Saturday, July 3, 2010

Race Report: XTERRA Tahoe City

Wow, what a tough but fun race. What went right? Only that it was a lot of fun, especially the bike course. The bike course went through all kinds of singletrack through Sierra meadows, windy, twisty and fun. There some climbs, but nothing too major or demanding, except for the altitude, not like Del Valle with its long granny gear fire roads. What was difficult about this course was the false flats, where it didn’t look like you were climbing, but it sure felt like you were. As one guy in transition remarked, it felt like your were going backwards. So that was the fun part, and since in an XTERRA most of your time is spent on the bike, it helps to have a fun bike course. Everything else was very tough.
Where did the tough begin? At registration, when they gave me a swim cap, but no race numbers. Tahoe City being rather cramped, it was confusing to locate transition, registration and the start finish, since they were all in different locations. Usually there all in the same place to simplify matters. So hiked around a lot, parking, registering, setting up transition etc. Despite being one of the first on the scene, I still was just in time for the start, along with the other late guy, Ricardo. From there, it just got harder. The swim was a disaster. I felt confident since the swim at Del Valle went so well. I thought that even though I hadn’t been swimming much that I would be fine. No. The combination of cold water and high altitude put the zap on my breathing and I really struggled. I couldn’t establish a comfortable breathing rhythm until the end of the first 750M lap. I watched despondently as the whole field just swam away from me. I finally gave up on swimming and decided to completely ignore what my arms and legs were doing and concentrate only on breathing which helped a lot. But I was slow. Even Ricardo had a tough swim, although he did better than I did, even though we swam together at Del Valle.
It was a long jog on pavement to transition where I set out on the long bike ride. It started with a long climb on the road that helped to spread people out before heading into the state park for the trails. I definitely could feel the altitude, not that I was suffering more, just that I was so slow. I was working hard, enjoying the ride and the course, but just not moving fast. So much for spending a couple of weeks at altitude to grow some more red blood cells!

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