Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Xterra Lake Tahoe- The Report

I had one goal going into Big Blue Adventure's Xterra Lake Tahoe: to beat my friend Aaron. He's a fabulous mountain biker and runner. I'm a faster swimmer, and have a little more endurance for climbing.

The plan: beat him out of the water, hold him off on the bike, then run scared.

Part one went off OK. Aaron's bike was still hanging out when I got into T1. However, my brand spanking new Adidas Spezials had given me horrendous heel blisters a few days earlier, so I spent what felt like an eternity trying to put mole skin on my raw bits. Then I spent another small eternity trying to pull the middle finger of my left glove right-side out. How did that happen?

Still ahead of Aaron by some minuscule margin, I jumped on Qeee (my mtn bike) and headed out and up Tunnel Creek. And here is where the beauty of racing Tahoe as a points race instead of Nationals came into play.

Hundreds of people did not pass me on the climb, since hundreds of people weren't competing. And the people who did were very nice about it, since they weren't competing for a national title. This was the first year in three where I haven't had to yell, "Swim faster!" when some jerk came up on me and told me to get out of his way. It just didn't happen. Much more civilized calls of, "On your left, when you have a chance!" were the norm.

Two girls in my age group passed me toward the end of Tunnel Creek. It was game time. I tried to stay on girl #2's wheel through the Flume Trail, and when she stopped after the mandatory dismount, I took off ahead of her. Girl #1 had disappeared. Bah!

Riding around Marlette Lake, a Team Type 1 triathlete passed me, and that was about all. It was the most peaceful climb out of Martlette Lake I have ever done, which is a strange revelation to have during a race.

Then came my favorite part: the gnarly switchback descent. I saw girl #1 ahead of me, and noticed she was a very strong climber, but a cautious technical rider. I would use the switchbacks as my chance to get ahead. I bounced down them as best I could, but when I stuck my foot out to corner one switchback, I felt my left arch rip. Ohhh crap. But I was too elated that Aaron had not yet blasted by me that I flew back down Tunnel Creek and into T2 without giving my evil arch a second thought.

I shoved my new racing flats on and ran for it. Toward the end of the first loop, a ridiculously tall man and I were running together at exactly the same pace. I forged ahead so I wouldn't step on his heels, and he stayed on mine throughout the entire run. I passed Mr. Team Type 1, and one other woman, and ran into the finish line feeling rad--I beat my time from 2007 by about 10 whole seconds. Ha! But most importantly, I beat Aaron. I hadn't had more than a sip of water before he came through the chute 3 minutes behind me. It was a tight race, but we hadn't seen each other the entire time!

My time, which placed me 3rd in 2007's 20-24 age group, placed me first in this race's 25-29 age group. Coachubby had finished before I started my second run loop, and was out cheering for me. He had won the male 25-29 age group, making him the 2009 West Region Champion! Woo hoo!

While the fierce competition of Xterra USA (now at Ogden) is fabulous as it pushes an athlete to her max potential--to race harder than she ever thought she could--I had no qualms with Xterra Lake Tahoe and its totally "Xterra" laid-back atmosphere. I don't need the big flashy expo, or the fancy banquet. I do need the Lake Tahoe course, and so to Big Blue Adventure, I am grateful.

They kept my favorite race course of all time alive--it's the only race I've done 4 years in a row and there's a reason. (And that reason is certainly not the people of Incline Village.) It's the camaraderie of Xterra triathletes, which is sometimes forgotten in the heat of nationals competition, and the beauty of the Xterra course.

Oh yes, and having the race at the end of August instead of the beginning of October, when it has been known to snow--yes, snow!--before and/or during the race: PRICELESS.

(The only downside is the evil foot. I have not been able to run since, keeping my streak of destroying some body part at every single Xterra event I've ever done alive...but it was worth it! Photos courtesy of Rosalie, Aaron's girl.)


  1. Long live XTERRA Lake Tahoe! What a totally rad experience =)

  2. I'm seriously bummed I've had to miss that race 2 years running. Love that course AND Xterra in general.

    ...and I laughed out loud at "Swim faster!" I've totally yelled that at some jerk! Ha!

  3. 2010! You in?

    Yea for fast(ish) swimmers! :)

  4. Would LOVE to do the 2010 race! Besides the g/f LOVES tahoe =D.

    As for wetsuit repair: sew up the rip with a regular needle and thread and then reinforce it with wetsuit glue that you should be able to find at a dive shop. I've repaired my own suit that way and the repairs are holding.