Sunday, July 26, 2015

Race Report : Xterra Panther Creek - Morristown, TN (July 26, 2015)

This race was kind of an afterthought for me.  It certainly wasn't on my race calendar earlier this year.  A few weeks ago, however, I was looking at July and realized I had nothing going on.  I then realized this race fell in late July and would be a good "fun" race to play with.  So, I signed up and that was that.  I didn't taper since Xterra was not really in my plan and so, with my full week of training still in my legs, I went out this morning and played in the dirt.  Here's how it went:

Two words to sum up my swim : nearly perfect.  Seriously!  My plan was the same as it has been for the last several races.  Line up wide, go all out for a couple hundred and try to get a gap then settle in to my race pace.  I did exactly that.  It worked perfectly.  One guy passed me and swam off into the sunset (pretty sure he was the overall winner) but for the most part, I was up with the leaders and swimming comfortably.  I rounded the final buoy and headed for the exit.  Up the boat ramp I went to head into T1.  Minor flub in T1 as I somehow forgot to take my speed suit off.  Had to re-rack the bike and strip it, then head out.  Not too bad.  Lost maybe 20 seconds.  Swim Split: 15:09 (1:58/100m)

The bike course went really for me.  I had forgotten how hilly this course was.  It smacks you right out the gate and really doesn't let up the whole time.  Nothing too steep just constant little climbs.  I was following my buddy Jim through the first leg.  We leap frogged each other most of the first lap.  He's WAY faster than me but his chain would have pity on me occasionally and fall off so that I could catch up.  First lap went pretty quick.  I was managing my efforts on the climbs knowing that I would have to do it all again.  Had to force myself to remember to drink.  (When the straw isn't slapping me in the face I hardly think about it.)  We came out of the first lap and headed back in for lap two.  There was a lot more trail traffic this time around with the slower racers now making their way through the woods.  Everyone was polite and moved over to let us pass.  Jim was now pulling away and I wouldn't see him again.  A few miles later I caught up to a younger racer who was also on his second lap.  Kid had some skills.  He and I were going around the same pace so I never asked to pass.  Just stayed comfortable and tried to relax so I could really attack the run.  The climbs started to get to me though.  I could feel the fatigue setting in but I pushed on.  We popped out of the woods and headed toward T2.  Perfect flying dismount and I was in.  Bike hung, gear off, shoes on, belt on, grab hat and run out.  Solid.  Bike Split 1:17:31 (11.9mph avg)

I knew from the start that it was going to be a tough day on the run.  Again, I forgot how much elevation there is on this course.  Lots of just long gradual ascents to get the quads burning.  I was feeling pretty good.  Came to first aid station.  No one there.  Grabbed cup, filled it myself, quick drink and I was off again.  Here, the course goes into a loop.  I see the sign to go left, I go left.  There's no one in sight ahead of, or behind me... until I happen upon another one of my buddies who is running toward me.  Race brain kicks in and I turn around for a second to follow him, thinking I missed a turn..
Then I see another guy going my original direction come around the corner.  I turn back around and head my original direction, now confident I am on the right trail.  The guy behind me looks my age.  I put my head down and try to push my times down to stay ahead.  I've got maybe 200m on him and he's looking strong.  We come to the big open climb on the course.  By now, the sun's beating down and you can see the climb continue for what seems like an eternity.  I'm running with all I've got up this thing.  When I get close to the top, I look back.  He's walking.  Good.  I pick it up heading down hill.  Round the corner, 1 mile to go.  Look back.  Dude's there but not really gaining.  I just focus on keeping my turnover high and my pace steady.  Out of the woods and a long downhill pavement run to the finish.  Just keep pushing.  Start to feel my left hamstring tighten.  Almost there.  Don't look back.  Shut up hamstring!  Just run.  Don't look back... I cross the line first place in my AG (5th place overall), with him just behind me taking second in our AG (and 6th overall).  Yep, he was my direct competitor.  My buddy who looped backwards came across in third.  Run Split: 36:20 (8:04/mi avg)

Final Thoughts:
Great day of racing.  Lots of club members raced and lots of us took home podiums for our hard work.  I really enjoy racing the Xterra series races.  It's fun to get out and play in the dirt every now and then.

Notes on nutrition for the day:
As always, after breakfast, I sip on a diluted bottle of my Infinit Run Mix to preload for the day.  I had one bottle of Infinit Bike Mix for the bike and used on course water for the run.  Next time I will take a small bottle on the run with me just so I don't have to stop at the aid station.

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