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XTERRA World Championship - Triathlon

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Kapalua, Hawaii
United States
88F / 31C
Total Time = 4h 12m 9s
Overall Rank = 494/751
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 39/62
Pre-race routine:

This year became the challenge to do the “Hawaii Double” which is Kona Ironman WC followed by XTERRA WC with a 2 week recovery in between.

Not being the best at recovering in general, Ironman races for me have taken a good 2 months to be back to where I felt good enough to race again. As this year started with just XTERRA in October, but then the possibility of Kona IM came out of the lottery after doing Hawaii 70.3 in May.

After finishing Kona, I went about trying my best to recover day by day. Lots of spinning on my trainer, short swims, and easy runs was the daily regimen. I felt pretty sluggish at first and also mentally was having a hard time getting back into something that seemed like “training”, kept saying to myself the fitness was there and no training left to do, just recovery efforts.

With the days counting down to XTERRA, each day the legs felt a bit better, but still remnants of Kona was still in the quads.

Thursday prior to the race, I did some bike intervals, and had decent power. I started to think this might work out. Only on race day would show what I had in the tank.

I decided to get to XTERRA at the last minute, early Saturday morning, instead of earlier in the week as in the past. Turned out, it was the best call because there was all the rain from the hurricane, and still was raining fairly heavily earlier in the week, then sporadically since. By Saturday, the winds and heat had done a great job in drying out the course, and luckily there was little extra rain prior to race morning on Sunday.

I hoped for the best, but prepared for a mud-fest. My only adjustment was lower tire pressure for the race, but I could have gone for different treads more suitable for mud.

My experience in mud is that very little works well, so I was reluctant to change anything drastically.

We got our bikes together and went for a short ride to check everything out. No pre-riding the course this year due to a tight schedule and too close to the race.

So here goes race morning…up at 5:30am to get ready. Luckily with XTERRA races you get a little more sleep than with road tri’s. Out race start was 9:02, with transition opening at 7:00.

Getting the usual stuff done, eating breakfast, apply sunscreen, making race drinks, applying the race number tattoos. Of course the main thing is coffee and purging the system! Double checked our list of stuff we needed, were ready to roll out the door at about 7:10. Mounted our bikes and rode to transition, which was only a mellow 15 minute ride/walk.

Event warmup:

Transition is set on the Ritz Carlton’s back property that is a long sloped hill that leads down to the beach. The swim takes place on Fleming Beach, and you have a long uphill run to your bike.

Setup in transition was good for me as I was on the outside of the racks, and had no other bikes in the way to get to mine. A straight shot. Laid out all my stuff carefully, and headed down to get my cap, and warm up on the beach.

For warm up, I did a a series of stretches and drills on the grass, then a short beach run which was very pleasant on an empty portion to the left of the XTERRA swim finish. Everyone else was on the far right side hanging out or doing a practice swim.

Then I headed over to the congestion, to get wet with a quick swim. The problem this year was fairly sizable shore break from the swell coming in. The sets were frequent and had a short period between waves. This made it difficult to get in without getting pushed back violently to the beach. This was going to be a messy and dangerous swim start.

Being my 5th XTERRA World’s race, I have had a number of dangerous swim starts. One where a the waves took out all the guys in front of me and next thing I knew my nose was smashed and possibly broken. Well this year I was more on the defense.

  • 34m 9s
  • 1500 meters
  • 02m 17s / 100 meters

At the start of the AG Men, the sets coming in were perfect for the cameras, but awful for us athletes. Over head-high surf pummeled us and took out basically everyone in front of me, of course they wash right back on top of the swimmers behind. I was ready and went into a ball to protect my face. Then proceeded to work my way past the crashing surf, into deeper water.

There was a serious right-to-left current, coupled with the swell and chop to make this a difficult swim. Lots of people going in different directions so it was hard to find clear water.

Pushed hard to the first turn buoy, where I encountered some massive guy frog kicking the crap out of me. I tried to watch his feet, as I didn’t want broken ribs. Already I had suffered a serious blow to my calf, and was hurting pretty bad. Yelling and aggression at the buoy, and was moving quickly to avoid any confrontation with anyone.

This course is “M” style with the first part longer than the second. There is a short beach run in between the “M” which requires braving the shore break once more (in and out). I tried to body surf into the beach but only worked kind of ok. Pulled myself out of the shallow water and drudged up to the timing mat to get back in the surf for the second half of the “M”.

The officials in the water were not enough to prevent stray swimmers from drifting in to the path of outgoing swimmers, which was serious potential for head on collisions. I noticed a number of them, and was careful to avoid. Primarily the current was strong and pushed everyone to the left.
The second phase of the swim seemed a lot harder. The current was stronger, and the chop was quite a bit worse. I was feeling tired and a bit confused. The sun was blinding me on my left side, and it was hard to tell where the main line of swimmers were to the swim finish. I could barely make out the XTERRA display on the beach and headed for that.

Finally rode the waves in onto the sand and crawled out and started my long run up off the beach to the grassy hill to the bikes. Many were walking, but I did my best to chug up to save time.

What would you do differently?:

Only nit is I think XTERRA could have more help on the swim course. It was very congested and confused at the middle of the swim to the beach run in-between. Head on collisions were the worst issue I could see on the second portion.
Transition 1
  • 03m 52s

I was sort of annoyed at the guy next to my bike, who was camped out on a cooler putting his stuff right in front of my bike. Essentially blocking me from my stuff. I just ignored the situation and grabbed everything and just went through the drill of getting it all on, and then took the bike out from the opposite side. He said nothing and just blocked me the whole T1. Oh well…off to the bike course.
  • 2h 27m 20s
  • 19.3 miles
  • 7.86 mile/hr

This year I had different gearing on my crankset, as last year it was just not good for spinning the hills and was quickly gassed. I went with more All Mountain style gears and was very happy with that choice, I could moderate my energy output on the front loaded hills that dominate this course. Approximately 3,300 feet of climbing over 20 miles. Most of the climbing is in the first 8 miles, but then significant climbs sprinkled in the latter portion to kick you in the nuts. Went with lower tire pressure as well to help deal with potentially slick conditions and give more control in the tight and fast turns.

The climbing is no joke as it saps your strength pretty quickly. I try to spin the hills as best as possible, as there are a lot of them and with lots of people climbing you have to be careful of those “giving up” and stopping right in front of you.

The course seemed really tacky and nice. There were a number of spots that were mud puddles, but generally low lying areas that were not that lengthy, which didn’t cause much trouble. There were quite a few hills that people walked due to slippery conditions, but most were ride-able with decent skills.

The most frustrating part of this race is you get many that are not good at mountain biking. They are strong but weak in skills, and results in dangerous situations on fast descents. Many times I was passed on a flat only to be charging behind them a few minutes later because they were tentative on the turns or a downhill section. That’s what slows you down on single track courses, you can’t pass easily. I had a guy slip out and crash on a downhill right in front of me, and almost rolled right over him. Luckily that was avoided and I yelled out to see if he was ok. He seemed ok, but others not so lucky I am sure. I saw number of bikes with mechanicals, one guy had no back wheel. I wondered where that had gone.

I felt pretty good getting to the second aid station at mile 13. Only 7 more to go. I thought the major hill climbs must be over, and then rounded the corner to a slick massive climb. Lots walking, but tried to keep with those riding up, encouraging them to keep at it and “almost to the top” …which is always sort of a lie.

Getting to the last section of the course, which always seems like forever…twisting and turning through old farm land, old golf course with cracked golf balls embedded in the dirt. Mostly tight single track with short climbs, wet roots, and twisty corners.

Finally hit the asphalt golf path to the tunnel back to the hotel grounds, and very stoked to be almost done with the bike.

Overall I was happy with the bike course, it was mostly tacky and not dusty as all the times in the past. So in some ways the rain made it much better, but of course the slippery hills and roots were the negative aspects.

Transition 2
  • 02m 19s

Charging into transition, I fumbled around getting my dirty bike and stuff off to switch to the run. Snapped on my run belt and headed downhill to the run exit.
  • 1h 04m 31s
  • 6.1 miles
  • 10m 35s  min/mile

This run is nuts, only a 10k but seriously front loaded with hills to a lake at the mid point. It is cramp city after trashing your legs on the hills with the bike course. Many walking as in the past, I try to just plug along and don’t stop. I know after I get to the lake, 3 miles uphill, then it’s charging downhill for the last 3.

Glad to hit the lake, and begin the twisty, wooded, and rooty obstacle course XTERRA likes to present. It’s actually fun but seriously demanding. You have to be on your game not to ruin your ankles or fall on the roots, tree branches or rocks. Everyone is running as fast as they can, and is congested at times.

Legs started to cramp bad at mile 5, as what happened last year. I was careful not to push too hard and stopped to work the problem. Popped 3 enduralytes and a caffeinated gel at the aid station. Luckily that helped and the cramps subsided.

I walked backwards on the last steep incline before the final charge to down the valley to the beach. I always love this single track portion. You can hear the people yelling way down at the hotel finish, but you still have to get to the beach and run the sand.

I had a guy on my back pounding behind me, I didn’t know if he wanted to pass but since he was in my age group I figured I’d make him work for it. I hit the sand and lost him, managed to pass a few more in my AG and then the glorious finish chute !

Post race
Warm down:

I was not only happy to be done with my 5th XTERRA WC but also to have survived the Hawaii Double. Probably the only time in my life I will have this opportunity, so relishing everything about it.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

still recovering from Kona IM, but aside from that excuse lol, I'd say nothing else besides lack of proper off road training due to the IM training. Yet I did manage to PR from last year.

Happy my foot held up with minimal limping after the race. I wouldn't say it was perfect but I did run in regular trail shoes instead of Hokas. There seems to be no lingering pain.

Event comments:

I want to thank my coach Amy Ruth Bennett-Eck of Camp Bennett, whose expertise with the Hawaii Double, racing Kona, and XTERRA together was a huge benefit that allowed me to train and race this successfully.

Last updated: 2014-10-28 12:00 AM
00:34:09 | 1500 meters | 02m 17s / 100meters
Age Group: 51/62
Overall: 561/751
Performance: Average
Suit: 2 piece tri suit
Course: "M" style course, with beach run in the middle
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current: High
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Time: 03:52
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:27:20 | 19.3 miles | 7.86 mile/hr
Age Group: 44/62
Overall: 518/751
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: off road mountainous single loop, varying hllly terrain - woods, fields.
Road: Rough Wet Cadence: 85
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:19
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:04:31 | 06.1 miles | 10m 35s  min/mile
Age Group: 33/62
Overall: 448/751
Performance: Average
Course: trail run, single loop. hilly terrain, fields and woods.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2014-10-28 4:49 PM

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Kailua, Hawaii
Subject: XTERRA World Championship

2014-10-29 5:34 AM
in reply to: #5063567

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Camden, NC
Subject: RE: XTERRA World Championship
Wow is all I can say! What an accomplishment and how lucky you must feel to have been able to have the privilege to participate in both of these events, and in the same year! Recover well, you earned it.
2014-10-29 6:17 AM
in reply to: HercDriver

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Kailua, Hawaii
Subject: RE: XTERRA World Championship
Thank you.

Definitely a privilege no doubt, and I am super appreciative of getting this opportunity.

It was a heck of a rush with these 2 super events.
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date : November 20, 2007
author : Lorenzomtb
comments : 1
Immediately I felt attracted by the challenge. I have done plenty of biking this summer and a new motivation, particularly toward the end of the summer, was what I needed.
date : August 10, 2007
author : leifashley
comments : 4
From couch potato to a tri in 8 weeks. It was the most fun I've had in a long time. The race organizers had it down and there were no problems at all. This was the perfect first tri, in my opinion.
date : June 27, 2007
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comments : 0
After starting the season with only the goals of raising money for cancer research, Stacey finds herself with the opportunity to go to the Long Course Championships in France.
date : September 3, 2006
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comments : 1
My 1st triathlon, Xterra and the mess I made of myself. This wasn’t your regular triathlon, it was off-road.
date : January 29, 2006
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How to consistently come in last place and enjoy it. By a real expert.
date : September 4, 2004
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Stay focused on your dreams and stand up for your rights!
date : September 4, 2004
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My expectations for the quality of this years’ Triathlon world championship were fulfilled. This was because of the superb location that is like no other along with having the top triathletes present.
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There is a marvelous destiny out there waiting for you too, but only if you are willing to take chances and put yourself on the line.