On the day of my son Nico’s second birthday I was miles away getting ready for a 1:30pm race start at the ITU World Cross Champs at beautiful Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama. But it was time to focus because celebrating and eating the Thomas the Train cake would just have to be postponed one day! This race was also the Xterra Southeast Championship, one of the US Pro points series races, so a two in one race, with a fun change up in the time and format (multiple laps and elite men and women separate starts, the latter would be great to have every race!)
The heat and humidity weren’t bad at all, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Without the usual early morning start, it was a very relaxing race morning. It was exciting to have our very own race as the elite men started after the women at 4:00pm. It was also great having our Luna team mechanic, Chris at the race to get our Orbea 29er bikes working perfectly and to have a relaxing shady place under the Luna tent to chill out in beforehand.
After some formal introductions, we dove into my favorite kind of open water swim, a calm lake at 76 degrees, just right! For less than 30 women it was a really rough start but we finally settled in and I worked hard to get on some feet, and stayed on them until just near the end of the second lap. I exited the water in 13th position.
The bike course was three 10km loops and I knew it wasn’t a great course for me, almost entirely flat and constant cornering. My fitness has come a long way since Vegas but my power on the bike isn’t quite there yet. My back was sore by the end of the first lap from the constant accelerating out of corners but it was still a super fun course to ride, and mainly in the shade which was nice!
I went out onto the run in 11th position and had some serious catching to do!! As I left transition I heard Conrad’s voice over the loud speaker saying I would probably run through the field – hmmm, guess I better do that then, ha!! I was hot and I was cramping a bit at the end of the bike but tried to find a good rhythm right away. I caught Emma in the first lap, and halfway through the second lap came upon Renata, Shae, Brandi, and Michelle from Mexico. I got by them and kept up the pace knowing the finish wasn’t much more than a kilometer away. I came across the line in 6th place with the second fastest run behind Lesley’s, the race winner. Not the overall result I’d wanted but I’m still confident in my fitness and looking forward to improving over the next few months of racing as summer finally comes to Calgary!
Here are the results for the top 10 women:
|3.||Carla van Huysteen||RSA||02:28:34|
Over the weekend I was back for the third time at a wonderful homestay, at Jerry and Kathy’s house. They opened their large home to seven of us for the weekend including my Coach Cal (who unfortunately didn’t make it far into the bike portion of his race before flying into a tree and injuring his shoulder bad enough that he had to stop, big bummer!), and Brandi Heisterman, another Canadian racing in the Elite race. Brandi and I first met running track against each other at 12 years old. She is also a mom of two now so it was great fun catching up on each other and all the people we’ve known in common over the four days we were there!