Up until this week I've been ambivalent about this race. I entered it so that I could get enough points to qualify for Xterra Nationals which admittedly is a stupid reason to enter a race. And when I found out I probably wouldn't need the points I lost what little enthusiasm I had. But it has provided the motivation to train for a race of hard climbing and it's also very similar to the type of course we'll have for Nationals. In fact, it seems tougher in that it has more feet of elevation of climbing and is at a higher elevation and the distances are only slightly shorter.
Mountain Champs: 15.5 miles, 3600' of climbing, 7400' - 9350'
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Nationals: 17.7 miles, 3400' of climbing, 4900' - 7300'
No elevation map.
Mountain Champs: 5.75 miles, 1300' of climbing, 8100' - 8707'
Nationals: 6.1 miles, 700' of climbing, 6400' - ? (don't know the highest point but max. of 7100')
No elevation map.
The run at Mountain Champs has almost twice the climbing at an elevation 2000' higher than the course at Nationals and is only .35 of a mile shorter. The bike at Mountain Champs has 200' more of climbing and starts at an elevation that's 100' higher than the highest point at Nationals and is 2.2 miles shorter. I don't think either course is terribly technical, certainly not as technical as Curt Gowdy, but I'm sure there will be the odd challenging bit here and there. I didn't go up to pre-ride the course, didn't feel like making the drive to Beaver Creek and spending the money on gas to ride at a ski resort.
I did however splurge on a hotel room. I was going to drive up on race morning but it's a 2 1/4 hour drive mostly through the mountains and I didn't feel like waking up at 3:30-4:00 and playing Deer Roulette on dark mountain roads at 4:30 a.m. Somehow this seemed like a false economy and I was able to find a room for $80, not bad for tony Beaver Creek. The race is very fussy, you pick up your race number at one location, set up your run gear (T2) at another location then go 3 miles down the mountain to set up your bike gear (T1) at a third location. And of course the maps they provide of all these locations are crap, one was illegible and had south pointing up which only added to the confusion. I was stressing too much over all the preparations and once I got the hotel I heaved a huge sigh of relief and realized this could be a fun race weekend. Turns out some of the pros are giving talks the day before so I'll have something to do after picking up my packet and you can even swim in the lake if you like though I probably won't. I'm not worried about the swim.
So I'm finally looking forward to the race and I decided to give it a proper taper rather than training through the week. My strategy is to keep a solid, steady pace and not to redline too much if I can help it especially up that 5 mile, 2000' climb at the start of the bike. Getting up that climb with enough legs left to do the rest of the race will be the key to a good day especially since that climb could easily take 1/4 of the time to complete the full race. Long steady climbs like this used to be my thing then the bad knees happened and I stopped doing the big all day bike climbs. Will be interesting to see how I feel about the climbing on race day. And if I can tackle this course in July then Nationals in September will be easy. Sure it will.
Weather forecast for race day is 70 degrees with a 40% chance of thunderstorms but they don't say if it's the typical afternoon thunderstorms or if they might start earlier. It's only Wednesday though so the forecast can and most likely will change, hopefully for the better on the rain front but I like the high of 70 degrees. Racing at altitude is challenging but the cooler temps. make up for it.
In completely unrelated news I had some real live agility practice this morning. Joy invited me out to the barn where she practices and we finally have some civilized weather. We just worked short sequences, jumps and weaves with the jumps at those shallow USDAA angles to each other. Fun but challenging. I'm so out of practice. Hopefully this nice weather will hang around so I can get some more practice in. Strum looked so happy to be running and stretching his legs. He's been surviving mostly on long, hot leash walks. Too hot to take him running and I haven't been hiking in the high country in a while. Think I'll plan something for next week since I'll be recovering from my race anyway.