Wednesday, March 12, 2014

XTERRA Motatapu, 2nd AG, 6th amateur, 10th OA female

I raced an XTERRA triathlon on the weekend, the XTERRA Motatapu, which is one of the longer ones on the XTERRA race circuit. It's a 2km (notoriously long 2km, mind you!) swim, 47km mountain bike and 15k mountain run. About the toughness of a half-ironman, but with quadruple the DOMS afterward due to the downhill running!

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a mountain biker! I got my first ever mountain bike last May, rode non-technical stuff on it throughout the winter (June-July-Aug), didn't touch it after that, then 4 weeks before the Motatapu, learned as much as I could about mountain biking to keep my shit together for the race. Not ideal,  but the XTERRA wasn't a focus. It might be next year, as I so thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Swim: not a bad swim, just 2-3 mins off the pro times, but I was seriously unfocussed here. Goggles fogging up, driving me crazy, cold water, etc.
Bike: oh dear lord, I was terrified. All I'd heard about the race was that there were many many river crossings, some thigh deep. And that in the last 10km of the race, there were several hundred meter steep drop offs that, should you fall, you wouldn't survive. This is what the race director repeated again in the race briefing the morning of. Dear lord. But I got on the bike, and was nailing people on all the uphills, and then getting re-passed again on all the downhills. I just didn't have the skill or confidence to let the bike flooooow without being on the brakes whenever the track tilted down. Very unfortunate, as the time lost on all the downhills cost me my XTERRA world champs slot and at least 10min overall. BUT, it was my first off-road triathlon, and I was absolutely amazed with myself that I did all the river crossings, only falling off half-way through the 2-3 biggest and scariest ones. Yes, I screamed, cried, and yelled: "OH MY GOD, holy shit" and other numerous expletives throughout each one, but I am just stoked I did them!
Run: Starting in Arrowtown, we run on flat trails for about 3 minutes before the path heads up, up, up. We run up the Tobins track, which I just easily jogged up (Mt Iron hill reps pay off, don't they??), then a wee couple minute downhill break, then we cross a stile to head onto a goat track that goes up up up, but it's a tiny track and tilted at an angle. Awkward! Continued to just spin the wee legs up. Then it just gets mad steep up. It is 9k's uphill, topping out at 1060m elevation or so? Just higher than the Crown Range rd. And then it is an absolutely quad-bashing 6k's down, with the first 2 or so being barely runnable slippery tussock and the last 4k being gravelly and more "bomb-down-able"! I bombed down. Throughout the entire run, I was nailing people, moving fast, and I wasn't putting in as much effort as I could. I got to the top thinking: oh shit, I should have worked harder!!

I was really scared of this race and the course especially going in. I am a road triathlete, never done any off-road racing, and I expected it to get impossibly hard around each corner. I was holding back throughout the entire bike ride, and again on the run, thinking I'd soon be crawling on hands and knees, better save the energy for when that happens! But it never did! So, I'll revisit this race next year and drop 30 minutes off my time, minimum. That's the goal! As for mountain biking, practice practice practice. My strength is there, my confidence downhill is not.

In the end, I was 2nd in my AG (with 1st getting the XTERRA Maui slot, 4 mins ahead of me), I was the 6th amateur female and I was 10th female overall (4 pros). Nicky, my coach, current XTERRA world champion, won by a million miles with none of the other female pros even coming close (and not many guys, either, she was 5th OA). Stud!

Happy with my effort on the day, but frustrated with how I was more mentally limited than physically limited in my own abilities.
Photos below:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Challenge Wanaka, 8th amateur, 4th AG

Rather than a traditional race report, I'll detail out my fifth iron-distance with the good and the bad. Let's problem solve this shit!

The Bad:
- I finished more than 1/2 hour behind "schedule", with a finish time of 12:05. This happened for a number of reasons.
- The cold was debilitating. Air temp 4C, water temp 14C, with it not warming up much on the bike (to maybe 11C), meant almost certain death to someone like myself, weighing in at 47kg. I was frigid, absolutely frigid and couldn't think straight in the swim, slapping my arms around like a monkey trying to swim faster. Onto the bike, and I spent the first couple hours shivering.
- My saddle fell down. I'm not sure how much this played into my race, because I didn't notice it at the time other than: "Why is it so hard to keep myself up?" Turns out my saddle tilted downwards quite severely somewhere in there, I had to hold myself up, and the inside of my crotch got severely irritated to the point that I have a nice lump of a hematoma, with several burst blood vessels on my leg/crotch.
- After about the 7k marker on the run, I visited a portaloo, thinking that was my "one and only" for the day. Well, I proceeded to bless every portaloo on the course over the next 35k's. I spent 20-30+ minutes of my run pooping, yay! And becoming extremely fuzzy/dry-mouthed as a result, and I stumbled around a lot. But I ran, and didn't walk (other than at aid stations to drink with a steady hand). It sucks to have improved your running phenomenally to the point where you can run a ~3:40-3:45 marathon off the bike, and then run 1/2 hour slower.
- It seems SOMETHING fucked my GI system up on the run, and I haven't figured out what: all the extra energy expended keeping myself warm, too much water not enough electrolytes?, too much caffeine? Not sure here, as the latter two really had been well-practiced in training. 
- I need to improve my cycling like woah. Still my biggest weakness like WOAH.

The Good:
- I swam a 1:04 near-frozen and was 3rd chick out of the water. That's not bad. Given, realistically, a 1:00 would have occurred in good (warm) conditions.
- It took a good ~1.5 hours for girls to start passing me! I call that a success!
- My nutrition on the bike was surprisingly good, never once felt nauseous, and stayed on top of food intake throughout. Peed 4+ times on the bike
- My finish time of 12:05 on a day of TOTAL FALLING APART, SUFFERING THROUGHOUT, on one of the hardest iron-distance courses out there was still good enough for 8th amateur, 4th AG (not that there were many of us), and way better than what I could have managed even a year ago.

Pre-race get up: ugg boots, winter socks, wetsuit, long-sleeve + winter jacket.
Swim start. Calm but cold as fuck.
3rd female out of the water!
Starting bike, yep put on dry jersey, vest, socks and armwarmers. Should have gone for jacket!
Finish chute running

A good race is coming my way, I need to work on bike strength as well as continue to problem-solve and get help with my race nutrition. Some people have iron stomachs, and others don't, and that's just one extra thing that I have to figure out as my tummy's sensitivity should NOT be the main predictor of my finish time.

Thanks to my coach Nicky, it looks like after some recovery, I'll be in cycling camp for the rest of my life??? And I'll attempt my first off-road tri: XTERRA Motatapu March 8th.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lake Hayes Olympic tri, 6th F... and Challenge Wanaka this weekend!

Not staying on top of my race reports, am I? Well I raced Lake Hayes Olympic triathlon. I race this one every year, twice a year if I can manage it (they hold the same race every X-mas and Easter), since I first arrived in New Zealand. I LOVE THIS COURSE, it is honest and hard and crazy talented athletes always show up. For a local race, the competition is phenomenal. You don't often see pros turn up to local races, and here we had 3. So... I definitely wasn't top 3!

I rode to the race the morning of (50-something k's Wanaka to Queenstown going over the Crown Range)
Top of Crown Range on a nicer day. Queenstown is down there somewhere.
And I raced, hard as usual, same story as usual: come out of the water near the front, get passed on the bike (less this time, though!), and nail as many of them back on the run. In the end, 6th girl in, 3rd amateur chick (given top 3 were pros). Faster today by a couple minutes when everyone else was slower than previous attempts at Lake Hayes -- windier conditions than usual. So, improvement is there... and I hope that's a good indication of fitness for this weekend's Challenge Wanaka iron-distance.

This'll be my fifth iron-distance race; I'm psyching myself up to deal with the suffering with grace. In fact, I feel really bloody fit on the swim and run, and... I have definitely improved on the bike, yes, but just NOT ENOUGH and definitely not proportional to my swim and run abilities. So, that's a bit of a 2014 mission and beyond: improve my bike split.

Otherwise, I feel good, I'm looking forward to this race, it even looks like conditions might ACTUALLY be nice for once. When I did this race in 2011, my first iron-distance race, the winds were so severe that the female pros were going under 20kph the last 70k's into the wind from Cromwell to Wanaka, leaving them with 6+ hr bike splits. So, really, any iron-distance with better conditions than that is a blessing. Tomorrow's looks like a calm swim and relatively calm bike with winds and heat picking up on the run: yes, yes, excellent, excellent, let the heavier runners struggle in the heat. I never give myself time goals, I just aim to put together a good race, handle my nutrition well, and mete out my energy perfectly. Onwards! Excited!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rotorua Half Iron, 6th F, fastest female run split!

Okay, you know when you walk away from a race feeling totally chuffed with your own race performance? Oh yes, plenty of things to work on in future training, but in general you fucking NAILED that race and oh baby yes it felt good!!

That was the Rotorua half iron tri for me last weekend. I was 6th F overall, with the fastest female run split on the day. 3rd AG F 20-29. STOKED.

Photo credit: Scottie T Photography
Swim: Swam somewhere in the top 10 girls, with some really sweet drafting behind this beautiful looking swimmer. 31:39. No idea if the course was long or short, but it was beautiful!

Bike: Mega clusterfuck. My brakes weren't working properly (forgot to swap brake pads to carbon braking surface ones), squealing like crazy as well, then my torpedo mount bottle cage broke so I was holding it in with my left arm for 60k, riding hesitantly and crazily. Only good thing is that I passed shit loads of people on the uphills. Still a good 10min slower than what I could have done on this hilly course (960m elev gain for 90k). 3:16 (includes T1/2, so I rode 3:10, and should have been 3:00?). Much to work on for cycling as it continues to be the weakest of my 3 disciplines. Except for the uphills it seems!
Run: SWEEEEEET. Another hilly course, off-road too: my fave! Beautiful running alongside Blue Lake and Green Lake. Really just aimed to crush as many people as possible. Successfully done, too! Fastest female run split of the day: 1:44:39, a half marathon PB for me on a course that doesn't exactly cater to PBs -- it had 430m elev gain.

Next up: training my way all the way up to Challenge Wanaka full-iron. Hometown race!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wooing Tree Sprint Triathlon, 4th F

Okay here it is, a quick one. I did this race last year and placed 3rd behind
1. a very talented semi-pro adventure racer/multisport athlete
2. a 40+ woman athlete that is significantly faster than me over iron-distance

This year, a similar story unfolded:
1. a NZ pro triathlete
2. a 40+ woman athlete that is significantly faster than me over iron-distance (different lady, though!)
3. A young tri chick that I ran down at the previous sprint triathlon where I placed first, but was too tired to go over ~70.3 run pace in today's race, and so was 14" behind her, only seeing her in the last 3 turns before the finish chute. I'm a faster runner than her, but racing in a vineyard where you have a million 180 degree turns just didn't play into my advantage of loving to run people down. Pretty much, the accumulated fatigue meant I wasn't in race mode as much as I would have liked, and didn't have the mental toughness to fuckin' RACE from start to finish. What I learned: it isn't over until it is OVER, in which case, you should run as if you can see them 5m ahead of you, and you run like that ALL THE TIME.
Edit: Turns out this girl is ~15 years old and has been selected as part of Tri NZ's youth academy... Good going girl, jesus!!!!!
4. me!

The highlight of the race was the changed swim course. Rather than do 4 1/2 circular laps in the vineyard's irrigation dam, we did 5 laps, with each one having to climb out, run down a jetty and dive off. This makes for 4 dives, and with the boys going first, we had plenty of spectator enjoyment seeing their spectacular and not-so-spectacular diving performances. I can only say that I lived it up and dove like a challenged, but graceful, penguin each time. VERY FUN!!!

Now, a semi-taper begins to get me ready for Rotorua half-iron distance the following weekend. Bloody hell, I still haven't sorted accommodation out and I leave in 2 days.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Squamish 50

Oopsie, I just registered for a 50mile ultramarathon -- my first ultra. I've crewed/been a pacer at two, and have had the itch to run one myself for years.

Turns out my sister is getting married August 2014, I'll definitely be witnessing that event, wouldn't miss it for the world... as I was casually browsing Canadian running race calendars and whaddayaknow credit card slipped through my hands, bam, I am registered for the Squamish 50 miler, one week before my sister becomes a newlywed. Very exciting!

Now, how far is 50 miles again????

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Highlands Race Photos...

Photos from the race, surprisingly un-watermarked.

Definitely have a "Fuck my life" face for the entirety of the bike. Can't seem to find any run pictures, though. In case you couldn't tell, it was raining a wee bit!