Pro Team Blog

Suzie

10/06/2014
2014 Xterra US Championships

For anyone who was at the Luna Summit this spring, you probably heard me talk about the troubles I’ve been having with recovery for the last year. At this point, I’ve uncovered some problems but haven’t made any significant improvements. Going into US Championships was a nervous time because I hadn’t felt good since Xterra Czech in early August. My quads continually knot up really badly and the only thing that helps is a brutal massage or Graston technique which is a method of breaking up the adhesions in the muscle fascia by basically scraping the muscles with a hard tool. It feels like your legs are an old fashioned washing board and they’re rubbing a metal butter knife over them! Ugh, it hurts just thinking about it. But it’s pretty effective and I had it done before leaving for Utah so I felt pretty good for a few days. Just like usual though, as soon as I did any hard training it came right back and my legs felt useless. So I rode this roller coaster for the two weeks I spent in Utah acclimating to the altitude and preparing for the challenging course. I did everything I could during this time- foam rolling, massages, ice baths, etc. By race day I wasn’t feeling 100% but was feeling good enough that I thought a top 5 just might be possible if my legs stayed with me and I kept a positive, calm attitude. Unfortunately, my swim was less than stellar, coming out of the water 5th. I had a hard time staying with the pack and ended up on my own for most of the 1.2 miles- yes it is supposed to be 1500m but like last year, it was long.
I got on the bike and put the swim behind me. I thought I was giving it everything I could- within reason of course (over 3,000ft. of climbing at altitude requires some self-control no matter how badly you want it) but was at the same time wondering if I could go harder had there been some other riders around me. At one point I got a time check of 90 seconds to Chantell Widney who was the rider in front of me, and then at the top of Sardine Peak I caught her, which gave me hope that I wasn’t going as slowly as I felt! We descended together and when she took a corner a bit too fast and went down hard I narrowly missed running her over, but as I skid to a stop Emma Garrard took the opportunity to pass us both. She proceeded to open a gap on us as we got rolling again and transitioned together, me in 5th and Chantell in 6th.
It wasn’t long into the 9k run course that Chantell passed me and quickly left me behind, struggling to push myself up the hill. My quads had gone to hell again and had no power. Once on the flat/rolling trail I tried to open up and pick up the cadence to take advantage of the easier terrain but my legs felt like they were wobbling like a baby deer learning to walk and would give out underneath me on every step. Staying calm was difficult because I kept thinking about the fast runners behind me who were probably gaining ground quickly. One foot in front of the other, pull yourself forward over the ground with your hamstrings, commitment, just push through it…all the mental cues I was using to keep driving forward. A couple kilometers from the finish Carina came running past me- just like last year but a little bit later in the course. This was enough of a spark to push some of the pain aside and luckily there wasn’t much climbing left because she would have been able to open a much bigger gap if there were. I kept her close and attacked on the downhill once I knew there was no more uphill. My legs wanted to give out on every impact and I feared that they would or I would slip and fall on the loose dirt and rocks only to give it all away, but I couldn’t stand to finish 7th AGAIN. I’ve finished 7th or worse at Nationals more than a couple times and even though I wouldn’t podium, I wanted to at least give an effort I could be proud of. So I dug deeper than deep and opened a gap on her to salvage 6th place.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t have more fight when Chantell passed me early on, but I honestly think there has only been one or two occasions where I’ve suffered any more than I did here. As much as I wanted to beat Chantell to maintain my 3rd place in the US Pro Points Series I just didn’t have the physical or mental strength to do it. I dropped to 4th in the series- outside my goal of top 3, but at least it was an improvement over the past two years finishing 5th and the point gap was small. Chantell was only 1 point behind me going into Nationals, and Shonny 20 points back!
That being said, this year has had a strong field of women at nearly every race and Nationals boasted more pro women than pro men- for the first time ever! So this is a good thing for the sport and I have to be proud of where I am in such a talented, hard-working group of women. And even more proud to be surrounded by family, friends, teammates and sponsors who are always so supportive no matter where I finish. Much thanks to Chris Mathis for his hard work wrenching and sherpa-ing this weekend, and congrats to Shonny, Danelle and Kara who finished 5th, 6th, and 7th in the Pro Series- a four position sweep! Too bad it wasn’t the top four, but it’s still pretty cool!
Now we’ve got five weeks to prepare for another 3,000ft. of climbing in Maui, on steeper hills than Utah- and that’s just the bike course! Xterra World Championships October 26- Maui, HI…The last Xterra Sufferfest of 2014.

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