19 April 2014

XTERRA West Championship

Race Equipment, Setup & Nutrition
Bike - Pro Cycling SW Epic, Rotor 3D+ SRM w/38-27 Q-Rings
           Effetto Mariposa Sealant in Fast Trak 2.2 Tires, Front 22psi, Rear 26psi
           Rudy Project Windmax Helmet
Run - Colorado Running Company Inov-8 Trailroc 245
          2XU Run Visor

After a sub par performance at XTERRA Costa Rica, I was looking to turn thing around at XTERRA West Champs at Lake Las Vegas.  My confidence in my ability to race well has been pretty low since I hadn't been translating the all of the great training I had been doing after buckling down and really nailing ten solid weeks of training in Tucson over the winter.  West Champs was just as much proving to myself that I could put together a very solid race and make myself really dig deep and suffer as it was to place well in the first race of the XTERRA US Tour.  On top of that the race was also the qualifier for the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in Germany in August and there were a number of guys gunning to get a spot on the team.
The lack of any real technical aspect to the bike course, there isn't a real need to ride it to much and I chose to keep the trip as short as possible flying in Saturday, after a quick lap of the two lap bike just got confirmation that it was a bit loose, but enough people had ridden it that a "trail" had formed and you just followed along.  One of the crazier bits about this race is the water, XTERRA reported the water temp on Wednesday at 8am (race time) at 54 degrees, I jumped in Saturday afternoon and it was easily right around 70 degrees with warmer and colder pockets around the course.  It seemed highly possible that it would be a non-wetsuit swim however race morning arrived and as is typical for the lake the water cooled down and was right around 60 degrees when the gun sounded.
It was a cramped start and I was bottled in to the pack from the beginning as Craig, Dan and Mauricio got away and opened up a 25 second gap through the first lap as managed to reach the head of the chase pack as we started lap two.
Beach run between the two lap swim, 2XU X:3 wetsuit was phenomenal.
Leading the chase pack straight and fast, I closed the gap down to 10 seconds to the trio ahead as we entered T1.  My 2XU X:3 wetsuit slid straight off and I was on the bike in the mix with Dan and Craig. 
Unfortunately I didn't get into my shoes cleanly and lost their wheel as we headed toward the dirt.  On the first climb everything was clicking well, the legs were spinning and I passed Craig as Dan and Mauricio kept a steady distance ahead.  On the next climb Brad Weiss was flying up the hills and I knew I needed to keep in close contact as I would have better power on the flats.  Through the remainder of the first lap Brad, Craig and I stretched and closed like and accordion depending on if we were climbing or on the flats.  Mauricio was always just in the distance but we were closing the gap down after he lost contact with Dan who was flying away from all of us.  As we began the second lap Brad took off and shortly there after Josiah flew by without any notice and there was no chance of catching his wheel.  I soldiered on keeping Mauricio in sight, after Brad and Josiah blew by him, with Craig chasing hard and yo-yoing off of my wheel.  I nailed the line on the rocky river bed and with Mauricio running it I was right on his wheel when he remounted.
Riverbed, it is all about pump and flow, let the bike move beneath you, Lee Like's Bikes Kung Fu
There was a bit more stretching of the elastic band between Mauricio and I before the last bit of "single-track" along the edge of the lake where in the soft loose conditions that I am very familiar with riding in Colorado Springs and Tucson, I finally got by the very speedy youngster.
The "single track" section at lakes edge, Mauricio Mendez holding strong and Craig not far behind.
In a surprise sighting Dan was sidelined dealing with fixing mechanical issues and Mauricio, Craig and I stayed together through the end of the lap and all entered transition together.
XTERRA West Champs SRM PC7 File
We were fighting for 3rd behind Josiah and Brad ahead but in all reality Craig and I were fighting for 4th as Mauricio had everyone out classed that day on the run.  I made a effort to stay with him but it was not going to happen.  It was a great confidence boost though that the gap was very slow in opening up and for the first 2 miles I could used Mauricio as a carrot up ahead and after loosing 5 minutes to him in Costa Rica on a shorter course I only lagged by a little over 2 minutes here.  I had battle through the run with Craig nipping at my heels, he would gain a bit of ground on the hills and I would stretch things out slightly on the downhills and flats.  I don't think we were every more than 20 seconds apart the entire race but managed to hold him at bay to take 4th.
4th Suzie & I, 2nd Emma & Brad, 1st Flora and Josiah, 3rd Shonny & Mauricio, 5th Chantell & Craig
Regardless of place it was exactly the type of race I needed to have, proving to myself that I could race, and I could suffer and be in the mix.  I know that I will need to endure more pain and suffering to continue to move in my desired direction but it just feels good to put it all together.  Next up are a couple of road tri's back to St. Anthony's then on to St. Croix for a half ironman.

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