Monday, May 04, 2009

2009 Xterra West Cup Results

2nd place age group. 4th place overall amateur. Results are posted here.

>>the following was written prior to seeing my splits<<

I am mostly satisfied, but there is still lots of work to do. I needed ~:30 to win my age group and ~1:00 to win the overall.

Without seeing my time yet, I think the swim was ok. The water was crisp at the start, but was an ideal wetsuit swimming temp. My Zoot Zenith 2.0 wetsuit was great and flowed effortlessly with my stroke. There were four waves which is untraditional for Xterra. Pros went first. My group went second 3min back. I am not sure which I prefer; mass or waves. I did the entire point to point swim solo / no group or drafting which is my preference although potentially not the fastest or easiest. After about 200m and leaving the little beach cove at the Lowes Lake Las Vegas hotel, the start melee was over and it was smooth sailing. We had a nice tailwind which kicked up some small waves for the longest straight stretch. It felt real fast and kind of like riding a wave into shore while at the beach, sometimes. Following the fast section we doubled back and had to fight the waves for a couple 100m. I switched up my stroke a little to get over the waves and stuck to breathing from my right side as the waves were coming slightly from the left (about 11 o'clock). Nearing the end of the swim I started getting my mind right for the bike. T1 was real slow for whatever reason. I need to practice. Again, look back to the top of this post...I only needed 60 seconds or so.

I got into the bike quickly and started passing people right away. I didn't know where I was in relation to the comp, but I wanted to be first, so I had to pass everyone. The first half of the course had most of the longer steeper climbing and felt slow going at parts (had to hike-a-bike twice). After cresting the high point of the course there were a couple of flat/loose/big ring sections and steep descents. The 2nd half of the first lap was more flat with some loose/sand areas and a number of short hills that were ideal for standing and jamming (that's how I ride at least). My Cannondale Scalpel was a good choice for the course. I had the rear nearly locked out/on its stiffest setting and locked out my front fork on-and-off throughout the race. Due to some pre-race crank issues, I swapped from a triple to a double (thanks Focus Cyclery) and the gearing seemed to be fine even for the steep stuff. I got passed on one of the flat sections on the first lap by a guy in my age group. I wasn't prepared to battle with he road away. After rolling through a twisting/beach-ish section along the lake's shoreline one more guy in my age group caught up to me. I didn't let him go though. We completed lap 1 of the bike together and tackled much of lap 2 together. We climbed mostly together. I think I took too much comfort in riding with him and should have gone a little harder. It's a fine line though. Once back onto the 2nd half of the lap again, he road away from me on the same flat section as the other guy. No excuse. Totally mental. Can't and won't happen again...if I want to win. Talking to a number of guys at the end of the race, they all commented on how the back/flat/easy section was tough mentally. Going into T2 I knew I was in at least 3rd and had no idea how the guys ahead could run. T2 was a bit quicker/not bad.

I felt ok/fine going into the run, but knew I was dehydrated and low on calories as I only drank about 25oz of First Endurance EFS and two servings of First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot. Right as I started the run Conrad and Josiah were coming by starting there second lap (yeah, they were a whole lap ahead of me) battling it out shoulder to shoulder. I hopped on their heels and settled into their pace for a little. They were hitting the climbs faster than I was and I couldn't hang. About 1/2 way through each lap of the run course there was a section that doubled-back where you could see the comp.....crap.....there were more age groupers ahead of me than I thought. I felt bad for myself for a second then decided to see what I could problem....I was starting to crack. I knew I was hurting when I couldn't run downhill or the on the flat fast...a strength. Cruising the long downhill into the start/finish to start my second lap, Lesley Paterson came flying by me (and Shonny) and I though my day was done. Little did I know that she thought the run was only one lap. I ran with Shonny and Lesley for a while....and then ....poof...I started feeling good. I put my head down and decided to stop feeling bad for myself. I saw my comp ahead of me and knew I could catch them...although I didn't spot the guy who won my age group by :30. I only got a drop of water at the 3/4 point due to water station backlog, but knew what was ahead and figured I would be fine. Between the water and the last climb I picked up it quite a bit...enough to catch who I thought was 1st. Looking back I should have let if fly 110% there. Once I caught who I thought was 1st place at the top of the last climb it was all downhill and I blasted it. I saw a couple more people a ways ahead and caught them just in case for good measure. As soon as I crossed the line I saw a guy with age group number on his calf being congratulated by his wife....crap!! I didn't win. Come to find out a 40yr old that started a wave behind us beat us both by a little.

I will dig into my splits once they are posted, but here is where I need to work before the next race:

1. Keep making incremental improvements on the swim. Endurance and speed were ok/fine, but everyone will be getting faster as the season moves on and so must I.

2. Transitions have to be faster. I need to simply work on them. Not rocket science here. Seconds count.

3. Keep pushing the bike. I raced aggressively mostly, but showed signs of passiveness on a couple of occasions. I need to keep focusing on increasing sustained climbing power while working on that "race" mindset by continuing to do mountain bike race series and lots of group rides on the road. The Colorado competition has barely come out of hibernation and will come on strong as the season wears on. I have to keep pushing. The bike is still the area of most potential for me.

4. Not quite sure what to do on the run. My speed and power seemed good, but the time to enlist these things took too long. Not sure what is mental and what is physical. Endurance was fine, so probably do more of the same mileage. I did lots of race-paced bricks after tough bikes in training too. Perhaps I need more...or something slightly different. Something that teases my brain to engage / beat the potential mental hump of getting the run going. The run is clearly my strength, but I can't wait until the last 30% of the run to charge it. I need to go for it from the start.

I have a local Xterra in Arizona next followed by the Northwest Championships in Idaho. I can't wait.