Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Crazy Triathlete Lady does Indian Peaks Xterra

Indian Peaks Xterra
1000 m/1100 yard swim
14 mile bike
4.1 mile run
9400 feet elevation (9646 feet max. on bike course)
I live at 5400 feet

Ready for Action.

Not a great photo but it was not a day for stopping to take photos.  My hair is still going feral before the race even starts.

Thatsa lotsa mountain bikes.

One more transition photo and that's it for photos.  I tried to get down to the lake to take one and almost got there but realized I wouldn't have enough time to go back to transition then back to the lake for the race start.  Oh well.  Most scenic transition area?  Maybe highest transition area at 9400 feet.

Race went well except for the run.  Was way slower than I thought I would be.  Weather conditions were perfect, 70's & sunny with a nice stiff breeze at times.

Swim-1000 m/1100 yards

The swim is in a little lake just before the Eldora ski resort.  Normally it's cold.  Very very cold.  This year was probably the warmest year in the history of the race.  I'm guessing the water temp. was around 63 degrees.  I debated about wearing my swim socks and in the end I decided to wear them and was very glad.

It's a time trial start and you're seeded by a combination of swim and biking ability.  I'm number 204 out of 280 bib numbers (not sure how many did not start) so I have to wait awhile before I get to start.  In fact the first swimmers are out of the water about 5-10 minutes or so before I get in.  I warm up a bit but I'm a little worried about missing the start and end my warm-up way too soon.  I'm plenty relaxed when I start but it takes me a while to get going.  After a few minutes somebody runs into me trying to pass me and takes their time so I think they're not too much faster than me and I try to hang onto their feet.  But I guess the pace is too fast because I'm soon feeling out of breath.  I stop for a moment to catch my breath and feel that panic brewing just below the surface but I start back swimming at a nice steady pace and push it out of my mind and I'm fine for the rest of the race.

I've been experimenting with breathing to both sides in practice and it makes me swim way off course and then when I try to breath to one side I also swim way off course so one of my goals for this race is to swim a nice straight line between the buoys.  Mission accomplished on that front and I think I do manage some alternate breathing.  Swim goes better than expected, finish in 21:11 mins./1:56 per 100 yards (predicted time was 22-23 mins.).  When I did this race in 2007 I swam a pace of 2:07/100 yards for 750m/820 yards.

Dash to Transition-650m/711 yards

It's a good distance uphill on a steep rocky road to transition so we we're encouraged to leave our running shoes at the swim exit.  The swim socks take barely a moment to remove and I get the top half of my wetsuit off at the start of the dash.  If you want to learn how to run with short little shuffly strides so as to avoid heel striking I suggest wearing the bottom half of a wetsuit.  I had no idea they were so hard to run in but last time I did this I took the wetsuit off before the dash and it was a pain to carry.  No leaving it behind or handing it off to somebody, you have to transport it yourself.

Dash goes o.k., 6:45 mins. (predicted 6 mins.)


The wetsuit is a struggle on the leg with the timing chip.  It's huge, like I'm on house arrest or something.  And the strap is very flimsy, one of those plastic bracelets that they give you at bars at all ages shows so you can drink.  Lots of money to replace your timing chip if you lose it.  This is called foreshadowing.

I'm surprised T1 is only 1:47 with all the wetsuit drama (predicted 2:00 mins.).  Thank you tri-suit.

Mountain Bike-14 miles

Crazy Triathlete Lady is not too happy to find herself hitting the bike trail for her first loop as the crazy fast people are starting their second loop.  I'm talking the front of the pack, pros, etc.  Crazy Triathlete Lady's nerves are a little jangled as bikes go flying past left and right.  The only saving grace is that these are the people with the crazy mad biking skilz so they're able to pass me no problem and without endangering me in any way or coming too close, it's more the unsettling speeds they're going that gets to me.  As predicted I have to get off and walk some parts that I probably could ride because of other people but it's not too bad.  Some of those hills are so steep and short and rocky that it's almost as quick to walk up them anyway.  At first I swear I'll never do this race again as long as it's 2 loops but after a while I fall into a rhythm and realize no one's going to hit me and I get used to the mayhem whirring around me.  You've all seen the 'Honey Badger' video, right?  I'm embracing the spirit of Honey Badger, I don't care about anything, crazy fast cyclists flying past, cobras, whatever.

I pass some guys on the rocky uphill up the Rising Sun trail (a black diamond cross country ski trail) but they go flying past me on the downhill on the Fatty Mills trail.  Oh Fatty Mills, how I do not love that trail.  Tight twisty singletrack with mud and slippy slimy roots (a guy in front of me falls off the trail and utters many bad words after riding a technical part then slipping on a wet root) and some good drop offs.  I have to stop and pull off the trail to let a stream of fast people go, it wouldn't be fair to block them as I pick my way down at Crazy Triathlete Lady pace and there's no way for them to reasonably pass me.  I end up running down the technical bits of trail, is easier and doesn't cost a whole lot of time since they're so short.  Finally the crowd thins enough and I can ride again.  Once past the steep drop off it's mostly rideable.  All that's left is the 'ditch' section of trail and I manage that o.k.

'Ditch' section of trail at the bottom of Fatty Mills (photo taken on the pre-ride)

After Fatty Mills mostly everything is ride-able.  I choose to get off at a couple of short super steep places to conserve energy but all the rest of the downhill is o.k.  Twisted Tree trail is a favorite of mine on skis but it's not so fun on the bike.  It's wide but steep and some sharp turns and loose, gravelly rock surface.  Not so fun on a bike.  Especially with people flying down it on all sides of you.  Remember Honey Badger don't give a shit.  Yes, I'm o.k. now.

I finish my first lap in just under an hour.  And then I get to go do it all over again.  At first the thought of this makes me want to weep.  But this time around the fast folks have finished and the trails have cleared out a bit.  But I still have people to ride with.  For a while I follow a guy and let him  pace me.  Then a faster guy passes us and I latch onto his wheel and leave the other guy behind.  Fun!  It actually feels like racing rather than survival.  I keep up with the faster guy for awhile, we pass another guy then he takes off and he's gone.  I'm alone climbing the steep rocky Rising Sun for the second time but because of this I can ride nearly the whole thing.  I gain a lot of ground on the guys I've passed but unfortunately there's Fatty Mills to contend with again and at least one of them passes me back.  I ride a lot more this time though.  I also ride a lot more of the remaining miles until finally I'm back at the base, back to transition, finally done.  Except not quite.  There's the pesky business of the run left.

I finish in 1:58:02/7.1 mph (predicted time is 2 hours).  Second lap faster than first but I don't know by how much.  When I did this race in 2007 my pace was 5.96 mph for 10.9 miles.  The course was different though and there was a steep, long, hike-a-bike section.


I'm out in 1:07 (predicted time 1:00).  I ran past my bike rack and had to look a bit to find it.  Rookie mistake but I was tired.

4.1 mile trail run

I feel o.k. energy-wise coming off the bike.  Tired of course but I've done a lot of run training off the bike this year, more than I've ever done before so I'm familiar with the drill of how it feels.  In my head I'm running at a race pace but in reality I'm shuffling along.  My hamstring is nagging me, not debilitating but sore for sure and I'm protecting it as much as I can by keeping my stride short.  I try to have a fast turnover to make up for the short stride but I haven't got this mastered yet.  Then there are the hills.  I stick to my strategy of power hiking the hills and this helps a lot but still I'm so slow, it almost feels dream-like trying to run fast yet somehow my legs not cooperating.

The trails are beautiful though and I do my best to enjoy them while slogging ever closer to the finish.  For a while I'm pacing a guy who's chatting a bit to me but we hit a technical part that doesn't even seem like trail, just little ribbons in the trees marking where we go and there are big roots and rocks to jump over & navigate.  He goes ahead of me at this point and I'm glad to let him navigate.  Trail running and riding are so mentally draining, it's hard to pay such attention for over 3 hours never mind the physical exertion.  And then I hear a weird clatter noise and I see my race chip go bouncing away into the woods.  The thin plastic wrist bracelet thingy has broken and now I have to chase down my chip.  No way I want a DNF when I'm so close to finishing never mind the King's Ransom they'll charge me for the thing.  I chase it down and have to carry it the rest of the way.  At least I heard it go and I didn't lose it in the lake.  Shortly after this a woman passes me and asks me if I want a jelly bean.  I must look in much worse shape than I feel.  Or maybe she's just generous with her beans.  I decline but wonder if I accept if she'll give me just the one or offer me a few more.  Or maybe I hallucinated the whole thing.

The miles tick by and finally I can hear the finish line.  I pass the Nordic Ski Hut and I realize all I have to do is cross the big parking lot up to the main ski lodge and I'm done.  I can hardly believe it.  And it's just as well because the course designer has a cruel joke left for us.  I pass the transition area in the parking lot and start to head to the ski lodge when I'm redirected back onto a huge, steep hill.  We have to go up this hill and then into the ski lodge.  I can hardly believe this.  But somehow I make it.  I reach down to run my chip over the timing mat because I'm not sure if it'll read if I'm holding it since it's supposed to be down on my ankle.  I hear the tell tale beep from the mat, phew.  I finish in 3:31:06 (predicted time is 3:10-3:25).  Run time is 1:02:12/15:10 min. per mile (predicted time was 53 mins.).  In 2007 my pace was 12:48 min./mile for 3.1 miles.  My run at Xterra Lory last year was 16:17 mins. per mile for 4.8 miles but it was super hot.  But Lory is much lower, 6000 something feet vs 9400. 

The post-race food made me so sad after the feast we had at the Lookout Mountain Triathlon.  Cold congealed pizza and some weird kind of chips, Pop Chips or something.  It was all I could do to force it down but all I'd eaten for the whole race was one gel, about 100 calories.  I know, BAD, but there were not good places to eat on the bike and I was worried about stomach issues if I ate while running.  I never felt too bonky but maybe I could have run faster if I'd eaten a little more on the bike.

Felt good about everything except the run.  But to be fair my running was minimal and guarded.  No intervals, no hard hill running.  I have 3 weeks until Xterra Lory and I'm going to focus on the run but not so much that I injure myself.  Will find the balance and have a better run there.  The bike will be way easier but the run is harder and longer so it makes sense to focus my remaining training in that direction.

Overall a fun but long day.  Wish I'd done better in my age group but oh well.  I was 45 minutes behind the next woman and an hour off the podium so I wasn't even close.  But at least I finished and it didn't feel like a death march.  Felt a lot better than I did in 2007.

Photos from Ski Pix

The bike course was a lot prettier than this.  This was one of the least scenic parts and it was very short.

Bike 1

Bike 2

Looks like I'm heel striking which would explain the sore hamstring.  Oh well, have to keep trying to get that nice mid-foot strike.  Hard to say what I was doing through most of the race, this was a downhill to the finish.

Run 1 (this one's my favorite because of the background)

Run 2

Run 3

Final Stats

Swim:  1000 m/1100 yards, 21:11 mins./1:56 per 100 yards

650 m/711 yard Dash:  6:45 mins.

T1:   1:47

Mountain Bike:  14 miles, 1:58:02 hrs./7.1 mph

T2: 1:07

Trail Run:  4.1 miles, 1:02:12 hrs./15:10 min./mile

Total:  3:31:06

195/209 Overall
52/64 Women
7/7* Age Group

Swim:  6/7* Age Group, 55/64 Women, 184/209 Overall

T1: 4/7* Age Group,  29/64  Women, 104/209 Overall

Bike:  7/7* Age Group, 52/64 Women, 185/209 Overall

T2:  4 (tie)/7* Age Group, 32/64 Women, 101/209 Overall

Run:  7/7* Age Group, 56/64 Women, 196/209 Overall

*Does not include DNF/DQ.  For some reason the specifics of the DNF's/DQ's weren't listed in the results, only that there were 3 men and 3 women.  I did add them to the overall and women's numbers.


  1. Wow, that sounds like a really tough course, but you did it! Well done. Even better saving your chip :)

  2. I dont know how you do it. Congrats!!!