Going into a race, there are many feelings that flow through my body. Some races have me nearly wetting my pants I get so excited. New races bring the excitement and anxiousness of unknown possibilities. While others have me dreading the inevitable pain I will put myself through. The XTERRA USA Championship in Ogden, UT is mostly the latter. It can be hard to get motivated when you know the suffering that is to come, but finally by Friday morning before the race, I found it.
Hitting the trails that morning for the final pre ride with Craig, Boobs, Luke, and Branden must have done the trick. The colors were absolutely amazing at that time of year with orange, red, yellow, and a few green leaves creating a colorful kaleidoscope surrounding the smooth single track of Snow Basin. We laughed as much as we pedaled and by the end of it, I found the mental state I needed to be in to have a good race.
On race morning, I was super duper mega excited to finally get to race in my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit. So many of the races have been non wetsuit swims for the pros this year, that my speed suit saw way more action than my wettie. I figured if this suit was good enough for the Caveman, it’s good enough for me. I’ve never owned a suit quite like this and I was so excited to finally see it in action.
Despite the fact that I got absolutely pounded during the first couple hundred meters (Those Brits are rough), I kept my mind focused and had my best swim to date. How do I know it was my best? I’ll tell you. I base all of my race swims off of the lead swimmers. That way there is no wondering if the course was short or long. I was either slow or not. And that day, I was not.
As I sped through transition and hopped onto my bike, I was a little confused. “What are you doing back here?!?” I thought to myself as I surveyed my competition. Then I realized “Holy crap! They aren’t back here. I’m up there!”
I wish I could say that my bike performance made me just as happy as my swim, but it just wasn’t my day. I wasn’t slow, but I wasn’t stellar either. The legs weren’t feeling it on the bike, so I settled into a comfortable groove on the uphills and tried to absolutely rip the descents. I’m still not sure exactly how they knew, but my legs told me that they could run fast that day. With that in mind, I kept calm and collected as I was caught by a few guys and passed a few on the bike.
Then came my moment to shine. As we hit T2 and blasted through, the field was completely stacked on top of each other. 12th place through 6th exited T2 about 1 minute apart from each other. I felt comfortable and more importantly confident in my abilities as we dashed off into the woods. I started picking them off one by one and with less than 2 miles of straight downhill to go, I caught the last two guys I knew were catchable (Ryan Ignatz and Cody Waite). I surged and the smile on my face grew.
I fought off the cramps in every leg muscle I had (and a few I didn’t know about until later) and was able to keep my lead on those two and crossed the line in 7th place. I was a bit surprised I was able to do that! My coach, my girlfriend, and fellow racers had all said they knew I could do it, but I didn’t quite believe it until I did it. What an amazing feeling! And with that finish I was able to maintain my 6th place ranking in the USA Pro Points Series for 2012. Yippie!
It was time to celebrate! So what did we do? Learn to surf sounds like a fun idea!?! I’d never surfed behind a boat before, so it seemed like time to try it out.
Surfing that afternoon and a giant piece of chocolate cake that night was about the craziest celebration you can expect in Utah, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. All and all, what a great way to end the off-road season.
A huge thanks to Timex, Rudy Project, PowerBar, Holy Crap, and my newest sponsor Peak Performance Acupuncture for all the support that helped to make the culmination of my XTERRA season a huge success!