2011 XTERRA World Championships Race Report
Race: XTERRA World Championships, Kapalua, Maui
Distance: 1500m swim, 18 mile mountain bike, 3000ft climbing, 10k trail run
Result: 8th pro women
Products used: Blue Seventy Point Zero swimskin + goggles, Specialized S-Works Epic 29er, Trivent Terras off road tri shoes, Fast Trak tires, Avia Avi Bolts, GU Electrolyte Brew, Roctane, Rudy Project Noyz glasses with photochromatic lenses, Squadra race suit.
Media: Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
This would be my 6th time at XTERRA Worlds in Maui, but this year there was a new course in a new location, Kapalua. Unlike the old course we could preride this one, so I made sure I arrived early enough on the island to do so, something that can really be advantageous in XTERRA racing. In some ways it was fairer and nice to start over with a new course; a clean slate. With the old course, people who had raced it more had somewhat of an advantage.
I came into the race excited for the new race feeling it would suit me. The ocean could pose the additional challenge of waves, the bike course was somewhat smoother but did have some singletrack and a lot of climbing on both the bike and run.
Post race it seemed almost everyone was happy with the new venue. The bike course has a ton of potential and I really hope they build more singletrack as it would be a great resource for the island. Plus it would make the course even better!
It being a new course meant I was unaware of how long I’d be out there, or how hot it would be and therefore exactly what I needed for nutrition. The swim was the easiest to predict, unless it was super choppy that day, so for me 23-27 minutes. The bike I was guessing 1:30 to 1:45 for women based on how long it took pre riding. The run, based on the fastest woman in the trail run Saturday, I’d assume it would be between 45 and 50 minutes.
The next question was whether or not to wear a hydration pack. The downside is it takes more time to put on in transition and could potentially weigh more, the upside, easier to drink and drink more frequently. The bike course being smoother meant it was easier to drink from a bottle on the course, but my Epic being small meant I could only bring one bottle. I went with the hydration pack that way I could use my water bottle to cool off with.
Before the race I made sure to drink lots, water, GU Electrolyte Brew, juice. The morning of the race, I made sure I drank a bottle of Electrolyte Brew specifically. I think it’s really important to remember to drink the morning of the race, especially when it’s going to be hot.
I put three GUs on my bike, all Roctane, and attached one more to my race belt for the run if needed. I’d have the first GU after the first hour of racing and one every, on average, 30 minutes after that.
I also left a frozen insulated bottle in transition with a mix of Pepsi and water, (sounds gross, tastes awesome) uncertain if it would still be cold when I got off the bike. The other option was putting my mini cooler in transition, but figured the water bottle was easier.
Race morning was far warmer than expected; it felt warmer at 8am than it had all week, even in the heat of the day. Also unexpected what seemed like no breeze and no swell at D.T. Fleming Beach.
Lining up on the beach right in front of the shoreline, we had volunteers keeping us back with paddles. These volunteers are brave souls and I hope not too many of them got knocked down. I managed to squeeze between two paddle holders and a photographer to get in the water when the cannon fired.
The swim seemed more aggressive than usual with the slight current pulling us to the left. Tried to stay relaxed knowing it would spread out eventually. The pro women were really spread out from the start so it was difficult to judge how I was doing. Second lap I could tell Suzie Snyder was near me so I figured I wasn’t doing that badly, unless she was having a sub-par swim. I came out of the water roughly in 7th place.
There was a long climb, mostly paved before we got on a singletrack section so it was key to move around anyone who could potentially slow me down on that section. There was roughly 10 significant climbs on the course a couple that were a mile or more.
On a blind corner I saw a girl fixing a bike, I quickly said “need anything” but was around the next turn before I could hear a response. It was Lesley, and it wasn’t long before she was on my wheel and in her Scottish accent said:
“I had a f&%*ing puncture coming out of transition, Lets rock this!”
And that was that, she’d go on to win the race.
There hadn’t been any rain the week before so the course had got very dusty. Big red dust clouds on the descents I couldn’t see anything under my wheel, which I’m sure lead to some crashes.
Like predicted there were far fewer mechanicals, in particular flats, on the course, but I did here of quite a few broken chains. Mostly due to the sharp transitions from downhills back to uphills.
In years past I’ve been slow at the start of the bike, but really picked it up the 2nd half, and passed girls who passed me earlier in the race. I was sticking to this plan here.
I remember being 30 min into the bike and already had a few girls pass me. I thought, its still early, I’m really going to turn it on’ the last part of the bike’ but that never came into fruition.
The truth is I didn’t feel great on the bike, but not really bad either, a little flat. Maybe it was the heat: maybe it was the end of a long season; maybe I wasn’t going hard enough. Maybe I hadn’t prepared well enough, or not rested enough. Maybe the girls passing me were just better riders than me. These are all things I’ve thought of, but at least was healthy, uninjured, I had no excuses in equipment department and was able to race.
When Sara Tarkington caught up to me she asked me if everything was all right, and I was asked numerous times by my folks if I had had a mechanical – was I really that slow?
Before the race I’d hoped I’d be fighting for a top 5, maybe even podium spot on the run but now I was fighting to stay in the top 10.
I felt better than usual coming off the bike and my cold bottle of Pepsi (yes it was still cold) tasted awesome as expected. I was pleased to hear there was a pack of girls not far in front. The run was pretty much uphill for 3.5 miles, with a few breaks, and then mostly downhill after that.
I caught a couple of girls in the first two miles and kept getting splits from guys I passed I was close to my Specialized teammate Sara Tarkington. I could see here just in front of me and could see her looking back so I kept chasing.
It was hot out there but the nice thing was there were aid stations almost every mile. I wasn’t drinking a ton but using the water to cool off.
At the top of the course I passed Carina Wasle who was drinking water at the aid station. I’d later find out she was unable to finish, along with Melanie McQuaid who was forced to drop maybe 200 yards from the finish.
I really enjoyed the downhill section although I dreaded the last half mile of the run: across a beach and up a steep hill to the finish. The beach was no way as brutal as the ones on the old course in Makena.
I was starting to get hot again as it had been a while since the last aid station. As I approached the last climb Kathy Tank, XTERRA pro Cody Waite’s better half, gave me a much-needed boost, and a cup of water, to get me up the last climb.
“Lift your knees! No Regrets!”
I crossed the line in 8th in a time of 2:58.42 a minute out of 6th since turning pro I have placed 12th, 11th, 10th at the XTERRA World Championships so I’m pleased to jump up to 8th this year. At the same time I’m humbled by how fast the women were in the race and know I have a lot of work to do next year. For example, Lesley Paterson who won the race ran as fast as the men’s winner.
Really glad I nailed my nutrition at this race and was able to finish which was challenging as it was hotter than expected and on a new course so going into the race I really didn’t know how long I’d be out there. I guessed pretty accurately pro women would be finishing between 2:40 and 3:05.
On top of that, I’m really fortunate to come into this race healthy and uninjured unlike previous years, unlike a lot of XTERRA girls who could not compete this year. Needless to stay the women’s field was still as competitive, if not more competitive than ever.
Super happy for Renata Bucher who has had bad luck the past two years at XTERRA Worlds and finished a strong 4th only 10 seconds out of 3rd. She’s been a great friend and training partner of mine. Also my Sara Tarkington who was top American and finished 7th. Both girls had overcome some serious injuries this year so it’s great to see them back in form.
Having Lance compete in XTERRA again is obviously great for the sport and helps get the new venue in good standings. It’s cool to see him come out and race hard, learn from experience and finish despite some bad luck. At the end of the day he’s not racing XTERRA as a career move and doesn’t anything to prove. He enjoys getting out there and racing, and I’m glad he chose XTERRA.
This was the first year I went on the post-XTERRA group ride lead by local character Steve Fisher (mauiskibus.com.) Steve has competed in every XTERRA World Championships, even when it was Aquaterra in 2006. I enjoyed meeting more XTERRA athletes and especially the locals I’d have to say the unexpected highlight of this trip was getting to ride with a macaw on my shoulder.
Big thanks to my sponsors: Specialized, Avia, GU, Rudy Project and Blue Seventy, and all those who supported and helped me this year, it’s been a great one, and clichéd as it is, I couldn’t have done it without you.
I placed in the top 10 in 3 world championships. I won my first national title at the USA Winter Triathlon Championships, was 3rd at the ITU Off Road World Championships, won my first XTERRA pro race at XTERRA Brazil Costa Verde in and was 5th (2nd US) at the USA XTERRA Championships.
I look forward to the off-season, and getting ready for snow to fall in Park City.