Saturday, July 17, 2010


Me oh my, what a day. I completed my first off road triathlon, the Xterra Lock 4 Blast this morning. I feel as if my legs and lower back have been beaten with medium size sticks. There are bruises, cuts, and so many aches. It was the hardest race I have ever been in, mentally and physically. I did it though, and I think I'm glad. Every summer for at least 8 years, I've said "That looks awesome; I want to do it sometime." This year, I did the freaking thing and it was unlike any other race experience I've had, so I've got lots of thoughts to share!

Course Description

Swim Course 880 yds (1/2 mile) The swim in Old Hickory Lake will be a mass start, 1 lap counter clockwise around 3 buoys. Water Temp is expected to be well above 72 deg. If it is wetsuits will be forbidden.

Bike Course: 12 miles The bike course will be 2 laps out and back around the peninsula. Each Lap will be 6miles. The course is 90 % rolling, fast, single-track with a total elevation of 450 per lap.

Run Course: 4.2miles The run course will be 2 laps out and back around the peninsula. Each lap will be 2.1 miles. The course is 60% single track and 40% grass and asphalt.

When I woke up this morning, I was relieved that the possible rain seemed to be holding off. I grabbed my bike and bag and headed out, a little/ alot unsure about what I was in for. After one wrong exit caused a slight delay in my arrival, I rolled into the parking lot of Lock 4 Park in Gallatin, TN right around 7:00 A.M. (packet pick up was supposed to be 6- 7:00 A.M.). Looking over at my bag of necessaries- goggles, swim cap, running shoes, socks, towel, helmet.......wait a minute...WHERE THE CRAP IS MY HELMET?!!???- it hits me that I left my helmet at home. A couple frantic phone calls later I acknowledge it is unlikely that I will get in touch with anyone who is a) nearby and awake early on a weekend morning and b) would actually have a bike helmet. "Might as well check in" I tell myself. I explain my plight to the check in lady who, although kind, looks at me like "Honey, you're screwed." A couple people behind me in line, a woman over hears me and immediately says "I have one in my car you can borrow." I start singing "did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, cause you are the wind beneath my wings". Ok, I didn't. But I felt like it.

Helmet in possession, I set up my transition area then slowly make my way to the swim start. The water is darkish, and a little choppy. The gray sky looks like rain, but it's an empty threat so far. Into the water for a group start, which is unusual, but we are an especially small group (under 100 racers). A couple minutes after 8 o' clock, and we're off! My swim is slow but strong and steady.

With a decent swim under my belt, I bike off into the woods. Thunderstorms the night before left the bike course slippery as all get out. Also, I quickly realize how slippery I am on the bike- wet hands struggling to grip, slick shorts sliding right off the seat when I lean into a turn. This is the part that kicked my ass. That's right, I got it handed to me this morning as I realized how under-prepared I was (should've been training on a mountain bike), how exhausted I got (this is the longest race I've ever done), and how even though I have very little fear (I rode like Evel Knievel) sometimes that's not enough. Mentally, I 've never experienced such doubt during a race. After failing to land a log jump, losing control of the bike, and wiping out in the dirt and trees, my nerves went shaky. The second lap around my energy level began to drop. and the super slick track had me sliding out left and right. The dreaded site of my first wreck approached. I lost it, again. This time, I crashed a little harder. I could feel cuts on my left arm and leg but wouldn't look at them. My time sucks. Frustration and disappointment hit me in flashes. At one point, "maybe you should just quit", raced threw my head. I refuse to quit. I will not stop. I will not walk or dismount. I finish the course knowing I've absolutely butchered the ride. Another of the many desperate thoughts on the ride was, " I cannot WAIT till the run segment." I have never, never, thought that before!

Wet shoes and worn out legs. Will I make it through th 2 laps of running? My legs seem to have bricks attached to them; it's so difficult to move them quickly. A quarter mile or so in and they start loosening up. THANK YOU! I pass some folks on the trail. I emerge from the woods at one point, when I'm about to loop around for my 2nd lap, and a well meaning spectator yells,"You've got it! Finish strong!!!". More doubts ( Am I going to finish last? Why am I even trying to do this when I obviously do so poorly?). More disappointment. I start lap 2 feeling like I have bricks for feet all over again. I usually smile when I race- but not now. I did pass a couple people on the trails. I think my time with East Nasty is serving me well right now. I try to finish strong- maybe in some small fashion I did- but wow. Just wow.

Of the triathlons, 1/2 marathons, and other various races such as the Warrior Dash I 've participated in, nothing has put me through the ringer quite like this. I 'm still trying to play it out in my mind. Why did I struggle sooo much? For all the hype and hoopla of the Warrior Dash claiming to be the "craziest day of your life", Xterra takes the cake. Hands down, the hardest race I've ever done.

Today, this was similar to the style of my ride:

Yet, I wish it had been more this style:

We'll see about next year...

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