Tuesday, June 03, 2008

the wilds of West Virginia...

XTERRA ACE Big Canyon
Big Water.
Big Run.
Big Mountain Bike.
In a Big Canyon.

Minden West Virginia is the home of ACE Adventure Center, the host and promoter of this race. I arrived on Saturday just in time to pick up my registration packet and then decided not to partake in the $5 pasta meal as I needed to check in to the hotel. ACE provides free camping to the competitors, but I've had enough camping so it was off to the Holiday Inn.
This race in unique in a couple of ways; one, the transistions are in separate areas and it's a swim-Run-bike as opposed to the normal swim-bike-run format. Another quirk of this race is the Run takes longer than the Bike. Well it is West Virginia, ya gotta love it. Set up the T2 transition and caught up with some friends at the race. Shawn was there with Denelle and would be doing his first XTERRA event, he had a wetsuit and everything.
On the bus for the drive to T1, nothing but idle chatting and a few race nerves, not as bad a last year though. Set the T1 area up and back on the bus for the 1.5 mile drive up river to the start. I positioned myself at the front and in the middle of the start with the idea that I'd be more authoritative with my swim start. Last year's races I would start to the side and towards the back. At the sound of 'Go' I was in the mix and headed for the fast water of the channel. I felt good for the first 100 to 150 meters, then started to get a bit winded, time to back off a bit now that I was out of the Thrash Zone. A little ways down the river was a set of rapids, I love downhill swims but the water moving as fast as it was, well it was a bit disconcerting. I pulled my head up to sight as I entered the waves and had to switch to a breaststroke. This lasted about 5 feet as I got a face full of water and quickly went to a sidestroke. okay, no need to panic, just get through this section. A safety kayaker was staring at me and I gave them a thumbs up as the water turned flat again. Those 50 or so feet of fast water induced a nice little panic attack. I pulled myself together and got my crawl back on track. I was feeling smooth and started reeling other swimmers in, a novel occurrence for me. Soon the swim was over and I trudged my way up to T1.
The run starts off flat and parallels the river along an abandoned railroad grade. I got great advice from Bill S. last year to hold back on this flat section to keep from blowing up on the first climb/technical section and I followed it again this year. I passed a few people on this flat section but never felt taxed and was fresh for the first climb, where I moved ahead of a couple of other racers. Moving onto the fireroad climb, I reeled in more people. Looking back I think I could've turned it up a notch or two on the run as I had some gas left in the tank. But I didn't want a reoccurence of the leg cramps from last year. I'm still learning how far and fast I can push the body. Onto the singletrack sections, I had the running mantras going through my head, "Solid Feet" on the loose or technical sections and "Light Feet" on the fast sections. Over and Over in my head these kept me focused on the trail ahead. Towards the end of the run, I saw someone in front of me and I thought it might have been John, a racer I meet at this race last year. As I came around him, I saw that it was John, and he say's that this run is never ending. I laugh and agree with him. I make it to T2 just before him and as I'm entering the singletrack on my Deluxe, I can hear John behind me.
Well, it's the bike leg and time to pay the rent. I let it roll fast and smooth on the first section and by the time I hit the first climb all I hear is my own tires and breathing. I pass a few people on the bike and try to roll where I can and keep my momentum up. I had no bad sections or brain farts, didn't dab any technical sections. Other than Rigor Mortis trail, but I knew before the race I'd dismount and walk here. It's not very long, and rideable. And Sketchy, I'm of the frame of mind that you can't make up time here but you sure can lose time. Maybe it's wisdom from old age OR plenty of scar tissue... Like the run, i probably should've pushed a bit harder on the bike leg. I felt good and never felt overexteneded, ok lesson learned.
I finish the day in 7th place overall and 2nd in the 35-39 age group. My time was 3 minutes faster than last year and I improved from 10th/3rd placings as well. No cramping and other than a slight upset stomach from having my cytomax mixed too strong I felt good. Jeff W. from ACE handed out a bunch of swag and after collecting my 2nd place medal I headed off the mountain and back to Virginia.
I highly recommend ACE Adventure Center and look forward to making this race a family vacation in a couple of years. Thanks to Jeff at Allez Training Systems and to Connie, the work is paying off. Also a nod of the helmet to Independent Fabrication and IFRacing.org for all the support. And thanks to Holly and Parker. I couldn't do this without you.

2 Comments:

OpenID Chris said...

Great race! Very impressive. Fun read too. Makes me wish I'd been there.

8:34 PM  
Blogger MRussell said...

Chris, you should do this race, bring the family. Just don't let Ellie race, I don't want to get embarassed by her speed.

3:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home