2015-04-25 XTERRA West Race Report by Debby Sullivan
Alright! The 2015 XTERRA US Pro series kicked off this past weekend (April 25) in Henderson, NV just outside of Las Vegas. It seemed to sneak up on me fast since I have no idea what happened to April!!
Leading up to the race I was feeling pretty good. I felt like training was going well and I had a good boost of confidence getting a win under my belt in Granite Bay. The pieces were coming along. I felt like my swim times were coming down in the pool and with the encouragement of my swim coach, Joan. I was feeling like my times would be dropping. Also, my run was coming back together again. Well, you just never know. In triathlon you train all the parts and the pieces and then you just never know how it will all come together on a specific day. Beauty.
I headed up to Truckee a few days before the race to road trip with fellow athlete Sian Turner. We got a move on and made it to Vegas to give the course a spin on Thurs afternoon. Well, nothing new here. This is my 3rd year doing this course, and I have never seen it as a terribly technical or fun course but it definitely poses its own unique challenges. The climbs are steep and loose which can take skill and there are a few loose descents along with a great sand pit that you really need to figure out where to ride.
We stayed right at Lake Las Vegas where the race is held and shared a room with Sian’s Braveheart crew Tammy Tabeek and World Champ Lesley Patterson (who decided to race last minute, having sustained a fractured shoulder a month ago and swimming one-armed). Friday was low key with some pre-race prep. I joined Lesley at the pool where she discovered that she could actually use her arm for the first time.
Race day came and the weather looked perfect. It was overcast and a great temperature rather the heat I have dealt with in the past at this race. I donned my new custom kit and went about my usual race morning set up and was feeling much better this year compared to last year when it was my first race as a Pro. Before I knew it the 8 o’clock start was looming and I headed down to get a nice swim warm up.
I was feeling good on the start line and was focused on staying with a main group as long as I could. I figured as long as my goggles didn’t fill up again in the first 100m I would be much better off.
Here we are, go time! I jumped into the right side of the tail of the main group and swam hard. Yes, that start was aggressive. Going well and I was thinking how far I have come in swim starts. Then I also looked up and saw Lesley’s purple arms way up ahead. Seriously, I just swam with her yesterday! We got the typical rumbles but what got me was someone next to me actually grabbing my forearm as we were going. Ok… just shift, bounce off the person on the other side, keep swimming. Well, she did it again…. keep swimming, get ahead. AGAIN! That one got me and I pulled up for a split second, stop grabbing me! Well, then I was off the back after a second. Ugh. So, I swam the rest of the swim mostly all alone. When I came up to shore after the first lap I came out next to the buoy and began to run around the flags but heard a strong “HEY” I looked and they pointed me back. Apparently, I missed the first one. I didn’t even see it. So, I had to run back and go around and then continue on. There was another girl not too far ahead and I heard Sian yell jump on her feet as I ran through. After the lost seconds on shore, I really wanted to catch her feet! Second lap was uneventful and I tried to put a strong push towards shore. *Lesson: Don’t let them grab you! Or don’t let it get to you 🙂
I ran up to transition with someone right on my heals. I found that it was my long time competitor Maia Ignatz. I was ready to get on the bike and get moving and see what I could do there and I knew I had to get going with Maia right with me in transition. I had a little snafu with my wetsuit and timing chip and had a less than stellar T1 and Maia made it out ahead of me. I got on the road but was getting situated, tried to eat a bit, put on a glove, dropped the other glove, ate a bite, took a drink, choked on my food. *hack, hack, swerve. “Don’t worry I’m a professional here”.
Well, I did get it back together about the time I hit the trail and set my sights toward reeling in Maia who had put a descent little gap while I haggled around on the road. I kept focused on getting the legs moving and not killing things on the first climbs. I was beginning to feel good and the legs were coming around but I still had a gap. We hit some of the descents and I let it roll. I love my Liv Lust on these sections. I can just ride that thing and it puts a grin on my face! We came down a little descent and into the sand pit and I went for the line I chose in pre-ride, and Bam! I was on her just like that. I held her wheel for a second and then decided to go. Now onto the next. I could see fellow NorCal superstar and friend Kara LaPoint not too far ahead in a few spots and set my mind to reel her in. I rode hard and I rode smooth through the rest of the lap and then into the next. However, about halfway through the second lap Brittany Webster (who went on to get 5th!) caught me and we went back and forth around the sand pit as she had a little spill. Then she turned it on and gapped me. I then saw another girl coming up and set in to pass her. It took a little longer because she put up a fight when a guy passing me cheering my name and my cover was blown! I pushed down to T2 and was able to see the girls that were just ahead. I was never quite able to reel in Kara and saw her just heading out of T2 just as I was riding in about 8th place. So close, well I put in the 2nd fastest T2 and got out on the run where we got to do another lap on the bike course 🙂
This is where I lost it… again…Well, I set out strong knowing that I could put down a strong run. First mile, Good. Second mile… long climb and I began to cramp at which point Sara Schuler came blazing by me. I couldn’t even try to hang with her at that point. But I stayed focused on what I was doing and I ran the climbs alongside the AG bikers and tried not to get run over on the descents. I knew Maia would be coming for me, she always does. About 2.5-3 miles in, there she was. I made a quick joke that I think I held her off a moment longer and then she flew away. Gone. I think mentally that just shut me down. At this point I was just running the rest of the way. I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could catch and there was a large gap for anyone else.
I finished in 2:45 and 10th place in a strong field of women, and was happy with the overall improvment at the time. I was 13 minutes faster than last year and actually felt like I was in the race! That was huge! It is only afterwards that you reflect and find the disappointments with getting gapped so bad on the run. I did run much stronger than I have but I don’t think I pushed it. Need to work on this.
Sian put in an awesome day and had her mental game dialed on the run to come away with and Age group win and 13 overall, I loved her race report! We packed up and headed out of there to get on home. Good times all around.
So, this weekend I will go partake in some Funduro shenanigans and do my first ever 8-hr mountain bike race at Boggs. Yay for mountain biking.
Next up will be getting my head in the game for Southeast Champs in Pelham AL on May 16th! I have heard great things about this course and I am excited to go and see it for myself.