Xterra Czech and ITU Cross Tri World Champs
August 9 & 16, 2014
The week leading up to Xterra Czech was great- The race was held in Prachatice and Chris and I spent a few days with a homestay which happened to be Katerina’s parents in her hometown. The language barrier made communicating interesting in our limited ability to speak each other’s language, but we made due and learned a little about the Czech culture and lifestyle and had the luxury of homecooking and quiet living out in the countryside. The race course was tough, nearly 3,000ft of climbing and was a bit wet from rain during the week. My race started well, I was the third woman out of the swim, had caught Jacqui, (the second woman on the course) and we were working together and moving along quite well- until I flatted. It looked like a small puncture so my first move was to air it up and have the sealant plug the puncture so I didn’t have to take the time to tube it. After several minutes and every woman in the race passing me, I continued on, uncertain how long the sealant would hold but pushed on trying to make up time. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and I had to install a tube. At this point I was dead last and thought maybe the best thing to do was go easy for the remainder of the race, or even DNF in an effort to save my legs for the ITU Cross tri World Champs the following weekend. I thought everything happens for a reason and maybe if I sacrificed this race for the next I would be rewarded with an incredible day. I debated my options for the rest of the bike course and decided to ride at tempo, go through transition and run about a half mile just for the training and then pull out and take the DNF. But then about a half mile into the run I stopped when I saw Chris and discussed my plan with him. I wanted confirmation that I was the last woman on course and there was no sense in me continuing only to put fatigue in my legs on the challenging run course. He was shocked that I considered a DNF because that’s usually the last thing I would choose to do, but he couldn’t tell me where I stood. So I went ahead with the run, trying to make up time and catch as many women as possible in hopes that I could salvage a 7th place finish and the last bit of prize money…afterall I didn’t go all the way to Czech for nothing. In the end, I posted the 3rd best run time and was happy with my run performance but finished ninth. I was disappointed that I was out of the money and had destroyed my legs but am happy with the decision to finish the race. I have always believed that it takes a lot of character to continue the race AND race hard after a setback like that. What I’m not happy about is the effort at which I used in doing so and the repercussions it had later…
The next week I did what I thought was best for my recovery, including keeping a positive attitude but with the World Championships quickly approaching, my legs still felt like someone had taken a hammer to them and I had some regret about my choices. On race day I had the usual race nerves but they were also intensified by my worry about the state of my body. I tried to maintain calm and put more energy into taking in the atmosphere of the ITU race environment. There is a fair bit of pomp and circumstance leading up to the start which is cool, stressful and adrenaline raising, all at once. I had a great swim, coming out of the water beside Jacqui Slack from Great Britain and we were second and third. I fumbled with my helmet strap, losing some time in transition, but still exited with Jacqui. As soon as we were out of the venue arena, however she accelerated and dropped me in no time. All of my effort and power just wasn’t enough to match hers and I knew I was in trouble a few minutes later when again, I could not match the speed of Chantell Widney and Emma Garrard as they passed me by. The weather had dropped a fair amount of rain in the 24 hours prior to the race so the course was very wet and with all of the age groupers racing before the elite women, it had turned to a complete mud pit. The climbs were so slippery it was like being on a sheet of ice, the rear wheel just slipping in the thick mud. Despite my best efforts, over the 36km bike course I had slipped back to 8th place. Thankfully the run course was relatively flat after the 3,000ft of climbing on the bike. I knew I was in 8th and pretty far back but soldiered on, running as hard as my body would go. I finished 8th, again disappointed in my place but proud of the effort I put in, and was relieved it was over.
After the race I took a few days off to relax, recover and be a tourist in Prague spending some quality time with Chris and my Xterra friends (Branden, Bri, Josiah, Dave and Bobby Rakita and so many more!) Bri was a great activity planner, taking us to some amazing castles, churches, bridges and beautiful landmarks, and we definitely we ate and drank our fill of fine European Cuisine!
Chris and I then traveled to Switzerland where we spent a day in Luzern. We got a priceless view of the city and lakes below on a mountain bike tour with Xterra friend and fellow pro Renata Bucher, then packed up the car and took the scenic route through the Swiss and French Alps into France to meet up with the LUNA pro Mountain bike team and watch the World Cup Finals in Meribel. We did some epic riding on the mountain and then donned our cowbells and ran around the course like crazy fans cheering for Maghalie, Catharine, Katerina and Georgia. The World Cup environment was electric with energy and excitement and was incredible to witness.
Arriving home now, I’m happy to have had a week of “holiday” before I refocus and gear up for a few hard weeks leading into Xterra US Championships on September 20th in Ogden, UT.