Tuesday, October 07, 2008

2008 Xterra USA Championships - Race Report

Alternate blog title: Second Place is the First Loser

It's good to be back in WARM & SUNNY southern California!

First of all thanks to everybody for all the comments and good vibes. The race on Sunday was hands down the best I have been able to put together up in Tahoe over the last 3 seasons. While I'll still feel I didn't race up to my potential I did a much better job of managing the cold and dealing with altitude. I put myself in a position to be competitive and I am stoked about that.

Here's the report (i'll keep it short):

I was up early at the hotel for coffee and my pre-race meal. I have my race day nutrition so dialed in that it really takes no thought. I checked the weather and it was 33 degrees and clear with calm winds. I bundled up and my sister and I headed down to the race site nice and early.

staying warm in transition with some hot coffee

I got a good spot in transition, got body marked and was feeling very relaxed. I was staying warm (thanks to hand warmers) and staying loose. I chatted with Jim and Conrad for a bit and then started my warm up. Transition was packed so I didn't want to take my bike out for a warm up and have somebody jack up my spot so I did an extended run warm up. I ran an entire loop of the run course (3 miles) and this worked really well and got me nice and warm. After the warm up I headed down to the beach to get it on.

ready to go

The water was definitely cold (59) so I didn't do too much of warm up. Just enough so the water wouldn't shock me when the gun went off. Last year I totally blew up in the swim and then got butterfly kicked in the throat. I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. I struggle a lot swimming at altitude so I took the swim out conservatively and just wanted to stay comfortable. In retrospect I probably went to easy, but I didn't blow up and I knew, even though I was pretty far back, I was still in the race.

There is a long run to T1 (i think the run and t1 are counted in the swim time). I left my cycling jacket on the side of the path to t1. Right out of the water I pulled my wetsuit down, ran, grabbed my jacket, and put it on while running the rest of the way to transition. This was a good call. The rest of T1 was pretty slow though. My feet were completely numb so putting on my shoes was pretty tough, but I got it done and got on my bike... and most importantly I didn't forget anything this year!

heading out on the bike.

I knew I had a lot of work to do. So I got after it. I was feeling pretty good up the initial climb to the flume trail and was passing a lot of people. Once on the flume I caught a pack of 3 riders and let them pull me for a bit. Then the pace seemed like it was slowing and there was no where to pass. Once off the flume I started to work hard again and pull away from the pack and continued to pass people on the climbs. I unknowingly moved into 1st place in my age group and was riding strong.

Then it was time for the technical single track descent and I was riding well. It was the best I have ridden that section and was having a blast but I did get caught at the bottom by a pro and a guy in my AG. I was able to keep them in site until the long fire road descent and they just rode away. I was in my biggest gear, hammering trying to stay in contact but it wasn't happening. I rode into T2 alone and feeling pretty good.

Another slow one. My feet were completely numb and I had a really hard time getting my shoes on.

heading out on the run.

I was feeling good heading out and even better after the first half mile. I reeled in a couple guys immediately and just kept pushing. I was running well but I didn't feel like I could get into my top gear. I was trying to push but the speed I have been seeing in training just wasn't there.

I also ended taking a gnarly digger on the second lap and quick wrong turn. This didn't cost me any places, just a couple of seconds.


swim: 30:57
bike: 1:47:44
run: 38:57

2nd AG
8th Amateur
29th Overall

Talking with Cody after the race. typical "see what had happened was" photo.

Talking shit to Jim after the race about who owes who beers... as usual.

Like I said before I am happy with the fact that I was actually competitive in this race. I handled the conditions better than ever before but I don't think I raced even close to my potential. So with that being said and now having a couple of days to think about it I am a little disappointed. I really feel like I could have won the AG National title. I got beat by just over a minute. I know I am faster than I showed on Sunday.

I am stoked for all my homies who had some killer races out there. Luke Jay took the 25-29 AG national title (3rd amateur overall) with Brian finishing just a couple of minutes behind him! Cody also had a solid race to finish 13th overall in a tough ass pro field. Jim came out of the ironman woodwork to get back to his roots and finished 16th overall. A lot of others had great races too but it would take too long to name them all now.

After the race we hung out for the award ceremony and had a couple of beers.

trying to warm-up at the awards BBQ.

getting some love from Xterra president Janet Clark

Podium. Second place is the first LOSER!

After the awards my sister and I headed back to the casino and I was finally able to take a hot shower and warm up. Then we hit the casino for some good times, good food, and some stiff drinks. We had a killer time and I actually won some $$$.

post race dinner: Huge burger and sweet potato fries.

Overall the trip was a good time and I am so stoked my sister was able to make the trip with me. I can't thank her enough for her support out there. She's a pro spectator for sure!

Beth also raced this weekend and put together another solid race after a pretty gnarly week of marathon training. With her finish she clinched the AG title for the San Diego Triathlon Series. I'm proud of my lil' monster.

I think that's it. Time for some recovery and then it's just a couple of short weeks until the big one!


Jim said...

Congrats again. And of course another WOW. Sights set on Maui.Your race, on your terms.

Luke said...

if you aint first your last!!

jk bro...good job!! it's brutal for us skinny guys to get through a cold event...when it heats up, baby it's on!!

Speedy Euroboy said...

You are SO fast, and SO sexy!

Congrats to the first loser!!!

Dan said...

Great job James. You trained unbelievably hard, kept with your plan, focused your mind on banishing the demons, and didn't make mistakes = Podium!

"first loser" - Callin BS here. if that's what it takes to keep you focused on winning in Maui, OK, but surely not the case.

On to Worlds!

FatDad said...

Reading this blog for the last year I've been blown away by the way you throw down. It's going to be perfect in Maui. Go get some!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the shout out. I will ride 18 hours in a car and freeze my a** off to watch you loose anytime ... especially when vanilla vodka and blackjack are part of the deal. Maybe not so much vodka next trip.

And don't worry, I have forgotten all about you saying you wanted to "rip out my larynx" for yelling your splits out to you. At least I refrained from yelling that you were 'getting chicked' --- btw, you forgot to mention that in your post.

Thanks again for letting me tag along. I had a blast and you did awesome. So bummed I can't be in Maui to watch you win. Even more bummed to not be watching you win in flip flops vs. Uggs and seven layers. Whomever invented hand warmers is my new favorite person.

Ryan Denner said...

dude... killer finish in cold temps and altitude. you are gonna destroy maui!!! congrats again...

emkruse said...

OK, so it looks like you beat me by more time than you did last year... and I didn't even see you on the course at all. seems like a pretty smokin' fast time if you ask me. guess that's what happens at altitude when you don't get kicked in the throat and forget your drinkage, eh? see you on the hot and humid island.

Maggs said...

Brrrr.... Great race in the cold. I'll be in Maui cheering (and drinking beer)

MarkyV said...

nice job dude. gotta big ass grin on my face. good work.

might see you guys soon.

your girlfriend kicks yer ass! :)

i think i hear some GS calling.

beth said...

and now its time for MAUI. i am so proud of you.

wow, that Marky V is a wise wise man!

runninggunner said...

Awesome race James!!!! Can't wait to see your results in a couple of weeks.

XTERRA 29er said...

Way to put together another great race! I was really pulling for you to win the amateur division; I guess you are just saving it for Maui.

kloz said...

congrats dude - looks like "blood, sweat and beers is the right combination" :-)

good luck in Maui - you have a good one in you!

peace out...

GZ said...

James - love to see the longer race report. Really.

In some regards, the outcome was perfect ... you are satisfied and disappointed. You improved greatly and are happy with that, but there is still business to take care of.

Nice work man. Way to live it

Matt Genovese said...

Nice work brother! Insane steps made this year I am stoked for you....

Cant wait to appreciate the pain you Xterra guys go through, next season!

Now lets drink some good beers and BBQ!

Todd Hatfield said...

Super solid job in Tahoe, my man!

Sean Crichton said...

Nice job out there --
but you are going to OWN Maui!!!!! Kill it, man. Its yours...

Jim said...

Great change in the header picture. In this case, a picture is worth a single word, FOCUS!