– Getting my picture taking with Ironman Legend Scott Tinley
– Finishing the race in one piece – both me and my bike
– Seeing all my Xterra Race Friends
– The weather
– Travel with mud tires (skinny ones)
– Cleats on mtb shoes would be helpful
To quote one of the announcers on race day “if it were easy they would call it an Ironman,” and I have to agree after finishing this year’s 21st Xterra World Championship Race and I can say this having completed a few of each distance race.
Race morning started out with 6 – 8 foot swells at DT Fleming Beach in Kapalua Maui, pounding the shore and the swimmers who were trying to get out through them or back to the beach during the 1-mile swim. Several days of rain had turned the 20-mile bike course into a mud pit or slip and slide causing hundreds (several hundreds) of us to hike a bike for a good portion of the 3500 + foot climb, the run, well let’s just say hike a biking for hours followed by a 10 K run does not always make for a solid run, oh and did I mention the run climbs 1000+ feet.
To start from the beginning, I arrived in Maui feeling excited and that my goal this year to break 4 hours was possible. My training had been going really well the past few months. I felt faster in the water, solid on my bike and had really been working on my run. I got up Thursday morning and headed out on my bike to pre ride the course. A lot of people were telling me to just ride the lower loop, the upper loop was a mud bath, but I was determined to ride the whole course and needed to see what the conditions were like this year for myself. As I started climbing up to the turnoff for the upper loop I was thinking this trail is in great shape, it can’t be that bad up top! I made it to the turn off and kept on climbing. Shortly thereafter the mud pit began, a very slip & slide descent – barely safe to try and walk down + a long slosh pit of crap that on race day no matter what I told myself I would have to run thru! It was over pretty quick and I was back peddling away and watched the miles fly by, there was the occasional mud spot but all ride-able and I ended the day feeling ok my goal is still achievable!
What I did not count on was Mother Nature bringing nonstop rain Thursday afternoon, what seemed like all day Friday, on & off Saturday, oh and race day too!
The day before the race when I normally put my feet up, relax and tell myself tomorrow is going to be great, I decided to go and cheer on my friends who were racing in the Xterra Trail run series. This took me down to the swim start (where the runners come out and head to the finish) and the waves! I was watching a few of my friends getting tossed and smashed in the water and decided what the heck I better join in on the fun. At the time I was pretty intimated by these massive waves and thinking Mother Nature won’t let the ocean be this angry tomorrow for our race start, but boy was I wrong and come race morning I was so glad I practiced!
Race morning arrived with rainbows, sprinkles and huge swells! I stood there on the beach waiting for my wave to start just praying to make it thru without getting swallowed up by the ocean, it looked brutal out there! I made it thru the swim, a little slower than I liked, but I made it!
Now off to the bike, I hopped on thinking if I can just ride like my pre-ride I am going to be fine, everything will work out fine! A few miles in and all dreams & goals had to be thrown out the window and hike-a-biking had to begin! It seemed like we hiked our bikes for hours and miles! There were small parts you could peddle, but they were so few and far between as we trudged up the mountain to the top! Two hours in and every few steps or peddle strokes your tires stopped moving. People were scattered along the sides of the trail removing mud slop with their fingers to try and get their wheels turning again. I can honestly say I spent more time hiking and clearing mud from my tires then I did riding my bike! How sad is that?! It took everything in me to not quit and to keep pushing, literally pushing a mud filled heavy like cement bike up 3500+ feet of a mountain. Eventually I was able to stay on my bike and ride, and what seemed like an eternity later I finished the bike and came into transition both me & the bike covered in mud from head to toe, just like everyone else.
I hit the run course telling myself just give it your all and run! That was easier said than done. I had nothing left to give in my legs. The first few miles are all climbing and I was so done with climbing on two feet! When I looked at my watch and realized I have finished half Ironman races in less time than this, I wanted to cry and stop right there. But I have never quit a race so I kept on shuffling to the top. Just past mile 3 I was so relived to start descending, that somehow my legs came back for a short time and I felt like I was flying down the trails, hopping up and over trees, and running, it felt so good! I tried to keep the momentum going as I approached the last hill, once at the top you are about a mile or so from the finish and the last descent to the beach is the best! Tight, technical, fast, just what I like when it comes to running! I was so glad to hit the beach, 200 meters on sand later the finish line was in sight, and I was done with what I can look back and call a long, but Epic training day! Until next year Maui, if I can put in order in to Mother Nature for 2017, I would like to request calm seas & no rain.
Thank you to our Freeplay team sponsors, Freeplay Magazine, Natures Bakery, Folsom Bike, Sacramento Running Association, Fluid Nutrition, Salming Running, Rudy Project North America, XX2i Optics, and Hoffart Chiropractic.