Despite staying healthy, getting in some great training in the past five weeks, and enjoying the taper countdown to the Xterra finale in Maui, somehow it all went wrong after the gun went off on Sunday morning for the World Championship race…
After a distracting and painful jellyfish sting to one of my fingers in the warm-up swim, I managed to stay focused, calm and determined as we neared go time. The surf was rolling in pretty big on and off but when the Pros started, we lucked out with a few calmer sets and getting in and off wasn’t too bad. I managed to draft for a while and then found myself to the right of everybody but hooked up with a few blue and pink caps as we arrived at the first buoy right on target. I also lined up for the beach well for the first run out in the “M” shaped swim and was happy that I was at least swimming relatively straight through the side wave swells and stronger current further out. Going out to the second buoy became a bit more chaotic and some green caps who had overshot the first run out were swimming straight at us! Finally I was rounding the last buoy and heading for shore. That’s when I got my second jellyfish sting on the chin. As I neared shore and was looking forward to getting on my feet again I got pummeled by a massive wave. My body went into a full on scorpion which my inflexible back did not like at all! Both of my calves massively cramped right up into balls – oweee! When I finally figured out which way was up and down again I clamoured out of the waves and tried to get running as fast as I could to my bike up the long uphill grass climb to transition.
As I peeled off my swim skin in transition heaps of sand dropped to the ground, ugh! Even though we had wave starts this year, (two minute gaps between Pros, amateur men, then amateur women), I still had plenty of traffic to contend with for the first 4 miles of the bike. The narrower trail extended longer this year, and although it was relatively wide, the deeper sand on the sides made passing really difficult, I think Xterra has burst the seams by trying to manage 700 peeps on course at once! It was hard to find my rhythm and I was just feeling flat and on the verge of cramping most of the way. Since I wasn’t feeling my usual power on the uphills, I focused on enjoying the downhills and ripping as fast as I was comfortable. On one of the first longer open downhills I was sad to see my Luna teammate Suzie walking with her bike, front wheel tacoed and tube completely off.
I came off the bike in a tight pack with Brandi, Mel, and Magali. I started the run with Magali and thought all I need to do is stay with her to salvage a decent result. I started with her and but once we hit the steeper grass I was fading. The run felt like a bad dream where I wanted to pick it up but just couldn’t. I tried to respond to every pass that went by me but never lasted long, and finally limped across the line in 12th. A physio friend has since explained to me that my scorpion back compression in the swim likely caused a “neurological injury” to my legs explaining the lack of power and cramping feelings I had – especially by the time I was running uphill on the run – ugh! Three days out it is still super painful to walk around due to sore calves.
But enough of my lamenting. Even though we had to evacuate our condo for a few hours the night before due to the tsunami warning, luckily the wave didn’t amount to anything. Race day was a beautiful day, and not too hot. The 70.3’ers and ITU’ers came out and rocked it on the least technical course in Xterra for the men and women. Lesley Paterson crushed the field and handily won her second World Xterra Title. Barbara Riveros of Chile was second, Mari Rabie of South Africa in 3rd, Heather Jackson 4th, and Jacqui Slack, of Great Britain finished up 5th for the last podium spot.
I had an amazing support crew, with Chris and Waldek from team Luna, out to support myself and teammates, Suzie and Shonny. I’m so lucky to be part of such as amazing team! My parents, husband, kids, and brother were also out to enjoy some more summer, to hang out and cheer us on. Even though my last and most important race of the year was a serious disappointment, I’m happy with my overall season, and already looking forward to a luckier 2013!