Sunday, July 19, 2009

XTERRA Northeast Cup Race Report - Erin

July 12th, 2009
Warren, Vermont
7th Pro Woman

The Swim - The water temps had been hovering around 69* all week but after the big rain storm the night before, it was possible the water would be a little colder allowing the pros to wear wetsuits. Nope...70* it was on race morning, so no wetsuits for us. No worries, it was actually quite refreshing! We got a 60 second head start from the age groupers but by the second buoy, I had already been caught by several fast swimmers floating along. After a good start and a good build into my race pace, I swam up to another pro woman and was able to stay on her feet for over 75% of the swim. That was one of the first times I have been able to do that so I was super excited. We came out of the water 3rd and 4th position.

The Bike - Or hike should I call it?!? The course was comprised of a technical downhill trail (meaning you get shuttled up then ride it back down for normal people), but in our case, we got to attempt to climb up it. Since it had been raining for 4 straight weeks, the course was completely submerged under water and the biggest mudpit I have ever seen. Not only is this kind of riding incredibly foreign to me, almost the entire 3000ft of climbing was completely un-ridable. The bike was basically a hiking race to see who could run with their bikes the fastest up the steep, muddy and slippery trail.

This is the 'Erin is not a happy camper' face. The hiking not only killed my knee beyond belief, but totally stressed out my lower back making the final road climb into T2 quite painful. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE playing in the mud and being dirty, but it was really frustrating that because my knee was hurting so badly and I couldn't run through that crap fast that people were passing me left and right.

The Run - Or hike should I say?!?! By the time I reached T2, I was so far back that I actually got to witness the sprint finish between Seth Wealing and Conrad Stoltz for 2nd and 3rd! I got very distracted and almost forgot I was racing...oops! I finally slipped on my shoes and set off on the very difficult 2 lap course. As expected, the first couple steps were already sending shooting pains through my knee. I hobbled through as much of it as I could but had to walk A LOT. There was over 750ft of elevation per lap of steep, soggy, muddy terrain. I even lost my shoe in one of the mud puddles because it was so deep and sticky! All I wanted to do was finish, and in one piece. Several minutes later, I did and it was a huge relief.

After thoughts - Where to start? After crossing the finish line, my first inclination was to burst out into tears as 1) I was pretty sure my knee was going to fall off and 2) I was just an emotional train wreck. Luckily, Branden was the first person there to calm me down. I knew coming into this race, along with every other race I've done this season, that I was not going to be competitive and was just there for the experience. Toeing the line to a race with that attitude is NOT easy. This race was the culmination of all those emotions and the final push to make my decision to cut the season short pretty easy. Racing unfit and in loads of pain is not enjoyable and definitely not going to get me anywhere in the future so it's time to figure things out...for real.

On a more positive note, I will be missing all the camaraderie that comes along with racing XTERRA. Pre and post race activities are always a blast and everyone on the circuit is absolutely amazing.

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