Maui No Ka Oi…. Maui is the best! How true is that? The Xterra World Championships is held annually at this amazing paradise in the middle of the Pacific. Each year the race lives up to its reputation as a challenging, unpredictable and unforgiving venue. Extensive rain left the course strewn with huge boulders, ruts and grass. The weather was beautiful during the week but by Sunday high winds made the swim choppy with some decent swells and on race day the thermostat was turned up quite a bit compared to the rest of the week. The result? Gaps on the swim as weaker swimmers were weeded out, carnage of crashes and flats on the bike course and complete meltdowns by very talented runners in the last portions of the run on the beach as they approached the finish. Epic, brutal, unforgiving and “not fit for man or beast” are some of the descriptions of this race. Never has this race ever been longer or harder than this year and I am absolutely stunned to have had the race I did on Sunday. I think I had wings. Maybe there was invisible force field protecting me from my near disasters on the bike course, of which there were many. Whatever it was, I managed to leave no doubt as to who brought the best form to Worlds this year. I knew it could be good but I didn’t know just how good my form was. An eight minute margin to second was well above my expectations and I can go into the off season totally satisfied that the work, sacrifices and plans I made this year were the right ones. Flippin’ sweet!
The weeks after Tahoe are tough on all of us. It is getting late in the season. Most of us go home to fairly crappy weather. I had an amazing altitude camp in Gunnison that I believe set me up with an amazing aerobic base to go home and sharpen. However, it is very tough to motivate at the end of a long year. I come home to all the cyclists and triathletes enjoying the beginning of their off season and I am just winding up for the big show. Thank you to the group at Pacificsport for being there for me since my swim needed help- Neil, Craig and Pat rock. Thanks to Palmer, Virge, Johnny and the boys at Broadmead for the amazing mountain bike rides… I so needed you guys and having those rides behind me gave me the confidence to stick like glue to the men around me, on the ups and the downs! When my swim and bike start going good then my run comes around. I think it was only four days before I started my taper that my run finally showed up to the party. I had this amazing run at Mt Work where I ran an hour then punched it straight uphill on a trail that really is meant for hiking. When I did that run I knew it… I knew I could take anyone on if necessary in the last leg of the race. Thanks Cliff for those last four run workouts because I think they tipped the balance.
I can’t stress enough how important confidence is. If you think you can win, with conviction, it will take quite a bit to wrestle that victory out of your hands. That is how I came to Hawaii. I was absolutely certain that race was mine to take. I was nervous of the uncontrollable situations like mechanicals or crashes, but the brand new 2007 XTR group, the brand new Maxxis Larsons on a brand new Orbea Alma with all brand new Titec and Fizik magic was not to be messed with. Bomb proof is how I would describe that bike. I think about 10 giant boulders hit me on the course, I bottomed out my tire and new XTR rim on a rock TWICE and I sketched out completely off balance at least five times but saved it. The race was not without incident but as I said, I was not to be denied.