Saturday, July 21, 2012

Magnolia Hill Xterra Triathlon

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I own a 29er MTB and casually ride it around the Terry Hershey trails here in Houston, but I’ve never raced it nor have I really ridden with others to see where I stand.

Cat (wife) was/is in Idaho (studying for her Doctorate in Athletic Training) so I drove up to the race solo.  I arrived and just as expected didn’t know a single person there racing.  Checked in/signed up and made my way to transition to rack my bike etc.  It was open racking so I found a decent place on the end of the rack.  I actually did a bit of a warmup for the swim, may have made it a whole 25 yards, and also practiced my diving start from the beach.

The water was HOT.  Hotter than the air temp that morning.  The race director announced that it was 91 and wetsuits would not be allowed (ROR).  I started the swim on the inside right up front.  The director counted down the seconds and we were off.  I felt really good most of the swim considering I haven’t swam since IMTX.  Stayed in open clear water most of the time and didn’t have to fight off anyone.  I never was able to catch a good draft and didn’t focus too hard on finding one.  The swim had to be longer than 800 yards, I hugged the buoys and was pretty consistent so my pace seems extremely slow.
Swim = 800 yards – 16:56

T1 went pretty smooth.  Out of the water, ducked under the fence to get into transition, took my time grabbing shoes, helmet, water, and sunglasses.  One thing Im not used to and learned pretty quickly is that mountain bike shoes don’t really slip off the pedals when you don’t get clipped in, so you can pedal pretty well without being clipped in.  I noticed a few mounting their bikes but not getting clipped in so I tried the same and it worked well.
T1 = 1:11

The bike is where I learned a lot about Xterra triathlon.  I also learned a lot about bike handling on the trails.  Right out the bat, within the first half mile where we first entered the “trails”, there were several people down and off their bikes making everyone behind them lose momentum and have to stop, including myself.  It was difficult to get back on, clip in, and make the decents/climbs/turns that abruptly came after.  I got through that part and was huffing and puffing trying to be a speed demon and then I tried to make a sharp right turn and ended up face down in the middle of the trail.  Got back up and started worrying if this was the right sport for me.  I held back on the speed and took all the turns much more cautiously but was still finding it hard to make the turns.  I finally just pulled over and let out a good bit of air in my front tire.  This really helped with making the turns and I didn’t crash too much after that.  Not too much…. It was a 3 loop bike course and each lap the trail got more packed down and was easier to navigate. We had to slow through each lap so a volunteer could mark your bib number to keep count of your laps. I only hit a few more trees within the last 2 loops and was really flying (compared to eating dirt) by the last.
Bike = 13 mile – 1:38:00

T2 was really easy and smooth just like any triathlon except I left my shoes on until I racked my bike.
T1 = 1:22

The run started off on an old sandy clay road around the small lake.  My legs were dead from the start.  We looped around then had to run up a hill that had recently been mowed with small shrub stumps sticking up in the path.  I ran up it the first time, but this was a 2 loop course…  Got back on the road and a small buck (with velvet still on its antlers) got spooked and ran out in front of me.  Pretty cool.  I was dead, and hot, and dehydrated so I walked through the first aid station to rest and drink some water.  And yeah, the first aid station was just one mile in… I suck.  We went back down near the lake and then had to run up a small cliff.  Running up this thing was impossible so I climbed it like everyone else and had to walk again to catch my breath once I reached the top…  Made it through the first loop (2 miles), got my hair tie on my wrist (to prove I made the first lap) and shuffled on through to the second.  Basically the same for the second loop except I had to walk the first hill and didn’t have a deer jump out in front of me.  I finished not so strong and didn’t puke, I was too beat to puke, I was tired, and not prepared for this type of race, but that’s how you learn and keep triathlon and endurance sports interesting.
Run= 4 miles – 42:28

Overall = 2:39:58
Overall I had a blast and am so glad I chose to do this race! I don’t think Xterra is my new sport but I definitely  will be back to race again.  Its so fun and very challenging, makes you feel ALIVE!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I am doing this race as my first off-road tri on Sunday. I am now re-evaluating my planned timing! I think I have under estimated how hard the bike might be. Jason