Tuesday, June 13, 2017

XTERRA Muleshoe Race Report

Hey, did you know racing two weekends in a row can make you pretty tired? I'm pretty tired. With last weekend's race still on my mind and my legs, I went into racing XTERRA Muleshoe this Saturday with mixed expectations. I knew the course fairly well from pre-riding it a few weeks earlier but had never raced there before. I was tired from racing a long race the weekend before but excited to hit more familiar turf.

The Swim

The swim was 800m out and back in Lake Travis with water temps at 80 degrees, so I donned my BlueSeventy swim skin and joined the other 100 racers in the water. It was a mass start, which I was excited about. That is, until we lined up. I got in the front and center, in line with the buoy. Unfortunately, four dudes who were SO SURE they were faster than me that they went so far as to go beyond the start line to get in front of me foiled my plan. That would have been fine, had they actually been good swimmers. They weren't. The guy who forced me to move back took maybe three strokes before switching to breast stroke and the gaggle of them blocked me from going around the first 100m or so. I seriously considered swimming underwater to get ahead, but eventually, the leader of that flock got off course and the rest followed, clearing the way for me to try to make up time.

I was able to get my rhythm and did do better than last weekend, but still not as fast as I had been going. I ended up at about a 1:49min/100yard pace. Going to have to go back to my strategy of starting on an edge to avoid over-confident fellow racers next time.

The Bike

It was thankfully not thunderstorms as it had been in Arkansas, but it did rain a LOT the night before the race. Although the trails absorb water well, the low areas were very, very muddy, changing my approach to the bike course a bit. By that I mean, I took it slow because my shin is STILL not fully healed from where I got stitches and urgent care visits are expensive.

The course has technical places and lots of short steep climbs but is overall pretty fast and flowy. I really wish it had been dry because Muleshoe is super fun to ride. My friend Sara passed me a mile or so into the first loop, so I was very surprised to see her at the top of a hill not long after that. I won't lie, I was hoping she had a flat tire or something so I'd have a miniscule chance of beating her (we are in the same age group) but when I got close, I could hear her gasping for air and knew she was having an asthma attack.

Say it with me, people: Respiratory distress is NOT to be messed with. If you pass someone on the trail, even in a race, who is having trouble breathing, you STOP, even if they are your competitor! She was struggling to get her inhaler with her gloves on thanks to the TINY pockets on tri tops, so I helped her find it and pull it out, and stayed with her until her breathing was back to normal and she was ready to go. She probably would have been fine on her own - she's a smart, grown adult who knows what to do - but it's never worth the risk. I'm not going to win at the expense of a friend needing a ride in the ambulance instead of on their bike.

After I saw her off (I let her go first- she'd pass me anyhow, no sense in getting her riled up again trying to catch me!  =D )  I kept at it, but could feel it in my legs that 6 days wasn't enough rest from my race last weekend. The trails were also pretty depely muddy in some corners, and since I knew we were the only two in our age group this time, I didn't have to push as hard, so I cruised and enjoyed the awesome trails at Muleshoe. I took a little TOO much time, considering my speed was only 7mph overall, but that included my trailside stop to help her out, as well as two stops to clear mud out of my derailluer. So, overall, it was fine, and I really enjoyed that portion of the race.

The Run

Did I enjoy the run, then? No, of course not. However, I actually didn't completely hate it, so that was good! it was nicely shaded and didn't have as much climbing as the weekend before (and it was only 3.5 miles instead of 6.5!) so it was better, although there were defintiely parts that were more hike uphill than run. The parts I DID run though, I felt pretty great, and was able to keep a good (for me) pace. The heat also didn't get to me as badly, which means I'm hopfully acclimating a bit more now that Summer is, unavoidably, here. I was far from fast, but I didn't have so many thoughts about quitting this time, so hey, progress!

Results & Reflections

Women's 30-34
I ended up 2nd (out of two!) and probably about mid-pack in the overall female standing. Results haven't been posted online yet, but that's OK. This is definitely a race I'd like to come do again next year on fresher legs to see how I can improve- the course is a perfect mix of fast and challenging, and a lot more forgiving than ATX, at least on the bike. My back didn't hurt like it did the weekend before, likely becuase the distance was shorter, and my stomach stayed settled and ready. I got a new backpack that hugs my back better and doesn't bounce around as much, as it is designed for running, and that's been great for the last two races. Now, instead of a bottle for the run, I just keep the pack on and keep drinking.

I'm glad I did both of the races I've done in the last two weeks, but also VERY glad I've got a break until mid-July before the next one! I'm going to hit the trails to work on keepimg my speed in corners and up my confidence, and try to hit Magnolia Hill hard- with no excuses! It's a fast course I've done before, and this year I'll be on a much better bike, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

As always, Joel and Dion with Race Revolutions did an amazing job. If you didn't know, XTERRA points races are all run by individual, local race production companies who then report their results to XTERRA. It's awesome for so many reasons- atmosphere, personal attention, cost effective, and knowing your race dollars are going to people you know here at home while you still race world-class venues and earn points for the championship. Love it and looking forward to next time!

1st and 2nd W30-34, and Tasha 2nd OA in the Duathlon.

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