Race Equipment Setup
Swim- Blue Seventy googles and PZ4TX Swim Skin
Tri Kit- Hyperthreads one piece tri suit
Bike- Orbea Oiz with Stan’s No Tubes Wheels and Sealant, Maxxis Ikon tires, Rotor Cranks with In Power Meter
Sunglasses- Optic Nerve Vapor with clear lenses
Run Shoes- Altra Superior
Sunglasses- Optic Nerve DeSoto Plus with Copper Lenses
Nutrition- Skratch Labs hydration, GU energy gels
Xterra Oak Mountain is one of my favorite races of the year, and it’s also usually one of my first. This year, however, having already done 3 Xterra Pan Am races and Sea Otter Pro XC, I had already gotten the race bugs out and put in another solid training block after returning home from the South America Tour. Not to say that I wasn’t nervous, because this was the deepest field of competition I’d seen so far, and also the most quality with more competition on the top end. I went into the race in 2nd place for the Series, as Laura Mira had done one more race than I had, but knew that I had the potential to take the series lead back at this event. My focus and mantra for the day was to keep the pressure on, but stay relaxed and in control. The twisty, rocky, rooty singletrack nature of the Alabama trails can take a lot out of you and you can lose more time than you can gain if you push it too hard and make a lot of small mistakes on the bike course. You also want to ride as smoothly as possible through the corners and obstacles because accelerating out of every corner will drain your legs more than you think…until you start running, and then you learn very quickly that you’re in trouble!
I began the day with a strong swim, leading the women out of the water, with Julie Baker right in my draft. I love the calm, warm water in Oak Mountain State Park; perfect temp for a non-wetsuit swim (for the Pros anyway…) and nice flat water, making it easy to see the Xterra turn buoys. I felt good about my effort, working hard enough to gap the rest of the women’s field but not so hard as to drain too much energy too early.
On the bike, I rode hard. I worried that Leslie would come tearing by me so I did everything I could to get as far ahead as possible. This course is tough because it consists of a lot of single track and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to eat and drink, and it requires a lot of accelerating out of corners which can really deplete your legs. The last couple miles around the lake are some of the hardest miles because your mind can start to drift or lose focus if you haven’t kept up on nutrition properly. At this point on the course I try to be especially mindful of keeping my focus. As I transitioned to the run and hadn’t heard any reports of Leslie yet, I felt a good bit of motivation to keep pushing hard to hold her off. I went hard, maybe a little too hard at first but I was mainly racing on emotion: excitement that I was feeling good, fear that I could still get caught and proud of the effort I had to give. At the finish, I was elated with the win, for both the day’s result and for the points I had gained for the Pan Am Tour.
Next up, I’m changing gears a little for the Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 50 mile Mountain Bike race in June, and then back to Xterra in Victoria and Beaver Creek in July. Stay tuned!