Last Sunday, I traveled to Snow Valley, aka "Big Bear," California. Big Bear is home to some pretty nifty ski (I mean snowboard) slopes, a lake big enough for fleet of motorboats and a wakeboarding zip line, a few thousand feet of elevation, and some sick mountain bike trails (I've heard. In reality, I've experienced a few sections of sweet single track during a RimNordic XC race, but that was well over a year ago.). It is also the site of my very first XTERRA race- one year ago. At that time, I had been swimming for a couple of months, riding pretty well, and running not at all. I had a pretty good race and ended up in 2nd overall, after being passed on the run. Being my first event of this type, I had no idea what was going on and was thoroughly stoked to finish the event at all- mostly because I didn't drown during the swim. I came out of the water near the back of the pack and got to pass a bunch of people on the bike, inflating my tender little ego to the point of popping, before I got demolished on the run. I actually was just juiced on the energy of a different kind of challenge and was thrilled with a 2nd place finish.
This year I felt really flat going into Snow Valley. I've been swimming for well over a year, riding alright, and running only marginally more than last year at this time. You could say I was rested and "fresh" for this race. Or you could say I've been a slacker. I'm tending toward the latter. I'm learning that in order to effectively train, I require a pretty strict schedule. I thought my free-spirited nature would lend toward the opposite, but the problem lies in a little case of attention deficit.....I realized this the other day when I had five different projects going on throughout the rooms of my house- and was totally absorbed in starting a new one in the backyard when I walked inside to get some juice. I saw the juicer in pieces on the counter with 2 cooking projects I had started and abandoned. Then I walked into the bathroom and found it half-cleaned with cleaning supplies spread across the counter. I had stepped over a 3X3 foot pile of random crap in the doorway that I was organizing into some project or another, and was trying to ignore the window/WD-40/clothing projects in the bedroom. Yikes. How many hours had gone by since I started these messes....and I was supposed to be getting ready for a bike ride!! This, I'm learning, is what happens when I don't have a schedule for my training and my day.
My lack of focus was probably the reason I felt like a limp noodle going into the race. I had gone for a couple of rides during the week and could barely get my legs to agree with me. My right arm was super sore from swimming hard the week before and I felt undertrained with my running. My goal for the race, far from wanting to dominate, was to stay as steady as I could- and try to keep myself from getting competitive about it. You know, race my own race kind of thing......right.
I was super stoked when my plan backfired. Or worked, depending on how you look at it. The swim was a mass start- guys and gals. I was nervous about the kicks and punches that usually accompany so many swimmers going off at one time. I started near the back so as to avoid as much of this as I could. Fortunately, I was able to swim the 1000 yards with minimal bumping and no injury and came out of the water 2nd (ladies). That put a huge grin on my face. The bike portion was where I went flat. My legs still were not cooperating with me, so I just went steady (snail's pace, really) on the climbs and tried to make up time on the descents. No one passed me on the bike, and surprisingly, I had more energy on the run than before. Sweet! Backing off on the bike was a great, uh...."strategy." I passed by the gal who had beat me last year going the other way on the out-and-back portion of the run. She was clocking away and, with a mile and a half to go, I thought she had a good chance to catch me. Time for a little pep talk. I told myself under no circumstances was I allowed to walk, and in fact, it was time to pick up the pace a bit. I came in 2 minutes ahead of her and was super surprised to hear I was the first woman overall!!
I'm still waiting on pics from the event photographer......The event itself was super well organized and a ton of fun. Sweet course, great people, good food, well-organized...even the handmade awards were some of the sickest I've seen (pic to come). Definitely a race for the books.