Xterra Buffalo Pound- Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Dave and I decided to head north to see a new part of the world and test out what the flat-landers call mountain biking. True enough, we encountered many short hilly blips but nary a mountain. The bike course was very interesting with many technical turns, lots of twizzly trees, and constant ups and downs. At one point, I was seriously concerned about what I was doing to the chain and gearing on my bike, continually shifting from granny gear spinning to climb, then strong crests over the top and back to the granny gear. Dave mostly noticed there were no long descents,which we are so used to here, naturally, as there were no long climbs either. Yet another race where we returned with a big ol’ slap in the face of how lucky we are to live where we do!

There were MANY gracious people and nice racers who welcomed us, chatted with us, and thanked us for coming to see what they offered. Immediately upon walking to the swim, more than a few people came up to chat. That was heart-warming to us, as we were entering the cold water for the first swim of the year (besides one pool swim last week) and fearful after the horror stories of our friends in Boise 24 hours earlier. The swim ended up being very enjoyable for both of us. The lake was part of a Provincial Park and was actually very nice, albeit choppy with a strong breeze. There was a 200 yard (yes that far) beach run in between our two 500m laps. It was very fun actually, and Dave’s best description was he felt like “a fish outta water” flapping along the beach, still in his goggles. Haha, what a visual. I’m sure we were all quite the site!

It seemed like the majority of the 100 or so racers were doing the half distance race, which made sense to us only after our bike course kept going, and going,…..and going. I was SO ready to be done with all those little blips (everything looked the same after a while) and it was the first time in my LIFE of triathlon that I actually thought about the nice swimming (and that I’d rather be swimming) while on the bike course. Most of that had to do with a muddy section I slid down and somehow stopped myself by heading a tree. DON’T TELL MY MOM! I think the muscles in my neck took the brunt of it, but after losing a shoe, scraping my armpit down a tree (I’ll show you the sweet effects of that at the meeting tonight if you’re lucky) and rekindling my flailing bike….I stood up to realize I didn’t feel concussed at all and actually had no pain (minus the fear of what I just did), besides all the scrapes so characteristic of XTERRA. I should’ve known to be extra careful as I immediately caught a handlebar on a twizzle tree coming onto the bike course. Dave caught me about 1/3 into the bike course, and he was flying (great swim Dave!!!). I knew there were only about 5 men in front of me out of the swim so I was very proud of him. I also was told at that point that I was first woman. I don’t even know how many women did the full course honestly (maybe less than 10). That bike was so gnarly that I’m impressed with any of them.

Finally after about 2 hours of winding around the hills, I was back in transition and feeling fine in the head. Having ran the half Saturday, I knew I was treading thin waters with cramping on the run. I had to shorten my stride and my legs loosened up about 3k into the 10k run. Surprisingly, we started straight up a hill (wait, I did say there weren’t any mountains, right? at that point it felt like the only mountain in Saskatchewan, especially to Dave) for about 2k. Our run was two 5k loops and the second half of the run was a blast, twisting and turning through the same forests of deciduous trees we just rode through. I loved this and Dave hated it. It is NOT ideal for a long-legged gazelle type runner. Xterra’s never really are, and you can never really see where you are in relation to the field. It was the first time in my life that BEING SHORT became advantageous. Multiple times on the bike and run, you had to dodge trees at head height. I giggled as I squeaked right under them and continued my ski racing habits around the turns. That brought the fun back to me and I really enjoyed the second 5k.

As always, the Canadians put on quite the event. We had to bust outta there as the race took longer than we thought and still arrived back in Helena at 11pm (about 7-8 hour drive). Originally we planned on Xterra Moab this weekend but that drive would’ve been 11 hours. It was another wonderful, sporadic adventure for us (always that way, as of late) and we came home with some sweet technical T’s and a few painful chaff marks as reminders of what we call fun. Hopefully we can talk some of you into joining us on our next one!

Wish we had more pictures, and no idea of the results but I’m guessing Dave finished top 10 overall in the men and probably fairly high, if not first, in his age-group. I finished 4 minutes after him in 3:08 and nary a woman in sight. All of the men I was bike/running with were very encouraging to me and throughout the ups and downs, I remembered my hard core friends all over the country racing this weekend and staying tough. In that sense, it was easy to finish with a smile.

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