Monday, October 01, 2007

Xterra National Championships Race Report



it was a rough one...

I am sitting in the Reno airport with some time to kill so I thought i would knock this out. This will just be a race report (it's going to be a long one) and will post later in the week on what I learned from the race and where my head is at.

Here's the official report from the Xterra site: Xterra Nationals

I don't even know where to begin to tell the story of this race. There were some highs and a lot of lows, but I defintely took a lot from the race and will fuel my fire for my goal A race of the season, Xterra Worlds in a month. If you have been reading the blog the last couple of days you know weather was pretty gnarly so I don't need to go into that too much. I'll just start with race morning.

Pre-race:
I was up nice and early with a steaming hot cup of coffee and jumped on my computer to check out the weather. At 530am it was 27 degrees... killer! I had my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal and then put on a bunch of layers of clothing and Trevor and I headed down to transition (it was a half mile from the condo) about 730am.

I got a solid spot in transition and just tried to keep warm. I even used hand warmers. At about 830am I head down to the lake.

Swim: 1500m

The water was 58 degrees and I decided to wear a Zoot neoprene cap and Blue Seventy wetsuit socks to try to stay warm. I got in a nice warm-up and we had to exit the water for the pre-race briefing. I got pretty cold standing there but I am sure everyone else was in the same boat.

The canon fired and we were off and I was swimming with a pretty good pack. I probably started out a little to hard considering we were at 6500ft and I struggle swimming at altitude. As we approached the first buoy things were pretty typical and bunched up. As I was swimming around the buoy I took a heel kick from a guy doing butterfly right to the adam's apple. It choked me and swallowed a ton of water. I was already out of breath from the hard effort to the buoy so I was in a pretty bad predicament. I had to totally stop swimming and I just sat to the inside of everyone for a couple of minutes as I tried to catch my breath and cough up water. After I recovered I was on my way and basically just got through the swim and ran my way to T1.

T1:
My first transistion was a nightmare. My hands were numb and I was cold. I had decided to leave on the blue seventy socks for the bike in hopes they would keep my feet warmer than being barefoot, bad idea. I had such a hard time getting my wetsuit off my feet becuase it was getting hung up on the socks. Once out of my suit I threw on a long sleeve jersey and tried to put my shoes on. With frozen hands and feet putting on my shoes was a challenge for sure and it also took me quite a bit of time to buckle my helmet. I was in full-on panic mode because I was taking so long. Finally I was out of transition and on my bike.

Swim + T1: 35:25

bike: 24 miles

I was stoked to be on my bike and out of the water and t1. I was hammering down the road on my way to tunnel creek road. About a half mile down the road and realized that with me rushing in T1 I failed to put on my camelback. My camelback was filled with all my calories/electrolytes (NUUN + Carbopro) and my spare tube, air, and multitool. I was too far out to turn back and with everybody else exiting T1 I dont even know if I could get back in. So I just hammered away.

As soon as I got to the long climb that is Tunnel Creek road I started passing a lot people and was feeling really good on the bike, but knew I was really far back from being in contention. So I just really pushed it and was able ride a way from alot of people and didn't get passed on the climb at all. At the end of the climb is the first aid station and I needed water... bad. I only have one cage on my bike so I had to decided between gatorade endurance and water. I chose water becuase I knew I would not be ablt to stomach the gatorade and thought being hydrated was the most important thing.

I was having a good time, going fast on the flume and made my way through more people. I was pretty cold on the flume as it's all in the shade. So I just kept riding harder and harder to generate heat. At the end of the flume there is a small bridge and then a rocky, technical climb. I made it most of the way up the climb, but had to dismount right at the very end. So I was running my bike up the rocks when I hear someone yell, "Did you lose a shoe?" I didn't know who he was talking to so I kept running up the rocks and then he yelled again. I looked down at my feet and I had no shoe on my right foot. My feet were so numb that I was running without a shoe and didn't even know it. It's probably the funniest thing that has ever happened to me in race. The nice guy actually brought my shoe and I had to sit down trail side to squeeze my feet back into them.

After I got my shoe back on I headed into the second section of climbing and I was still feeling pretty strong. I continued to just ride by people, which I was stoked about because it's usually the other way around. At the top of the climb is the second and final aid station. I had only manage about 3/4 of the bottle of water and this time opted for gatorade because I was in severe need of some calories. As soon as I got the gatorade i took a drink and immediately knew it was going to be tough to drink... it was like syrup to me.

Then there is one more climb before you get to the super fun descent. I was starting to bonk on the climb. I guess pushing yourself to the max for 2 hours with very little water and no calories takes its toll... who knew. I was fading fast but made it to the top and then it was time to descend and I was stoked and had a blast riding the single track. Both sides of the trail were covered in snow which was killer. Definitely a new experience for me.

After the single track you hit a false flat and one more small climb before descending tunnel creek road. I was tapped. I had no power and my calves were cramping a bit. Once I got to tunnel creek road I just opened it up. Then it was back to road and tried to drink some more gatorade but it was making me sick. Before I knew it I was back in transition.

It was pretty discouraging as I entered T2 and I heard the announcer screaming that Conrad Stoltz was headed down the shoot for the win.... and I still had a 10k to run.

T2:
Another shitty transisiton. I had to take the blue seventy socks off and my long sleeve jersey. My feet were still numb so it took longer than usual to get my shoes on. I grabbed my visor and race belt and I was out.

bike + T2: 2:00:03

Run: 10k.
I was feeling like shit but I made a decision not to bag it, but the thought to just cruise and get through it crossed my mind. I grabbed some water at the first aid station as I was leaving transition and just tried to get my body going. I made my way through some guys pretty quickly and just focused on the trail and guys ahead of me. At the second aid station I grabbed a GU, but I was in such a deficit and so dehydrated I could feel it just sitting in my gut.

As I was finishing the first lap I heard them announce that Trevor was finishing. This was also pretty discouraging. While Trevor normally beats me he had just finished the race and I had still had 5k to go and I was getting worse off as time wore on.

The second lap was a full on gut check. mentally I wanted to be done and so did my body. I knew I was not in the race and I thought about Maui for a second and decided to just smash myself and finish. I just wanted to see how hard I could go in my depleted state. So I pushed on and kept passing people. My stomach was cramping and so were my calves and I was starting to feel a twinge in my quads. It got really bad with about 1k to go. I was getting really lightheaded and even missed a turn. I got back on track and finally got to the finish. I was seeing stars and just about collapased.

Run: 40:15

Overall: 3:15:437th AG
72nd Overall
Official results

I was out of it. I really didn't know what I was doing and just wanted to get off my feet. I was helped over to the med tent where I basically collapsed to all fours. I couldn't even talk, I was kind of blacking out, and dry heaving. Good times. I was in a bad place and was starting to get really cold. I couldn't even take in water. Everytime I would take a swig I would cough it back up. They laid me out in the sun to get me warm, raised my feet to get my blood flowing. All my friends were concerned and huddled around the tent making sure I was ok. After a while I got to my feet and headed out....

Here's a couple of photos from the the post race explosion. Thanks to Drew for the photos.







More later....

12 comments:

moonpie said...

Damn dude...how dissapointing it must have been for you. My suggestion: bag the cold weather events, since you just can't seem to tolerate them very well. It's not like you didn't do everything possible to prepare.

Second suggestion: I think I remember you having the same difficulties last year in this race with the swim at altitude. I can relate. Maybe you should train at altitude more often, or like first suggestion, just don't do these kinds of races that play to your limiters.

The good news is, you have a hell of a lot of heart for sticking it out, and now you know your limits. The rest of the good news is, you have a month to prep for the big show!

Good on ya for sticking it out, and rest up and get ready for Worlds!

erik said...

Tough break man...sounds like a rough experience, but at least now you've been through it and many things will seem easier. I think you need to chalk this up as a mistake on your part for nutrition. You've done most of the training now for Worlds. Just finish it up, plan your race, and race your plan. Good luck. I look forward to reading lots more from this blag.

Jim Vance said...

James,

Your race was derailed by bad luck, (kick), mental errors, (camelback, blue seventy socks), and lack of calories.

Your fitness was still good enough to have one of the better run splits in your age group and overall. Put this race behind you and stay focused on Maui, which could be EXTREMELY HOT!

Let me know if I can help.

Vance

Paul said...

Duuuude. What a crazy race! Cold weather races are tough. The med tent is no fun either. Big Up for sticking that one out. You're gonna love Maui with the heat :)

Rick "man of leisure" Vircavs said...

Great report and nice blog. You worked thru the day and finished hard. Take it to the bank and plan for better in Maui. PS, i did the forget your camelback in T1 in Maui last year. I feel your pain. Good luck in Maui.

Rick V.

Anonymous said...

Didn't do that bad considering all that inhaled water. Inhaling water can have seriously phyisiological complications, even in small amounts. Inhaled Water can collapse the alveoli, damage the lungs and cause pulmonary edema in the lungs causing reduced ability to exchange air.

jp said...

you showed some serious heart by gutting it out the way you did. 40 and change for 10K is still a very solid run split after all of your troubles and lack of proper nutrition.

It sounds like a learning experience, albeit a painful one. I recall that you had a tough time at Cali 70.3 due to the cold swim as well. Perhaps this is something to address with your coach, maybe some coping mechanisms to stay warmer in the water (double caps, face mask)and or maybe with race selection (though this was Nationals, hard to skip this one).

Good luck, I have no doubt you'll bounce back with a killer race at Worlds.

barndog said...

If there's one person that can overcome a bad race and come out even tougher, that's you man.

They'll be in your house come Worlds.

Benson said...

You are a stud for toughing this one out. Just bad luck and things out of your control spiked your race.
I hope you're warmed up now and recovering. Put this behind you and ROCK THE WORLDS.

Cindy Jo said...

I can't do well at a hot weather race no matter what, so I understand your frustration!

The hard fought battles are often the ones I'm most proud of, even though they don't usually yield the desired result. Tough races like yours offer the most in lessons learned and suffering earned.

Maui is gonna be a blast!!!

Rachel said...

Wow. I hope you're feeling better. With the horrendous cold and altitude, sounds like race conditions were more than just tough. I bet the cold played a part in making your brain fuzzy in forgetting the hydration. That's why they call it "brain freeze", right? This was a great race report and shows how much strength and grit it took to get through it. I bet you learned a ton. Congrats on sticking it though until the bitter end. You are going to come back next year and knock this one to the moon!

Cold SUCKS!!!

Fe-lady said...

Good effort in spite of some setbacks....live and learn. You are young and strong and have many years left to give the sport! Congrats!