Sunday, May 18, 2008

Xterra Last Stand race report…

Saturday morning we headed out from Madison with the MTB’s loaded on top of the Prius, heading for Augusta Michigan to race in the 2008 Xterra Last Stand. Outside of traveling through the “busy” Chicago, our trip was uneventful and we made it to Fort Custer State Park for packet pickup around 4 PM.

We attended a racer meeting to discuss the course layout and to get advice on the challenging mountain bike course. The race director explained that because of the 63 degree water temp, the swim course would be cut from 900 yds to 750 yds. After the meeting we made our way to ride parts of the “more” challenging parts of the MTB course. The portion that we rode was called the trenches – good name seeing that is what they were. They built these trenches and then made a course through them by creating “NASCAR” type banked corners. We had a great time just pre-riding the course.

Sunday morning we made our way to the race and setup our transition area. There seemed to be around 200 participants with approx. 40 doing the duathlon and the rest doing the triathlon. There were probably 20 females and the rest males. Before the race, we had talked to Oldest Mini about his race plan. We knew he would have a good swim but wanted to get him pumped up to hammer the pedals on the bike and then to grind out a good 4 mile run. And of course my race plan is always, enjoy the swim, have fun on the ride, and try to catch up on the run.

The swim course was setup as an Out, Over, and Back course with the start and finish ending on opposite ends of the sandy beach. Oldest Mini and I took a pre-swim in the lake just to get an idea on how cold it really was – well, it was cold – but really not that bad with the wetsuit.

Oldest Mini planned on swimming hard and hopefully ending up in the front pack, so he went to the front to begin the swim. I took my normal “at the back” position and off we went. The first leg (3 legs) of the swim seemed very hard. It felt like I could not get deep breaths and felt like I was dragging a boat behind me (which is a fairly normal feeling for me) – I’m not sure if it was just the cold water or if it was just a normal first open water swim of the year feeling. One thing I don’t like about the swim is the feeling that “I have no idea how many are in front of me and how many are behind me” – I just kept sighting and I could see the mass of yellow swim caps in front of me.

By the time I reached the half way point, I started feeling a bit better and things came together. The only problem that I had the rest of the way was trying to get around the swimmers that went out too fast and now had nothing left in the tank. A few were trying to cross over my path to get to the boats to get a breather, a few just bobbing in the water, and one gentlemen that was doing the back stroke crossing my path every few minutes. I exited the water in around 15 minutes (seemed like hours) and Oldest Mini came out in around 10 minutes – in 20th place overall.

Next up was the 12.5 mile MTB ride. My transition from the swim to the bike seemed like forever – just too much to take off and put on. By the time I was done with transition, there were only a handful of people left to head out on the course. For the first mile or so, I just concentrated on making sure I had all my bearings – I some times come out of the water dizzy. But seeing my transition was seemly forever, my body had plenty of time to recover.

As I got going on the bike, I passed many people within 2-3 miles – faster swimmers, but not so good on the MTB. My plan was to complete as many of the “hard” parts of the course (no by-pass lanes) as I could. I tried to hit all rocks, roots, water, sand, drops, etc and just enjoy myself. For the most part I didn’t hear the words “on your left” very often – but I did say that quite a few times. The bike course was awesome, they had many different challenging parts and I completed many things that I haven’t before on a MTB. Some of the drops were a bit steep requiring me to sit way back on the bike and hold on, but no wipe outs and I had a great time.

Towards the end of the bike ride I had a lot of endurance remaining and I again started to pick off a few people here and there. My only hope for not DFLing is “out endurancing” some of the field.

Because I do not have bike shoes for the MTB, my transition time was awesome – just drop off the bike, grab the hat, and off I go – made up some of the time on the swim to bike transition. I headed out of transition and on to the sandy beach. We ran a quarter mile on the sandy beach and then headed up into the woods on some small single track running/MTB trails. At first my legs were a bit tired, but around a mile into the run they came back and I picked up the pace. I had no goals on the run, but the run is always my strength in the triathlon. That probably is contributed to my endurance compared to the lack of endurance for the other back of the packers, but whatever, I'll take it. I just kept my knees high to clear the roots, logs, mud, etc and began picking off a few people on the run. I would see the person in front of me and then my only goal was to catch them and off I would go.

The run felt great and outside of a bit of tightness in my left calf, no injuries slowed me down. I finished the run in around 34 minutes with some left in the tank – no mile markers along the course made it a bit hard to pace.

Oldest Mini ended up in 1st place in the 15 to 17 age group and received a nice trophy from Xterra during the awards ceremony. Oldest Mini also was the youngest participate in the race. He is amazing in just his ability to just go out and GET IT DONE!!

I ended up 24 out of 29 in my age group and did not take home any trophies. BUT, I did win a door prize -- a $260.00 gift certificate for an Xterra Wetsuit – gotta like that.

Very, very fun – I only wish Wisconsin would host some Xterra’s….


xt4 said...

Sweet! Sounds like you had a blast, and fantastic that the family could get involved. Plus - you come home with more than you left with! Always gotta like that. Congrats!

robert said...

Sounds like my kind of triathlon, especially the bike course. Definitely have to put Xterra on the to do list. Great report.

Formulaic said...

NICE! Great RR.

You have a way of making me envious of Xterra races. Hmmm...

IT was definitely a win - win for team Brazo!

Way to go!

Rural Girl said...

Congratulations to you and your son. Woo hoo on the gift certificate! XTERRA does sound like fun! Lets start one in WI.

IronTriTim said...

Congratulations to all of family Brazo. Great result for oldest mini, and great prize for you. I keep considering xterras and off road tris, and have gone to the extent of signing up for Muddy Buddy (as per you). Looking forward to saying hi. Maybe next year for xterra.