Monday, August 30, 2010

XTERRA Schiff Scout Race Report

Wow! That was awesome! I don't think I've ever had as much fun at a race as I did yesterday. XTERRA is by far the coolest and most adventurous triathlon I've ever done. From the great swim and a cool venue to the fast bike course to the ridiculous hills and picnic table jump on the run, the entire race experience was something that will not soon be forgotten!

It's safe to say that I was looking forward to doing this race more than any other on my schedule this season. I picked it up after deciding not to do IM Louisville in favor of Rev3 Cedar Point (which at this point doesn't seem likely either...). So after getting into this race, and seriously starting to do off-road training for the first time ever, I fell in love with the idea of competing off road. I knew I was strong on the trails (both on the bike and the run), and that my athleticism would be much more of an advantage here than on the road. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I imagined I might be good at it.

The swim started off just like any other I've done. The only difference here, knowing that it was short (3/4's of a mile I believe) was that I needed to be on it from the gun. I found the winner from last year (Ken Robbins-more on him later), and stuck to his feet like it was my job. I knew I couldn't get too far away from the "big boys" if I was going to do well, and quickly went anerobic. I managed to hold on to the lead pack heading into the end of the first loop before the beach run, and came out at that point in about 8th position. I would loose some ground on the second lap and wind up coming out of the water 9th or 10th. Still a great position to be in for someone who is a slow swimmer like myself.

On the bike things got fast quick. The course is mostly singletrack, mostly flat, and all well groomed. In hindsight I could have easily run a completely rigid setup on this course as there really weren't very many bumpy sections save for one or two. I managed to overtake a couple guys and held on good to the leaders. Then, BAM!!! I lost it in some sand and went ass over tea kettle after hitting a log on the side of the trail. The good news was I got up quick and both the bike and myself were fine. The bad news was that I lost time on over taking the 5th place guy to move into fourth position. These things happen... I managed to make up some time and catch up to him though not overtake him. Soon though, 6th place was on my tail. Then he overtook me and the guy ahead. I got off the bike somewhere around 7th place, still happy to be in the top 10.

My second transition went smoothly and I shot out of transition like a pigeon with a rocket up its ass. Immediately I passed one guy, then another, and was running up in 5th place. Despite having not run for much of the two weeks leading up to the race because of my reaccuring foot issue, I was moving well. Things seemed to start flowing so I hit the jets. The uphills were technical and loose, but running uphill is a great strength of mine. I made quick work of then and soon came up on 4th place. I passed him at around the two mile mark and held on. I almost lost it a few times during the loose and technical descents, but held on and kept my pace fast and swift. At the 3 mile mark there was a sweet water section that had us running through thigh deep water before reaching the finish. I crossed the finish line in 4th, muddy with a huge grin on my face! Even better was finding out that I was only about a minute and a half out of second place. Though 4th place is a like kissing your sister, I was still super stoked to finish just off the podium at my first XTERRA race!

The whole experience has taught me a few things. First and foremost, I've realized that off-road racing is somthing that I'm good at and should probably focus on in the future. I've always thought that I'd be faster off road, but realizing it first hand is something different. Also, to have XTERRA stud Ken Robbins (who holds multiple regional titles and just won the regional championship yet again with his win yesterday) compliment me on a good race and mention that he thought I was "built for XTERRA" means quite a lot. In the end, XTERRA is everything I could have hoped for and then some. I'm looking forward to focusing full time on it in the coming year and am excited to see where I can go with it. Again, my only regret is that I waited all season long to get into it. These things happen... :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day before XTERRA and Book Review

Woke up this morning feeling rough. Anne and I went out on the town last night (stayed out until the unGodly hour of 10pm!!!) and had some drinks. I'm a super lightweight even though I do partake in a beer almost every night. Got up this morning after having two glasses of wine and a beer feeling like I was back in college. Funny how things change...

Anyway, today is the day before my first XTERRA and to say that I'm pumped is an understatement. I'm only disappointed that I didn't get in to doing these races earlier this year as I would have almost certainly have made XTERRA my focus for the season. The "adventure" aspect of the races really speak to me, as well as my fondness for mountainbiking. While I'm more than a little burned out with racing on the road, XTERRA has given me a new motivation and perhaps a focus for something that I'll be quite good at. Post-race tomorrow I may have an entirely different opinion, but it's pretty unlikely.

On the subject of books, Anne bought me the new BikeSnobNYC book. I believe it's been out for about 3 or 4 months now, but I just found out about it while we were staying with friends last weekend for Timberman. If you have the chance, don't only pick up the book, but give his blog a read as well. For anyone that enjoys cycling and cycling culture it's a must read. I've only started it, but I have yet to put it down. It's only around $11 or so on amazon so give it a shot! More than worth it! (

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

XTERRA week!!!

Big week this week as I'll be competing in my first ever off-road race! I've never done a trail race (running or biking) before, and I'm really looking forward to sinking my chops into it. I have a great feeling that I'm going to be very strong in the dirt and should produce a good race result this weekend. No matter what happens though, I'm going into it looking to have fun. Being that it's my first one I'm sure there will be tons of room for improvement.

With that I'm also looking forward to doing some long distance mountain bike racing this november as well as the coming season. It would be great to do the Leadville 100, perhaps the Fools Gold 100, and a few stage races too if I can get them in there! The race I'm thinking about in November is a 6 hour race that I think will give me a good taste of what it's like to be on a mountain bike for a long time. The longest mountain bike ride I've ever had was 5 hours (on a rigid singlespeed nonetheless), so this will be new territory! Can't wait!

Also this winter I'm looking to get into some 'cross racing. Never dont this either so it should be a fun addition to my endurance sports arsenal.:)

I think the main thing with me at this point in time is that I'm looking forward to some adventure outside the realm of triathlon. I've been competing and taking this sport seriously for 2 years now, and I think I'm suffering some burnout. Like most people, I jumped headfirst into it, finding love at first sight with swimming, biking, and running until I couldn't stand up at the end of the day. While it's still my first love and passion from a sports standpoint, it'll be nice to take a step back and broaden my horizons. Even if I decided to take a complete year off from triathlong (which I don't necessarily intend to do), I still would like to ride and race my bikes as often as possible. And maybe even throw in an ultra run for fun:).

These final weeks of the season are going to be exciting, but at the same time my mind and body are looking forward to some well deserved rest. It's been quite a while since the last time I slept late on a weekend morning:).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick Update...

Been busy lately...ok, just been lazy lately. With blogging anyway. Haven't had much to talk about other than biking, running, and swimming, so I guess I've choosen to get away from those things when I'm not doing them instead of blogging about them! Anyway, I've been on the Mountainbike A LOT lately, and I think I'm finding a new love. It's not just the mountain bike, but the trail running that has got me going as well. I have an XTERRA race on the 29th coming up, and in all honesty, I'm more excited for that then I am for doing my iron distance race on Sept. 12th. To say that I'm burned out isn't completely accurate, but I am having some motivation issues when it comes to the regular grind of swim, bike, run (on road). I'm very nervous that I won't be mentally "into" doing the iron distance race in September, and at some times even find that I'm dreading it. It's not the distance of the race, or how hard it will be, but just that I'm bored with it. Hmmm....
Anyway, for now I'm having a great time ripping up the trails and enjoying a "new" passion. :)