23 October 2012

T-5 to Worlds, XTERRA Canada Recap

In a what seems to be a blink of an eye the last two months have gone by in a bit of a flash.  World Champs are 5 days away and I have done two races since Mexico, I want to get caught up.

The first race was XTERRA Canada Champs over Labor Day weekend in Canmore, Alberta.  It is the entrance to the South Eastern Canadian Rockies, a favorite place of mine.  Last time I was in the region was 2001 after the ITU World Champs in Edmonton when I toured the Banff and Jasper Parks with my family and I was very happy to be back.  The race was held at the Nordic center which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and the trail system is spectacular.  Some good climbs but also great flowing single track and some fun technical trails that favor the savvy, but when it gets wet as it did with the overnight rain and snow really favors the local riders.

It was a chilly 3 lap swim in a small gravel pond, a little unexpectedly I lead through the entire swim and on to the bike.  At the end of the second lap it became more of a game of frogger as I was beginning to lap the slower swimmers and just tried to avoid them as I finished up the final lap.
Amazing views from the swim course
Leading after lap 1.
Leading the swim out in my 2XU V:2 suit
(Jordan Bryden Photo)

Before the race everyone was discussing how much clothing they might put on in transition to stay warm.  For me I don’t mind the cold as I know that I will warm up.  I made a decision early that I would be fine in just my tri suit as the sun was out and it was beginning to warm up.  
Knowing that Mike Vine would be charging behind and that this was his home course he had a big advantage and with the wet conditions things really fell in his favor.  I tried to power the uphills knowing that on the tight trails he would be quicker.  Through the first lap I made a number of mistakes not hitting the right lines and sliding around on the roots.  One mistake was costly as i slide on a root then caught traction and it send me flying into a tree, after gathering and getting back on the trail I took off again, after the race when I cleaned my bike I learned I cracked my frame when the rear of the bike hit the tree as I sliding around.
 Slowly as the lap progressed I got a bit better riding in the wet but knew I was not as smooth or fast as Mike was going.  I finished the first lap and headed out on the second and Mike was just 20 seconds back after I had a 2+ minute lead out of the water.  I tried to stay with him, knowing that if I could follow his line I could be much faster but he got away on a steeper uphill and my hope was to keep him close enough that I might be able to catch him on the run.  The second lap was vastly different from the first, it was incredible how much the trail had dried out and I was not sliding around nearly as much and felt much better and faster riding and it showed that after loosing over two min to Mike on the first lap I was less than 90 seconds down at the end of the bike.
SRM File from XTERRA Canada-Two lap bike with ride up from lake to the laps

My confidence in my run after Mexico had increased and I headed out fast thinking that Mike was catchable.  The legs were moving and I really felt like I was flying over the twisting terrain.  On a short out and back section I expected to see at least a glimpse of Mike in that area but it was not the case.  No sight or sound of him and it was a bit discouraging.  There was a longer out and back section at the start-finish of the loop but didn’t see him anywhere along there as well.  I had to keep pushing as a guy I formerly raced on the road was a fast runner and could be charging from behind.  The second lap was a bit tougher, I tripped throwing my rhythm off and took me bit to get the legs flowing again.  I held strong through the rest of the run and finished second for the second straight race.

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