Started the season off just the way I like it… with a win! I must admit that my confidence was at a major low because of some rough patches this spring. I changed my training to address some weaknesses and as a result my progression was different than last year. Not less, obviously, but I did a lot of different training this year. In general, more of everything I wasn’t as good at, like swimming and running. I was watching my competition kick ass all spring at the mountain bike races and since my bike racing was nothing to write home about I really wasn’t sure it was going to come around in time…. but it DID.. read on…
I worked super hard to make it happen in the past few weeks and felt like I had overdone it. Thank you so much to Bryn, Day, Sheldan and Sean for the good rehab and to the Canadian contingent Andrew, Mike, Luke and of course, Ross, for the last minute pep talks before the race… you’re the best! I felt amazing on the course and had a super day, winning by 5 minutes. A new record for early season performance and I am sure I have a lot left to improve on even though I had second fastest swim, fastest bike and second fastest run. Sidebar: Heather Fuhr beat me by 19 seconds on the run in Temecula. My first time at XTERRA Maui in 2000, when I was run down after a giant lead, I think Heather’s split beat me by 11 minutes on the run. Haha! There is some improvement for you! Jamie and Candy were super consistent as well, coming in second and third and our newcomer mountain bikers Dara Marks and Jen Smith (well she’s not a newcomer, but newer than the rest of us) rounded out the podium. Nice work ladies! New faces on the podium since we lost SIX athletes to pregnancy this year
I had a great time with the Kay family in Temecula. Brent, Kim, Justin, Michael and Billy were awesome and made the time fly by before the race. I got in on Wednesday and prerode the bike course four times before the race. The bike course was longer this year and I think the run course was longer and harder as well (even though I ran FASTER this year than last year! The run training is coming around for sure). It made for a much longer race overall. I decided to run a Maxxis Larson TT on the rear and a Maxxis Ranchero on the front with 28 psi for both. They ran super fast with perfect traction so that was a really good call. My new BMC Team Elite 01 is kick ass fast and the Fox 100mm fork was awesome on the fast dropoff descents. Plus the fact my new 2007 Shimano XTR is lighter and faster, I have a totally intimidating World Champion Fi:zi’k saddle… oh baby, I was good to go….
Race morning I ate my Nature’s Path maple nut oatmeal, had a coffee, and then hit the road with a bottle of Gu2O. I ended up getting there pretty late, actually. I set up my transition in a weird spot, which is what happens when you are last in and went off for a super short warmup on the bike. I put my Sundog glasses in my Lazer helmet, lined up the Shimano and Diadora running shoes and threw my Descente gloves on the end of my bars before heading down to the water.
One snafu before the race was a mix up with Fedex. I ended up not receiving my new Descente tri kit in time. Luckily, Speedo came to the rescue and tucked in an extra Fastskin with my title sponsors screened on it just in case it was needed – and it was! When I got there it was announced that we would be wearing wetsuits so I busted out the new Profile Design Aquaman wetsuit I received just this week. It was a mass start this year so no matter where I chose to line up, people were everywhere. When the gun went off I sprinted as much as I could, only to be pummeled on both sides the whole way to the buoy. It was brutal. After we went around the first turn I was still surrounded by people. At that point I was starting to settle in but I missed the front pack already. Not the swim I was looking for after trying to work hard and be consistent in the pool this winter. I could really feel the NO OPEN WATER swimming on race day. Once out of the water and running to my bike I put it behind me and focused entirely on riding.
I actually went into this race planning to not count on my bike split for the win. I have been running a lot lately so I expected my running to be better than my cycling at this point in the season. I guess the BMC was the magic ticket. I went over the first climb with cheers from my friend Andrew and I could see Luke up ahead. The sand trap on the way to the main loop was SO deep when we got to it and athletes were falling off left and right. Somehow I managed to stay up and rode through cleanly. That started my great day on the bike. I rode the whole course middle/big ring with good turnover. I guess my legs came around just in time. I was riding with other athletes the whole time, sometimes taking the lead and sometimes catching up. I caught Candy about 4 miles into the bike, before the biggest climb and from that point I kept the lead. The course in Temecula is loads of fun with each climb rewarding you with a fun rollercoaster downhill. I was feeling good so after two loops, three bottles and three Gu packets I was headed to T2.
When I got into the bike/run transition I had no idea where everyone else was. I had a reasonably smooth transition and felt pretty good in the open steps of the run. From there I never looked back and just pushed myself as hard as I could. I couldn’t hear any splits to my competition so I ran as if someone was going to catch me the whole time… since Jamie caught me last year on this run. But not this year! Instead, I increased my lead from the bike on the run to win the first race of the year by five minutes. Nice.
So now I get to hang out for another day in California. Planning to visit Shimano, bum around then head home and start preparing for Alabama. Might add another event in there…. Stay tuned. Until then, thanks so much to Nature’s Path, BMC, Maxxis, Profile-Design, Titec, Sundog Eyewear, Gu Sports, Lazer, Fox Racing Shox, Fi’zi:k, Powertap, Speedo, Velocity Wipes, Genuine Innovations, and Rider’s Cycles for putting this show back on the road for another season. Off to a good start and looking to maintain the momentum