Monday, June 01, 2009

Deuces Wild Xterra Triathlon Results

A great sloppy weekend up in the pines of Show Low, AZ for Deuces Wild Xterra.  I was able to repeat as the overall winner! 
This was our 4th time doing this event and we have made it a habit of doing a short, 24hr trip.  As I always seem to do just before a race, I had bike dilemmas Saturday morning prior to leaving Phoenix.  I was out getting in 3 easy hours on the MTB and decided to crash.  No real harm to the body, but I did end up busting my rear der hanger.  Bummer!  Fortunately, as they always do, Focus Cyclery hooked me up big time, had an extra Cannondale Scalpel hanger in stock and made the swap immediately.  Thanks Focus! 
After a very scenic 3hr drive up to 6,300ft elevation race venue, we were greeted with cool temps and thunderstorms.  Hadn't really considered rain in my race planning.  More specifically, I've never raced with any sort of MTB tire other than a low-knob, desert, hard-pack friendly design (Maxxis Larsens & Crossmarks or Specialized SWorks Fasttrack LKs).  Well...whatever...I had no other options, so bring on the mud!  After some of the storms passed, I hopped in the water for two laps of the 800m course.  Man, I love my Zoot Zenith 2.0 wetsuit. 
The swim was short and sweet.  My goal was to execute my newly acquired "sit on the hip" strategy, but I need to practice and/or focus a bit more.  I did do well with the one guy who I knew was a faster swimmer than me, but I lost him going around a buoy.  All in all a good swim at altitude....where I have traditionally had near "blow-up" experiences in the past. 
T1 was ok.  I've been trying to only think about the thing I am supposed to be doing.  For example, when getting off my wetsuit it's not important to think about how dizzy I am.  Or when I'm putting on my MTB shoes it's not important to think about where my sunglasses are.  So from this perspective I did much better. 
On the bike, I started in my big ring and charged it.  Garrett Ford and I moved into 1st and 2nd and stayed together for quite a while.  I crashed once I hit the first muddy section.  Not hard, just kind of made me a bit more cautious.  After some sloppy fire service roads, we hit the main climb of the course, which is pretty rocky kinda like Maui at places, the mud really piled on.  It was kind of comical.  We went from totally loosing all traction and spinning out to not even being able to move.  Crazy mud.  We'd ride, slip, stop, de-gunk and then repeat.  Eventually, knowing the climb only got steeper, I just decided to run up the hill.  By this point Steven Beeler, a cool Swiss racer living in Tucson, had caught up to us and started to play in the mess.  The three of us rolled along the ridge of the climb where our bikes de-mudded themselves and then on the descent I let a small gap open.  Bad move!  I quickly headed off course and plowed into another mud pie.  I tracked back carrying my bike as it wouldn't roll but couldn't find the trail.  Crap.  Then I spotted 4th place rolling through the scrubby, low growth forest and re-found the trail.  After de-mud my bike again, I went as hard and as risky as I could the rest of the course.  I finally moved back into 3rd then 2nd by T2, but wasn't able to catch Steven.  I did however see him starting the run as I was coming in on my bike.  My deficit was around 2min.  Kind of a lot over a flat-ish 5 mile course. 
T2 was good enough for the fastest of the day and I was off on the hunt.  Heading out of T2, Grasky Endurance Coach Bill Daniell was passing our water and gave me a big boost of confidence.  Before the race I had committed to going fast no matter what from the get go.  At Vegas and and other races I've had trouble getting into a groove during the first half of the run.  Knowing the course, the first mile had the majority of the challenge with a couple of steep hills then it flattened out.  So, I focused on nothing but cadence (actually "cadence with a push" is what I call it) for the first mile.  "Cadence with a push" is 1) ensuring a quick turnover and 2) employing effort on top of the quick turnover - an anti-sandbagging technique I've learned.  It's not good enough to move your feet quickly.  You have to move them quickly and forcefully.  This was this first time during the race that I really felt the altitude, but so it goes.  After about 1.5 miles I still hadn't made eye contact with 1st place and was starting to get worried.  There was a long straight stretch of trail where I knew I needed to see him...I did....still a ways ahead, but eye contact was magical for motivation.  At the turnaround, mile 2.5, I caught up and took over 1st place and then committed to charging hard to the finish.  On the way back on an out-and-back section I spotted another guy, Benjamin DeWitt, running really fast.  He actually had the fastest run of the day, beating me by :03/mile.  I don't know what I look like coming down the trail, but he looked fast and I knew if I didn't push that he would catch me.  Two water crossings and a couple of miles later, the finish line was in site.  I did it.  
Heading to Idaho for the Xterra Northwest Championships Wednesday.  Excited to race some more.