.  The swim was super fun and I love my Highway 19 Rogue wetsuit which fits perfect.  The water was nice and clean, it was warmer than the air and pancake flat for race morning.  It actually got choppy just as a pool would if you filled it to its entirety with people, which is essentially what we did that morning.  I swam comfortably on Mike Vine and Suzi Snyder’s feet, and took it easy on the ins/outs of the water to manage my heartrates in the altitude and exited third behind Christine and Suzi.

Onto the bike I was frozen and moving slowly for the first long while.  I was slow after transition and barely caught Suzy up near the Nordic Center despite coming out of the water together.  We rode together until we got to Laundry Chutes descent where I snuck away from her and Chris Jeffrey.  I then proceeded to have a very enjoyable ride on the trails knowing that my heart rate was about 20 beats lower than I normally race at but also knowing there was nothing I could do about it on the day. 

“Can you take that thing off any sweet jumps?” – Trek Superfly superflying off the lip of one of the ski trails.  Photo by Jordan Bryden

When I got to the run my legs felt great although my toes were still frozen in the AVIA Mantis even with socks.  I cruised out on lap one until I saw Danelle on the turnaround.  I then panicked that maybe I didn’t have enough time so I downed a Powergel and turned on the gas as hard as I could.  Then my heartrate started heading to normal territory!  I definitely ran hard on the second lap and caught back up to the first age grouper Simon Heeringa who had blazed past me on the first lap (funny side note: when he ran past he asked me if it was one or two laps. Haha!  He stopped pulling away from me so quickly when I told him it was two).  At the turnaround I saw Danelle had only made a minimal gain on that lap so I knew I was safe.  Running into the stadium I saw little Maya Munzar just up ahead and I tried to run to catch her but she was too fast for me so I opted to cash in some of my advantage to wait for her to finish the 200m out and back section so I could high five her going into her second lap.  Maya is in the 15-19 age category and came second overall age grouper.  She is 100% the future of this sport and is so talented.  It was really cool to race with her and see just how fast she is especially given we got out of the water together.  Way to go Maya! 

2012 canmore hr

Polar File from www.polarpersonaltrainer.com that recaps the effort on the day.

 

So Danelle came in just over a minute back followed by Renata, Chantal and Brandi.  Very impressive women’s podium I would say.  I did not have the fastest anything on the day, in fact I was 3rd fastest at everything but all in all it was a solid day.  Most encouraging was my run which is better than it looks on paper and is more in line with where I thought I would be at this point in the season than any of my crap runs I have posted this year. I’m looking forward to putting that to the test both in Vegas next week and Utah two weeks after.  Thanks to Cal Zaryski and Tony Smith for putting together such a challenging event that was run like a well oiled machine.  Also thanks to Pat Kelly for connecting me with his sister Cindy and her son Patrick for a great homestay.

Maybe I had some tough races during the season but I am definitely fresh and motivated to do as much damage as possible for the big races for the end of it.  See ya in Vegas, baby!