XTERRA NW Cup – Farragut Equals Four

The race course at Farragut State Park in Athol, Idaho is beautiful.  Between the cool clear waters of Lake Pend Oreille (read: cold) and the loamy, fast singletrack in the trees, this venue really showcases the beauty of nature in the Northwest.  There is also a large amount of military history in the area as Farragut was once the world’s second largest military installation in WW2.  I guess Idaho was far enough from the ocean that bombers could not reach the area so the navy was stationed there.  Many areas of the park are named for war heroes and today they still use the lake for submarine hull testing as it is very, very deep in areas (1,158 feet).  As a local (well, it takes 11 hours for me to get there but I am from the Northwest) I was really looking forward to this event.  This corner of Idaho is less than four hours from the Canadian border which may have contributed to a lot of other Canadians feeling good about this event as well.  Top three on the pro women’s podium were Canadian with Danelle Kabush, Christine Jeffrey and yours truly rocking the top three places.  Both the male and female age group overall winners (Cal Zaryski and Rosemarie Gersbache) were also from Calgary, so go Canada, eh!   This race makes four for four for Mel.

We were fortunate to stay at Casita de Church, the guest house of our friends Connie and Steve Church in Hayden Lake, Idaho so the course was a short drive from our door.  It almost felt like we were sleeping in the woods it was so quiet and serene in the area. Thanks guys!  Your house is incredible!  The race itself was part of Adventure Sports Week (http://www.adventuresportsweek.com), where they are having 24 different races including trail runs, the XTERRA, an adventure race and some mountain bike events to name a few during the week.  Over 1000 athletes will get to sample the fun in Idaho and we ended up one of the first events on the schedule.

Idaho is the first of three XTERRA Cup events I am planning to race on back to back weekends.  This is a tricky challenge as some athletes contending for the overall are planning to miss one or more of the events to save up for other ones.  I want to be strong for three weeks straight.  The challenge is planning enough training to be fast for three weeks but not so much that I am tired for any of them.  This last weekend in Idaho went really well for me and obviously I am pleased to come away with the win.  However, it was the hardest race for me this year.  I think I may have done a little too much in preparation for my three weeks of racing.  I am not sure the course particularly suited me so it was going to be an extra challenge in that regard.  I was certainly running scared as speedy Danelle was hunting me down.  To top it off, I chose to have my worst swim ever in my history of triathlon just to give Christine Jeffrey an enormous lead to start a race that had one of the fastest and not particularly technical courses we have raced on this year.  It was a very, very hard day at the office.  READ MORE….

The race started at noon which is a very luxurious time to start a triathlon.  Of course, we were lucky the weather was somewhat cool on race morning since we were starting late and as the weather had been so hot leading up to the race I did not bring ANYTHING warm with me.  Despite having a luggage allowance of ONE TON in the car.  S0 stupid.  No legwarmers and no jacket on a 60 degree morning. 

Second stupidity moment was when I walked straight into the side of the wood footboard of the bed in our casita.  I was curled up in a ball with my right quad in rigor mortis for 10 minutes writhing in pain.  That actually did the most damage to my weekend of everything in the week leading up.    I don’t actually ride with too much of my quads so it affected me less on the bike but on the run I was sore.  I am so thankful I rode well as Danelle squashed me completely (even more than normal) on that run and I am hoping some massage and ice is going to sort out some muscle damage by next week.

So the morning of the race we were greeted with choppy, extra cold water.  The swim loop was reversed in direction as the current was quite strong.  Still, the course ended up longer than the 0.9 miles it was supposed to be.  Very unfortunate given how I was swimming.  Ross said my start was “wimpy” as I “tippytoed” through the rocks to start the race, only to be pummeled in the first 150m of the swim.  I was angry with myself for swimming so bad and so happy to get out of that water and run straight up the wall of stairs to transition.  Seriously, running up a wall of gravelly stairs was more fun than that swim.

Onto the bike I rode as hard as I could but I was feeling like I had one speed.  I knew CJ had a huge lead but I had to ride my pace and it took me more than a lap and a half to finally catch her.  The course was not really technical at all but it was relentless.  For one hour and thirty minutes I may have spent 30 seconds not pedaling.  Anything technical was uphill so the downhills took milliseconds.  It was a very tough bike course and I think that surprised a lot of us who thought it was going to be super fast and not that hard.  It ended up pretty darn hard.  Luckily, I held my pace for both laps and made up enough time to come off the bike four minutes up.  Danelle was a further two minutes back.  I think riding steady and smooth was a good plan given how long the race ended up taking.

When I left T2 for the run I was feeling a little rough.  My right leg was bugging me and it felt like it was on the verge of a cramp the whole time.  It was a very scenic run but was also fairly difficult with a twisty, rocky, leg speed section along the lake, followed by a one kilometer vertical climb and finishing with a rolling, endless series of hills to finish the race.  I am not sure the hills were really that bad because I might not have been that objective about it but it seemed hard.  It was a beautiful course though.  I think I am pretty fit right now so I have good reserves even with not my very best legs and that helped me squeak the win.  Danelle was very close, too close for comfort and obviously her second place at the World Champs form is coming right along.  Christine walloped us on the swim and then held on strong for third place with Jenny Tobin logging the fastest run for fourth and Emma Garrard taking fifth.  Emma is now ranked second in the series which is pretty awesome for a rookie pro!

Dan Hugo won his first event with Nico Lebrun, Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita and Conrad Stoltz following.  Conrad managed to find a huge nail on the course to completely deflate his tire on the first lap of the bike which unfortunately let the guys get away on such a fast course.

Thanks again to Ross for providing the live feed by logging into my twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/racergirlmel and for providing some terrible splits on race day (Haha! He was trying to motivate me by lying to me) and to Jasper Blake for being such a fun time even though his race didn’t go as planned.  I am sure there is a lot potential in my Canadian training buddy so here’s looking forward to our next road trip, Jazz!

For me…up next, Richmond, VA!

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