2013 Tour De Suds

Normally I participate in Tour De Suds as pre Utah Champs preparation but due to inclement weather it was postponed one week.  Since the race is a Mountain Trails Organization fundraiser, it would have been irresponsible to send 500 people up the hill on muddy trails thus, the new date.  Luckily the XTERRA was Saturday so I was still able to participate in both events.

My fitness has been kind of a rollercoaster for me this year.  I believe that I am quite a bit more fit in training than my actual race results show.  In particular, I am expecting more from my run.  Given my race on Saturday, when I started Tour de Suds I expected to be pretty blown and much slower than in the past as that is what my results over the past two races might indicate.  That was not the case.  There is a disconnect between fitness and performance right now as the day after the XTERRA I had magic legs and lots of energy.  Not what you want the day after a key event.

2013-09-15 13.28.23 640x640The race was straight up to the top of that mountain in the distance. Awesome view from my host’s house.

I started up the hill with the cast of characters we normally see in this race (Scooby Doo, Ketchup and Mustard, the bananas, the cast from Wizard of Oz….) along with some of the uncostumed local speedy kids.   I had a raft of excuses for a poor performance to cling to if it did not go well so I removed any outcome goal whatsoever.  I had the option to drop out if I felt terrible as well as Adam’s coaching directive was to not “dig a bigger hole from the weekend” from which to recover if I was going poorly at that stage.  All of this to remove any and all expectations from the event.  I was doing it purely for the fun of it.

 

2013-09-22 09.42.35 640x480

 

An example of some of the fun costumes… Mr Potato Head.. so funny!

So when this cute little speedy girl named Evelyn went by, initially I thought, “Okay I guess she is going to beat me today.”  I didn’t feel like being super competitive… it was a workout first, not really a race.  Not knowing who she was I didn’t know how fast I should expect her pace to be.  However, she went by and I wasn’t hurting so I changed my mind.  I figured I would just RIDE with her for a bit and see what happens.  Riding turned into a very fun back and forth race where I was making more time on the flatter sections whereas she was quite fast when it was steep.  She made a decisive and successful attack about 3’ from the top and I didn’t respond (not sure I could have, really) and we finished 1-2 only 10 seconds apart.  We also ended up 2 and 3 OVERALL on the day.  Not only that, I rode four minutes faster than I have ever gone on this course and it didn’t even feel hard. 

So the fact I am not meeting my performance expectations at important races just shows that something is missing in execution.  I had SO much fun racing on Sunday and on Saturday I was panicked, I was not in the moment and I was stressing… not enjoying the same way.  I think that I need to find more fun like I did on Sunday racing with the bananas and react more like I did when I didn’t really care about the outcome.  I am performing the way I would expect to IF I take the pressure off myself.  This is exactly how I raced at TransRockies as well… no pressure.  I have been here before, where I want something so bad I force it much too hard.  I didn’t sleep for 2 weeks before Vegas I was so focused on achieving my goal.. and worried myself sick.  Then I probably carried so much stress and tension into Utah that I exhausted myself halfway through the race.  But then I relaxed and performed my best ever the day after that race… just shows there was more in the tank for Saturday than I thought and your head is your biggest obstacle.  I’m going to enjoy watching the fishes in Hawaii.  I think there is certainly less pressure going into that race as a non-favorite and who knows what might happen if I just relax a lot more.

As it turns out Evelyn finished 5th at elite USA mountain bike nationals and has finished top 3 in a bunch of the pro XC races this year.  For a lowlander to keep up with a local mountain specialist the day after a triathlon was actually quite a strong performance. Which just further strengthens my belief that I have trained correctly and I am in shape… I just need to get out of my own way to race well.

2013-09-11 17.22.32 640x640Time to just enjoy the ride.  I love my bike.

 

2013 XTERRA USA Championship: Snowbasin, Utah

The last race of the US XTERRA Pro series was this past weekend at Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah.  Lesley Paterson finished off a perfect season winning the final race, Barb Riveros took second place, Chantal Widney of Canada third place with Emma Garrard and Danelle Kabush rounding out the podium.  Great to have two Canucks up there!  The quality of field for this race was the best ever seen for both men and women and it was a great prelude to the final race of the season in Maui, Hawaii.   It is exciting to see our sport mature and I am so proud to have so many strong Canadians in the race.  I am in excellent company representing triathlon in Canada.

Utah Canadians

 

The Canadian ladies in Utah!

I was eighth on the day and fourth on the XTERRA tour overall.  My stranglehold on top 2 (the last 10 years?) ended on Sunday.  With a better day on Sunday I might have held on for another year of top 2 but it wasn’t to be.   Lots of girls handing me my arse when I didn’t show up with my best.  

I was asked before the race: would you be happy with your race if you didn’t win?  I said yes, if I performed at my best and it still wasn’t good enough I would be satisfied for sure.  I am impressed with how strong the field is in XTERRA and I really look forward to sharpening my tools before I show up in Maui.  All of the women in front of me this weekend are strong and focused on XTERRA and there were more superfast girls still behind me, so I can’t be that disappointed.  However, I do know that focused or not on XTERRA my fitness is better than that but I still have to prove it.  That was the day and if I want a better result I am just going to have to work harder and make it happen.  

I’m sure I am not the only one who felt a bit frustrated with their performance on Saturday.  It all has to come out on the big day and small things can affect that day’s performance.  The only thing you can do is go back to work, be diligent, disciplined and confident that eventually it will all come together.  Keeping your confidence is the trick.  I am sure I will have a good race come together if I stay on track and refuse to be discouraged when things don’t play out as expected.

Now for some things you may or may not have known about the race in Ogden:

        The swim was about 2.1km instead of 1.5 km.  In very un-XTERRA style… we did a super crazy long swim to start the race.  Weird.

        The weather was probably the warmest we have ever had at this race.  Normally race morning is freezing and we have frozen feet the whole day. It was downright beautiful!

        There were more ITU and WTC types in the race than any other XTERRA other than Maui.  Looks like the qualifying requirement is definitely working to improve the depth of field!

        Emma Garrard had a baby 9 months ago before she went and had her best Nationals ever, finishing 4th!  Another super fast mom in the field.

        There were 1000 people taking part in the triathlon and who knows how many more in the trail race.  That is a solid turnout for a mountain bike triathlon event!

        The race was point to point, starting down at 6000 ish feet and topping out at 7700 ish before descending to about 7000 where the run started and finished.  

 

 2013 xterra nationals

My www.polarpersonaltrainer.com file from the race showing the effort was there even if the power went out.  You can see that I suffered on the run… where the heartrate went down instead of up.

I have turned this season mostly into positive despite a start that was looking a little troubling.  Starting training for the season in April is not ideal but coming from not being able to run resulting in my worst Oceanside performance ever, to working myself back to three top 3 Ironman 70.3 races, two bike course records on the Ironman 70.3 circuit, a 1st and a 2nd place on the XTERRA tour and a win at the TransRockies mountain bike race against quality girls is not that bad a year.  I may not have knocked it out of the park but generally you need to start with good momentum to make that happen. And that is what I have now, some awesome momentum.  I think it is turning around now and I am excited to see how the coming races pan out

I take inspiration from World Mountain Bike Champion Julie Bresset who had an injury during the mountain bike season.  She blew up at the World Cup weeks out from the World Championships where she rode at the front and faded, only to roar back and win the World Championships a few weeks later.  That pointy end form takes a bit to come back and first you have to feel it before you can keep it.  I think for a few precious minutes I felt it.

Thanks to all of my amazing sponsors and supporters.  You inspire me every day to work my hardest… thank you!  Thanks to Adam Zucco who is patiently riding this roller coaster of return to form with me… all the while talking me off the ledge when I get impatient 🙂  Thank you to Rob and Linda Karz, my Park City host family who give me such an amazing base to work from for this race.  Such a pleasure to have annual visits with such incredible people.  This really is a charmed life I lead.

Back to work.

 

2013 Utah champs

 

2013 70.3 Worlds: Vegas Is A Bust

I don’t quit races.  I finish what I start even if I have to finish an hour behind the winner because I am having an off day.  On Sunday I had a DNF.  My race day ended at T2.  My racing actually ended at about 30 miles into the bike.  There is no excuse that ever matters: I couldn’t finish and didn’t get the job done with my first DNF in a very long time.  That was not the performance that I know I was capable of coming into the event.  The ultimate respect and admiration for Mel Hauschilt for taking the win while all the pressure was on and to Heather Jackson and Annabel Luxford for earning podium spots with superb races on a tough course.  Their performances were what we all aspired to.

I really had put everything wholeheartedly into creating an excellent performance for myself and now I will refocus to make it happen in 2 weeks.  I was ready, both mentally and physically and everything was indicating I was going to have a great day.  Even while the race was unfolding I was adapting to the circumstances to try to maximize whatever performance I had regardless of what outcome resulted.

I actually had a brilliant start to the race and swam with the leaders for a long while (thanks for the tow Leanda!) before I swam off course and ended up in the main bunch (that murky water is pesky if you like swimming crooked).  Every race I swim better and I almost had the swim I have been working for.  I think my swim training was spot on:  I had speed and my stamina continues to improve.  Thank you Clint and the Tuesday morning swim club:  I saw Tenille swimming UP to me!  Execution should have been better.  However, enough good energy from that swim experience had me positive for the bike … maybe I could have swam front pack if it were clear water, especially in the no wetsuit conditions? Or maybe if the front pack slowed down a bit ;)?  Or if I could fart rocket launching power out my bum to keep me on their feet?  Whatever.. I didn’t stay but there is still positive thoughts to work with at my next race.

When we started the bike I didn’t have good legs at all.  However, I just continued to reframe the situation and refocused, thinking things might come around as the race went on.  Sometimes a hard swim just zaps your legs for the opening miles and they come back.  But there was no recovery on Sunday.  Even MC said that when he saw me early into the bike portion of the race my body language on the bike was not right – my giddyup was missing.   I just did not have any power at all, ever.  It seemed that Heather W left some of hers in T1 as well because I was wondering why I couldn’t pedal and she was kind of with me which gave me hope that maybe I was feeling just really bad but riding ok? I was going for my best day even if it wasn’t my best performance….

At about 10 miles I started to feel quite nauseas, had a pounding headache and drinking from my bottle had me revisit my breakfast so no… I wasn’t riding okay or coming around and I wasn’t riding at my own level.  Heather and everyone else left me behind.  Ryan from Blueseventy’s excellent advice to “Pedal Harder” aside (my request), after a couple hours of trying to push through with no food staying down, barely anything to drink and my lost breakfast, I was empty.  In T2 I knew I was not going to be able to run and there was no turning that day around.  No miracles on ice for this girl.  From that great opportunity was born a missed opportunity, from which I will learn and find some great opportunity in the future.  Not really what Herb Brooks meant… but that is what I experienced*.

I am not sure I have ever trained harder or been more committed than I have been to the process of getting back to form from my injury this season and everything prior to this race showed the work was progressing nicely.  I missed something last weekend.  I have done the work and was pretty scrupulous about staying away from any small children and people visibly harboring disease but that wasn’t enough.

Right now the main goal is to put this particular race in my rear view mirror, not dwell on a missed opportunity and instead refocus the new opportunities I have coming up**.   My 70.3 season improved as the season progressed with three top three results and two course records on the bike, so that shows my form is coming back to the top level.  I started the season in the deepest hole ever, from which Adam Zucco dragged me to the surface and it just didn’t come together on Sunday.   

Thanks so much to my sponsors and supporters for the actual and virtual hugs on race day.  It was a tough day and I appreciate the words of support.  I am looking forward to using this disappointment to create some fury for my next event in Ogden, Utah in two weeks at the US XTERRA Championship at Snowbasin Resort.   

 

 *If you don’t know what I am talking about you must YouTube search “Miracle On Ice speech” and educate yourself on some of the finest hockey inspiration there is.

** This tweet is appropriate as I move on:  7h

Sometimes the harder you try to force something to happen, the less it does! Step back, relax, then re-engage with the right intensity