Xterra West Championship Story

Well, the first race of 2013 is in the bag. It was hot, windy, and dusty but I focused on enjoying life in the in the desert for two days between leaving and returning to mid-April snow storms in Calgary, gheesh!

l-r: Melanie McQuaid, Suzie Snyder, Lesley Paterson, Shonny Valandingham, Me

l-r: Melanie McQuaid, Suzie Snyder, Lesley Paterson, Shonny Valandingham, Me

The full-distance Xterra race went off at 10:30 am, a later start than usual. It was already heating up pretty good (the high reached over 90F (28C) by midday). Once my Orca Alpha wetsuit was on, to avoid boiling over I was happy to slip into the cool 57F water for a warm-up, while it was cold to the face at first, once swimming a bit it was perfect. Once the Pro wave was away and swimming I was happy to find myself still with a pack of swimmers and getting some draft by 400m in, woohoo. I stayed with my small pack. After the second buoy in the one lap swim we headed back to the start against a headwind and bit of a chop. I unfortunately lost my pack and was back about 25 seconds by the finish. I kept stroking hard and had a good swim time relative to the competition for me in the end.

Once on the bike I was feeling better than I thought I would for getting the winter cobwebs and the first sensations of race pace pain out of the way. I focused on climbing smooth and steady and was having fun on the descents. My Maxxis Ikon tires were perfect for the loose rocky descents, and my Luna team Orbea Alma 29er bike was feeling light on the climbs. I also absolutely love our new Shimano XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur. (It has a one-way friction clutch that only engages when the derailleur’s cage moves forward, which typically (and frequently) happens when the bike rolls over rough terrain like on this Vegas course. It practically eliminates slap and, because it keeps the chain under tension, it also limits the chance of a chain dropping off the chain rings!) Other than the fact the wind was getting crazy and came close to blowing us off course on the open moonscape. I made up a few spots by the end of the bike as started the run in 5th place.

Unfortunately, I also started the run thirsty in the heat, unusual for me and not a great sign! With a good swim, and a pretty decent bike for me on this repeat course, the run is what was the most disappointing. It was definitely a real struggle in the full hot sun. With virtually no flat running, and steep ups and downs, I did not feel like I was moving fast at all, and my coordination was not good for descending. I almost fell flat on my face a few times but saved it! In the end I came within a minute of catching 4th place Mel McQuaid but it wasn’t enough. Lesley Paterson’s fitness is on another planet right now and she finished 4th overall and destroyed the women’s field with a 12 minute lead on 2nd place, my LUNA teammate, Suzie Synder, followed by Shonny Vanlandingham in 3rd. But overall, I am satisfied given the month of crazy travel I’ve had with work and team commitments coming into this race. It was a solid start and I’m looking forward to building fitness and form (with more outdoor training time if spring ever arrives here at home!) with over 6 months of racing still to come, woohoo!

Thanks to our Luna team mechanic, Christ Mathis for supporting the Luna team this weekend!!


And big congrats to the other moms in the Pro Division, Kelley Cullen (6th place, mom of two, youngest just 10 months old), Emma Garrard (7th place and mom of 4 month old Torin), Brandi Heisterman (11th place, mom of two), Caroline Colonna (12th place, mom of two)!!

Next up: Policeman’s half marathon here at home on April 28th

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