Last year’s Torn Shirt Xterra, which is a 900 meter swim, 25 kilometer MTB, and a 10k trail run was going to be a tough act to follow. In 2011 it was my best performance. So coming into this year’s triathlon with very little running due to an ankle injury I sustained while snowshoe racing was going to be a factor in performance.
It was the same routine as always for the past 5 years racing Torn shirt. Wake up at 5, hit the road at 5:30, and pull into the Bishop Lake recreational area parking lot around 7am. Once I am at the race location, I pick up my swag bag and timing chip; get my gear ready in the transition; wetsuit check, goggles check, swim cap check, bike, shoes, helmet, glasses, gloves, check. Trail shoes, running bib, and hat, check. Hammer gel and bottles check. By that time it is 7:30 and I have 30 min before we hit the water to start the race. So I grabbed my bike for a 15 min warm up to make sure things are working and a 10 minute run to get the legs ready, than a 5 minute swim to prep the arms. I always like to line up on the far left and I bumped into some familiar faces. We took a few minutes to laugh and joke about how over the past 5 years this has been our spot in the lineup along the shore. After saying the National Anthem the horn went off and we were in the water. There were a few pros that showed up and I recognized them as we splashed into the water. I thought that if I could swim next to them I might be able to keep up. I felt great and my stroke had allot of power which gave me the confidence that I could follow the leaders pace. I was around 4th back at the first buoy and was able to maintain that position to the next buoy. The leaders began to pull away and I fell back to the second group which wasn’t bad, I still had a very fast swim at 12 minutes which would prove to be vital in my overall time. Someone was drafting me before the exit and they kept hitting my feet. I wondered who it was and when we stood up I looked to my right and saw that it was my good friend and fellow racer Andrew Holly, who I’ve been racing against since our first Xterra back in May. Andrew and I usually go back and forth throughout the entire race, I already know that he’s a faster rider than I, so I said to myself as I entered transition peeling off my wetsuit that I’m going to have to take him on the run. Torn shirt Xterra is notorious for their 10k trail run known as the Torn Shirt trail. It’s brutal and unforgiving with rocks, roots, sharp corners steep downhills and crazy steep climbs. But back to the MTB part of the race. I exited the transition somewhere in 5th or 6th overall, it’s hard to keep track sometimes because some of the duathlon racers get mixed in after transition. One thing I hate about the race is the dirt road we have to travel before we hit single track. It’s a good mile and a half and since I’m not a roadie I get my butt kicked by those guys untill we hit the single track. Andrew fly’s by me and I’m left in the dust. I keep an even pace till we entered the woods and I let it all hang out. There was a few times where I almost kissed a tree or two, but my shoulders nicked em instead. You know your cutting it close when your co2 and tool in either side pocket hits the tree. But that’s single track racing. I couldn’t make up any ground on the three riders that passed me which put me in ninth place overall. I was rather disappointed in my performance but settled on the fact that I better have some juice left for the run. I entered the transition right when 6th 7th and 8th place racers were leaving; and in 40 seconds I was out and running my brains out trying to catch up. I settled in right behind Andrew for the first 2 and a half miles but he began to slow. I decided to pass and increase the pace. The next 3 and a half miles where pretty much a blur but I knew all the while that I wasn’t going to beat last years’ time at 51 minutes. I ran alone the rest of the time till I popped out onto the road for the last half mile and discovered someone behind me about a hundred yards back. I couldn't tell whether he was in the triathlon of the duathlon, I wasn’t going to find out but apparently he did and he was hauling. I put the pedal down and gave it my all. I looked down at my watch and saw that I was at 196 heart rate and knew I couldn’t give anymore. He was gaining on me but I knew I was in the clear when I rounded the last corner and ran straight through the finish line. Turned out he was racing the duathlon. I almost blew my heart up for nothing! I finished the 10k in 54 minutes and an overall of 2hrs 17 minutes.
It was a great day praise the Lord!! Even though I didn’t beat last year’s PR I was really proud that I was only 40 seconds slower. Considering my ankle injury a few months back I was still happy with the result. Oh well, It’ll give me something to shoot for next year.