Thursday, November 5, 2015

Xterra Worlds Recap

A few days have gone by and I have had some time to digest all the things that went down on race day. I would say I had a total Xterra experience of heat, hills, and ass-kicking.
Chaos of the swim

The few days leading up to the race are a blur now that I think back. I was focusing most of my nervous energy on trying to heal my sprained ankle (or contemplating dropping out) and trying to escape the heat. With some helpful sport therapy from my friend and training partner Clay, we decided my ankle would be alright, as long as I didn't fall on my bike or turn sharp corners on the run. A tough call when it is an extreme mountain course to maneuver! I ended up taping most of the ankle with Rock Tape to keep it rigid and limit more roll-overs.

I felt that I had a great swim arriving at the beach within the second main group and ran up the hill into the first transition. After a smooth and effortless swim-bike transition I completed a blistering 24km of the 32km mountain bike course passing people most of the way but in my mind not over-doing it. At the 24km mark, just before the second bike aid-station, my left hamstring (sprained ankle side) started giving signs that something was not right. You know that feeling like it is "going to cramp" well, that was showing up every little uphill surge. Soon after I was cramping every time I lightly pedalled uphill. And with 4000+ ft vertical, especially in the last 10km, there were some doozies to get through. Initially I had to stop and stretch out my hamstrings and I downed my last electrolyte gel and salt tab. I walked the hills and rolled the flats for the next 4km dropping approximately 15-20minutes in the process. I finally cruised into the second transition happy to have that over with. I downed a few cups of electrolyte drink and flushed myself with ice water. The first 500m of the run started alright but then the hamstrings and quads cramped again for the next 3km and I had to walk/jog or else I would seize up. I just shuffled along like a guy who couldn't lift his feet off the ground for the first 4km dropping another 10-15 minutes. After some time and 3-4 litres of electrolyte and water at the aid stations I regained composure and was able to actually run with some speed for the next 6km and ran fairly hard passing a handful of people. Until... I hit the sand section. 
Start of the 10km trail run

Think standing crabwalk with spastic pauses due to cramping. Due to the angle of the beach and my left hamstring seizing with any excessive shortening, I literally could not move forward. So, I improvised and started a left leg forward cross-over to run crab style, with all my humility, I was completely at capacity. I, however, didn't care too much, I was 300m from the finish. I just barely squeaked in before collapsing to the ground with medical aid putting ice water and towels on me. 

Official Results here. 

I always like to write down the top things I did well in the race and top things I totally need to re-think.
The good stuff:
- maximizing recovery from a bad ankle sprain five days prior
- controlling nerves before the race with excellent sleeps leading up to and including the night before
- maintaining my cool with all the hype on race morning
- having a nutrition plan that in theory was rock solid
- a solid swim and efficient transitions
- regaining muscle function mid-race after complete cramping

The not-so-good-stuff:
- not treating my tight muscles before the race from compensating for the ankle sprain
- dropping a gel mid bike and not picking up a replacement at the aid station
- not having 2 water bottles for the ride or knowing how much I would need due to sweating 

After going through these items I have a better feeling about how the race went. I certainly had a lot to learn from racing in these hot ass-kicking conditions. I'm content with my race results but I have so much more to accomplish here!

I want to give a shout out to Mike and Jordan at THE BROKEN SPOKE, my bike shop guys, who hooked me up with a light race bike and made sure it was race ready. My swim coaches Lynday and Leanne with PACE Multisport. And my shoe people at Extreme Runners in Courtenay.

Clay and I post race and after cooling down