Race Recap: Xterra Beaver Creek
Rolling off the top bunk like-
6:00 am in the world of race day alarms isn't just bizarre. It's unheard of, or so I thought. This seems to be common place for the dirt crowd. Ever since I transitioned to the dark side of mountain bike races, trail running, and Xterra, I have notice a trend of later start times, and you know who is complaining? Somebody other than this guy.
After a quick transition from bed to car, it was a short crisp drive to Beaver Creek. Transitions one and two were split up with T2 at the top of the resort. I parked the Subaru in the free underground lot (feeling real MVP) and pedaled on up to the transition area. I set up my shoes and race belt, my Salomon's taking their rightful place under a transition rack for the first time. One checkmark off the stress list. A 3 mile downhill cruise is all that separated the run start from the swim location. After a quick double check that I had everything to start the race I headed down to the water. T1 was on a soft grass field, so much for the rocks and dirt I was anticipating from an off-road triathlon. I've had gnarlier swim exits at my local rec-center.
A quick photo op with friends #forthegram, then I grabbed my trusty hardtail for a little warm up. It was now 6:50 and my race didn't start until 8. I arrived too late to ride the bike course before hand, something I highly recommend doing for any race, but especially when mountain biking is involved, even if its just bits and pieces to start picking up on the trail vibe. A short out and back on the resort roads and it was time to westuit up.
HERE WE GO
24 men in my age group. 20 Colorado natives, then me. 7800 feet starting elevation. I was scared. I toed the line to the water (aka scooted my ass into the water with an elementary crab walk.. that ramp was S.L.ICK!) with the rest of the male 39 and under crew. I haven't been in a swim wave this chaotic since Oceanside 70.3. My swim volume might be lower than it should be (ok, way lower) but lets go. 3..2...1.. The gun goes off. 100 yards hard effort trying to get with a good group. I found a pair of toes to draft after reaching the first buoy. Sighting was relatively easy with a small course and big visible buoys. One lap went by and I started to make a small move forward. Regrettably leaving that comfy draft (thanks guy!) I started to make a charge. 2 loops down. Carefully exiting up the slick ramp I unzipped and ran to T1.
time to ride
Breathing hard but happy to be on the bike, I've spent all spring preparing for this moment. The first half mile was on the streets. I hit single track and put my head down. Trying to stay aggressive making passes when the opportunities arose. I managed to only get held up in one train for about 5 minutes (felt like a decade) then the trail hit a service road and passing was game on again
Bike elevation profile
"When are we done Climbing?" -me
"Never." - Bib #2461
*real bib numbers have been withheld
Actual conversation I had with bib number 2461, after 5 miles of ascent into the mountains and ever thinning Colorado oxygen. By now we were well above 8 thousand feet. I have never biked at this high of an elevation, let alone at race effort.
Then it happened. A volunteer at a turn pointed the direction to go. She pointed downward. The climb was over! Looking back now, I probably had the wrong emotional response to the new pitch. Rider by rider, the athletes I had just worked to pass, came cruising by me like I was standing still. Did I mention I was new to mountain biking? The course descended for 2 miles and I was on damage control; Lose as little time as possible. The -10% grade leveled out for some rollers for the last 5 miles. With one final huck over a 5 foot rock garden with a heavy drop, it was in to T2.
Running (then jogging.. then walking) my way to the finish
Right off the bike we had a couple hundred steps of flat terrain before turning uphill. Hitting grades as steep as 25%. Things went south as the run went up, and I have no one to blame but myself. Like a fool I didn't have a second water bottle cage on my bike, and leading up to the race had drained my one bottle of calories. I hit the run in a major calorie deficit and not being used to the elevation wasn't doing me any favors. I jogged and walked the uphills, and ran on the downhill. Even on the downhill runs my paces were far and away what they should be. Just a healthy reminder to have a detailed race plan and follow through precisely.
Basking in the Glory
I have never had a more difficult time recovering from a race than I did here. I prostrated myself under the Muscle Milk tent in total defeat. I helped myself to one of the Muscle milk recovery smoothies, and after 90 minutes made my way to the food. Veggie friendly burritos, chips, and huge cookies? Don't mind if I do. After 3 hours I was finally able to take my race gear back to the car. Feeling less MVP at this point, but still pretty stoked about the race. It was everything I hoped it would be. A beautiful view, a challenging course, and the laid back atmosphere I'd heard rumors of. It's a different vibe from on-road triathlon, and I could not be more excited about my decision to take the jump from road triathlon and focus primarily on off road racing.