November 04, 2019 - Finished in 6:09:10. 554 out of 570. 18th out of 19 in age group.
"What the heck was I thinking when I signed up to do Xterra Worlds?"
That's what had been going through my mind since I got into the race via the "Pool at Large" entry in January.
I should have known better when I watched people get pounded by the 8 - 10 feet breakers, walk their mtb up the muddy and steep hills, and slip / slide while trying to run up even more steep hills. Watching the race in 2018 should have caused me to think twice about entering.
Instead I entered and began the 10 month journey into the vast unknown.
What wasn't an unknown to me was that I sucked mtbing (and trail running).
My first solution to obtaining the mtb skills I would need was to take two weekends of Ninja MTB Skills class (one early in the year, and one later). These classes reinforced the basics, along with high speed cornering, technical climbing, how to deal with rocks and roots, picking the correct path, and jumping.
My other solution, with the input of my coach, was to do as many off road events as I could fit into the summer and still have time to train in between without becoming physically exhausted.
In all, I did 5 Xterras in 5 different states.
I started with the easiest races (non technical, hardly any climbing), Blackwater Florida and Myrtle Beach South Carolina. Followed by the most technical races in New Jersey (Way Over Yonder) and Massachusetts (French River). Then finally, the one with the most vertical climbing at Snow Basin, Utah (Pan Am Championship). The last 3 races were some of the toughest races I've ever done, and made me doubt my sanity more than once.
Even with all the experience, I continually felt like I really didn't belong in Maui. Especially after my plan to still try and qualify by coming in first in my age group in my region didn't pan out. Thoughts of not being able to finish were constantly on my mind.
My training for the race, well, tough and challenging. My cycling workouts pushed heart rate and power zones Z3 - Z5 a couple times a week. My quads burned and hamstrings where on edge a lot, but they managed to recover every once in a while.
I made it through. Sometimes how I did during the training sessions did not meet my expectations. I learned that sometimes less is more.
Anyways, this is suppose to be a race report...
I'll start with the obvious. I finished. I didn't drown, draw blood, break/sprain anything, or finish last.
I finished in 6:09:10. 554 out of 570 (add another 19 that dropped out sometime during the race - 589). I was 18th out of 19 in my age group.
Before Race day ...
In my mind, my whole day depended up how the swim would go down.
A couple days before the race, I attended a swim clinic put on by Xterra and hosted by a few pros. They taught us how to enter and exit the breakers. How to identify riptides, and catch them on the way out. Last, They went through how to body surf.
With that knowledge, I practiced. I was successful catching the riptide once out of several attempts to take me swiftly out to the first buoy. I was able to body surf once out of several practice attempts, too. That one time, I caught the wave perfectly and surfed over a very large guy that ducked quickly when he saw me coming. It was amazing I missed him. Most of the time, I got beat up several times by the waves breaking over the top of me. Kind of a fun out of control feeling until you hit the sandy bottom. I'm totally grateful there were no rocks on the beach.
With all the practice, the outlook for my swim seemed bleak. All week long, they called for 8-10 foot swells during race morning. If that those swells did exist on race day, I'm sure the amount of time and energy spent during the swim would affect my mtb times.
Come race day...
The swim consisted of two laps, with a beach run. The swim one mile. The beach running did not count in total yardage, only in time. NO wetsuits.
The pros started 1:09 hours before I did.
I stood on the beach watching the pros start their swim. I saw none of them catch the RIP and jettison out. I saw some flounder and saw their forward momentum come to a grinding halt.
Their swim into shore, seemed just about the same. Some were able to body surf. Some seemed to go nowhere, though their arms were moving. Some, just swam straight in with no problems between the waves.
As the canon went off for my race start, I waited for a wave to break and come mostly to shore. I ran in and stumbled. I managed to get up in time to do a dolphin under the next breaking wave trying to catch the riptide back out. Instead I ended up just doing another dolphin and then swam with almost everything I had to get clear of the breakers. Btw, we got lucky, the breakers were only 2-4 ft.
The first buoy was 450 yards out. It seemed to take forever. There was constant pushing, shoving, jockeying for position since all the females were in the last wave.... We were swimming over a lot of guys that had left 3 to 6 mins in front of us :-)
The rounding of the buoy was awesome. I felt swept around it, as the current was moving right to left (we were swimming counter clockwise).
The second buoy was 150 yards away. Getting there took hardly any time at all.
The beach was then another 300 yards away. We could land anywhere on the beach, but had to go around 2 sets of markers, then re-enter the water within a certain range.
By the time I was headed into shore, I was comfortably swimming and just maintaining a pace that wouldn't tire me out. I kept looking back watching and timing the waves, trying to figure out how I was going to exit my first lap. I got lucky.... I found myself between swells and was able to get onto the beach rather fast and run up the beach to start my second lap.
The second loop basically went the same way. Nothing exciting at all.
As I exited the swim and looked at my watch, I was pleased with the time the swim took.
Swim Time: 35:06. The highlight of my day in the age group. I was 6th out of 19 when I got out of the water.
Best of all, the swim time banked me about 15 minutes extra to spend on the mtb, if needed.
The MTB consisted of 2 laps. Each lap about 9 miles with 1500+ ascent.
In order to make it to the run, I had to be off the mtb and out of T2 by 2:15 pm. I had started the swim at 9:09 am. I spent a little over 4 min in transition. It was probably a little before 10:00 am when I left transition. I knew I had at least 4:15 to do the mtb. I had previously ridden one loop in 1:40, so I was hopeful in making the cutoff.
The first 2 - 3 miles covered about 1000 feet of the climbing straight up. Mostly on pavement.
Did I mention the temp was already 80 degrees and climbing? Humidity, high. It had rained some earlier in the morning so there where some slippery spots as well.
I will admit, I walked some of the steeper portion of the first 3 miles. I was breathing hard and my heart rate was high right away. For at least the first part, my legs (calves, quads, hamstrings) ok. I knew I could walk faster than ride anyways. I walked some of my practice ride, so I knew the walking wouldn't hurt my chances of not finishing.
What did slow me down, was the young guys lapping me on the downhills and a few other places. I wiped out a few times during the first lap because of them, plus stopped to let them by a few more times. I did have one brutal wipeout going up a switch back and hitting a wet root and going down. The handle bar nailed me in the ribs. I also got a good scrape on my right quad, but no blood.
I completed the 1st lap in about 1:50:XX. I was not looking forward to the second. It had gotten hotter. The only good thing I was looking forward to was having no one pass me anymore.
I ended up walking less on the second lap (only about 5 places that were really steep or had some roots uphill that I stood no chance of getting up). I didn't fall during the loop, and felt a whole lot better once I got passed the first 3 miles of the loop.
I stopped for about 2 minutes around mile one of the second loop to get some air in my back tire. It seemed to be very low during the first lap. The stop was also the only place to make a pit stop along the course.
The best part of the stop was the person manning the it. Her name was Kathleen. She was great. All through the week, she had been very helpful, supportive, and had been cheering me on all day. I knew when I stopped she would do anything to help. She took my bike from me right away and started to put air in it as I madea pit stop. That saved me a few extra minutes, and helped me catch my breath.
Somewhere in the middle of the second lap, my inner thigh / and or hamstring began to have issues. I adjusted my position on the bike constantly to prevent cramping up. I managed to make it through the rest of the bike without seriously cramping.
My bike time.... 3:42:24. I'm probably the only person that came really close (if I didn't) to negative splitting the bike course.
As I came in transition the announcer heard me say that I made the cut off, and confirmed it over the air. I was happy to be off the bike.
The run was basically a 6.2 mile hike. The first mile was spent trying to keep the hamstrings from cramping. I walked most of the up hills. Which was the first 3 miles. The last 3 miles were mostly downhill (some extreme), and I picked up the pace. I managed to pass about 5 people. No one passed me.
There was one really painful no shade hotter then heck uphill hill around mile 4.75. It was on pavement and seemed to last forever, but was probably only .25 miles. That was a killer, but right after that I caught and passed a person on the downhill.
About .30 miles from the end of the run, was the run on the beach. Sand sucks. Just saying. I walked it.
The last .10 miles was uphill to the finish. As I approached the line, the announcer welcomed me. I was greeted at the line by a person with a microphone. He congratulated me, and asked me about the Infinit kit I was wearing. I was amazed as I actually was able to answer his questions and they at least made sense to me.
I finished the run in 1:44:43.
I will admit, that after Utah, I never recovered fully (plus I was sick a few days). I was continually at the edge of being mentally and physically exhausted.
When I finished Maui, I was beyond exhausted. I was relieved I finished, and glad that I made it through the year.
For the first time in a long time, I took a week off from any training without being sick or injured.
Currently, I'm starting to feel ready for another go around. I've had a great week off, I'd like to have another, but I know it's time to get back into some sort of training groove. It's time to plan how the next year will go as my "A" race is already paid for..... Ironman Lake Placid 2020.