Our team set the bar high for ourselves coming into the 2015 Xterra National Championships. With 7 team members racing we had a good chance to earn 4 national titles and place everyone on the podium. Then stuff happens, it’s the nature of our sport, and like usual we had some ill timed crashes and sickness that put our lofty team goals in jeopardy. It’s rare that everything aligns perfectly, so on race morning we focus on the positive, push all the negative aside, toe the start line and give it our best.
I love endurance sports, because work in = performance out, there are typically no superhuman performances on race day.
I spent less time in the pool this year than ever before, choosing to spend the extra 4-5 hours per week with my family. It showed; the gun went off and when I typically make my way to the front easily, I was swimming flat out just to be in the top 10 at the first turn buoy. I exited the water about 5th, instead of 1st or 2nd and immediately had to quiet the negative thoughts by focusing on how great my mountain bike felt recently. The bike went as planned, I put time into everyone and entered transition 2 in 1st, barely. I could hear the announcer calling Cole Bunn into transition as I was leaving. Cole and my good friend Josh Merrick were my two main concerns for the overall title. I had beaten Cole two years ago but he is young and I knew he would be improving all his skills quickly. More negative thoughts, I quickly switched focus from how good Cole may be, to how good I have always been. You have a lead, grow it!
The first climb of the run in Snow Basin is BRUTAL, straight up a ski hill. Go too slow and you loose tons of time, but go too fast and you are cooked for the next 6mi of the run. I lost some time on the first hill but I was still in the lead. Cole was coming fast, I could hear him around every bend. At this point I typically consider two options: 1. Go harder and hope he can’t match you, or recover, let him catch you and then race to the finish. I wasn’t feeling great so I went with option 2. I hoped my legs would stop burning if I eased up a little, then I would see how they felt when I matched his pace. The plan worked for about 30 seconds, unfortunately we had about 30 minutes of running left. My legs never felt 100% but I managed to hold on for 2nd place overall and 1st in my age group for a 3rd National Title.
As a team we had an awesome weekend: Two National Titles, a 2nd, two 3rd’s and a 4th!
I achieved everything I wanted this year: Two overall Xterra Race wins (REAL and Tahoe), Overall Amateur Win (Xterra West Champs) and a 3rd National Title. But most importantly I did it while training less and spending more time with my family.
A few team members will be traveling to Maui next week for the Xterra World Championships. Good luck: Jaime Merry, Curtis and David Duncan, and Phil Glenn.