Xterra Eureka Springs - 6/8/14
My parents, my kiddos (Max and Phoebe, my nephew (Jacob), and dog (Penny) were all with me camping at the race site for the weekend. We had a great time there last year and only lost Emily from the crew. She was missed, but had other commitments. I think the loud bull frogs that kept her up last year might have had something to do with that too. We did some walking around the hilly town shopping, a little hiking, and a TON of swimming. The kids loved playing in the lake and so did Penny! I couldn't help but to join in their fun despite knowing I'd be better served to be resting.
I felt pretty good on race morning. I got checked in and ready pretty quickly. I've got things down when it comes to getting my transition zone setup. Plus, it's bare minimal for me. Bike, helmet, water bottle, bike shoes, run shoes, and race belt (normally sunglasses as well). With a lot of time left before the race start, I went back to the campsite and started packing up the tent and everything else. I even handled a little work stuff with just 10 minutes before the gun.
Despite being very comfortable with my pre-race setup, I still had plenty of excitement and a little nervous energy. The water had been cooled by the on again off again rain we had gotten earlier in the weekend, but still not wetsuit legal. The air temps were cool and that made the water feel plenty warm. The tough part was when it was a beach start and we all had to get out of the water and wait for the start. It could come sooner. The mad dash through the water with high steps and dolphin dives. Everyone was making their bid to be close to the front and avoid the mayhem at the early first turn. I had done well enough to avoid trouble and settle in for the long out and back stretch. I had a racer to my inside that I felt was pushing me wide. Unfortunately we were keeping the same pace. I had to make a decent effort to finally get by and be on a more direct route. All in all it was a fine swim, but not nearly what I'd like. That's what I get for a lack of swim training. Considering that, it really could have been worse.
I knew there wasn't any time to waste. I made quick work of T1. Helmet, bike shoes, and pulled the bike off to be on my way. I was happy to have a rider in front of me to chase. I always go my hardest (that I feel I can sustain), but it was good to know what that meant compared to others. It is a very fun bike course. There's a deep creek crossing, tough climbs, fast descents, technical sections, and fast flats. The rocks and roots were slick causing riders to have to be careful and precise when picking their lines through the course. I handled the conditions much better than last year, but there's still room for improvement. That will just come with time. I knocked 10 minutes off of last year's ride in similar conditions and crashed or was forced to dismount much less as well.
I came flying into T2 knowing their was a rider that had passed me late in the bike loop. I remembered him from the day before when he easily had won the trail run race, so he was going to be a perfect rabbit to chase. My transition was super fast, but there was just one thing... when putting on my running shoes I knew something felt off right away. I knew it immediately. I didn't have the insoles in. I had taken them out to dry after my last race and forgot to put them back. I had a quick idea to swap the insoles from my cycling shoes, but decided against it. I didn't think it would be a big problem and didn't want to lose the time. I also couldn't be sure they'd fit well and not cause other issues with rubbing and blisters. It didn't take long in running on the rocky and rooted trails to realize that my feet were going to suffer greatly for that mistake. I was feeling every rock through the thin (non-trail running shoes) soles. I was keeping pace with the guy in front of me through the first huge climb. It was very promising. I pushed hard to keep up and was able to keep him in my sights for a bit after that as well. However, he gradually pulled away and was no longer in sight. I did pass an aid station that informed me he was only 30 seconds or so ahead, but I was already going my limit. I was trying not to let the pain from my bruised feet slow me down as I carefully picked my way through the terrain. With a couple long straights and no one in sight ahead or behind me, I knew I wasn't likely to change my standings. I still pushed on as hard as I could to the finishing stretch. This is also a race against the clock for me to try to improve on last year's times. My family was waiting near the finish and welcomed me with cheers and cowbells. My kids started off ahead of me in a race to the finish and they weren't taking it easy on me. I had to sprint toward the finish to keep up. I barely caught them both by the line and had done a dramatic diving roll over the finish line with a great cheer from the crowd to cap things off.
I had done well and felt great about my race. I ended up in 11th overall and 2nd in my age group. I cooled and soaked my feet in the lake, but those pains are sure to last for some time. My legs were cramping on the long drive home to ensure me that I'd put forth a good effort and hadn't held back at all. It is a really great race and they do it up right. I wish they could grow it bigger. Maybe better luck with the weather one of these years will help. I also wish I had more room for other Xterra events. Unfortunately there aren't many close enough to be just a weekend driving trip.
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Strava Swim Data
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Strava Run Data