Well, once again, I’ve fallen waaaay behind on my posts, so here goes a recap of XTERRA Whitewater. I’m gonna try and recap some of the previous races for some of those Throwback Thursdays I keep seeing. Some race directors, racers and friends are due their props and I aim to deliver.
Anyhow, since XTERRA Whitewater is in my backyard and the fact that I know the guy who created it, there was no way I was going to miss it. Even though heat hath descended upon us with a vengeance, I was still going to get my butt out there and race. Caleb and I showed up to the race site early (as always), but since I had to stop for ice, gas and a few Twinkies on the way to the race, he beat me to it. He even gloated about it on the interwebs.
Folks started rolling in and the morning preparation seemed to be falling in place, although Amy was having a few issues with her arms and legs.
After everyone filed down to the boat dock for the swim, we had a briefing and two waves of swimmers. I thought it was a pretty neat idea. They asked folks during registration whether they wanted to be in a “competitive” wave or not. Surprisingly, this resulted in two waves of almost completely equal numbers.
As we came back into the dock, I avoided the sunken trees since I knew where they were from the Catawba SwimRun race.
I managed to get out of the water and run the long, 500-meter-ish run to transition, coming into T1 in 9th place. I met friends Donny Forsyth and Yaro Middaugh at the bike racks as we all scrambled to get out of transition in a hurry. I was concentrating so hard on getting out ahead of them that I pulled a complete rookie move and started running out with my bike while still wearing my swim speed suit.
“Are you going to ride your bike in that speed suit?” Yaro asked?
”Oh crap!” I exclaimed, laying down my bike and ripping off the speed suit.
”I’m here for you, buddy.” Yaro continued.
Boy, that could have been an absolute terrible bike ride, wearing a swim speed suit in that heat. Coming out of transition in 6th place, Yaro and I dove into the trailhead together and proceeded to catch the other folks. I managed to make it up to 2nd place within the first couple of miles and maintained it throughout the duration of the bike. There were a couple of times that I spotted Rob Ricard through the switchbacks or through the trees, but I just couldn’t seem to catch him. When we got to the “East Main” trail (we call it “East Pain”), the last 6 miles of the bike, I caught up with Patrick Clark. “Are you in the lead?” I asked. “No. I must have took a wrong turn somewhere, you beat me out of the water.” he said as I passed him. We chatted a bit as I slowly pulled away, still trying to catch Rob.
After coming into T2 and having a MUCH better transition than my 10+ second goof-up in the first one, I headed out on the steamy, hot as you-know-what run. On the way out of transition, friends told me that Rob had a 3 minute lead. Damn it, man… that’s one helluva lead to close. I’m not gonna lie, it messed with my head a bit. I’ve had some pretty darn good runs on the “Academy trail” that makes up most of the run. It’s hilly, punchy, twisty, technical and just a tough run. It suits my strengths and I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve had some really, really good runs out there.
But this day, I just didn’t have it. I’m not sure if I pushed too hard on the bike trying to catch Rob or if it was just so damn hot. Who knows? All I know is that I found myself walking… a lot. Patrick caught up to me. “You OK?” he asked as he passed me while I was walking. “Just taking a break and grabbing a drink.” I replied, sipping on my water bottle. I looked back and caught a glimpse of Caleb. It only took him a minute or two before he was right behind me. “What the hell are you doing letting me catch you?” he asked. “I just don’t have it today.” I replied. We ran out into the open area underneath the power lines and the sun just seemed to zap me even more, both mentally and physically. I ran/walked up the big hill and made it back into the woods. There had to be at least a 10 degree difference. My hat’s off to the folks manning the waterstop out in the sun.
I regained my composure and ran all the way back fighting cramps the rest of the way and came in fourth place. As I came across the finishline, both of my arms immediately cramped. Frustrated with the cramping and my run, I just threw my bottle and hat to the ground and sought out shade to lay down. As soon as I laid down, both legs started cramping on me. I’m sure it was a funny sight to see me rolling around on the ground. Jimmy, the race director, came over and handed me some fluids which I welcomed and stood up to try and work them out by walking in circles.
The leaders and the race director stood around discussing some of the markings trying to figure out where folks would have gone off course. Since Caleb and I train there almost daily, we knew the course without even needing markings. We decided to go for a quick spin, because Patrick wanted to know where he missed a turn. After riding the “Figure 8” trail, we realized the markings about 15 feet into the trailhead where the trails split was one of the problem areas. Patrick, unfortunately, voluntarily DQ’d. I think it sucks, too, as he is a fast-as-hell runner (fastest split of the day) and it would have made for some good racing.
Despite the heat, my sub-par performance on the run and some course marking issues for others, I had a blast and they all did as well. I’m REALLY looking forward to next year to get some vengeance on that run course! I’ll also be working with the RD in any way I can to help shore up the markings.
Congrats to Amy Carver on ANOTHER overall female win! Girl, you’re ripping it up out there.
Also congrats to Paul Geist on finishing his first (and hopefully not last) XTERRA. We had quite a few new folks among the ranks. I hope to see you all at more races. Welcome to the family!
Big shout out goes to Jake Watkins who suffered heat issues on the run. He decided to take a nose dive into some shrubs off the side of the trail to rest a bit. Actually, he doesn’t remember much of that, but he spent the next few days in the hospital recovering. I think he just wanted to be pampered a while. In all seriousness, glad you’re doing much better, bud. Marty Powers, you’re the man for helping Jake!
On another note, good luck to all my peeps out there racing XTERRA Beaver Creek tomorrow!
Race: XTERRA Whitewater
Location: Charlotte, NC
Date: July 8, 2017
Distances: 1000m Swim / 14.5 mile mountain bike / 4 mile trail run
Result: 3rd Overall
Products used: GU Roctane Gel and GU Roctane Drink Mix, American Classic Wide Lightning Wheels, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tires, ESI Grips, Crank Brothers Candy 11 Pedals, First Endurance Multi-V, Hawk Racing Bottom Bracket, Hawk Racing Pulleys.
Be a warrior!