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AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri - TriathlonOther

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Mesa, AZ
United States
DCB Extreme Adventures
78F / 26C
Total Time = 4h 27m 32s
Overall Rank = 103/104
Age Group = W25-29
Age Group Rank = 7/7
Pre-race routine:

I should’ve known better when the word “Xtreme” appears in the title of the race. And it was very extreme. They weren’t kidding.

My husband, Zac, and I left Saturday morning and drove to Saguaro Lake in Mesa. It was about a 2.5 hr drive from Tucson. I got my packet, and started to try to figure out the logistics of this race. This wasn’t a tri with the usual transition areas, as T1 and T2 were half a mile apart. We were given 3 plastic bags and had to put our race number on each. The first bag was the T1 bag. T1 was at the Keyhole parking area at the Saguaro Lake marina. This had to have all of our bike gear in it, and afterwards, all of our swim gear had to go inside. After we left T1, we weren’t coming back, so if you wanted your swim stuff (wetsuit, goggles, etc) returned to you, you put it all in the bag while in T1. The next bag was the T2 bag. This had to have all of our run stuff in it, and they would hand us this bag after the bike. Again, we would have to take the run stuff out, and put the bike stuff in if we wanted it back. The third bag was for all of our stuff that we would have with us just before the swim. We were being shuttled from the Water Users parking area to the swim start. So things like outer clothes, shoes, sunscreen, Bodyglide, and glasses would go in that bag, and they would take it at the swim start and shuttle it back to the finish line.

Our bikes had to be dropped off in T1 between 3 and 5PM on Saturday. But we were allowed to return on Sunday morning to drop off bike gear and liquids for the bike as long as we did it before 7AM. The bike racks were guarded by a Maricopa County Sheriff who allowed stuff to go in T1, but not to come out. I went ahead and racked my bike, and decided that I would bring the rest of my bike gear in the morning and drop it off at about 6AM. There was also a road version of this tri (called the Saguaro Lake tri), and the roadies and Xterrans shared the same swim and run route. So there was about an even split between mountain bikes and road/tri bikes in T1.

After that, we checked out the swim exit. The swim was point-to-point, and ended right at T1. This is where we got the first taste of “Xtreme.” They told us “the end of the swim is over by those flags.” So we go over to the flags, and look down. Yep, DOWN a rocky cliff. We would have to swim up to the rocks and boulders below, and scramble over them and climb up the hill. Of course, this is after swimming 1600m and still wearing a wetsuit and goggles. I just knew that after the first 20 or so people got over the boulders, they would be extremely wet and slippery.

(Slight tangent here): Saguaro Lake is pretty close to Phoenix. I’ve camped at Roosevelt and Apache lakes (upstream from Saguaro) and they are much nicer. Because Saguaro is so close to Phoenix you get a different crowd there. Lots of partiers hanging out, which, of course, all seem to lack the knowledge of how to use a trash can. So there were lots of broken bottles and trash on the rocky hill leading up to T1, as well as the dirt area leading along the edge of T1 that we would have to run through. Thankfully, the DCB Adventures crew did their best to sweep and clean the area as much as possible. Needless to say, I won’t be returning to Saguaro lake any time soon.

At 5PM they had a nice pre-race pasta dinner back at Saguaro Lake Resort. We chose a table right under the Red Bull tent, which was wise because a storm moved in and dumped rain on us during the dinner. But it let up before dinner was over. After dinner they had a slideshow from the event photographer, and a meeting to let the racers know what to expect on race day.

We camped in our RV that night, and during the night a storm ripped through. I was glad that I didn’t leave all of my bike stuff in T1 that night. The next morning there were puddles everywhere, and it was still quite windy. We got to T1 at about 6AM, and I dropped my bike bag off. Most of the number plates on our bikes had blown off, but mine wasn’t too far from my bike. It was a bit soggy, so we poked some new holes in it and re-attached it to my bike. Some bikes had blown over in T1 and were piled on top of each other.

Event warmup:

I ate a bagel with PB at about 6AM, and after dropping my bike stuff off in T1, parked our RV at the Water Users parking area. I dropped my T2 bag off with the event folks, and got body marked. Then I got my wetsuit and swim stuff bag, said goodbye to Zac, and got on the shuttle vehicle. The shuttle vehicles were two trolleys, which was kind of cool. I ate a banana and drank some water while riding the shuttle. I was shuttled off to the swim start, and Zac followed behind on his mountain bike. Since the event was so spread out, Zac decided to just spend the day riding back and forth on his bike, which worked out well. We arrived at the swim start at a bit before 7:30AM, so I had about an hour and a half before the start of the race. I decided to hike up to the beginning of the mountain bike course trail and see how it looked. By the time I hiked back, Zac had ridden up on his mountain bike. We hung out around the starting area, and I froze because the wind was blowing pretty good and the sun wasn’t out yet. At 8:30AM I started to grease up and pull the wetsuit on. I got in the water at 8:45AM and swam a little ways, trying to warm up. The water was about 68°F, so my sleeveless wetsuit was perfect.
  • 36m 43s
  • 1600 yards
  • 02m 17s / 100 yards

We would have to swim out and around a green buoy, which was close to a point. Since this was my fist time swimming in open water in a group (2nd OW swim ever) I positioned myself to the extreme left side of the group which, oddly enough, put me straight in line with the buoy. The gun went off at 9AM, and were off to swim the 1600m. Since I was so far to the outside of the mass, I didn’t have too many people around me. I had to navigate around some swimmers that seemed to have stalled. I never got kicked in the face or anything, but did feel a few people down by my feet. After I got to the green buoy, I could see the next buoy (a yellow one) off in the distance. Geez, it was a long way off.

The wind was making waves, so I felt like I was getting tossed around everywhere. Definitely different than pool swimming. I finally got some clear water where I didn’t need to worry about running into someone for a bit and worked my way through the waves. I slowly made my way towards the second buoy, and sighted for the third one. I couldn’t see it too well, but I could see one of the docks to the parking lot. So I sighted for that. There were only a few people around me then. One guy was fixing his goggles, and another guy was backstroking. Then there were these 3 guys together, that looked like they were trying to stay together in a group.

It felt like it took forever to get to where the dock was, and in the distance I could see the last buoy and a line of volunteers in yellow shirts on the cliff. Good, there would be someone to fish me out of the rocks. I sighted a lot, trying to swim straight to the volunteers. I followed one guy in and was finally there. I got my feet up onto some rocks under water, and stood up and reached for the boulders out of the water. Sure enough, they were drenched and slippery. “Great, I’m going to slip and take a huge chunk of neoprene out of my new wetsuit” I thought to myself. I got over one big boulder and heard one volunteer yell “Help her!” Another volunteer yelled “Give me your hand!” I raised my arms up and felt two people grab them, and then there were two hands around my waist. These people lifted me up completely over the boulder field and set me down on the dirt of the hill. I grabbed one more hand as I made my way up the dirt slope and was finally on level ground. I trotted down the dirt path, and made my way to T1.

What would you do differently?:

Need more OW swimming practice, and getting used to being tossed around by waves.
Transition 1
  • 04m 50s

I got the upper portion of my wetsuit off while running. There wasn’t any volunteers or carpeted area to take off the wetsuit, so we were on our own for that. I stood on top of the concrete area by a picnic table, and got the lower half of my wetsuit off. I made my way to my bike, and had plenty of room as everyone around me had already left. Someone had left a carpeted mat in the dirt not too far from my bike, so I stood on that to towel my feet off. I got my shoes out of my bag and realized I had forgot to undo the Velcro beforehand AGAIN (did this in my first tri too). I got my Camelbak and helmet on, and threw my wetsuit and swim stuff in my bag and did one last check of my area to make sure that everything of mine was bagged. I grabbed my bike, and was off. They had a line for us to mount the bike at, and I ran towards that and did my running cyclocross mount onto the bike.

Because we had to un-bag our bike stuff, and bag our swim stuff, everybody spent about 4-5 minutes in T1.

What would you do differently?:

Undo Velco on bike shoes beforehand.
  • 2h 29m
  • 19 miles
  • 7.65 mile/hr

I was prepared with a full Camelbak of water, along with 2 bottles of 50/50 water/Gatorade on the bike. We had to climb the big hill on the road leading out of Saguaro lake. I looked back and saw that there were still people swimming in the lake. I made the turn onto Bush Hwy, and climbed up that hill. The road wasn’t closed off, because it’s only a 2-lane road, so I had big trucks with trailers, RVs with boat trailers, etc all flying by as I rode my mountain bike. I just wanted to get to the safety of the dirt. Finally Bush Hwy leveled off as I turned onto the paved road for Butcher Jones Cove, and flew downhill. I used this as a chance to eat some Gu. I rode over the cattleguard leading to the trails, and hit the wash and the first steep hill. I got off my bike and hiked up that hill, then got back on and rode up the next little climb. At least I was on my bike when the photographer took a pic. This trail intersected the big OHV trail, and a hill covered in rocky scree. I got off and walked, just like the others around me. That was Hill #1. The trail flattened out a bit after that, and was covered in big rocks that were at least fixed in the trail. In some sick way bouncing over the rocks massaged my legs that were burning after walking up the first hill.

I slowly spun along the short climbs and cruised on the downhills that followed. Then we made our way to Hill #2. Some guy had caught up to me by then, and saw Hill #2 and said “You’ve got to be kidding me.” We rolled past a Jeep that was full of tourists, and they cheered for us as we rode by. Then we started the steep climb up Hill #2. I could see two people walking up it already, and myself and the guy that was just in front of me both got off and started hiking at the same time. The hike wouldn’t have been bad except I was pushing a 27 lb mountain bike. My odometer was still ticking over the miles, but the speedo was reading 0mph as I hiked along. At the top the trail leveled out, and I got back on the bike and finished the last little climb. The AZ XTERRA 4x4 Club was parked all along the trail to make sure we all stayed on track, so the guy at the top of that hill was saying “Come on! You can make it!” as I climbed. “It’s all downhill now” he said. My idea of downhill seems to be different than that of other people’s. “All downhill” to me means no climbing. But I had pre-ridden the course and knew how many more smaller hills there were to climb.

The trail continued on down FR1813, with short climbs and downhills. Finally there was one medium grade climb followed by a fast downhill. I knew the wash crossing was coming up after that. I flew down the downhill and shifted down into the gears that I would want for the sand. I hit the sand at the bottom and started spinning, churning my way through the wash. The rain had settled the sand down somewhat, but the sand still stole a lot of energy. This was now FR13. It was at this point that my stomach started growling. I forced down more Gu, but that didn’t help with the growling stomach. And, unfortunately, I didn’t have an energy bar with me.

The sandy wash gave way to a twisty OHV track that had small sections of sand. So you had to watch your speed when you hit the sandy pits, or risk going over the bars. I slowly climbed along, watching the miles slowly creep by and waiving at the XTERRAS as I rode by. Only a few more people passed by as I finished up FR13, and I began to wonder if I was the last rider out there.

I crossed one last wash and got onto the road leading out of Butcher Jones Cove. This was slightly uphill, but at least it was pavement. Finally I got to the intersection of Bush Hwy, and was able to fly down the hill that I had previously climbed up. I had one more short hill to climb, but at that point any climbing was painful. The hill leveled out, and it was all downhill from there to the entrance to Saguaro Lake Resort and T2. I coasted along, enjoying not having to pedal, and a minivan with Texas plates passed me and then got on the brakes. There was a guard rail to my right, so I had to pull in behind the van. The van was riding his brakes all the way down the hill! This made me really mad. I waived for him to either speed up, or move over a bit to let me by. But he didn’t. I was riding my brakes at 15mph and could have been going 20. Finally the guard rail disappeared, and the turnoff to Saguaro Lake Resort appeared. The minivan turned on his turn signal to turn into the Resort. There was NO WAY that I was going to get stuck behind him all the way to T2. I punched it, and hammered hard past the van and stuck my arm out indicating that I was turning left, and turned around and glared at the driver. I turned onto the access road to the Resort, and flew down the hill.

I rode past the entrance to the resort, which was also the finish line. It looked like just about everyone had finished. I rode past the finish and up to T2.

What would you do differently?:

Pack energy bars in my Camelbak just in case I wanted something solid to eat. That probably would’ve helped my growling stomach.
Transition 2
  • 02m

I did my fast cyclocross dismount and landed in a full run, and the volunteer who took my bike wasn’t prepared for me to get off that quick. I was handed my T2 bag and they had chairs laid out for us. There were only a few T2 bags left, so I wasn’t dead last. One of the volunteers helped me with my stuff, but she took my bag away before I got my number belt out. I had to go back and get it, and was finally on my way.
What would you do differently?:

Asked the volunteer to just dump everything in the bag out on the ground, so that I wouldn’t forget anything.
  • 1h 18m 21s
  • 4.5 miles
  • 17m 25s  min/mile

Oh the run sucked. The trail climbed the hills leading out of the resort. The trail was all singletrack and used by the horse riding tours through there. So there were lots of horsey “presents” everywhere. The trail was steep, rocky, and had a ton of switchbacks. I didn’t even bother to run, so I hiked it. The climb seemed to continue forever. It went from below the level of the Saguaro lake dam to well above the dam, as you could see the lake, marina, and parts of the beach and cove where we started. The trail finally went downhill a bit as I made my way to the Bush Hwy crossing, and the first aid station. It took me 20min to get to the first station that was about 1.1 miles into the trail. They told me the next station was at mile 2.8, so I took a Gatorade bottle to carry with me.

The trail continued to climb a technical climb after that. It was rocky and sandy, and all singletrack. At one point I was on all fours going up around a boulder that was in the side of one of the hills. The sun had also come out at this point, but luckily I had my Tucson Tri Girls white hat on. But the sun was still hot and beating down on me. It was past noon, the heat of the day, and I was tripping around in the desert. I knew this was not smart, and I just wanted to lay down and take a nap in the shade of a tree. But I kept moving forward. My legs were long gone at this point and now I was definitely thinking I was the last person out there. But the last thing I wanted was a DNF next to my name. I knew that if I kept hiking, I would eventually finish. My stomach growled so I gave it more Gu, but that did nothing to help. They said there would be Subway sandwiches at the end. I thought about the soft bread and cheese of the sandwiches, and knew that the only way to get to my sandwich was to finish the trail.

I climbed along the rocks and cactus, and finally made it to the second aid station. I was over half way there. The trail finally leveled out, but it leveled out in a sandy wash. I managed to go from a hiking pace to a slow trot, since I was no longer climbing. Eventually I came up to one of the volunteers that was hiking from the 3rd aid station, and she said it was just past the tunnel. The trail led through a tunnel under Bush Hwy, and not far was Aid Station #3. I only had 0.7 mi to go. The trail climbed along the Salt River, so where I could I trotted, and if I couldn’t I walked. It passed through a rock garden, so I was definitely walking through there. Finally I could see the access road to the Resort above the gully that I was in and I could hear them handing out the awards for the top finishers. I had to climb a staircase made out of railroad ties up the hill to the road, and finally made it to the finish line.

What would you do differently?:

I didn’t think the trail run was going to be as technical as it was. Running some of the trails in Starr Pass probably would’ve helped.
Post race
Warm down:

I headed straight towards the food tent, but they were out of Subway sandwiches. I wanted to cry. I was so hungry and the thought of a sandwich was the only thing that had kept me moving forward on the trail and now I couldn’t have one. I found my husband and the end and told him “I wanna go home.” So he rode his mountain bike to the parking lot where the RV was, and drove it to the resort. In the meantime, I found all of my race bags, and had put a Cliff bar in my bag that had been at the swim start. I sat alone in the grass because I was mad about not getting a sandwich and chewed my Cliff bar, which was a poor substitute for a Subway sandwich. I wanted to smack anyone that had taken a second helping of sandwiches, or taken extra helpings to give to their friends. So it was probably best that I sat alone.

Zac loaded my bike and I made a sandwich in the RV and changed out of my race gear. I fell asleep on the drive home and just remember my legs being really sore.

Now that it’s a day later, looking back it seems kind of funny to be that emotional about not getting a Subway sandwich after the race. But we all do funny things when we’re that tired and hungry.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The trail run was definitely the worst. This was my 3rd tri ever, so I’m still getting used to stringing all 3 events together. The XTERRA tris are definitely difficult though. And this one was definitely “Xtreme.”

I finished 103 out of 104, so I narrowly escaped DFL but kept the dreaded DNF away from my name. There are not many newbies that do the XTERRAS, so I guess just finishing after only doing 2 sprints was pretty good. Seems that they are mostly raced by seasoned triathletes.

Event comments:

"Overall course based on my ability" was tougher than the "just right" rating, so I gave it the "too hard" rating, as I had had no trail running experience. "Hard" would have been a more accurate rating.

Last updated: 2005-04-17 12:00 AM
00:36:43 | 1600 yards | 02m 17s / 100yards
Age Group: 7/7
Overall: 91/104
Performance: Average
Suit: Promotion Fluid Drive Sleeveless
Course: Saguaro Lake. Start at Butcher Jones Cove beach & swim out and around point, then to Keyhole parking area.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Below average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 04:50
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
02:29:00 | 19 miles | 7.65 mile/hr
Age Group: 7/7
Overall: 98/104
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: Ride the road from the Keyhole parking area at the Saguaro Lake marina up Bush Hwy & down to Butcher Jones Cove. Enter the OHV trails at the back of Butcher Jones cove. FR1813 to FR13, then Bush Hwy to Saguaro Lake Ranch Resort.
Road: Rough  Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:00
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:18:21 | 04.5 miles | 17m 25s  min/mile
Age Group: 7/7
Overall: 101/104
Performance: Bad
Course: Hiking & horse trails out of Saguaro Lake Ranch. Very technical climbs, with switchbacks, rocks, and boulders.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2005-04-26 1:19 AM

User image

Tucson, AZ
Subject: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
Pics from the race, including the dreaded climb up the rocky hill from the swim exit, are here in my BT album: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri pics.

Special thanks to:
*The waterski crew (Craig, Tony, Carmen, Johnny) for watching over me in the boat during my first OW swim, and for tracking my swim distance with Johnny's GPS.
*The Tucson Tri Girls for great support and Sunday swim workouts.
*My husband Zac for all of the help, support, crew support, and household chore support while I trained for this.
*Mom & Dad for dogsitting our greyhounds while traveling.

Edited by PirateGirl 2005-04-26 1:25 AM

2005-04-26 2:51 AM
in reply to: #148132

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2005-04-26 9:24 AM
in reply to: #148136

Philadelphia, south of New York and north of DC
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
Sounds pretty intense.  Well done!!!
2005-04-26 2:31 PM
in reply to: #148132

Tucson, Arizona
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
Holy Crap!

I've never had to run a race where I had to dodge road apples and carry a set of carabiners. Sounds rough, but you completed a pretty studly race. Good job!

2005-04-26 8:39 PM
in reply to: #148132

Official BT Coach
Englewood, CO
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
You are to be comended!  Great job finishing such a grueling race.  I do my first Xterra in June.  I hope mine is not as tough as yours was.  Well Done!
2005-04-26 11:04 PM
in reply to: #148132

Mesa, AZ
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
Great race! I've riden the course before and I know how difficult that area can be. It seems like you had a good time , despite the lack of a Subway sandwhich.
I was thinking about doing this one but work got in the way. Are you coming up for the Pat Tilman race on 5/8/05

2005-04-27 1:03 AM
in reply to: #148710

Tucson, AZ
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
Thanks everyone! I'm still going to do the Show Low XTERRA next month, even if it kills me. Actually, some of the gals in our club have done it and it doesn't sound as bad as this one. At least the swim is 1/2 the distance this one was.

jchyte - 2005-04-26 8:04 PM
Are you coming up for the Pat Tilman race on 5/8/05

Nope, I'm going to skip that one. Mother's Day and all. Gotta spend some time with my Mom and take her out for a good time since she takes care of my puppies. Good luck in the race, though!
2005-04-27 9:04 AM
in reply to: #148132

molto veloce mama
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
wow. that sounds like an amazing race! you did a great job. so, the big question is - will you do it again?
2005-04-27 4:45 PM
in reply to: #148132

Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
You are a REAL woman!! Wow, I was worn-out just reading your race report!! LOVED your race pictures...they were the best!

Again, congrats on a superb accomplishment!

2005-04-27 7:47 PM
in reply to: #148812

Tucson, AZ
Subject: RE: AZ Xtreme Desert XTERRA Tri
autumn - 2005-04-27 6:04 AM

wow. that sounds like an amazing race! you did a great job. so, the big question is - will you do it again?

Hmm...I don't know. I'll have to see how the calendar works out for next year. I would like to go back and do better, though.

Thanks Kristi!
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