Capping a very busy first half of the season was XTERRA East in Richmond, Virginia. It is another favorite as it is an urban adventure race for us and the conditions have changed each year making things unpredictable but it is what makes off-road triathlons the best format.
As has become tradition for me I stayed with Jon and Patti and I can’t thank them enough for everything that they have done and helped me with over the last few years as my host family at the race. They are half the reason I come back to the race year after year.
The real test of the event this year would go back to the weather but for the hot and very humid conditions as opposed to the rain, I was thankful for a dryer course than what we have had the last couple years, but some suffering was definitely in store due to the heat. The great part is that have gradually warmer and warmer and more humid races in May starting in St. George and ending in Raleigh I really felt like I was adapting more and have been able to nail down my First Endurance nutrition.
|Suzie and I dropping some knowledge at XTERRA U|
The swim was interesting as always, the water level was slightly lower this year in the James River so running a ground on boulders and hitting your hands on rocks was a much more common occurrence, the current was not as large a factor but it would still play a role. Though I had good speed off the line something wasn’t clicking and I lost ground to a small group up front, I continued to slip backwards after the first turn buoy when we then ran on a sand bar to the next turn buoy.
|Part of the "Swim" in the James River at XTERRA East, I am in the middle right of the photo (XTERRA)|
|New section on the bike after a bridge washed out last year.|
After diving back in I nailed the next leg with the current perfectly and cruised back up ahead of the faster “run-swimmers” and closed the gap to the front group. I dove back in and again took a smarter line after the run across Bell Isle and continued to close some distance down on the front and started opening a bigger gap to the guys behind. Once out of the water and after the long run to transition I was about 25 seconds down to Craig and Braden Currie, but was just behind Brad Zoller and Ben Collins as I started the bike. I hammered the first section
|Up the Stairway to Heaven|
|The Mardi Gras on the Rock in Richmond, simply the best|
spectators coming out and heckling and supporting.
across the Lee Bridge using a legal sneaky Conrad Stoltz tactic to help get me to the singletrack first. Thankfully I was riding much better than I did pre-riding and the legs were moving. Josiah and Olly Shaw caught me not to far in the Forest Hill loop and after finding a good spot to let them by jumped on their wheel. Unfortunately a bumble by Josiah on an uphill switch back caused me to have to dab a foot and a small gap opened. I chased hard to catch back but could not get back on. I continued to ride strong and remained close but the guys were slowly putting time on me ahead. It was already a warm day and it continued to get hotter and nutrition
|Karsten and I pushing each other to catch the front group|
was going to be very key. Over the course of the bike I downed two large bottles that had 5 scoops of EFS Pro in the Lemon Water flavor with about 100 extra calories from the EFS Liquid Shot Kona Mocha each and the taste was good. The flavor and sweetness is low so it I do not have any stomach issues. I mix the Liquid Shot in the drink because there are not many spots to take in nutrition and it helps simplify getting the calories and electrolytes in. Through next lap of the bike Karsten and I played leap frog until he really felt the heat and I started to open up a gap, and I wanted every second I could get as he had started to really put races together and was going well. I was very thankful to feel like I was getting stronger through out the bike. It was very encouraging to get that feeling after having the fading feeling the last couple years.
|SRM Power Graph of 2015 XTERRA East|
|Being hunted down by the on fire Chris Ganter.|
A flat and lost CO2 took Olly out of the race and I headed off on the run in 4th knowing that there were fast runners behind. I barely had time to get my ice bags settled to help stay cool before Ryan Ignatz blazed by, I did well limiting my losses to him for a while but he slowly crept away. I reeled Craig back in slowly only to then be passed by Chris Ganter shortly there after. I kept him in sight and was confident in my pacing and nutrition and knew that with the heat he could blow at anytime if he was not on top of his, the only issue is that he is a First Endurance athlete as well so it was unlikely. Over the last section of the run I kept my pace high until I knew that I was not going to catch Ganter and that I was not going to be caught and cruised the last little bit in for 5th.
I was very happy to put the whole race together and be solid very all the way through. I really have to thank Danelle Kabush for strengthening the mental side of my racing this year. It has been a dramatic difference staying focused, in the moment while and most importantly very positive through the race.
|Getting a fast and styling racing cut thanks to the Paul Mitchell crew at the XTERRA race.|