Sunday, August 26, 2012

Xterra Lory 2012

Xterra Lory
1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 4.8 mile run
6500' elevation, Lory State Park, Fort Collins area

Arrived at around 6:18, got great parking spot near transition.

I love this race.  Beautiful scenery, great course, well organized.

I was chilly first thing in the morning but quickly warmed up.

I couldn't figure out why the transition area was so cold since last year I remember the sun beating down.  I finally realized it was because it was way closer to the beach this year and thus shaded by the cliffs.  The water level in Horsetooth Reservoir is at record low levels due to the dry summer.  Last year the sandy beach area by the red inflatable arch was under 10' of water.

The sun just missing transition.

I was curious to see the fire damage.  The High Park Fire came into the western part of Lory but I wasn't sure how extensive the damage would be.  Thankfully the damage was minimal and probably good for the park.

Last year for comparison.  The pointy peak is the same in both photos.

I went into the race feeling maybe too rested.  Not much training between this race and Indian Peaks 3 weeks ago.  Lots of hiking and swimming, a little running, not so much biking.  But the bike course is not technical or super steep anywhere.  Lots of short gradual climbs, a couple very short steep bits but nothing I have to walk except one very short rocky, technical part, just a few steps.  The hard part about Lory is the run, a steep 2 mile climb with no shade.  I've been preparing for it all spring and summer with loops of hills and hill repeats and oh so many hills.

Swim - 1/2 mile

Water temp is 72 degrees, perfect temp. for me.  I wear my full wetsuit and I'm perfectly comfortable.  I start to have jittery, panicky feelings at the start of my swim warm-up but after a couple of minutes I can almost feel the shift in my brain, almost like a switch going off, and I feel confident again.  Such a weird sensation.  I'm fine for the rest of my warm-up.  I'm in the 4th of 7 waves and this time I'm not distracted by a moose and leave right on schedule with my wave.  Swim is really good from start to finish.  No feet to draft off of but plenty of room and I don't have to waste a lot of energy sighting.  I pass a lot of people in my wave but only one, and he's breast stroking, from the wave ahead of me.  Such a short swim and they put some extra time in between my wave and the one before so it's not a big surprise.  Waves are arranged by bike ability then swim ability rather than age group so not too many stragglers in the quicker waves.

The buoys seem to fly by but I've lost count and I'm not sure if I'm at the turn around or not.  Seems like I should be but because of the low water level we swim much further into Horsetooth than normal.  I'm swimming directly into sunlight and can't see another buoy but I do see the splashing of other swimmers up ahead and no one around me slows for the turn so I keep going.  Finally I hit the turn around and the buoys fly by again on the way back.  I love it when the swim goes well.

I hit the beach and look at my watch - 14:40!  I can't believe it, normally it would be around 16 something.  This is a pace of 1:40/100 yards and I'm very skeptical of that.  My swim time is posted as 16:47 which is when I crossed the timing mat so I'm not sure if that 880 yards includes the beach run or if the swim was just measured short.

The beach run was hilarious.  The sand was not sand so much as mud and a wet, mucky, quicksand, ankle sucking type mud at that.  I'm amazed my timing chip stayed strapped on my ankle.  I saw a guy climbing out of the water on some rocks well away from the swim exit but he got to run on dry sand and even though it was longer it was totally worth it.  Wish I had spotted that in time.  Not much I could do once I was ankle deep in muck.


Wetsuit comes off way easier this year.  I'm finally getting used to getting it off or maybe it's stretched a lot over the year.  Transition is quick-ish this year, especially since I'm wearing socks.

Bike - 12 miles

Not much to say about the bike.  I have more difficulty with people passing me this year and feel like I lose a lot more time and even worse, momentum.  Not sure why.  It's mostly people from the earlier waves passing me on their second lap.  Maybe I'm in too fast of a wave but another 5-10 minutes wouldn't have mattered much.  Doesn't seem to be much way around it with a 2 lap course.

Towards the end of my second lap I hear ambulance sirens and as I come up on a tight switchback I see an EMT heading for a woman on the ground.  I stop to let him by.  She had fallen on her hip and didn't seem to be able to move.  Hope she was o.k.  At least help got to her.

The one good take home lesson I have from this year is that I seem to lose the most time on the turns on the flat.  Lory has a lot of straight, flat, fast sections followed by random turns that you can't see ahead of time due to the long grass.  I get way ahead on the straight parts then lose too much speed on the turns and people catch me up and pass me.  I'm being particularly conservative because the trails are extra dry and loose, even sandy in places, and I don't want to hurt myself before Nationals.  But this costs me a lot of time and momentum when I have to slow or stop to let people pass.

My cyclometer reads 1:18:44, 12.6 miles.  My official bike time is 1:19:44, not sure where the extra .6 miles came from.  This means I only had a minute of stoppage time but this year I did a lot more slowing down and moving over rather than stopping.  In any case, this is 5 minutes slower than my time last year.  My cyclometer measured 12.3 miles last year and the bike course was slightly different at the end.


Helmet/bike shoes off, running shoes on, dump bottle of ice water over head and go.  The only glitch is that someone has racked their bike in my spot.  I've got the end spot on the rack, how hard is it to know that's not your spot?  Though probably the person knows fine well, they're just too lazy to put the bike in their spot.  I wish people had better manners.  If you want the good spot on the end, get there earlier.

By now it's hot and there's no debate about me carrying a spare water bottle.  This year I've got a waist pack carrier for it since last year carrying it in one hand seemed to throw me off balance too much.  I struggle with the waist pack as I start the run.  Can't seem to get it to buckle.  In my haste I'm trying to put it on backwards.  Doh.  At least I'm futzing with it while I'm running and not wasting too much time.


The water is heavy and weighing me down but I know I'm going to need it so I suck it up.  I was so hoping for the steep climb to seem easier this year.  Temps. are hot but still around 81 degrees rather than pushing 90.  Somehow I fail to notice the difference.  The climb is hot, steep and hard just like it always is.  My fellow competitors aren't helping matters.  'Whew, sure is a long climb.'  'Boy it's getting HOT.'  'This climb goes on forever.'  And so forth.  Normally I'm pretty good at turning around other people's negative suggestions but today is more challenging than normal.  Thankfully there's a guy at the top yelling words of encouragement to everybody.  He smiles when he sees me, 'Do you feel tough?'  I reply, 'Yes, tough, absolutely' and give him a thumbs up.  'Go get your downhill!'  he yells after I pass.  Yes, the downhill, that hill seemed to take forever but somehow the top has come so quickly.  So happy to see the downhill.

I don't go speeding down as quickly as I have in years past, maybe because I'm running mostly on my own.  A guy goes flying by me, jolting me out of my reverie and I remember, 'oh yeah, the race' and pick up my pace.  Some women come up behind me and I pick up my pace.  One passes but the other doesn't, putting some much needed pressure on me from behind.

I have a lot more energy for the last 1.8 miles than I normally do and for once it feels good to be running for the finish line rather than shuffling.  I even have a little bit of kick for the end but not enough to make it across the wretched Slip-n-Slide.

Photo from last year.

I get a splash from the hose and once again climb over the side to avoid the gross brown pit of doom at the end.

I feel much better at the finish then I probably ever have.  In the end my time is exactly 1:00 minute slower than last year but my run is 2:31 faster.  Doesn't seem like much but so happy to see some improvement, however small.

Once again, no vegetarian food, not even any bananas or bagels or horrible oreo cookies.  The only food is chips, salsa and fish or chicken tacos.  And the woman dishing out the chips gives me a small portion, couldn't even spare a few more given that that's all I had to eat.  Wouldn't be an issue if my car was nearby, I brought extra food, but it's back at transition, probably a good 1/2 mile or more.  So I stay just long enough to see my results then leave for most of the awards ceremony.  It's the only unfortunate thing about this race.

I end up finishing 6/10 in my age group, better than I thought I would.  I don't feel as tired after this race as I have in any other previous year.  Not sure I could have put much more into the run and I think the passing situation got the better of me on the bike this year.  Despite feeling rested I also feel a bit flat.  Four races at 3 weeks apart was a lot for me, never done anything like that before so it was an experiment.  Don't know if I'll do that next year.  Or I could train harder and get in better shape.

Next up is Nationals at Snowbasin in Utah.  So excited for that.  Will definitely get some better training in in the upcoming weeks.

Final Stats

Swim:  880 yards, 14:40 swimming/2:07 dash up the beach for official time 16:47 (last year 16:44 mins./1:54 per 100 yards)

T1: 1:56  (last year, 2:03)

Mountain Bike:  12 miles (12.6 by my cyclometer), 1:19:44/9.2 mph (last year 12.3 miles by my cyclometer, 1:14:48 hrs./9.8 mph)

T2:  1:05 (last year, 1:29)

Trail Run:  4.8 miles, 1:06:250/13:22 min./mile  (last year, 1:09:21 hrs./13:53 min./miles)
               Mile Splits:
               Mile 1:  15:09  (all uphill)
               Mile 2:  16:24  (all uphill)
               Mile 3:  13:08  (mix of uphill, flat and downhill)
               Mile 4:  10:44  (all downhill)
               Mile 4.8:  11:19  (mostly downhill, some slight uphill and flat-ish)

Total:  2:46:19  (last year, 2:45:19)

218/271 Overall  (last year, 199/273 Overall)
48/98 Women  (last year, 56/99 Women)
6/10 Age Group  (last year, 5/8 Age Group)

Swim:  5/10 Age Group, 61/98 Women, 189/273 Overall

T1:  3/10 Age Group

Bike:  6/10 Age Group, 66/98 Women, 220/273 Overall

T2:  2/10 Age Group

Run:  8/10 Age Group, 74/98 Women, 228/273 Overall


  1. Sounds pretty successful on a number of counts, including moose counts.

    Did you end up drinking all that water that you lugged with you?

  2. Oh, and I meant to say that I really like that 1st photo of you, all suited up and with the whole scenery thing around you.

  3. Thanks, I like the photo too. Don't usually bother with photos of myself but a passerby offered to take it then asked me to return the favor.

    Most of the water I brought with was for splashing myself with to keep cool, mostly on my head & face. I drank little sips here and there. And yes, I used every last drop though this time I had a bit left over for the downhill portion. I had lots of ice cubes in the bottle and put some freezer packs over it and put it under my backpack in transition and that worked great. Nothing like ice cold water to splash on you on a hot, steep climb.

  4. Ah, so cool (well, not literally -- except the water bit)! Congrats on completing the race and the improvements over previous times. Boo, hiss to the lack of veg options though.

    Is it mean of me to admit that you had me laughing out loud with the part about the fellow competitors' comments on the uphill? Oh man. That must have been brutal! Great to have that more upbeat guy at the top.

  5. Congratulations! Sounds like you put together a strong race to be ready for Nationals :) The run improvement is huge since I remember you were frustrated with that last year.