As with all things in life, the amount of effort you put into something generally determines the quality of the outcome. Among other things, I find this to be true with relationships, business, and ESPECIALLY true with racing. You cannot fake or half-ass your training and expect to perform at top level during race day. That being said, there are factors and limitations beyond your control that affect your training and performances during any given race.
For me, this year had a few of those “factors and limitations” and it showed in my results.
Early in the season I had a synovectomy on my right knee to address some swelling (from a previous surgery) that I had been experiencing for awhile. The surgery was performed in late February, right before the commencement of triathlon season. As a result, I missed the Xterra season opener in Granite Bay, CA and focused on rehab and getting the knee strong again.
My first real test was Xterra Regional Championships in Las Vegas, NV in April. I knew it was going to be tough as I had not run since my surgery and biking had been minimal to say the least. And TOUGH it was!!!! Last year I podiumed and earned a slot to compete at Xterra Worlds in Maui. This year I was happy just to finish! I had a solid swim and actually felt real good on the bike. In fact, I was in position to podium again coming into T2, but that’s where it all fell apart. The run was extremely tough and felt very laborious. I could not fake the lack of run training and was passed by several of the racers I had beaten on the bike. I crossed the finish line completely exhausted!
Having the taste of a bad race in your mouth gives you the extra motivation to train harder and so I continued to focus on improving my training and strengthening my knee. As the weeks built up I continued to see big gains, especially in my mtn biking. Having teammates who push you beyond what you think is possible was the main factor in my progression and rehab.
After Vegas, I focused on just mtn bike racing and wouldn’t compete in another triathlon till Xterra Lake Tahoe in mid August. It was a nice change of pace and I truly enjoyed the break. When Xterra Lake Tahoe rolled around I was eager to see how far I had come and put any doubts to rest. The swim is not my strongest discipline but I felt comfortable and managed a somewhat decent time. I felt FANTASTIC on the bike and afterwards, learned that me and three other teammates had the fastest bike splits of the day! YES!! Off the bike my running felt quite strong which actually surprised me since I had not really focused on any specific run training since my surgery. I finished strong with a 5th place finish overall and 1st in the 40-44 age group. I was very happy to say the least!! Afterwards, I continued to mainly focus on just riding and racing my mtn bike.
During the summer months I had raced the Sierra Cup Mountain Bike Series and the grand finale of the series was the Great Flume Race in Tahoe at the end of August. I finished 3rd in my age category but was able to capture the Regional Championship title for the series. Stoked with the win I set my attention towards Xterra National Championships in Ogden, UT in late September. Little did I know that I would have another set back.
On August 30 I was riding with a couple of mates on Peavine in the early morning. On our return to the car I slammed into some wires strung across the trail that were meant to close off a section of the pasture at Rancho San Rafael Park. The next day I developed rapid swelling in my arm and was admitted to the hospital for three days. During this time I was pumped full of heavy antibiotics and morphine until the doctors could figure out what was wrong. The final diagnosis was a severe hematoma. The accident set back training again and I wasn’t sure how Nationals was going to go. After the hospital stay I felt tired and loss that strong feeling I had been working so hard to build.
The morning of Xterra Nationals I had no idea what to expect and figured I would work it out during the race. The swim went well and during the first few miles of the bike I felt good! When we hit the intersection for the climb up Sardine Peak I noticed that I didn’t feel as strong and my turnover was starting to slow down. I felt tired and was starting to have some dizzy spells. Several racers began passing me and I was desperately anxious for the climb to be over. Coming into to T2 I felt wiped and was not looking forward to the 10k run that was waiting. The run starts with an extremely steep climb and then continues with rolling terrain and more steep climbs and descents. I knew instantly that I was in trouble! I did not have the motivation or strength to finish strong. I ended up walking two-thirds of the run and struggled at best. Comparing last year I was way off the mark and felt completely humbled. In retrospect I feel that my body was not completely healed and was telling me to slow down.
It’s funny how racing works. Rarely do you feel at your best during a race. Often times during training you feel on top of the world and wonder why it’s hard to capture that feeling during “race day”. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and things don’t go as planned. But in racing as in life, you continue to try to do your best and improve the outcome. Never give up and maybe one day you’ll have that PERFECT race!
Now it’s time to slow down, just a bit, and enjoy the brief off season. Maybe with all this snow we’ll be able to get in some skiing or who knows, maybe curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and take a nap. Both sound nice.
Until next year, enjoy the down time!!!!