Saturday, June 27, 2009

Butterflies and 7 Cats

Summer is here, which means rides and runs on Mt. Lemmon! Once again, this year we are doing the Easy Peasy Lemmon Squeezy Ride that I put together for the Tri Girls. Our first ride was last weekend, and we climbed up to Molino Basin. We had 14 riders attend the first EPLS ride of the season. The first ride is always the most popular. Perhaps because we climb to mile 5.7 and turn around? ;)

Most of the group at the bottom after finishing the ride up to Molino and back:

Yesterday, Zac and I decided to do a little trail run on the Butterfly Trail. I had heard reports that it had been cleaned up. Last summer I didn't get very far in my run before turning around because the bench of the trail was gone and had fallen off the side of the mountain. There were also a ton of logs down and a lot of deadfall. Zac joined me on the run, and this time the trail was in much better shape. The debris had been cleaned away, and a new bench had been cut in spots. There were a lot of hikers on the trail, so the traffic will probably help bed it in. I ran for 35 minutes before turning around. The thing that sucks about this trail is that it's all downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back. So going back up was pretty slow. Zac had turned around at the 30 minute mark, and on the way back narrowly missed stepping on a rattlesnake. He said that was the fastest 20 yard dash he had ever done! I had also saw a snake on the out portion of the run, as he was coiled up and sleeping on the trail. As soon as I stopped he turned around and flew into the bushes.

I caught up to Zac and we finished up with a cool-down walk. Both of us were drenched from the humidity, even though it was only 68 degrees out. I covered a little over 4 miles on my run in 1.5 hours. It's a very technical trail, so average speeds for me go way up. After the run we visited Fleet Feet to pick up Zac an official pair of trail running shoes. He seems to enjoy the trail running more, so we figured we should probably outfit him with the proper shoes.

Our feet after the ride. You'd think we had run in sandals with how dirty our toes got, but that's how much dirt ended up inside our shoes!

Today was the second Easy Peasy Lemmon Squeezy ride, with the destination being the 7 Cataracts Vista (7 Cats) at Mile 9. We rolled out at 6 AM and had a total of 11 riders show up. Not bad for the 2nd ride! It's a very social ride, so I climbed up most of the way with Johnny until he turned in at Molino Basin for a quick restroom and snack break. My goal was to see if I could get to Mile 9 before he caught me. As I hit the descent around a corner and started to climb out with a quarter of a mile left, I could see him coming down the hill. I pedaled hard, but he caught up just before the Mile 9 marker. Nevermind that he's on a singlespeed too!

The gang hung out at 7 Cats for a bit before heading back down the hill. Overall a great morning to be on a bike on the hill.

Most of the group at 7 Cats (photo courtesy of Johnny):

MBAA Flagstaff Finale

The final MBAA state championship mountain bike race was held on 6/13/09 up in Flagstaff. Three race weekends in a row at elevation...what fun! Zac was in Greece on travel for work, so I loaded up the RV and hit the races solo.

I had no idea how far we were riding, so when I picked up my packet I asked around. First I heard 17 miles, then 19 miles, then 24 miles. I decided to stop asking around. I found Krista and Erik and waited around for my wave to start. They had changed the start times around. I normally start at 8:47 AM, but was now starting at close to 11 AM. At least this gave me more time to sleep and get ready.

I filled my Camelbak, carried a water bottle, and put a bunch of nutrition bars in my pack. I was not going to get stuck out in the middle of the forest with no food. Finally it was time for my start, and my group took off. I was going into this race pretty easy, mostly there just to ride and not really "race." I spoke to another girl that said she did triathlons, and then mentioned XTERRA. I told her I did XTERRAs too, and found out she was Laura Kelly from Sedona. We had wondered who each other were since we had seen the names in the results so much. Nice to finally put a face to the name.

The first part of the course was a dirt road, and then we hit a rocky, technical descent that was a ton of fun. Then we started the climb of death. We were on a fireroad that seemed to climb forever. I caught up to a guy in the rock crusher class and he said that yes, the course was 24 miles long. But he didn't know how long the climb was.

I felt like I was climbing Mt. Lemmon all over again. The climb finally ended 6 miles later. We hit a section of singletrack called "the catwalk" because the trail was very skinny and exposed to impeding doom on the other side. At least the views were nice. I snapped a few pics with my camera phone (lets you know how hard I was "racing").

View from "The Top":

Where the singletrack starts:

The Catwalk:

View from The Catwalk:

The Catwalk was a nice little descent that led into the shaded forest and a big boulder area called Hobbit Forest. I had enough time to ask the locals that were on the trails where I was, which is how I found out all these wacky names. It was quite technical, and in some spots my cranks would not clear between some of the boulders. Much hike-a-bike was to be had. After that section was a really long downhill singletrack. I took it easy on some of the rollers since I had never been on this trail, and in some spots I couldn't see what was waiting on the other side.

The trail then opened up into a nice, green, grassy field. I could see the back of the San Francisco Peaks at this point, and yet another climb started. After that my mind is a blur of climbing, hiking, more climbing, and exhaustion. I just wanted to get to the part where the Cat 2 course intersected the Cat 3 beginner course, because I figured that part would be easier. In my high elevation hallucinations, I saw trees and rocks covered in googly eye stickers in one section of the trail. No clue if it was real though.

When I got to the beginner course, I was wasted and tired. The volunteers kept asking if I was the last racer, and I was pretty sure I was. The first part was a nice little downhill that led to the pavement. I followed the arrows all the way to where the pavement ended and began to climb up a rocky dirt road when a volunteer got out of his car. He thought the race was over and was heading back, but was nice enough to give me directions to make a left turn and a right. Well the left turn was onto some crazy rocky singletrack on a steep climb. This was the beginner course?!? More hike-a-bike. That lasted what seemed like forever before I finally hit the dirt road and crossed back onto the out & back section that we rode at the beginning of the race. I hardly recognized the rocky, technical downhill we had done earlier. All I knew was that I was out of water, I was crazy tired, and I wanted to be done. I hiked up to the top and finally hit the dirt road leading to the finish.

Throughout the ride I had visions of the timing mats being gone, the venue being packed up, and my RV being the only car left in the parking lot. As I approached the finish I saw people were still there and the timing mats were still out. Krista and Lynelle had even stayed around and they were waiting for me at the finish. I crossed the finish mat and immediately got off my bike. 24 miles and 4.5 hours of riding, with 4800 ft of ascent. Joy. But, this race was worth 1.5X more points, so it was a good thing I showed up and finished because I got 5th place in my age group overall for the series! I got a really cool medal and a nice little backpack bag as schwag.

Photos courtesy of Lynelle.

Krista and I after I finished the Race Course of Death:

On the box for 5th place!

So that is the end of the MBAA mountain bike series for this year. Zac and I are planning to race again next year, along with Krista, Erik, and Liane.

Deuces Wild and 4 Corners XTERRAs

Deuces Wild XTERRA - 5/31/09

Yep, both of these reports are super late, mostly because the races were very disappointing and I don't like recounting bad races. So I'm going to keep this short because they are holding up my blog.

The weekend of the race in Show Low was very wet. It would be sunny in the morning, then rain in the afternoon. This does not make for very good trails, especially because the mud in the White Mountains is like peanut butter.

My swim went pretty well. My swims in Show Low are always much longer time-wise because the elevation really gets to me, but this year I took another 2 minutes off of my time, coming out of the 800 yard swim in 17:39. I hit the bike and was hoping for a better time from all the mountain bike races we had done. Didn't happen. The course was crazy muddy, and my bike tires were suddenly two huge chocolate donuts with rock sprinkles. There was much hike-a-bike, and I kept having to pick the bike up and drop it to remove rocks that would get stuck in the frame and freeze my rear wheel. The purple cinder road was the only good part, because that allowed most of the mud to spin off. I came into transition 8 minutes slower than last year's time. I was not happy.

On the run I tried to push myself because I really wanted to be in the 12 minute mile average range. I finished the run in 1:03:12, which was an improvement over last year of 9 minutes. I finished in 3:12:05, with an improvement of 11 minutes over last year, but missed 3rd place by 4 minutes. I was really hoping to break 3 hours, and adding 8 minutes on the bike totally screwed that up. Oh year.

Since we didn't pre-ride the course, I don't have any pics of the course this year. And Zac was doing a relay with Shari, so he was unavailable for his usual photography duties. Liane's race report is here, and Nate got some great pics of the race and of Zac and Shari.

My bike after the race. It was clean before this. Like I said, much of the mud on the tires was flung off on the cinder road. Our shoes took awhile to clean.

Four Corners XTERRA - 6/6/09
Ok, if I was disappointed at Deuces, 4 Corners made me realize what a disaster truly is. We really don't know how far the distances were. The swim distance kept changing...originally it was 1400 meters, then 1800 meters, then 1500 yards. Based on my swim time, I'm pretty sure they had left it at 1800 meters. Everyone I talked to agreed based on their swim times. I finished the swim in 34:05.

This is the crazy swim-run-bike XTERRA, so my transition ws 1:49 which included removing and bagging my wetsuit. I wanted to do better on the run because last year I walked a lot of the uphills. Well, this year I ran the whole thing AND ONLY WENT 1 MINUTE FASTER. What a distaster. I had heard that it was half a mile longer, and they did re-route the last part and made it more technical, so I guess comparing it to last year is next to impossible to do. But I still do it anyways. I got into transition just in front of another girl in my age group, and with my T2 of 1:54 I left before she did. But she quickly passed me.

I had fried my legs on the run so there was no gas left for the bike and the climbing. Oh, and they increased the bike by 2 miles. I had finished last year's race in 3.5 hours, so I'm not sure why they increased all the distances. Oh, and this year they said there would be a total course cutoff time of 4.5 hours. I finished in 3:53:44. For some reason, a ton of crazy fast freaky people showed up this year, so I was 8th in my age group.

This closed out a very disappointing XTERRA season. I've decided not to go to the national champoinships in Ogden. I'm currently 1st in points in my age group, so I will definitely qualify, but I don't feel like going after this round of races. I'd rather stay home and re-group and do some other events.

Liane and I setting up T2 (run to bike) first:
The T1 setup (swim to run):
I'm the one with the red X out front. The crazy XTERRA beach run between swim laps:

Done with the swim!

Heading into T1 with my wetsuit already halfway off:

Starting the run:

Finishing up the tech section of the run:
Coming into T2 ahead of the pink girl:
Out on the bike:
Finally done with the bike!

Don't forget to check out Liane's race report from the same race.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

XTERRA Del Valle

XTERRA Del Valle - 5/10/09

At the start of this season, XTERRA announced that they were going to use the best of 4 races to score us in standings. I wanted to get the invite to the XTERRA national championships (in Ogden, UT this year) so I added XTERRA Del Valle to the calendar as my 4th race (even though it was 2nd in schedule order). AFTER I got home from this race, XTERRA sent an e-mail stating something along the lines of "due to the economy, 4 races is turning out to be a bigger pain in the ass than we thought so we made a rule change and will now be counting only 3 races." (I'm paraphrasing and adding my own interpretation). Great! Glad this decision was made well into the season and all.

Lake Del Valle is just south of Livermore, CA (in the San Jose area). So yes, it was quite the drive. But, it was at 2,000 some feet in elevation. Finally...a race not at crazy elevation! My hopes increased going into this race. At packet pick-up I also found out there were only 4 in my age group, so I just had to beat one person to place. I had my goal all set.

The swim was 2 laps of a 600 meter course with a beach run in between. What is it with the beach runs in XTERRA? It was a mass start, with the full-course people leaving first, then the short course racers would leave second. My goal was not to get caught by the second wave. My first lap went well, although quite a bit crowded. I came out of the water at exactly 12 minutes, ran down the beach (Zac said I passed quite a few people here) and dove in for the 2nd lap. The 2nd lap was a bit more bearable as far as traffic went, and I got out of the water in 25 minutes.

To get to the transition area, we had to run across a huge field. I decided beforehand I was NOT running a significant distance in my wetsuit. I ran up the beach and stopped at a picnic bench that was right on the course and removed my wetsuit. Then I ran across the damp grassy field to transition. Everyone else was still wearing their wetsuits. I threw my suit down, got my bike gear on, and ran out. Zac said I passed a huge group of people in transition because of this. According to my watch, it took me 3 min 28 seconds to transition (thanks to the crazy long run).

I hit the bike course, and Zac and I had pre-ridden much of it the day before. This was by far the most surprising course. XTERRA prides itself on insane bike courses and run courses. This course had a few sections of singletrack, but was mostly Jeep and gravel roads. I could have done it on my cyclocross bike! What the bike course didn't have in technical features, it made up in hills. OH my gosh we were climbing the entire time! And what made it worse was that you had to keep speed in check on the downhills from the loose gravel to keep from binning it in the corners.

I caught 1 girl in my age group on one of the first uphill climbs. She was walking, so I decided to redline it and rode up the hill to pass her. Another girl in my age group passed me at the half way point, and I didn't see her again. The frustrating part was the layout of the bike course. It was 2 loops, kind of shaped like a paper clip with an outer loop, and an inner loop with areas we crossed twice. Unlike some races, there was no one to mark our numbers to tell who did a first loop and who did a second. I'm pretty sure some didn't do their second loop. There were also people that got completely lost out there, and with the short course people sharing the same bike course in spots, it didn't make it any easier. All I know is, I did the entire course as it was laid out.

Some of the uphills were so steep I had to get off and walk. And unfortunately they were on sections of the loops that we did twice. So I got to look forward to walking those sections twice. Yay! We climbed and climbed and climbed far above the lake. Transition was down by the lake, so I was so happy when we turned to head down to the lake. By this time I caught 2 women that were very "recreational" in the way they were riding. One was in my age group as I passed by, and I was sure she was on her first loop. But she followed me after the turnoff on the second loop! My legs were fried, but even at that slow pace I dusted her on the remainder of the course. This is where marking our numberplates would have been handy.

Right when I though I was going to turn into transition, I was told by a volunteer to climb up a hill and go through a gate. Noooo! Not more climbing! Sure enough, we climbed yet another mountain to a water tank, and came back down. Zac said a lot of people stopped there and stared because they couldn't fathom the thought of climbing more. I could relate to that. I wanted to cry. Overall it was 17.63 miles with 4,800 ft of ascent! (From my Garmin's data). That's like climbing Mt. Lemmon on my mountain bike. Overall this was a roadie bike course. I was not a fan.

I got out of transition to the run ahead of the second girl I had passed on the bike. My goal for the run course was to RUN and not walk the majority of the course like I had in Vegas. The trail started out well with nice singletrack. That is, until we crossed under a bridge and turned into a river. We had to run down the river forever. It was a significant distance, but unfortunately I didn't have my Garmin on. We were supposed to follow flags tied to tree branches, but in some spots it was hard to tell where they were. I finally found a makeshift trail made by eariler racers on a bank and ran on that rather than in the river like the girl in front of me was doing. I finally came up on a long XTERRA ribbon across the stream and figured that meant we were supposed to get out. I scrambled over more boulders and found the exit onto a singletrack trail. All the river running did was fill my shoes with wet rocks.

We ran up a paved hill in the campground, and a volunteer at an aid station told us to run up a singletrack trail going up the side of a mountain. I headed up that trail. Not long after 2 racers came down saying they hadn't seen any markers for a long time. One woman was in the 50+ age group and said she had gone "all the way" and didn't see anything. They were heading down. I breifly stopped to look for markers, but decided the race directors probably thought the singletrack was obvious for us to stay on. I hadn't seen any other trails and this was the trail the volunteer told us to run. Triathletes loose their brains as soon as they hit the water, so I figured I would keep going.

Not long after, the girl I had passed on the later section of the bike passed me with another woman. We were now hiking a steep section, so steep I had to use my hands for part of it. Another woman came up and said this was the right way, and the aid station was just at the top. Sure enough it was, and we hit a dirt road with more climbing. We were now way above the lake and had just climbed a mountain.

We finally hit a downhill section, and now all the rocks in my shoes had moved to the toe part of my shoes. So as I ran downhill my toes smashed into the rocks with each step. BANG! BANG! BANG! It hurt so bad, but I didn't want to stop on the downhill. Once the trail flattened out I dumped some of the rocks, but it was impossible to get them all out. I followed a lady and some guy, as we came back down to the campground. At this point there was a volunteer, and I asked how far we had to go. "Just one more mile" she said. I took note of the time on my watch and kept going, happy we had just another mile.

Well, that person didn't know what they were talking about, because it wasn't another mile but OVER 2 MORE MILES! I wanted to go back and shake that person and yell "If you don't know, don't make crap up!" Sometimes it's all a racer has to cling to knowing they just have to suffer 1 more mile, and when it's over double that it's unbearable. We climbed another mountain and were now on the OTHER side of the lake. We descended down and ran through the day use picnic area. People were grilling and partying and having a wonderful time, and here I was trapped on the wrong side of the lake, now knowing it was much longer than a mile to get back. After all the hills on the bike and climbing 2 mountains on the run, I was DONE and wanted it over. I crossed the river again and headed up the same trail we came out on. There was no one around me. Was I the last one out there? I hit a bridge and Zac was there, and I just had a short run across the field before I hit the finish line. They were already giving out awards when I finished.

I collapsed on a picnic bench, got some food, and waited for the results. Many people had gotten lost or turned around on the course. But when I picked up my printed slip of paper with the results, it said 3 out of 4. I had met my goal! I picked up an etched glass as a 3rd place trophy.

Oh, and it had been 30 minutes later after the volunteer told me "1 more mile" that I finished. So it was well over 2 miles!

The beach run between swim laps:

Starting to remove my wetsuit on the long trip to T1:

Wetsuit off and cruising into T1. You can see how far the lake is in the distance.

The start of the bike course:

Some of the singletrack. At least the scenery was better than the weekend before at the Vegas XTERRA. (Photo taken the day before during the pre-ride):

Finishing up the bike course:

The last bridge crossing on the run:

XTERRA West Cup - Lake Las Vegas

XTERRA West Cup Lake Las Vegas – 5/2/09

I am VERY late in getting race reports done. The XTERRA west races are all back-to-back, so it’s been nothing but packing, racing, unpacking, training, and packing again for the past month. I am finally getting caught up while on vacation.

The XTERRA West Cup regional championship at Lake Las Vegas was a new race for this year. I figured it was worth trying since it was in Las Vegas, and the drive wouldn’t be too terrible. Zac and I arrived in Vegas on Thursday and met up with Nate and Liane. I had rented a condo off of in Henderson, which worked out well as it was just a mile or so from the race. On Saturday, Zac headed out for some downhill riding at Bootleg canyon, Nate went to Boulder City, and Liane and I headed to the mountain bike course to pre-ride it. The pre-ride didn’t last long. The bike course was on an open lot of what will be Phase 3 of future condos. There really wasn’t a “trail” to follow, more like arrows in random dirt areas. There was a lot of climbing, and I was pretty sure the “mountains” we were riding were the fill dirt that was excavated to make Lake Las Vegas.

We saw a gnarly downhill that people were walking, and decided to at least ride up to that part. Of course, that meant climbing the evil climb leading to it. Absolutely no one ever cleaned the climb. It took forever to push the bike up the slope before getting a little bit of downhill and then climbing again. We reached the downhill and I started down it on the right side, only to find out in the middle that that was the wrong line and we should be way left. It was a very steep scree slope covered in loose sand and rocks, and the only way down was to ride the rear brake all the way down with your butt off the saddle and over the rear wheel. There was going to be carnage there the next day.

We ended our pre-ride, figuring it was going to be more of the same stuff. Besides, it would be a surprise for race day. Liane and I headed back to the condo and the pool area, and watched people riding and running the course across the street. Hmm…the runners seemed to be climbing up the mountain awfully high.

The next day, a storm blew in causing the lake to get very choppy. XTERRA actually had to change the buoys at the last minute. We started at the Lowes hotel and swam out of the protected cove, under a bridge, and out into Lake Las Vegas. I quickly figured out they only had 3 buoys out and didn’t have any of the intermediate basketball-looking buoys in between. After the first turn, I couldn’t even see the next buoy. So instead I just followed the bobbing heads in front of me, hoping that many people couldn’t get lost. After the second turn, things got bad. We were going against the chop and it was very rough and wavy out there. I was SO glad I had done the La Jolla rough water swim back in September, so I had already been used to waves while swimming. Thank goodness this wasn’t ocean water. I was now in the thick of the men’s wave, and the guys weren’t looking too good. I just told myself to get to the next buoy and then I would turn and head to shore. I tried timing my sighting with the waves, but unlike ocean waves, wind chop waves on a lake are a little less predictable. A couple of times I was able to get down under the wave and let it go over me, while other times my head was falling and slamming into the trough several inches below.

I reached the third buoy, which was a zoo, and headed in to the swim beach. There was nothing but guys all around me, and they had a head start! I was hoping for under 30 minutes for my swim, but given all of the chop I figured that was out the window. I got to the beach, stood up, and hit my lap button to see 29 minutes. I’ll take it! I ran up the beach that had dead grass everywhere. Our transition area was in a dirt lot, and I had decided to take my suit off in the grass before getting to the dirt to keep my wetsuit from filling with mud. As luck would have it, I spotted a huge rock in the grass off to the side. It was exactly bench height, so I sat on it and stripped my suit. Apparently the announcer girl was right there because she could easily see my number, had enough time to look up my name and where I was from, and could read my Tucson Tri Girls jersey (I heard all of this while I took the suit off). I ran up to the transition mat and got to my bike rack. There were a ton of bikes in transition still! I got my gear on and ran with my bike out to start the course. I subtracted out my wetsuit time (took 45 seconds to remove my new sleeved wetsuit) so overall swim was a little over 30 minutes with a 2 minute transition.

The bike course was 2 loops of the world’s ugliest bike course. No views to take your mind off the pain you are going through or anything. It was very much like riding in an open pit mine or on Mars. Building condos is probably the best use of the land there. I started out in a group of people and climbed as much as I could of the first climb before dismounting and running the bike. From the pre-ride the day before, I learned it was better to dismount and run than redline the heartrate trying to ride the entire first hill. There would be many more hills and we still had 18 miles of riding to go. I did most of my passing on the rocky downhills where people were having trouble in the technical areas. Then it was time for the evil climb. I made it a few feet up before dismounting and joining the parade of hikers up the hill. The hill was getting worse from everyone hiking up it, and I dreaded to think of what it was going to look like on the second lap. I got to the top and started riding and rode the downhill before the second uphill and the next dismount to hike-a-bike. It was at this point the pro men passed me. I was surprised to see a different guy out front than Conrad, but Conrad was on the guy’s heels.

I rode the sketchy descent down to the aid station, skipped the water, and climbed up to the top of the nasty downhill. Lots of people were getting off, but I was determined to ride it. I shifted up to keep my chain from falling off, got off the saddle and over the rear wheel with my seat in my chest, and started the descent. I had to stay completely off of the front brake, because that would have led to disaster. I feathered the rear brake as I went down the hill, and unfortunately the front brake has most of the braking power so I had to go faster than my personal safety limit. It was one of those times where you have to commit to your speed and line because bailing would hurt worse. I basically skied the bike down the hill with the rear wheel sliding everywhere. It took all of my technical ability to get down, but by the end I could let go of the brakes and carry the momentum on the flat part. I passed a ton of people by riding the hill while they walked.

I flew through the next section, which was all new since we didn’t pre-ride it. It was mostly rolling hills, and we made a sharp left turn down a hill and into a wash. The wash was very similar to the wash in Starr Pass with deep gravel and rocks everywhere, except we had to stop in the middle to cross over a drainage pipe. Then more climbing and flats before another dismount and hike-a-bike. It was a rutted boulder garden, and unless you are a world-class trials rider, you were hiking across (all of the pros hiked here too). Finally we reached a really fun singletrack trail along the lake, which lasted all of about 2 miles. This is where the pro women caught me, and they were all very nice and encouraging as they went by. I got back to transition, got my numberplate marked, and headed out on the second loop.

By this time the wind had died down, the lake was FLAT, and the temperature was over 90 degrees. All of the hills felt twice as tall as the first loop. The evil climb felt like forever and I almost felt like I couldn’t push my bike any further. It was nothing but climb a few steps, push the bike, climb a few steps, push the bike. No trees, no shade, nothing but heat and sun and rocks and dirt. On the flat section after the aid station, a girl in my age group passed me. I stayed with her up the climb to the top of the gnarly descent. She got off and started walking. My legs were shaky and at this point I didn’t know if I’d have enough strength to ride down the technical descent. People don’t realize that riding a technical downhill takes a lot of strength to keep from crashing. But I knew riding would be much faster. I passed a guy at the top and started my way down the scree slope. My rear tire dug in hard as I slid down the hill, steering where I could and trying to avoid the drop-offs on either side. I got to the bottom where I could finally let go of the brakes, and that is where the girl in my age group was walking. I flew past and kept riding, allowing the bike to dance over the rocks and ruts. Thank goodness for full suspension! I powered through the wash, finished up the rest of the climbs and the hike-a-bike through the boulder field. There was one last climb before the lake singletrack, and I felt the last of the strength leave my legs. I hit transition and knew the run was going to be ugly.

I got on my run gear and started out on the course, which was very similar to the bike course. The temperature had climbed even more. Even though I’m from Tucson, it still takes a few days of high heat for me to get used to it, and this was my first workout in hot weather. I tried to run but my legs had nothing left. We climbed up the side of a mountain, descended for a short amount before climbing the out & back to the aid station. Each time I tried to run I got nauseous, so I decided the best I could do was walk to keep moving forward. I got to the aid station and slowly trotted down the hill. As I started the climb up the steepest climb on the run course, I could see people crossing the desert below me. This was insane. This is exactly what you are not supposed to do in the desert. I made it back to transition for my second lap, and took a short rest break at the port-o-potties and the aid station before heading out. I actually sat down on the Gatorade container to remove both shoes and dump all of the rocks and dirt out. There was no way I was going another 5K with that much junk in there.

By the second loop I had stopped sweating, and I was getting chills. I had no craving to drink anymore. These are all BAD signs! I knew I needed to force water down, and it worked if I sipped the water like a drinking fountain. The nausea was bad but I had to keep walking forward, even if it was just a walk. Thankfully the aid station at the out & back still had water and ice. There was a biker there who decided he wasn’t going to finish the bike course or the race at this point. I grabbed ice to put in my hat and sipped on the water that I could. The last climb just about killed me. I tried to run the downhill, but my stomach threatened to toss the Shot Blocks and water out, so it was back to walking. Oh, and while I was out on the run course, I heard all sorts of interesting phrases. One young guy was a few minutes in front of me, and on one of the out & backs he kept saying “I’ve never had to walk in a race!” Another comment was a volunteer to one of the racers: “If it was easy, they’d call it Ironman.”

I finished up the run course and hit the finish to find an empty finish area. At least Zac and Nate were still there. I grabbed some random food and a Gatorade bottle and proceeded to the nearest shade tree to collapse. I had been out there over 5 hours, well over my expected finish time. Zac had heard the interviews of the pro winners and said Conrad had to hike his bike several times on the bike course, and Melanie said this was the hardest XTERRA course ever, even above the world championship Maui course. So even though I had finished, I was still disappointed, mostly because I had worked on my running all winter and ended up walking much of the course. That’s probably also why it took so long to write this race report, because I hate writing about races that go wrong.

Zac and Nate, our sherpas:
Me and Liane after setting up transition:
The start of the women's swim wave:

Me getting out of the lake. Note all the guys getting out too!
Wetsuit combat:The reason I removed my wetsuit earlier...all the dirt in transition:
Exiting T1 and heading out on the bike course:
One of the few areas of green on the bike course (down by the lake):

Starting lap 2 of the bike:
Yes, it was hard not to get distracted by the picturesque views:
Finally off the bike and heading into T2:
Starting the dreaded run in the heat:Yep, that's the run course. Following random arrows in the dirt:

Not a fun run at all: