Wild Rose and XTERRA Panther Creek
Two races in two days. Sounds like fun right?! My primary focus for the weekend was on Sunday's XTERRA Panther Creek, but I was coerced into "racing" the (women's only) Wild Rose sprint on Saturday. How you ask? Read on dear Reader.
My dear friend Muna (the race director for Wild Rose) came to me and asked if I would be interested in helping her out with this race. She gave me two reasons why I should do it: It was for a good cause and I got to start the race by going down the slide. Really all she needed to say was I could go down the slide but it seemed like a win-win. I "competed" with 4 other guys in a fund raising campaign before the race to determine the "winner". Separately, the other guys and I decided that we would have our own competition to see who could come up with the most ridiculous outfit to race in. I opted for a pink swim brief... and nothing else. It was not just a pink swim brief, however. Promiently displayed across my nether region was a graphic of a thumbs up and printed across my bum were the words "AWESOME DUDE". It was fantastic. Making the race even more fun was that my wife was there racing as well. She was racing for real.
Saturday morning, we arrived at the venue and got our transitions setup. I was racing on a borrowed bike (a magnificent Pink, White and Silver Trek Madone Project One currenly for sale at Cedar Bluff Cycles) and in a "kit" that I wasn't used to so this was going to be an easy, fun day with no real effort. We lined up on the slide and they sent us one by one. The tricky thing was the lanes didn't line up with the slide so we had to move over and share lanes and such. (The pool was set up for the women who were starting from the other side of the pool in a normal TT start). I got lost. It was supposed to be 150yd swim but I swam something like 200yds. We also had several near misses and one almost collision. It was chaos but all in fun. I'm sure it wasgood laugh for all the ladies and spectators watching this circus unfold. Anyway, I finally decided to get out of the water and trotted down to get on the bike. Following close behind me was Larry Brede. We each mounted our bikes and headed out. Larry was riding his daughters middle school beach cruiser with side baskets and the most amazing dual tone bell. He had put a bluetooth speaker in one of the baskets so we had tunes during our ride. As we cruised around, I looked down and realized that we were two grown men, one on a girls beach cruiser, the other on a pink road bike wearing a pink speedo, riding side by side down the road. I imagine that out of context (and possibly IN context) that must have been a very interesting sight. A few minutes later, Steve Barto caught up to Larry and me and we continued on around the course as a threesome.
We rolled into T2 with Larry in the lead and after a short transition we all hit the run. The plan, I thought, was just to bop around the run course at an easy jog. Turns out, though, that Larry's "easy jog" was different than mine and Steve's and before long we were full on running... and he was pulling away. At that point, Steve and I just settled in to a good pace and kept on going. My run was feeling good so I pushed a little harder than I should but it was all worth it. As Steve and I came around the corner to the finish, we clasp hands and skipped hand in hand across the line to the laughter and cheers of everyone around. It was a very fun experience and one that I was proud to be a part of.
Fast forward to Sunday. Woke up and went through the normal race morning routine. I had my 2 cherry Pop Tarts, took care of the pre race paperwork and got all my gear loaded up before setting off for Morristown, TN. We arrived at Panther Creek a little after 6:30am and transition was already bustling. I racked beside my buddies Doug and Nathan. After setting up my transition area, I milled around a bit and chatted up my fellow racers. There were the usual suspects, Caleb and Marcus, along with Yaro, Ali and Amy who've been at pretty much every XTERRA I've done this year. It's always fun to see and race with familiar faces.
The swim was a two loop course for a total of 800m. I tried to line up aggressively as I've done before. I got a pretty good spot. After a brief delay while the paddle board support got their fins installed, the cannon fired and we were off. I went out hard and held on to the lead pack. It was a little rough up through the second turn as we were all jostling for position. I held my own though. We started to spread out a little going into the second lap and for most of that lap I traded spots with a couple other athletes.
Out of the water was a short run up to transition. I made quick work of T1 and headed out on the bike. I had a little bit of pedal fumble straight out of T1 and let one guy by. I finally got my left foot clipped in and started chasing him down. He was holding a good pace so I decided that I would just settle in behind him for a bit and see how it unfolded. When we hit the first of several little punchy climbs, my legs reminded me of the run the day before. For some reason, I always discount the bike course at Panther Creek. It's got more climbing than I really ever remember. My quads continued to be grouchy but never failed me. By lap two I was starting to feel the climbs and my pace dropped just a bit. I had been following that guy all day but he started to pull away. By around lap 10 or so I heard another rider behind. I knew I was holding a top 10 spot but I let him by hoping I would run him down.
T2 was quick and I was out on the run. I could see him ahead and I was gaining. It wasn't long before I caught him. He glanced over and gave me a fist bump. We exchanged some congrats on good rides. He said it was his first tri. Not his first XTERRA, but first tri...ever. I told him he was doing really well and make sure he saved some for the last hill on the run. He thanked me. I pulled ahead and settled into a steady pace. I could hear him behind me but he wasn't gaining. This remained the status quo for most of the rest of the run. I held back a bit on the hills knowing the last climb was going to be tough. I was expecting to drop him there but as we approached the climb he was right behind me. I never could shake him. We were holding 9th and 10th overall. He stayed right with me until the finish. I was expecting him to try and out sprint me for the line but he never did. We both crossed the line and after catching our breath he told me that he owed me his run and wasn't even going to think about trying to outsprint me after I pulled him the whole way. He was a really good dude. I also found out after the race that he did the bike course on a SINGLESPEED. Guy is a monster of a cyclist and not too shabby on the swim and run. Just one more thing about XTERRA that I love. At the end of the day, we are all just a big group of lunatics who love to play in the dirt.
Results for XTERRA Panther Creek:
9th overall and 1st in Age Group.
Thanks again goes out to everyone who supports me and keeps me going: my wife, my team, my coach and my sponsors. Special thanks to Dr. Talley at Healthsource Chiropractic for a great Kinesio Tape job on my calf so I could run strong.
It's been a long season so far. I've raced 10 times in the last 11 weeks. It's time to take some time to recover and heal up for the rest of my season.
Next up: XTERRA Auburn 8/19.