Wednesday, August 06, 2008

XTERRA Appalachia

I traveled to Yellow Creek State Park in Pennsylvannia last weekend to take part in the Appalachia XTERRA event. It was my first time racing at this venue, luckily google maps got me there, unfortunately I-70 was backed up and I arrived a little late for packet pickup on Saturday. Doug, the race promoter, and crew were packing up but let myself and another racer pick up our numbers, nice guy. Left the park and headed to Indiana, Pa and luckily found a hotel.

It was a short drive to the park on Sunday morning, set up my transition area and chatted with John and his wife. He convinced a friend of his to try the race and it was not only his first XTERRA but his first triathlon.

The swim was an out and back along a buoyed line with a couple of larger buoys along the way. The start area was narrow as the line on our right was about 20-25 feet from the beach's roped swim area. Packed into this narrow chute was 58 racers, needless to say the thrash zone was in full effect. Luckily, the pack stretched out quickly and I didn't take any feet or fists to my head. The swim felt short, and guessing from my swim time it was. Not that I'm going to complain about a short swim. Wetsuits were legal for this race and a number of us took this option, free speed. I'd rather wear it and save my legs for the bike and run.

I entered the first transition and saw John getting ready to start the bike leg. Out of T1, I found myself riding with JT, who I rode with for a while at EX2. He and I reeled in a bunch of racers on the outbound double track section. We came around John right before the single track sections and the three of us pushed each other through the woods. John had preridden the course and gave me valuable information on what to expect. I spun out on a stick/rotten piece of wood and had to dab with my right foot. As I stepped off, I tweaked my knee, d'oh. Nothing I could do about it then, so I pushed through it. On one of the last uphills I pushed the pace and found myself alone for the inbound double track section. The singletrack was all middle ring while the double track was smooth, so it was TTing in the big ring. Training on the ti deluxe on the road is the key for these power sections.

As I exited T2 to start my run I saw JT and John rolling into the transition. I shouted some encouragement and then focused my attention on my run. I felt great as I began the run, with a fast foot turnover across the grass field that started the run leg. After about 300m the course led into the singletrack and up a root-lined hill. My pace dropped as I ascended the hill but my heartrate didn't spike and as the trail leveled out at the crest my pace quickly sped up to race speed. "Wow, I feel great" is what I was thinking. About 15 minutes into the run I could see another racer ahead of me, about 150 meters away. I picked up my pace, trying to reel him in, but failed on that goal. I wanted to keep my pace consistent to keep those behind me from catching me. As I passed the aid station, and after I dropped my cup of gatorade, I asked the volunteer there what place I was in, "third" he responded. Wow, I did ride fast and my run is going well is what I thought. I've never been this close to the sharp end of a XTERRA race. Keep the pace high, stay strong. And that's where I finished, third overall, and scored first place points in my age group.

Again it was great to race with John, especially since he gave me plenty of 'heads up' on the bike course. Thanks Hoss.

Finishing the run.

John, myself and Nate after the race. Coca Cola is a sports drink,.

Pimping the sponsors while getting my medal.


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