This past weekend, April 17th was my first Xterra Championship race and I was hoping to grab a slot for the worlds in Maui. This race was a lot of first for me, first time flying my bike, first time for me flying to a race, first long swim and so many more. Before I go any further and talk about the weekend I want to express my gratitude to so many people. First everyone who had a hand in putting this race on. I feel confident in saying that this was the most fun I have had at a race. It was as if not only accepted Xterra but welcomed us. Next I want to thank Cycles Outback, what an awesome bike shop. The people of Waco are lucky to have these guys as their local shop. I needed some work done to the bike from issues of having it shipped and they got it right in, did an awesome job and gave me such a great deal. Thank you so much !!! They also hosted a question and answer with and Melanie McQuaid and had food, beer and wine for all the guest. As for the race, it was clearly marked thanks to the race director and volunteers. Although I couldn’t stay and enjoy the post celebration due to time restraints it looked as if everyone was having a great time with awesome food and drinks.
Like I said this was a lot of first for me. I was excited to fly across the country to compete in a race and see some old friends. However some of the excitement turned to nervousness. I’ve never had to fly my bike before and I was reassured by friends that Southwest had a great reputation. So instead of having it shipped UPS or FedEx I borrowed a bike box (Thanks Fish) and brought it to check in. It was hard to let it go especially knowing that I had a lay over . . . off she went. The flight went smooth and I couldn’t wait to get to Waco to see this bike course I have heard so much about. My flight was into Dallas and from there we needed to get a rental car and head almost two hours south to Waco. At the airport in Dallas I met my friend Frank who is from Ft.Laurerdale. We ened up getting a hotel room half way to Waco and finished the drive Friday morning.
We headed straight for the race site, well almost. My bike needed some quick work because some how the breaks had gone squishy and it wasn’t going to cut it for the race. We decided to stop in at the sponsor bike shop (Cycles Outback) and see if they could help me out. That they did, took me right in and bled my brakes while I waited. After the bike was finished we were back in route. It was cool to see all the tents up and the preparation that had already taken place. We ended up getting there around 1 in the afternoon on Friday and got right into things. Both Frank and I had never ridden this course so we were excited for the pre-ride. I think we had 6 or 7 of us go out on the pre-ride, one of who was Melanie McQuaid. It was cool riding with her and also Dave Desantis, Kristoffer Nielsen, Greg Seaman and Frank Fernandez Possee. We managed to push the pace a little bit harder than I would have liked to for a pre-ride but I wasn’t about to slow down. Unfortunately the Wednesday before I left for Texas I went for my typical middle of the week run the the Rogue Valley Runners and they decided to run “robs trail” which is one of the steepest trails in the valley.
During the run I decided to walk the entire climb in attempts to save my legs. Well 5 miles into the pre-ride and I realized that I should have bagged that run in its entirety. Oh well to late now, the mountain bike trail was fun, lots of ups and downs and tight corners with hard quick climbs that would leave you exhausted. After we finished the 16 mile ride both Frank and I were pretty tired but decided to ride the run course so we would have an idea of what we were getting into. That was another 6 miles, and the first half was pretty technical. In all we ended up riding almost 22 miles, way more than I had wanted too and on semi spent legs. It was time to wash the bikes off and get back to the hotel for some much needed rest.
The next day we both decided to just stay off our legs as much as possible, stay hydrated and try to relax. We went by the course to check some things out and attend Xterra University. This is were last years male and female champs talk about their knowledge of racing and go over the course. They also open it up to any questions and its very one on one. I was glad I attended, its always cool when you can pick the brains of the top athletes in your sport. When that wrapped up we hung out a little while at the course, got some updates on the current of the river and water temperatures. It was 72, wetsuit legal, that’s a huge bonus for me, or could have been. After mingling with the other racers and making a few more friends we decided to head back to the hotel and get everything ready for race day. It was going to be a busy day not only did we have the race but we both had flights leaving at 6 out of Dallas which was a 2 hour drive north. We wanted to make sure we had everything taken care of so after the race we would just be able to get in go.
|Dave Desantis left Frank Fernandez Posse right Burger middle|
While in Texas I had become a little sick. I should of known that my stomach doesn’t handle different water very well as it took me 3 weeks to adjust after moving out to Oregon from Florida. With that said and no more details I did my best to stay hydrated. Time for dinner, we had everything ready to rock n roll. We met Dave Desantis (who won his age group) and Fred Smith (who came in second in his age group and the 3rd amateur overall) out for a bite. I got something juicy, a giant burger with what has now become a race ritual, pork on top of it. It was exactly what I wanted, yum. After dinner all that was left to do was get a good nights rest and race!
Race day, finally my first championship race and my first chance to qualify for Maui. Frank and I decided to get in the water ten minutes before the start to stretch out a little bit and get warmed up. At the end of the warm up my right calve had began to cramp and I was nervous. Oh well, not to much I could do about it pro’s had started and we were next. It was a wading start so I worked my way to the front and got beside Frank who is a stronger swimmer than me. At this point my goal was to keep him in sight. The swim started awesome no craziness at all and I felt relatively good until the first buoy. Bam my right calve cramped up hard, so I tried to just kick with my left or not at all. By the end of the swim both calves were cramping and I knew it was going to be a long day. Right before I exited the water I saw white caps around me which meant that the group behind me had caught up. This was a little bit of a disappointment but I exited the water as fast as I could and when my legs hit the ground the cramps got worse. I hobbled into transition and saw Frank take off as I entered. This wasn’t my fastest transtion as I was trying to stretch my legs because my quads were cramping so bad. I kept telling myself get on the bike and go have some fun.
Off I was on the bike, I passed a few people early, there was a paved section before we hit single track and I knew once we got into the trail passing would be minimal. The bike started out alright, my goal now was to save a little bit and push hard on the run. Went through the bike and got passed by a few people and passed a few people. It wasn’t my best bike effort but I tried to maintain a steady pace. Half way through the bike it seemed like every muscle below my waist was cramping. At this point I could no longer drink what I had put in my camelbak it was just to thick. Something I should not have done, remember that run I was talking about Wednesday before I left, well the run went longer and when we returned to the store it was closed and the register was off but I needed my mix for the race so I asked if I could just give them cash. They said it was fine, when I bent down to pick up the usual I saw a new flavor so I picked that up instead. Well when I got to the car I realized it was a totally different type of mix. It was the stuff you are suppose to put in a 5oz flask almost gu like. To late now I didn’t want to go in there and be a pain so I just kept it and figured it would be fine. Wow how sharp the memory is, I remember every details as I was starving for my regular mix. And I knew I had more trouble coming because I had put the same stuff in my water bottle for the run. At this point I had stopped drinking from the camelbak completely. My pace had dropped a bit and I was struggling. Coming into the transition from the bike I was dreading Jacobs ladder. It was 100 something uneven steps straight up to start the run. At this point I just wanted to get through the rest of the race. I saw Frank up just
ahead and this was motivation enough for me to pick it up. I figured if I could hang with him he could pull me through the race. Well that worked until we hit our second steep climb. I cramped so bad I had to stop and stretch out and then I decided to walk for a minute or two until I felt like I could run. By this time Frank was long gone and I was getting passed left and right. I got passed by someone in my age group and thats when I decided to just push through. I tried to hang on but it just wasn’t possible. About 5 minutes later the next person to pass was also in my age group and I told myself enough is enough. I took a peak at the Garmin and saw we had less than a mile and a half until the finish. I picked up the pace and let him carry me until I felt like I could push the pace. And when I heard the crowd I began to pass him. He picked his pace up also but didn’t stay by my side for to long. I was able to space out a little bit of a lead and finish just ahead of him. I had never been so happy to see a finish line. When I crossed I was in pain, everything was so tight and my stomach was a mess. We had no time to chat about the race, there were plains to catch.
Frank ended up winning his age group and getting his slot for Maui as well as Dave who won is age group also. Fred finished 3rd overall amateur second in his age group behind Kristoffer who finished 2nd amateur, first for his age group. Even know I didn’t have the race I wanted to have and was in a little pain I still had a great time. Going to these races is so much fun for some many different reason. I am going to have to say the biggest reason for me is every time you go to a knew race you leave with a few more members of your family. This race a met a handful of people I look forward to seeing at nationals and hopefully worlds. I decided today that I am going to take Vashon Island WA off my race schedule and replace it with the Mountain Championship in Colorado. I figure it’ll give me one more chance for Maui . . . I’d like to thank Unreal Cycles for all of their help which allowed me to make this possible. Back to training for me Santa Cruz is only a month away . . .