Dave had a day in the field last Wednesday for work and found himself getting off work at 1:30 Friday. Hmmmmm, we thought, that opens up a lot of hours on Friday eve…..he rode home from work and we deliberated for the next hour whether we were crazy enough to hop in the car and drive to Ogden for the race the next morning? The only way the scenario worked was because our friend from Great Falls was also roger-racing it down to Ogden to get there before 6 pm to register. Of course none of us decided BEFORE Friday to register (could’ve done it Thurs eve!). UGH. I spent most of the Friday noon hours on the phone with Kristina to see if she’d make it in time. She would have to sign Dave and I up if we hopped in the car.
After an hour, we finally decided, “LET’s DO IT!”! I had the Warren Miller quote going through my head, “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!” So, we left town at 3:30 hoping Kristina would make it in time to sign us all up. Sure enough, she got there about 5:50 and sacrificed her credit card on our entry fees! Not only did she do that for us, she ALSO let us crash her room at 11pm at the Marriot when we pulled into town! Talk about a gracious friend! 6 hours later we were all up at 5 am and leaving for Snowbasin /Pine view resevoir (Ogden Canyon) at 6am. Dave and I thought we’d miss the turn and spend an extra half hour lost before finding T1. Two transition races are such a nightmare to set up! The logistics of triathlons are always WAY MORE STRESSFUL than the race! By the time you’re racing, it’s like you are relaxing!
Xterra has this weird way of body marking where they put some sort of ink on you. This led to LONG lines and long waits. Dave and I didn’t get to T2 (about 20 minutes to drive up to Snowbasin ski area parking lot) until we heard all the shuttles were gone. AH. Again, the race to see if we miss our starts! We did miss the pro start but a lucky shuttle came back to our rescue. I didn’t see Kristina again until after the race! TONS of people there ! I heard the announcer say over 1000 with the xterra run nationals on Sunday.
To top off the whole event, Lance Armstrong was there racing his first tri in 22 years. Everyone thought he’d smoke the bike and maybe get run down or even win? (we thought this too) It turned out, he was smoking fast in the swim (Impressive!) and out with the lead pack, however, he had the top xterra men athletes riding with him the whole time. I don’t think he had the fastest bike split and he was already in 3rd or so getting off the bike. He ended up 5th which was very respectable for the TOUGH course. I saw him get out of the swim and was surprised how fast he was. (His swim/T1 times was 12 minutes faster than mine! (1500m); his bike was 35 min faster(18 miles w/ mostly climbing) and his run 9 min faster(6.3 miles with climbs and trails)….which led to AN HOUR faster total than me! Eeesh!).
All the media, TV stations, news, press, helicopters and videographers around to capture Lance made everything very exciting, but also a bit ridiculous! Haha, at one point Dave joked to me saying, “Is Lance gonna parachute down here from the helicopter now!?”
Three races were happening at the same time that morning. Those who qualified were racing in the USA nationals and they started at 9 am. Their course was the same as mine and Kirstina’s (Xterra Utah long course), but they started earlier. They were nice enough to the pro’s to make all of us wait until most of those racers came around their first swim loop (2 loop triangle for 1500m) so we started at 9:35 instead of 9:20. I was fine with that until they started the sprint racers about 10 min later instead of 20 after us. They were supposed to start at 9:40, but everything was later so the only complaint I had on race day was that we came through for our second swim loop and encountered a SEA full of green caps doing the short race that we had to swim through….breast stroking, back stroking, etc. No fun…made a lot of long course people mad….not only that, but we also had to spend the first 5-10 miles on the bike weaving through many of them. Not a good call on the race directors part.
I hadn’t swam a 1500 in a couple years….a few 1000’s this year and neither Dave and I had swam in over a month. So, we were a little scared on how it’d ‘feel’ but knew we could do it. The bike course for me was 18 miles with about 16 miles of climbing. 3400 ft of elevation. I think any Helenan could ride it…not technical at all, just grueling on the low back! Never even put a foot down. Dave smoked the sprint bike and beat his age group by 4 minutes on his bike split! He was flying! So cool! THe sprint had 2300 ft of climbing, too! Again, not super technical but those willing to ride the crazier and rockier lines (like Dave) got passed herds of sprinters in the easy line. I went through phases of feeling my legs on the bike and then not. I was told at the end of the bike that I was the 3rd women in the long race at that point, so that gave some wind to my spirits.
The run course may not have been loved by my Helenan counterparts that I wanted to come. Hehe, you know who you are. It started at the snowbasin parking lot and immediately out of transition climbed 700 ft straight up the mountain. Many many many people were walking this. I didn’t walk at all, but kept moving (probably could’ve walked faster). I was surprised I felt so good on the run and credited my runny friends back home for that continental divide run we did on labor day. The air was so high up there you could just tell there was less oxygen. That affected a lot of people I think…especially after such a tough bike course. I know that Randy and Landen Beckner would’ve ripped that course to shreds! But I’m sure they were here doing some max threshold jumping over barriers instead.
Once you climbed up, it was a beautiful trail run through the woods (amazing colors with fall coming) and a nice descent to the finish. I ended up 3rd overall in the long course race (not nationals) and won my age group. If I had been racing in nationals, my time would’ve had me at 2nd in my age group and qualifying for Worlds in Maui. That is exciting and something to think about! Dave ended up 3rd in his age group in the sprint and he had like 40+ people in his age group! To have beat all of them by 4 minutes on the bike is a testament to his biking skills and climbing! Pretty awesome. Kristina was third in her age group in the long course. Pretty awesome showing after all three of us ran Mt Helena last weekend (none of us would’ve if we knew we were going to Xterra, but perhaps it helped!? Dave thinks so) and so our legs weren’t fresh!
The post-event was really great with free massages (YAHOO! I’m sure that’s why we weren’t even sore the day after and I had a great run today! Felt like oxygen was everywhere here! haha) We had the choice of many different lunches, yum! And we watched the nationals awards and Lance-interview, etc. Lance was pretty cool in his interview acknowledging the event was very hard! He said when asked if he had fun, “NO!” Also, he said he could’ve stayed home to drink beer and play golf, but he chose to come play and suffer with the rest of us, but it isn’t any easier for him! He enjoyed the course/event and was very thankful to volunteers. It was cool to see him in person!
Unfortunately we didn’t stay for our own schwag as we hopped in the car and drove home the same hours as the day before! Arrived back in Helena at 10 pm Sat. eve and slept like babies! In retrospect, we admitted it seemed a bit crazy how fast our adventure was, but it was totally worth it! We loved seeing the new area and the course was beautiful and fun! The Xterra athletes are very laid back compared to road tri’s and are super friendly and fun to be around. We would’ve liked to spend more time at the expo, etc., but responsibilities awaited back in Helena. You only live once and that decision sure made us feel alive for those 24 hours!!! Unfortunately we didn’t get many pics, but here a few. Hope you come next time!