Well time to tell how racing with the #1 plate went after the hubbub of getting it and what comes along with it. It was interesting to say the least just picking up my packet, I would get asked what number I was and humbly I would barely murmur "one". A sort of stunned volunteer would grab the packet and well wishes which I gladly accepted, not sure if they were expecting someone else or just that number has certain connotations but I was happy to get through the line non the less. I got a bit of heckling from Trey all in good fun and it helped loosen the mood as everyone got caught up after not racing each other for a month.
|T2 set up and ready Inov-8 X-Talon with 2Toms Blister Shield set to hopefully blaze the run course.|
I didn't have that great of confidence coming into the race, I hadn't had a decent workout in over a week and was feeling tired and run down. In the last few days coming into the race I discussed it with my coaches and we lightened the load so that I was active but recovering and trying to recharge the batteries. I did feel better on Friday on my last shuttle run of the bike course, where we drove all the way to the peak of the course and rode the downhills, and easy flat sections with minimal climbing.
It was still a very strong field for the race even if you subtract out Conrad and Dan and I knew that I would need to use every bit of my advantage swimming in my 2XU V:2 wetsuit for the swim. Unfortunately the arms never got moving and I was not able to stay on Seth and Chris' feet like normal and I exited about 1min back from them hoping that the legs were going to be there for the bike.
I jumped out on the bike quickly strapped into my Sidi Terra's and tried to conservatively take off after Seth. Over the first 4 miles I slowly gained on him but could never quite real him in. Once we reach a 1 mile road section I couldn't keep pace with Josiah after he had passed and I just focused on trying to keep them in sight over the top of the climb.
|4 Miles in Josiah resting for a bit before blowing by and earning what was his.|
Though I couldn't keep pace with Seth and Josiah, I was holding off Nico and managed to keep him at bay for longer than ever on the course, I managed to keep his gap small. In what really shouldn't have been a surprise but was was having Brian Smith blow by as we peaked out over Beano's cabin, we rocketed through Allie's Way and then plummeted down the Corkscrew into T2.
|Ripping down Corkscrew with my Ergon HX2 gloves and GX2 grips|
Brian and I exited about 5 seconds back from Nico but I knew immediately that the run was going to be a tough one, there were 4 guys who could all easily put down the best run split of the day and then me. I could only think that I had to push and hold on, you never know what can happen but if one falters you have to be there to take advantage. It wasn't to be though as Josiah responded to the hometown pressure and took the title, Seth fought gallantly to finish just back in 2nd. Brian continued to blaze though with the fastest run split and caught Nico for 3rd. I managed to keep running and hold on for 5th, with Brad Zoller showing his cycling improvement breathing down my neck as I crossed the line. Though I didn't feel great coming into the race I walked away satisfied at the result knowing that it easily could have gone much worse. I don't know that even if I had felt ready to rock that I would have managed to hold off any of the top 4 with how on fire they were that day.
With the regional championships over it sets up a very close race in the XTERRA America Tour Series between Nico in 3rd and myself in 4th. With a few months to prep and build toward USA Champs in Ogden I have a lot of work to do as the course is more suited toward him. Without the challenges of the races what fun would this be though.
|Mtn Podium: Emma, Myself, Seth, Brian, Kelley, Sara, Nico, with Champions Shonny V and Josiah in front.|