Tuesday, November 6, 2007


XterraWorldsBike(The "Beast")

I usually don’t get nervous before a race. Because, really, what’s there to be nervous about? I’m doing it for fun. I’m not there to win half of my yearly income (in fact, I lost it getting there…OK not half! Close though.) The best I can do is go as fast and as hard as I can, which is exactly what I’m going do, so what’s there to be nervous about? I’m not even thinking about winning because this is the World Championships and my 4th Xterra race ever and I don’t own my own mountain bike. It’s really all for fun. Nothing to be nervous about, right?

What about loosing all of my skin on lava rock!? Blowing a tire on my rental bike—the tires look like they’ve been glued on with years of dirt and grime. I’ll never be able to get them off the rims! (See above photo...although I did wash it...) All right. New focus. New goals:

1. To return with the same amount of skin as I leave T1 with.

2. Go as hard as I can except for in spots where my superhuman awesome strength would run me right off the trail and blow goal 1.

3. Run fast.

4. This should have been a goal before arriving: learn how to fix a stupid flat-FAST!

OK I’m not nervous anymore. My skin-protecting goal may make me a ginormous wuss on the mountain bike, but I’ll be thanking myself when I don’t look like a patchwork person in my wedding photos.

Xterra races start at a perfectly practical 9am. The World Championships was no different. I awoke calmly at 6:30am, slathered myself in sunscreen, made my “skinny Elvis” breakfast and jumped in the minivan with Coachancé for the bazillionth ride down the 5 mile stretch of windy road that passes all of the gorgeous resorts in Makena. Our 7:15 arrival time put us far ahead of most competitors, and I got a killer spot on the end of the rack.

(Note to self: arriving at 7:15am to an Xterra race qualifies you as somewhat of an anal retentive geek, as most of the pros and the people who would soon be bombing by me on the bike got there at a cool 8:40am. It’s true. I watched Jimmy Archer and Will Kelsay waltz in like they just happened to be in the area with their mountain bikes and thought they’d maybe get in a race before going to chill on the beach with their buds.)

After body marking, (Body Marker: Are you wearing sunscreen? Me: No. Me In My Head: She must think I have really oily skin…oh well.) Coachancé went off to warm up. I figured I’d be getting plenty warm on this sunny, humid (well, to someone from the West coast), day with a high of about 85. It would be perfect. So I stretched and sat under a tree until spotting Coachancé and deciding I should try swimming with my top tucked into my shorts since that was the plan and I had never done it before. This was not a wetsuit legal race because the water around Maui was perfectly calibrated by the island Gods to lure people into it in the least amount of clothing possible. (i.e. like 78 degrees)

After giving myself a “muffin top”, I waited along the beach with over 500 other people from all over the world. We would swim counter clockwise around the course twice. There seemed to be a current in that direction, so we kept inching farther and farther down the beach only to realize that lurking just under the water down there were giant, feet-cutting rocks. People floated in the surf and got sucked out and spat back in numerous times.

Just then, a man walked down the beach screaming “get out of the water!” because they wanted us all to start out of the water. I’d have liked that, but the giant, feet-cutting rocks made me think that floating in this section was probably a better idea. Anywhoo, because I speak English, I got out of the water. I should’ve pretended to be one of the many foreign competitors and just stayed in there, because all of the sudden the cannon went off and those dudes must’ve been 50 yards ahead.

No matter. It’s all for fun and adventure! And while I wanted to come back with all of my skin, the skin on the bottom of my feet would not show up in wedding photos, and could be sacrificed for the greater good of Triathlon. I swam in the choppy, flesh-filled water right next to coachancé for all of 30 seconds before he darted off. I didn’t even notice because I was staring at the crystal clear bottom and getting very off course.

There is one pro woman who seems to swim at exactly the same pace as I do. And I mean exactly. I can’t draft off of her, because I’ll just whack her feet constantly, but I can’t pass her either, because that would be a huge waste of energy, so we ended up swimming side by side for most of the race. I don’t know who she is, but she must’ve been relieved when I got very distracted by a sea turtle and let her break away so every time she breathed to the right, she wouldn’t see me smiling at her to my left. That’s right, I saw a sea turtle on the swim. Even though he led me a bit off course, I considered him a good luck omen and was enormously happy with my discovery. I tried to point him out, but realized nobody was around me, and, rightfully, at World Championship events, most people are concentrating on, say, their swimming form rather than the sea life.

I felt like my T1 was pretty fast, given I have never gotten that fast at putting on all the stuff I need to do an Xterra race. Besides the usual socks (yes, I wear socks, and no, it’s not going to change any time soon), shoes, helmet, glasses, I also needed full-fingered gloves, and my camelback. So that shouldn’t take too long, but sometimes my wet fingers get stuck to the gloves and it takes forever to yank them on…you get the picture. So it was into transition and out a cheering-people-lined chute and onto the course. My thoughts at this moment: don’t eat it right here in front of everyone.

In typical triathlons, I am a better swimmer than most people. In Xterra, however, it seems like everyone who does these races grew up in a mermaid family and I can never tell where I am out of the water. It seemed to me that most of the bikes were already off of the rack near mine, so I had to blast up the hills and make up for my landlocked upbringing.

I knew only one girl in my age group. She beat me by a ridiculous amount of time on the mountain bike at Nationals, but I knew I was a faster swimmer and runner. So when she came up past me about 30 minutes into the bike, my plan was to try to hang with her. But just as she passed me up a little steep climb, she jumped off of her bike. Flat? Mechanical problem? I wasn’t going to hang out to find out. A little further up the road, I saw another glowing calf with my age group stamped on it. Plan: blast by her. She looks like she’s hurting. Mission accomplished.

After the first little downhill, which was covered in very loose lava rock and was early enough that the line of people bombing down it one after the other seemed endless, I felt more confident. (I pretty much threw my bike down that one and ran after it. The bonus of having a rental bike.) I can do this! I’m kicking ass! I said to myself. I had my GPS on my bike and was prepared to be relieved from climbing at exactly 4.5, 8, and 13 miles. Let’s just say the course elevation map was a bit off. At mile 12, things went downhill fast. Literally. I took the “Plunge”. There was no turning back. Camera crews had all gathered here in the sick hope of capturing the greatest crashes in Xterra history, and although I thought it’d be cool to be on camera, I’d rather not have my TV glory due to numerous visible fractures and blood-gushing cuts.

Just keep riding, just keep riding, let this monster bike roll down the mountain. It knows what it’s doing, you kind of don’t, let the bike take you for a ride. The second I try to override the bike’s decision, I go off to the side and into some grass. OK at least you didn’t crash, get back on, and float down this mountain. Use the power of the sea turtle. He’s good at gliding. Glide. Float. Woo hoo! An uphill! I never thought I’d be so happy to see one! And guess what was on it? Another person with my age group emblazoned on their calf. Time to conquer.

So by conquer, I meant jump off my bike to walk it up a huge hill, let her get ahead of me, then jump back on my bike and just ride behind her and breath down her back for the remaining approximately 4 miles before I would unleash the beast and run her down.

After making it through a very windy, super sharp jaggedy rocky rolly section without flatting, I was the happiest person on earth. The last mile plus was on a road. I was home free! I rode into transition just behind that other girl, threw my bike on the rack, smiled at the cute guy watching my section, then bolted out of there.

I am a runner. I am a runner. I can run fast. Pain is temporary. I’m better at running up hill than anybody else. Oh my holy goodness, I so didn’t drink enough on the bike. I have the freezies and it’s only mile 2. My hair stands up on it’s prickly ends and I feel overheated and cold at the same time. Run! Run! Run! You can pass out at the finish line! (aka Pull a Mr. Xterra).

By now, I’ve counted how many people I’ve passed in my age group and figure I have secured a place on the podium. But what’s this! A girl running down the hill in front of me with the same number on her calf as I have! This is not allowed! I blow by her and smile when the cute girls at about 2 miles out shout out my name as I run by. 2 miles left! This went by way too fast. The bike went by more quickly than any other Xterra bike I’ve done. The run was part of the practice bike course, so I knew what was up with that. I even managed to twist the ankle I twisted so badly at Temecula and never recovered from. Looks like November would be a non-running month. But NOW I must RUN! Pain is stupid. I am fast.

Then, I turn onto the beach. I’ve run on the beach before. I live by the beach now. I love the beach. It’s pretty. Pretty freaking hard! Oh the sand is so squishy. There is no hard packed sand anywhere. Run! Run! Don’t let those girls catch you! Then through a twisty turney shaded tree trail that reminded me of running on my college’s farm back east. I see coachancé who is cheering wildly. About a mile to go! Then back out onto the beach and through a lava rocky section. Now I can hear the announcer. I’ve run this part before yesterday. Haul ass! I pass 2 girls in the age group above me, then cross the finish line. How’d I do? How’d I do? Nobody says, “And your World Champion, TriDiva, has just crossed the line.”

I grab an electrically blue colored sports drink, and hug coachancé, who kicked royal ass and beat my bike time by a good 35 minutes. Geez. He was stoked. I was stoked. It was the coolest race I’ve ever done. I love trail running. I love mountain biking. I love seeing the animals that could potentially eat me before they do when swimming in the ocean comfortably without a wetsuit.

Finally, the results card comes in. I WON! I WON! I WON! I WON! Coachancé couldn’t believe it. I told him if he were a girl he would’ve won too. Somehow that didn’t come our right or go over so well.

I called my parents:

Me: Hey, if I told you I was a World champion, would you buy me a mountain bike?

Mom: What?

Me: Well, would you?

Mom: You won!?

Me: Yes!

Mom: No. But congratulations.

Me: Aw man!

Mom: I love you, honey, congratulations.

Me: I love you too.

The fact that I won didn’t really sink in. It still hasn’t. I know that I won because I was REALLY REALLY REALLY lucky. It must’ve had something to do with the sea turtle. But I do feel blessed and it was a most tremendous way to end the season. Now I really have to get good at mountain biking so I can step up my game next year! I’ll have to frame the World Champion jersey or something, because I don’t want to sweat in it.

Stay tuned for coverage of the infamous XTERRA WORLDS HALLOWEEN COSTUME PARTY! Complete with incriminating photos. J

Happpy Racing!

No comments:

Post a Comment