To Sum it up.... I finished. It wasn't pretty, but I finished.
Xterra Way over Yonder
Rumor has it, the water was 56 degrees. I don't doubt that, though I would have said more like 58.
To start the swim, we ran about 100 yards down the beach and then entered the water. I did get to take a quick swim about 15 minutes before the start, so I knew what the water was going to feel like when it hit my face, but it still didn't help much. It took till about halfway before I felt comfortable in the water. I basically did what I expected considering the conditions.
The bike.... Rocks, Boulders, Mud, Streams.... One crash that could have been worse.
I'm glad I previewed the 1st half of the bike course, because if I did the other half (or the route I originally wanted to do) I would have probably opted for the sprint only. The course just got rockier and can you say boulders? To me, some places totally impassable on bike. I'm not sure how people did some of the course.
As for the first 6.98 miles of the course, I made it through without too many problems. I did end up cycling through most of the mud pits, and did some rocky downhills that I didn't even want to attempt the day before. I just kept hoping things would get better.
For the most part, I found myself totally alone the 2nd part of the bike course. I think about 2 people passed me. One around mile 8, and the other mile 12.5.
About mile 9, I crashed. I think I hit a big rock the wrong way (or by that time, I probably had no speed to roll over it), fell downhill instead of uphill. Ended up on my back. Hit my left leg on something... From the marks, I'm thinking pedal (could have been the rock), but I snapped a lot of sticks going down too. I slowly took stock of my body, and its surroundings. I was in some thorny bushes, head pointed downhill. My left leg had a good line of purple going down it, and some blood. I looked over to the right and saw a sharp 5” broken tree root pointing straight up, 4 inches from my side. That would have really hurt. More thoughts at this time..... like how long would people wait before looking for me.... are there snakes around .... damn my phone was in the car … there probably wasn't service anyways. Not to mention ... There was no short cut back to the finish to just call it a day from where I was, so I had to keep going forward.
I finally shoved all thoughts aside, got up, made sure Nate was ok, and walked a little bit, and then finally got back on the bike and started the “ride a little, get off the bike and push some to get passed some very technical sections, and then get back on” routine I had going. Any really technical spots I just did have enough speed to get even through the minor parts.... I was beat - physically and mentally.
The bike miles between 11 and 14 were also part of the run course. There were about 3 rocky stream crossings in the last 3 miles. Not big, but in my opinion too risky to ride. The rocks / boulders were pretty much right on top of each other. It was probably the worse part of the bike course, and from the looks of it, I was going to be picking my way through the run too.
A few runners did pass me, running was definitely faster than riding on this part of the course, but not by much. I started trying to talk myself into just calling it a day and not running.
Finally, after a little over 3 hours of biking, I got to transition. I was tired and bleeding (just a little). I started to get ready for the run, though I wasn't sure I was going to run yet. I was hoping just going through the motions would make my mind up for me. One guy that passed me on his run (my bike), was next to me getting his stuff together, he told me it would be much better without my bike and basically talked me into going out for the run.
The only aid station on the run, was coming out of transition. I stopped for some water, and then made my way out on the run course. A little over a mile in, I came across a paramedic and a rescue worker. They warned me there was a stream crossing ahead, there was a rope there I could use, be careful of the slippery rocks, and the strongest part of the stream was near the bench (thoughts - a bench.... what the heck is a bench doing in a stream). Well, at least the water would feel good.
Right before the stream there was a section of mud, I just went right through. At this point I was going to get wet anyways from the sound of it.
The stream was as advertised. About 20 yards to cross, not to mention another 10 yards of mud after it. I only came close to falling once at the beginning. Fortunately I had a hold of the rope. After that, I was pretty careful.
I managed to stay upright most of the run. I don't know how I didn't sprain an ankle. I'm not even sure how people run on all the rocks on the trail. I ran when I could. Basically when the rocks where bad, or there was a flat / downhill. I certainly didn't go fast.
About mile 4, I finally took a spill. Didn't pick my feet up, and just hit a rock (go figure) with my foot, tripped, went flying to the side of the trail that had the bushes.... better than the rocky part of the trail. Laid for a few seconds, got up, and kept going.
About mile 4.5, I spotted a runner in front of me of in the distance. I thought I could pull the person in, they had to be fading.... I couldn't, and it cost me first in my age group, and probably age group champion in my region. She finished 1:30 in front of me, and I found out later, she was the same girl that did Xterra Miami, was the only person in her division that day so she won it, and she was from my region. After the race, she told me her name and I didn't make the connection till I got home. Oh well, she still needs to do French River. I've got a slight advantage there. I know most of the course, and this year, after last weekend, it's looking a whole lot easier. She still would probably win the division if I beat her, but I just want the satisfaction of beating her there.
I finished under 5 hours, and basically in one piece. I'm happy with that. I got a lot of experience and tackled some terrain that I wouldn't have normally done. I got to practice all the mtb skills that I've learned in the last month, and know what I need to practice to get a little better and faster. Bonus... I didn't come in last.
Best part of the day.... after a 3 hour drive after the race to Gilbert State Park.... I finally got to sit beside a fire with Kathy, Marilee, Lisa, Roxanne, Diana, Moe Mac, Sam Roberts, and Kate. We toasted marshmallows and exchange race stories. They had done the tough Rat Snake Triathlon. I'm thinking that was as tough if not tougher than what I did. They all finished, and did great. My congrats go out to them.