2015 XTERRA West Championships

I added the XTERRA West Championship to my schedule not only because I really miss and enjoy that style of racing but also because I have been finding that the best taper for a race is to race the weekend before.  I have almost without exception found that resting into race #1 leaves me good but not 100% and the following weekend I feel amazing.  Since I am really hoping to have a good go in St George I thought I would employ this strategy, literally clean the cobwebs off my Superfly, and use the race in Lake Las Vegas as my pre-race tuneup.  Since I had a good race, stayed upright and am quickly recovered and back on track I can say that so far things are going as expected.

2015 vegas preride

 Preriding with my roomies Brittany, Katharine and Buttons.

I am excited to see the top girls in XTERRA are doing a phenomenal job of raising the bar and pushing each other to continue raising the level in the sport.  Lesley is in her characteristic all year round top shape early season-on a course that favored her Southern California training environment-so it was not surprising that she was the fastest this weekend.   I was impressed to see Emma Garrard come out of her Park City hibernation in ripping form to make the race a close and exciting one right from the first transition.  Not to be overlooked is the always improving Suzie Snyder who performed well in her busy racing schedule to take third place in her third weekend of racing in a row.  The deciding factor that day was both Emma and Lesley’s lightning fast run splits that set them apart from the rest of the field and I am only sorry we couldn’t see what super Flora could do as well.  XTERRA is definitely taking on an ITU flavor which is not surprising since XTERRA is one of the only Olympic distance races with prize money other than ITU but it looks like Emma and Suzie are adapting to the new racing environment.

I am absolutely astonished at the ladies that take a year off to go and push out a baby and somehow make it look like it might be some sort of advantage.  I am absolutely certain that doing that to your body should not be considered performance enhancing and yet I see Emma come back a rockstar, Sara Schuler outrun me and my friend Hilary Stellingwerff back home in Victoria is already back to Olympian shape for 1500m after giving birth to baby Theo mere months ago. Amazing runners like Paula Radcliffe and Shalene Flanagan, my friend Danelle Kabush, who races with not one but TWO babies, and Beth Gerdes impress me so much.  The discipline, commitment and hard work it takes to get your body back to professional athlete status is huge – I don’t know how you guys do it! 

I was fourth in the race and honestly that was about what I expected given I don’t focus on this distance and these girls are fast!  Although I was smart and started beside super swimmer Sara McClarty I am not sure I swam what I was hoping but didn’t lose any time to the top three girls-but 3 minutes to super Sara.   It was a great hit out on the new Blueseventy Helix which is AMAZING!  I appreciated my mirrored goggles but they really ended up unnecessary as it turned cloudy.  The dark lenses didn’t matter because you couldn’t see one centimeter underwater which made it challenging to follow feet.

When we got on the bike I actually expected to lose more time on the climbs but I was happy to say that on most of the extended climbs I held my ground.  However, I was bleeding time profusely in the downhills and transitions.  I think I lost 15-20 seconds in the first sandy swoopy corner of the day and lost contact- which pretty much continued all day.  My purse strings were too tight on the brakes J

2015 xterra vegas bike

I tested out the Apex triathlon suit from Champion System.  Much more mountain bike style, no?  A bit awkward for the body numbers 🙂

It is funny to think how I used to complain so much that these courses are not technical.  Although I was able to ride all the lines in the race smoothly, the top girls clearly exposed this as a glacial pace.  Turns out my skills are quite rusty after three mountain bike rides, two here and one in sketchy wet technical conditions at home.  I am definitely not used to cornering on marbles in dirt at 50 km/h.  I rode with one of the top age group men on his first lap while I was on my second and I could see that I was also forgetting to do all of the punchy little attacks you need to push your momentum mountain biking.  Ironman and XTERRA are not all that similar J

The run was exactly the speed I have been training for but not fast enough to run anybody down so my position did not change.  I know I am in super shape right now and this race just adds a good dose of punchy speed to the recipe.  I remember doing my first XTERRA races in past seasons and blowing up before I even got to the run which is such a contrast to how I feel now.  I am definitely a different athlete now compared to when I was an XTERRA girl.

It was great to see Kate Button from Victoria coming into T2 as the next pro woman behind me so she continues to improve, taking 8th place on the day.  Overall age group winner and Canadian cross country skiing Olympian Brittany Webster ran her way up to fifth place overall so Canada has two more super athletes in development within the sport of XTERRA, which is so fun for me to see.  The third member of the COG racing team Katharine Wilson was fifth age group and 15th overall so it looks like she is ready to take on the pro ranks as well to add another strong Canadian chick to the long list of future stars.  Great job girls!  It was a fun weekend hanging out with the XTERRA crowd.  Not many Ironman girls I have hung out with are as eager to crack a beer as often as these girls, so it was a different vibe in offroad racing.  It was nice to be back even for one weekend.

After the race we went for a social ride and joined pros Craig Evans and Canadian Karston Madson for a little spin around the desert.  https://instagram.com/p/18_Umdj2_B/ XTERRA is a fun little family.  Although I love the Ironman stuff and don’t regret for one second changing my focus it does feel really great to be welcomed back  by my fellow pros even for a short visit.

Now I just have a short drive up to St George to visit my awesome homestay Sue Lipsman.  I am looking forward to a fun weekend with her, Mark from Trek and my bf Mike… not to mention the awesome challenge of racing a world class field of Ironman girls at the North American Championships.

Thanks to Trek, Shimano, Bontrager, Powertap, Rudy Project North America, Champion System, Asics, Frontrunners, Synergy Wellness, Blueseventy, USANA and my amazing coach/advisor Kelly Guest of Livefit coaching for helping me to get ready, fit and prepared to tackle the huge race in St George next weekend.   I am so happy to be here and so happy to have the versatility to choose to race all of these amazing athletes in such fun places.  Good times!

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