23 July 2012

Flat in the Mountains

The courses are very different for the remainder of the year, much less of the twists and turns through the tight trees in Alabama and Richmond and on to thousands of feet of climbing in the thin air of Colorado and Utah.  Mountain Champs in Beaver Creek is the first test before ramping things up for USA Champs and Worlds in Maui to close the season out.

I have had great results at Mountain Champs through the years and headed in with a plan to go at least one step higher this year.  The swim was two loops in Nottingham Lake in Avon, I started strong to get out of the riff-raff then settled in to a good pace not wanting to push to hard since we were swimming at an elevation of 7500 feet.  Once I settled in I was not going as hard as I wanted but couldn’t push any harder and an odd thing as well is I felt that I couldn’t breath.  I stayed on the feet of Craig and Conrad through the first lap and felt a bit better toward the end and tried to take the lead only to have Craig surge back in front.  I had nothing to respond and slid back into his draft for the second lap and exited just behind.

Chasing the sea level guy out of the water, hmmm means one thing, Craig is on fire! (XTERRA)
Pacing Henestrosa up to the road. (XTERRA)
Through the trees sucking wind (XTERRA)
Descent to Finish (STG)
I jumped on Conrad’s wheel as he went by and noticed it was not nearly as hard as normal to sit there as normal and was thinking that the legs were feeling good.  Once we started the long slog up hill, that is when I noticed, that Conrad was taking the first section of the climb easier and was gradually increasing his effort up the climb.  I settled into my own rhythm still having a problem breathing and just tired to minimize my losses.  Normally a long distance road guy, Ben Hoffman, slowly crept up on to my wheel and we rode together for a bit before he also spun away from me and Josiah followed not long after.  I just tried to keep the two in sight as we continued to gain elevation as David Henestrosa was the next to be on my wheel.  He stayed behind until we reached the road section and then burst ahead and I didn’t have the legs to follow him and was then sitting in 5th.  Just as I neared the top of the climb Cody caught me but was able to put a gap on him on the descent into the Arrowhead switch backs.  On the traverse back across the mountain his legs were stronger and stormed back by and there was little I could do to stay with him.  I got a side stitch as well which is something I have not dealt with in a long time that hampered my ability to be in a good position on the bike.  It slowly went away as I used the downhills as much to my advantage as I could and was able to close to within 10-15sec of Cody as we headed out on the run.
SRM Powerfile from XTERRA Mountain Champs

Headed to the steep section (STG)
The legs felt good starting out and was able to get the legs to turn over starting the climb and I felt like I might be able to make it a battle on the run with Cody.  Through a tight switchback section on the run he seemed to disappear and my focus was then on holding my position.  I struggled up the steeper section of the run but was able to get the legs to turn over whenever there it was a more gradual grade.  On the road decent to the half way point I just couldn’t open up as the side stitch returned and Ryan Ignatz flew by.  I pushed on but it was a loosing battle as the fleet footed Brian Smith cruised by as well.  I continued to struggle up the hills and then was able to open things up on the downhills as I crossed the line in eighth.  It was a barely an improvement upon my 9th at the ITU Cross Worlds/XTERRA Southeast race two months ago but a few points are better than none.
In to the Finish (STG)

With two and a half months till USA Champs there is a lot to be worked out and get the things that aren’t clicking worked out so I can be firing on all cylinders.   I am in a tight battle in the points series with Craig, David and Will for the 3rd - 6th spots.  I have made some adjustments to my schedule for the remainder of the year and this will be an all XTERRA year as I will not be doing any of the road triathlons as originally planned.  I will be back racing in about 3 weeks for XTERRA Mexico and hope I will be able to perform at the level I am fully capable of that will be followed up with XTERRA Canada.

Thanks to Stumbling Toward Greatness (STG) and XTERRA for the photos
Nitty Gritty Details:
Clothing: 2XU Compression Tri Singlet, 2XU Compression Tri Short

Swim: 2XU Velocity V:2 Westsuit  2XU Comp goggles and 2Toms SportsShield.

Bike: Pro Cycling Specialized S-Works Epic 29, 2.0" Fastrak @ 24.5 psi on the front and 1.95" Renegade at 29psi on the rear, Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant 80ml in each wheel, SRM Rotor 3D+ crank 40-27 Q-Rings, Sidi Terra, Ergon HX2 glove and GS1 GripRudy Project Windmax helmet and Rudy Project Noyz Fluo Pink w/Lazer Blue Lens.
Bike Nutrition: 2-20oz bottles of First Endurance EFS Grape and 2 gels.

Run: Colorado Running Company Inov-8 X-Talon 212 with 2Toms BlisterShield and Rudy Project Noyz Fluo Pink w/Lazer Blue Lens

10 July 2012

Quick and dirty XTERRA East

Well XTERRA East Champs were a few weeks ago and here is a quick and dirty recap of the race.  Thankfully we did not have the complete cluster of riding through 90% of the field like last year, XTERRA finally listened, or rather learned by their mistake of not listening to us last year.
Setting up transition and getting pumped.  (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography)
It was an earlier start time but I will take that any day when the heat is on!  The swim was the best it could be for swimming in a mid town river, it was the clearest I have ever seen, which could be good or bad depending on your point of view.  It was easy to see all the rocks and trees and random trash in the water, the water level was perfect so we weren't scraping over rocks.  As has been custom, Conrad and I swam together and trailed Craig by about 45 seconds.
Exiting the water at Belle Isle with Conrad for the mid swim jog. (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography)
I hammer the long run to transition threw on the GPS tracker (hopefully you watched the race unfold live and enjoyed it) and put a small gap the big man which was very necessary since I bobbled getting my shoes on but managed to jump in his draft on the road section that lead into the singletrack.  It is a sight to see trying to follow Conrad on the trails, some innovative lines that just make you think and wonder if there is anything he hadn't tried.  I held as best I could but the power he put down would blow me to smithereens half way through the first lap if I tried to follow him and just tried to use him as best I could to get up to Craig.  I did get Craig in sight but after having a problem getting in my pedal after a dismount run up section I lost the chance as he took off with Conrad.

Stepped run up, after a quick culvert ride.  (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography)
I tried to stay smooth through the Forest Hill section of the course but I was not comfortable riding through the corners and felt like I was constantly stopping and going.  Then on a small drop I had ridden well in pre ride I hit a faster than planned and the front tire turned out from under me and down I went down with the saddle catching the loose bits in the process.  I got back up but I had to ride easy for the next few minutes from the intense pain in my crotch.  Josiah was flying and passed me while I was soft pedaling and gave him room so that he could easily pass on the trail.  Slowly the pain subsided and I managed to pick up the pace just enough to go through what I would call the Mardi Gras section of the trail.  An intense cheering section had set up on a short rock climb that was a huge boost and helped to bring a smile over the pain of all that had happened and I just wanted to get back to this section of the course as fast as possible.

Some idea of what was going on, hill billy-redneck-mardi gras!  It rocked! (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography)

I pressed on trying to keep Josiah in sight as much as possible but he slowly disappeared.  I hit the aid station and noticed I had lost my bottle in the crash and was thankful for Chris to be there with my second bottle as with the temperature climbing it would have been a very long day without my EFS.  I hit the last section of the first lap and Josiah was off the trail with a mechanical.  The only thing I could think was sorry but you have to take advantage of every opportunity presented and I charged ahead since he was just fixing things and not injured.

Opposite of the run up, the rock garden decent into the stream and back through the culvert. (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photo)
I was getting a little more comfortable on the second lap but my riding was still suffering after the crash.  Was smoother through the small drop and didn't crash this lap as I slowly heard someone coming back up on me.  I assumed it was Josiah and thought it was after he passed only to realize that it was actually Will Kelsay that was tearing it up on the bike.  I sucked on to his wheel, Josiah caught up a bit after and we three rode together from the Nickel Bridge to the aid station.  On the North Side trail I pushed too hard in a corner and washed the front tire out scraping up my forearm and sending a bit of a rattle through my confidence again.  Picking myself up once again I knew that with a good run I could battle my way back into it and pushed it in to transition.

SRM Powerfile from the XTERRA East Championship
I was about 45 seconds down from Josiah and Will heading out on the run and put my head down and found my stride.  Slowly I chipped away at the gap to Will through the first couple miles leading into the Mayan Ruins and got to within 10-15 seconds of him at the steps.  As we headed down the long gravel road to the turn around I started to get the familiar overheating feeling and was looking for shade and water where ever I could find it.  Through the exposed dry river bed and on Belle Isle Will slowly slipped away and I crossed the line in 5th.

XTERRA East Champs Podium (Jesse Peters/Backlight Photography)
Next up XTERRA Mountain Champs in Beaver Creek, many changes to the style of racing through the rest of the year.

Photos Courtesy of Jesse Peters XTERRA East 2012 Photos

Nitty Gritty Details:
Clothing: 2XU Compression Tri Singlet, 2XU Compression Tri Short

Swim: 2XU Comp goggles and 2Toms SportsShield.

Bike: Pro Cycling Specialized S-Works Epic 29, 2.2” Fastrak @ 25psi on the front and 2.0” at 29psi on the rear, Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant 80ml in each wheel, SRM Rotor 3D+ crank 40-27 Q- Rings, Sidi Terra, Ergon HX2 glove and GS1 GripRudy Project Windmax helmet w/large visor and Rudy Project Noyz w/ImpactX Photochromic clear lens.
Bike Nutrition: 2-20oz bottles of First Endurance EFS Orange and 2 gels.

Run: Colorado Running Company Inov-8 X-Talon 212 with 2Toms BlisterShield and Rudy Project Noyz w/ImpactX Photochromic clear lens