Aloha and welcome to Maui! It is always difficult to decide whether to classify this trip as more of a vacation or a race; but I think I finally decided on both. Why not? The reason we put ourselves through everything that is XTERRA is for a lot more than just a race, so why not enjoy every minute of it? Especially since it is in Maui with family, friends, and some of the best athletes in the world. We arrived on Wednesday morning, stepping off the Gulfstream and onto the tarmac. Just kidding! We were crammed in the way back of an airplane with way too many people on it, but no big deal, we had arrived!
After a quick jaunt over to the local U-HAUL for a van, where we actually ran into Steven Tyler, everybody was en-route to the condo. The weather was gorgeous with the sun shining and the trade winds blowing. We wasted no time in jumping into the ocean, after all we were in Hawaii and race stuff could wait until the next day.
In the next couple of days we pre-rode the course, participated in a swim clinic put on by Ben Allen, and prepared ourselves for the upcoming fun. I could tell the course was going to be very muddy because everybody was coming back from their rides covered head to toe in the thick stuff, so a tire change was warranted. It was safe to say I was much more nervous last year than this time around, not only was I not nervous but I was actually looking forward to the race, even the swim! (If you know me then you know this is a rare occurrence) We enjoyed the night of champions dinner and spent the remainder of the time before the race trying to stop ourselves from swimming in the ocean and playing in the sun as much as possible, but that was pretty difficult. A good meal and evening with the family later and it was time for bed, and what do you know I couldn’t fall asleep.
The alarm clock went off, but I was already awake. I slipped on my tri-suit with a tee shirt and set out for some eggs and toast. We rode our bikes to the Ritz for the race and it was a nice morning. The surf was uncharacteristically calm, there was a slight breeze, and the sun was just starting to peek over the tip of the volcano. Body marking, warm-up, transition set-up, morning bowel movement, things were looking good. Down at the water a Hawaiin priest was giving blessings to everybody who was racing, people were chatting and the mood was cheerful. Last year at this time I was looking into the ocean at huge swells that were knocking people on their butts back on the beach, but this time it looked hardly rougher than Lake Tahoe.
Pros went off at 9:00 on the dot, men at 9:05, and women at 9:10. It was nice that they spread it out so much more this year, it would open up the bike course and make the congestion issues a lot better. I dove in through the waves and swam as fast as I could, embracing all of the available oxygen at sea level. I kept up a good steady stroke not running into any breathing issues and the swimmers around me were relatively peaceful, all except for around the buoys where it was total chaos with everybody trying to go in the same exact spot. Getting out of the water halfway through for the short beach run I felt great, passed at least 10 people and dove far into the water. Usually I barely stumble across the beach for this part, but I felt good and this gave me confidence for the next part of the swim. I stayed strong and steady and finally washed up on the beach ready for the bike. The run to transition is always something I struggle with as well, and maybe it was the confidence or the altitude, but I ran full speed up to my bike and had a really quick first transition.
The bike, what I always want more of and where I race the strongest. I came out quick and didn’t slow down. The first few miles are a lot of steep climbing and constant passing, I charged through it like a bulldozer. The trail flattens out a bit after about mile 4 or 5, but you have to ride through a pair of mud pits probably six to eight inches deep. I managed to stay vertical, but the same could not be said for many of the guys around me. Some people tried to ride and failed while others chose to pick up their bike and run through, but really it was a crap shoot. Shortly after this it gets steep again. The pitch up to Razor Ridge is always a grinder but well worth the view, people were spinning their tires in the mud left and right, most having to walk. I managed to scrape by this one too riding all the way up. You could see all around the west side of the island, and man could you feel the heat.
Next was the only prolonged section of downhill single track. It was pretty steep with slippery roots reaching out trying to bring you down. Carnage on the left and the right of the trail made dodging people more dicey than the trail itself, but it was a really fun section of the course. After another grinder up to the top of the main descent, it was getting tough. My legs were starting to go and I didn’t feel like I had a ton in the tank, but I managed to hold my own and even continued passing people along the way. The rest of the course was a lot of short ups and downs which made it easy to keep my speed up since there weren’t any prolonged efforts. After finally popping back out onto the cart path, it was all downhill to transition.
3rd fastest T2 time in the world! Hey, I’ll take my success where I can get it. I was in and out of transition in 46 seconds with only two other people having faster times. Out on the run I felt like garbage immediately, which unfortunately is pretty normal for me. It usually takes a while to get my legs under me and get into a groove, but this never seemed to happen. I struggled on the steep hills from the beginning and forced myself not to walk, but eventually I was in too deep of a hole and had to start walking up the steep parts. I needed to walk more and more as the race went on, and I could tell something was wrong. I was getting dizzy, tunnel vision, and my hands and feet even started to tingle with pins and needles. At this point I just wanted to get done, and still had about 3 miles to go, mostly downhill thank goodness. People were flying past me as I was just trying to put one foot in front of the other.
Things were just getting worse and worse, my throat was tightening up and I was starting to have a little trouble breathing. Somebody must have reported to the officials about some dude not even walking in a straight line because one of the course marshals grabbed my by the arm and helped me over to a rock in the shade and sat me down. I couldn’t believe it, I’d been put on time out. He told me that I needed to wait at least 5 minutes before I could go again. In that time I downed a water bottle and tried to regain my composure. It was all downhill from that point, so I just told myself to kick it into gear. I ran as fast as I could (which wasn’t fast at all) and finally made it to the finish line after trudging through what seemed like a mile of sand on the beach. A wheel chair was waiting for me at the finish line and they pushed me over to the medical tent immediately. 2 liters of IV fluid later, I was starting to feel less like a zombie. The doctors there were great, they wanted me to stay a bit longer but I assured them I was breathing fine and just wanted to get warm again, by this time I was shivering. Wrong answer. Now they were concerned about shock and blah blah blah but they made me stay. I missed Jamie’s finish (she killed it by the way) while I was laying there, and some time later they finally let me go, I was just ready to be done. It was time to go home.
I ended up 477 out of 753 who finished the race and 23 out of 26 in my age group. I wasn’t thrilled with the results and I was really hoping to do better, but I’ll take what I can get. Next was another week in Maui doing nothing but having fun!