Traveled up to Ketchum, ID again this year to race MTB Marathon Nationals for the second consecutive year.
I raced in the Single Speed Open division and was trying to improve upon my 5th place from last year. But in short, this race was a disaster for me which was disappointing as I had targeted this race early on and I believe that I am a bit fitter than last year. I believe I made the mistake of racing at altitude while on my 3rd day of acclimation. (The town of Ketchum sits at just below 6,000 feet and the race course loops up to just below 9,000 feet twice).
From everything I’ve read thus far as that it’s best for flatlanders like me (I live in Folsom) to either go up to the race as close to the start as possible (i.e. the night before) or give yourself ample time to acclimate (i.e. 7 – 10+ days). While the worst time to race is in that 3 to 4 day window when your body is doing it’s best to adapt to the lower oxygen levels.
I traveled to Ketchum on Wednesday 7/2. Then spent Thursday, 7/3 spinning easy for about 2 hours to get the legs moving again after the long car ride and dialing in my bike. Felt awesome. Friday, 7/4 I pre-rode the course at an easy to moderate pace (took about 2 hrs 15 minutes ride time) with just a few harder efforts here and there to open up a little. Felt less awesome and then the entire afternoon afterwards I was way fatigued, and came down with a bit of a headache that night too. I was hydrating like crazy so I know that wasn’t an issue. Saturday morning (race day) and I wake up at 5:45 am to eat prior to my8 AM start time and I’m extremely fatigued an tired. And unfortunately this malaise continued for the entire race.
As we hit the first climb I was already feeling shelled. Last year I was able to stay with the leaders this year, but this time, I was instantly 40 seconds back and feeling like crap. I tried not to worry and hoped I’d come around but I never did. My headache got worse and I just inched along and tried not to get anybody else’s way.
I ended up pulling myself after the first lap as at the pace I was going I couldn’t imagine being out there as long as I might have been considering I probably would have been slower on the second lap (last year, I ended up pulling a negative split on the second lap, but I knew that just wasn’t in the cards this year).
I went back to my hotel, showered, and immediately slept the entire afternoon away.
I’m still wondering if there were other factors that could have contributed to my performance here (i.e. wondering if I did too much work in the weeks prior to the race, or was overtrained, etc). but I keep coming back to the altitude.
Next year, MTB Marathon Nationals moves to the East Coast somewhere I think…but “regular” MTB XC Nationals moves back West to Bend, OR. Maybe I’ll pencil that one in….
I am so glad that I was able to make the trip out to Richmond for this race! I had heard good things about this race and really wanted to try another championship course out but wasn’t sure how I was going to make it happen. It was such a blessing how everything came together for this trip. I have gotten to know an amazing network of people in this area as well as Xterra friends! I was holding out hope to go and it came down to everything coming into place in the last week and even better than I could have hoped. From help through my shop, Folsom Bike, to friends that I swim with right down to my awesome massage guy, Tom, all the pieces came together and I owe it to all these people for helping me get there!
My mom was coming out for a visit and flew in on Wednesday so she was here with Ashlyn while I had a buddy pass to fly straight to Dulles on Thursday! I got to stay with great people David and Stephanie Miller who were heading down to the race on Friday. John, Steph and I got out and got a little preride in on Fri afternoon and I had a blast. It was definitely wet from all the rain in the two days prior and the humidity is not something I am used to but that course was so much fun. I got hooked up with an amazing homestay in the area and was so grateful to be staying with Chris Jeffrey. My plan on Saturday was to just do a short run. But as I heard about different parts of the course and looked at the swim in the river I ended up doing a little bit of everything. On this course I was glad I did. It was more than I had planned to do but I was feeling so much better than last time thanks to the amazing work of Dr. Vince Hoffart and my muscle man Tom Self at Massage Vudoo! I think I have found a killer combination there.
Swim start – I’m on the bottom left
Race morning was great the temperatures were down and the humidity was way down and it made for great race weather with our early start.
The swim was different and fun. You have to swim across current and up the river and zig zag for different bouys with a mini trail run on isle in the middle. I was so grateful that I got in a swim on Saturday and had a good idea how strong the current was and how high I had to aim to make the bouys! A lot of people had problems, but I felt pretty good with my swim. I felt really relaxed amidst some chaos. I came out of the water right on Shonny’s heels and chased up to transition. I was 8th out of the water, which is pretty good for me.
I jumped on my bike thinking maybe I could try and grab a wheel of Shonny for a minute or two, but nope, by the time I got myself situated she was gone! I pushed down the road and dove into the singletrack. Such a fun course! My first lap went fine. Despite having my share of bobbles, I rode most of my lines fairly clean. There were a few that I realized I needed to change on the next lap. However, when I came around the next lap I was mixed in the age-group race starting their first lap. The first part wasn’t too bad as people were fairly willing to let me pass. I think it helped just a little having people around to push me as opposed to the first lap all alone. David Miller came up behind me and gave me a good push mentally when I really needed one! Then we got to all the technical parts that people were coming off or just walking and that was a little frustrating since I knew my lines for that lap and was forced to walk in the line of age-groupers. It also makes me feel a bit spastic on my bike because I am still trying to race but also forced to sit back and wait. I know this cost some time but I did have a blast on this course! Super fun with technical rocky sections, roots, bridges, creek crossings and riding through drainage tunnels, and of course sections lined with fans and hecklers all dressed up and noisy. Here
is a link to a local article. I was 6th fastest on the bike for the pro field.
Fun section of the course lined with fans 🙂
I came out of transition and onto the run right behind another girl. She was running at a good pace and I was trying to keep with her. I was feeling alright for about a mile and then she just opened up the gap and I could not hang. After running through some streets over railroad tracks you come to the “Myan wall” which honestly was a lot smaller than I was expecting from the way people talk about it. It is a steep scramble/climb up some railroad ties. As I was climbing I saw a girl coming right up behind me. As we ran down the tower, my head was spinning with how many circles we made and she was right on me. I determined not to lose any positions on the run and held fast. I made it through the out and back and to the river crossing and the “dry way” and was again grateful that I had come out to this the day before and knew where I was going through this rocky section. This was my favorite part of this run. Through a stream over boulders and up a little ladder. After that is just a fun section of trail and then the home stretch over the bridge and back to the finish. Through this second half of the run my stomach was NOT happy and I was a little worried. It hadn’t really been feeling great the whole race, but this is where it got bad. I just kept telling myself I was almost there and I could make it without a stop! I finally opened up a gap on the girl behind me through the dry way and made it too the finish. I did not lose any spots on the run! Yay! This is a common problem for me.
I had no idea where I was in the field when I crossed and then Chris came up right away and told me I was 7th. I was so happy to make the last spot in the money for the pro field. This also was good enough to get back in the top 10 in the series.
This race was truly fun XTERRA
racing! All aspects of the race had fun challenges of their own and it was a great race! Definitely one to do again.
I definitely have some work to do to catch those ladies ahead of me but this was progress from my last attempt. Next up will be Beaver Creek, CO in July.