I competed in the Xterra Lory Triathlon on Saturday in Fort Collins, CO. This was my second Xterra ever and first of the year so I kind of had aspirations of a podium in age group going into the race but mainly my goal was to be “in the mix” and improve on lessons learned from Beaver Creek last year.
The swim was an 880 yard swim in a reservoir, followed by a 12.2 mile single-track bike course that was 2 laps on a 6 mile loop, and then a 5 mile run that included 500 feet of climbing, all on single-track!!
I made a tactical mistake before the race even started. Because the bike is 2 laps, they’ve had issues in the past with people on their second lap having a really hard time passing people still on lap 1. So they start you based on your projected swim time and mountain bike level. I had said I was about 15 minutes in the water and advanced mountain biker, should have said I did 10 minute swim and expert bike so I could have started in the first wave. I was in the 3rd wave to start and the 3 people that ended up beating me in my age group all started in wave 1.
Regardless of start position, I ended up having a good swim, 3rd best swim in my age group, and I caught a good number of people that had started in the wave 2 minutes ahead of me so I felt great going into T1. One of the lessons from my first Xterra last year was that my transition time needed serious improvement (almost 4.5 minutes in T1 at Beaver Creek). So I had practiced some transitions and also decided to do no socks and no gloves for the bike. This was an effective strategy and I got out of T1 in a minute and 20 seconds…fastest in the age group and 14th fastest T1 overall.
I had pre-ridden the bike course a couple weeks before and learned a couple things, it was a super fast course, and it would be hard to pass. The single-track was super flowy but also dusty and loose and it sat about a foot below the ground on either side, making it difficult to go around people off the trail. The first lap on the bike passed without incident and I only got delayed for probably 30 seconds total. Lap 2 was a different story. The first half of lap 2 was fast, and then I started catching the lap 1ers. They were all very quick to move out of the way except one middle-aged lady. I was stuck behind her, with 6 other riders, for several minutes and as kind as we were…she would not move and kept saying “you can go anytime you want”. But there was nowhere to go. Finally the trail split for about 20 yards and I sprinted around her, I was the only one of the 6 that got by her.
I felt a bit like my legs were wasted on the bike because of the slow woman, but the amount of riding on the bike I’ve done this year, and the slower pace on lap 2 meant I had fresh legs on the run. The run was basically a 2 mile climb, 2 mile descent, and 1 mile flat. I passed probably 30 people on the run and only got passed once. I’ve run up Green Mountain several times this year for training (3,000 ft of vert in 3.1 miles up) and that training definitely helped physically and mentally on this run.
When I reached the finish line there were not a lot of people standing around (good sign) so I thought i’d done pretty well. I ended up 4th in the age group (having never seen the top 3 who all started 4 minutes ahead in wave 1) and 47th overall out of 350. More important than the result was that I had a solid race, I stuck to my race and nutrition plans and put together a solid performance and one I can build on the rest of the year.