Sunday, August 09, 2015

Xterra Snow Mountain Ranch

This was a small, laid back race, just how I likes 'em, with a beautiful scenic course and very little oxygen.  Elevation ranges between 8700' - 9700' according to Garmin.  In fact I have all the intel on the race according to Garmin and I think I can share it here via links to Strava.  So for those who are interested in the distance, elevation profiles, etc., here you go:  Swim, Bike, Run.  Strava creeps me out a little, kind of weird and creepy that people 'compete' against each other on it but it seems a handy way to share the race data for anybody considering it in the future or anybody who's just curious.

Love those small, laid back races.

I pre-rode the bike course the week before and it was mostly smooth single track with some dirt roads and a few technical bits on 'primitive' trail.  There were a couple of short technical downhill bits that I had to walk and a very steep loose downhill that I came upon unexpectedly with way too much speed in the pre-ride to get off and walk.  My back wheel kept skidding so I had to let off the brake and hope for the best.  Miraculously I made it!  Couldn't believe I got out in one piece.  Didn't press my luck during the race and got off to walk since I knew it was coming though coming at it with more controlled speed it felt like I could have ridden it.  Nonetheless I was taking no chances and decided to walk the short stretch.  Some guy in the race crashed in a gully and had to go to the hospital and I wonder if this was the place because if you were going to crash badly enough to require a hospital visit, that would be the place.  There was a woman on the pre-ride who did road triathlons but this was to be her first Xterra and she was an inexperienced mountain biker.  She crashed several times and had to walk most of the downhill on the technical sections.  I was wondering if she'd show up on race day.  She didn't.

Overall I had a great race despite some terrible heart rate variability and heart rate numbers the week leading up to the race.  I felt o.k. during that week so I wasn't too worried about it and my numbers on race morning improved a bit though weren't fabulous.  Nonetheless my legs felt strong on the climbs on the bike, I was able to run the whole run course (no walking up the steepy steep bits) and I felt worlds better than I had felt the week before during the pre-ride where I'd had to walk several uphills that I was able to ride during the race.  It's amazing what a week of rest can do.  And it's important not to take hard data too seriously.

All distances and times listed below are per my Garmin.

Swim:  861 yards

There was some kind of mix up with the plugs for the buoys so the race director was unable to inflate them.  To improvise he put the buoys in canoes and had a makeshift course.  It ended up a bit short (was supposed to be 1000 m/12// yards) which was probably fine with just about everybody because the water was a brisk 63 degrees or so.  And swimming at 9000' is challenging.  The swim was 2 laps with a quick exit onto the beach in between laps.  I took the first lap very slowly to avoid getting winded and panicky in the cold water and high elevation.  I got out of the water a bit winded, stopped for a few moments to catch my breath and did the second lap faster and felt fine.  The cold wasn't too bad and mercifully the elevation wasn't bothering me like it has been all summer.

Weather was ominous at the start but it turned into a beautiful, perfect day for racing.

Mountain Bike:  13.92 miles, 1788 ft. elevation gain

The bike went mostly without incident.  The course felt much easier than on the pre-ride.  Fresh legs and knowing what to expect on the course make all the difference.  Such a beautiful course, wildflowers, mountain views, lush green, flowy singletrack.

View from Coyote Tooth Trail (photo taken during pre-ride)

I was faster and stronger on the climbs than during the pre-ride but probably slower on some of  the more sketchy downhills.  I couldn't see any upside to taking risks on them so I went a comfortable pace, happy enough to emerge in one piece.  My goal for the bike was to push the uphills and that part went well.

Unfortunately I don't have any other photos of the course.  I thought about taking my GoPro with me on either the pre-ride or the race but couldn't be bothered in the end.  I'll probably regret that.

Run:  3.98 miles, 499' elevation gain

The run was the first 4 miles of the bike course which included a steep hill after the first mile.  I'd had to walk up in during the pre-ride but I was able to both ride and run it without walking.  Very happy about that.  My goal for the run was to run all the hills.  All of them.  No wimping out and power walking even if it seemed like it would be more efficient to power walk.  I wanted to get over the mental hurdle of feeling like I can't run up the hills when I'm tired at the end of a race.  This gets me every time at Nationals and is my biggest weakness at the moment.  I want to be able to run the hills at Nationals this year, no survival shuffling. 

As it happened I felt good off the bike despite pushing the hills and I had strength enough left in my legs to make it up all the hills.  All of them.  My pace wasn't bad either, much faster than at Mountain Champs but to be fair that was a much longer, harder bike and run.  But still, it felt good to run the whole thing and no shuffling.

I did a little extra credit, took a wrong turn just before the finish line and some spectators finally noticed and set me back on course.  I ended up 3/5 in my age group, very pleased with that.

There are worse finish line views.

View of lake below from the finish line area.  There are worse places to race.

Beautiful scenery, perfect weather, a great day physically on the course - who can ask for anything more?


Swim:   861 yards (per Garmin) 19:30 mins. (2:16/100 yards)

T1:  3:42

Mountain Bike:  13.9 miles, 1788 ft. elevation gain,  1:56:28, 5.79 mph (moving time 1:53:42, stopped to take off fleece top).

T2:  54 secs.

Trail Run:  4.0 miles, 500' elevation gain, 53:36 (13:28 min/mile)

Finish:  3:14:10, 3/5 age group, 13/18 women, 53/65 overall

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