XTERRA World Championships 2007 – Post Race Report

First off, thank you so much to all of you for sending me some incredible notes that were amusing, inspiring and entertaining. I love to hear from all of you and I appreciate every bit of support that went into this effort at Worlds. While it wasn’t what I wanted from my trip to Maui, I did do all I could to defend my 2006 title. Julie Dibens of Great Britain very clearly had a better day than any of us and her win was equally as dominant of mine from 2006. Ouch! That said, I congratulate her wholeheartedly and look forward to toeing the line next season when it is her turn to defend. I did fare a lot better than any of the other favorites for the Worlds this year in taking second place…..

The 2007 XTERRA World Championships was held on Sunday on Maui. The race presented an opportunity for me to win a fourth World title, which to date has never been done. I did battle with the best field of athletes ever to toe the line in Maui and given my season this year was not even considered by some to be a favorite for the win! I thought that was kind of funny. I really thought I was going to have an incredible day and prove them all wrong, erasing every disappointing day this season. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the kind of day I was hoping for and Julie Dibens raced very well winning her first World Championships title. It was great for me to be able to finish this season off with the second strongest race at Worlds but really, this season will be happily ended at Maui with the hopes that we can make 2008 much better.

I really enjoyed the week before the race and had tons of fun with the prerace press conference, the XTERRA University clinics and the dinners with all of the other athletes. Hawaii is such a great race where we get to meet up with people from all over the world. There really is a special energy around this race. I was also very motivated because I felt that my race in Tahoe was so disappointing there was no way I was going to end the season without going out on a high note. I had worked really hard in the last two months and I was there to give it EVERYTHING!

The race in Maui started well. I got to the first buoy on Sybille Matter’s hip and rounding the buoy could still see the first pack forming when I got my goggles kicked off on one side. I stayed with the pack and withstood the beating from some guy on my right side. I cursed him to myself but refused to lose the feet I was drafting on and risk losing the group. I felt it was key to stay as close to the front on the swim as possible and was going to claw my way up there. While we were exiting the water, suddenly the pack turned to shrapnel and one by one we ran back in with only part of the group coming back together. I guess I am slow exiting the water because I ended up at the back of the mess coming into transition but still ended up close to Sybille and Candy, about two minutes from Julie. Not too bad, but nevertheless I had my work cut out for me.

I quickly jumped on my BMC and rode up to the two closest girls by the end of the pavement. I figured I was doing all right because I caught them both so much earlier this year. I was excited to have another person to chase because I felt it would distance me more from the rest of the field to chase longer so I settled in for the long journey to the top. However, things were not all right. I was very slow to move away from Candy and Sybille and my legs were not “dancing on the pedals” as they may have in years past. I was just pedaling hard and feeling every minute of it.

At Heartbreak Hill I could see Julie in front of me. The cyclist in me knows you close a gap as soon as possible and then settle down again even if it feels really hard. The problem was I could not reach the next gear in me to close the gap. End of story, my legs were flat. Julie dangled in front of me forever and I pedaled through the bike course hoping that since I wasn’t able to light it up on the bike that I would suddenly have fresh legs on the run.

That didn’t happen. Julie found more time and I went onto the run after transition 1:20 down. It went from bad to worse on the run. I was going as hard as I could, hoping that the line was going to come before the person behind me. I wasn’t aware of how slow I was going, only aware that I was being hunted by the rest of the field. I ran it in for second with Jamie Whitmore running her way back into third place behind me.

It’s always a very hard race on Maui and this past Sunday was no exception. The course was much faster than last year but I wasn’t able to even match what I did in 2006. That is kind of a bummer since I really thought I had some magic for this race. However, I made it through safely and I still followed up a win with the best runner up performance I could have on the day and my swim has improved. My bike and especially my run split really were nowhere close to what I expected but that is racing. You either have it or you don’t. I endured a beating this year in Maui but like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I am already planning the changes I will make for next year.

Really this year was not that bad as far as results… maybe not my best but truly, I fought hard in every race and when you are not flying, not likely you will win. We are talking professional athletics here! I am sure that it will all come around and I will see the benefits of the work I have done next year.

Thank you so much first to all of my friends and supporters both online and at the races. It was great to have all of your support and congratulations to all of my fellow competitors for finishing. I am so proud of all of the Canadians that came to Hawaii this year, our numbers are growing and it was awesome to have the solidarity! To Nat from Costa Rica, you are a complete inspiration to me…. 72 years old? You are amazing! Also a shout out goes to Monique from New Zealand, our youngest finisher at 18 years old AND now an age group World Champion… wow! Thanks also to my training partners this year at the NTC and to Shank and Palmer. Good job in cracking the top 100 boys…see ya next year? Thank you to Ross for giving up a lot for “Mel-time”, you are the best!

I also could not have had the season I have had without all of the support of my amazing sponsors. To Nature’s Path, it is a privilege to tell people about how amazing a company and how delicious all the food you make is. To BMC bicycles, thank you for putting me on the best equipment possible and the best comment of the Gu contest: “Does this bike make my ass look fast?”…. I love it! To Shimano, Maxxis, Fox, Fizik, Titec, Profile and Lazer, thank you for helping me roll safely and fast! To my friends at Gu, the best fuel on the course, I am still making homemade Gu2O popsicles until they go into production! Thanks to Sundog Eyewear, Saucony and Descente Athletic for outfitting me so well. Thanks to Usana for keeping me healthy, Cycle Ops for the Powertap info, Speedo for cute suits, Genuine Innovations for the Big Airs, Velocity Wipes for keeping my bike clean and to Rider’s Cycles for keeping my bike mechanically sound. Also to all of the bike shops across the USA that have helped me to ride well… thanks guys!

So now to Haiku for some fun time in Hawaii before I head home to winter to enjoy some skiing and…. More swimming! Ha… in the meantime, keep your lines fast, your bike clean and the rubber side down!

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