Friday, July 22, 2016

Xterra Mountain Champs (Beaver Creek)

I don't know why I keep signing up for this.  I did a pre-ride of the course 2 weeks before and had registered the day before the pre-ride.  After the pre-ride I joked that it's a good thing I'd registered already.  The bike is hard and long and steep and hard and up at a high elevation (high point of 9184') and when you're done you get to do a super hard run that's also steep and up at a high elevation (high point of 8872').

I had a good swim this year, water was supposedly 66 degrees but felt warmer, didn't even need swim socks.  I managed the crowds o.k., found some feet to draft off of early on.  Pace was 1:51/100 yds. this year compared to 1:48/100 yds. which added up to a difference of 19 seconds.

Bike went well, better than the pre-ride which always seems to be the case.  The race was super competitive this year because Xterra cancelled 2 of the 4 Regionals in the U.S. that qualify you for Worlds so lots of super fast, super competitive people showed up to Mountain Champs this year.  Normally I end up riding with somebody but this year I was on my own from just past the first aid station.  It was a very strange feeling.  My bike time was approximately 2 mins. slower than last year.  Can't tell exactly because I'd had some issue with pushing the wrong buttons on the Garmin last year.

The run did not go well and that is an understatement.  It was much hotter this year - high 70's to low 80's, maybe hotter - and the heat combined with the elevation left me dizzy and nauseous right from the start.  The first climb is steep and long and to call what I was doing 'hiking' or even 'walking' would be an exaggeration.  I'm not sure what to call it.  But it was slow and hard and after a mile and a half or so I wondered if I should turn around and find my way back.  But that would be 3 miles total and the run was 6 and I'd already come so far so I figured I may as well gut it out.  And gut it out I did.  One hour and 44 minutes to complete 5.5 miles for a whopping pace of 18:53 min./mile which is probably the slowest I've ever run a race.  Last year was 1:27:31 or 16:16 min./mile and I know I was struggling then as well.  But as I recall the dizzy, nauseous, I'm maybe going to pass out feeling didn't come until the second climb.  It was cooler though, a storm front blew through and it was cloudy and cool and I think even a few raindrops came here and there for the first half of the run but then the sun came out for the second part and I think that's when I started feeling really bad.  My guess is that the heat and altitude combined with the length and difficulty of the race and my issues with low blood pressure don't make for a great race for me.  Not sure if I'll go next year.

I did have fun though for most of the race and for the first time I drove up on Friday and spent the night.  Some women invited me to share their condo and it was so fancy and a couple minutes walk to the start line.  They turned out to be really nice and it was fun to meet some new people, especially fellow Xterra women.  There aren't many of us out there, especially in the 45-49 and 50-54 age group.

And the trails were beautiful.  Still so lush and green up there though the trails were dry and dusty compared to when I did my pre-ride a couple of weeks previous.

Not many T2's are as beautiful as this.

And the finish line.

Next race is Xterra Winter Park in 2 weeks and I get to go up there tomorrow to pre-ride.  Let's hope I have enough legs left.

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