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XTERRA Mountain Championships, part 2

The McCurdy's at XTERRA Mountain Championships
Beaver Creek, CO 2015
Okay, so I rambled away in the previous post, setting the stage for a complete downfall in the XTERRA Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek. I babbled on and on about all the reasons (or excuses) of why the race wouldn't go well for me. Last year, however, I really worked on training my brain to be logical when it came to racing and prerace fears rather than paying attention to the screaming chimp (thank Simon Marshall for that depiction) inside my head that sends all the buzzers off, calling "May Day, May Day, you are sinking, you are drowning, you are going to die!!! What were you thinking signing up for this? You are totally out of your league, girlfriend. Abort, Abort! Go home NOW."

Two things I learned last year during my Ironman training... 1. You really can silence your inner chimp, face those fears, and come out victorious on the other end.  2. Being a mom of a child with special needs teaches you how to dig deeper, be tougher, fight harder, and not give up even when all hell breaks loose in your life.  I remember a hot June day last summer in Georgia where Hayden woke up with a high fever. The fever kept climbing during the day, but an upset stomach wouldn't allow her to keep any medications in her, including both her seizure meds and Motrin. Late in the afternoon we put her in a cool tub of water to hopefully help bring the fever down and let her have a little bit of fun (playing the tub always makes her smile). David and I closed the sliding doors on the tub to keep the splashing water from soaking the bathroom floor, and sat about 3 feet away from the tub. Suddenly, we both realized we did not hear splashing anymore. Dave pulled back the door and saw Hayden submerged. He grabbed her limp body out of the tub and set her on the ground. I immediately started CPR, not knowing if she was drowning or seizing (at that moment, the brain stopped thinking and went into automated mode). She revived quickly, but was still quite "off" as Dave talked to 911 on the phone. When the ambulance arrived, they decided to life flight her to Scottish Rite Children's Hospital (mainly because traffic in Atlanta on a Friday afternoon can be horrendous and flying over it rather than going through it could save hours). Hayden pulled through and her viral fever diminished after 48 hours. We came home and jumped right back into training, work and life as a family. Is that normal? I pray to God that it isn't, but it is part of the "normal" that we live. Hayden's medical issues are minimal compared to many children with Angelman Syndrome and I hear heart wrenching stories every day about what those families are going through. No child or family deserves this, but it is what it is and I know part of God's bigger plan. It does, however, teach us that we truly are capable of so much more than we can imagine. It also reminds us that life can change in an instant, so if given the opportunity to experience or do something, seize it -you don't know what the next day, week or year may be like, but you can give your all to make this day memorable.

Was July 18, 2015, the day of the XTERRA Mountain Championships at Beaver Creek, memorable? It truly was for me. After checking in up at the base of the ski slopes Friday evening, letting Hailey gem mine at a little exhibit they had set up, and wrestle with Hayden who was quite fussy and irrationally difficult, we checked into our room (yay for amazing last minute deals online, we had an incredible room with a view for pennies compared to the original cost), found one of my favorite pre-race dinner places to eat in Vail- Qdoba- away from all the anxious racers and crowds. Did I ever mention how thankful I am to have a husband who doesn't mind driving to the next town just to appease my pre-race ritualistic needs? God love him for putting up with me!

Hayden flipped her tent bed (she sleeps in a "Ready, Set, Bloom" tent bed that is literally on its last legs when we attempt to travel), over and over around the room most of the night. Who needs sleep the night before a race anyway? I never do -ha!

Morning arrived and we headed to drop off my running gear at T2 (which was at the ski slope base rather than down in the town of Avon by the lake), then headed down the mountain to Nottingham Lake, T1, and the race start. I did a little pre-race jog around the lake, then wiggled into my wetsuit for a practice swim. Dave could read exactly how my swim warm-up went when I walked over to him upon exiting the water, eyes brimming with tears. I was freaking out. Chimp was screaming in my head "You are only swimming once/week if that. You can't make it 2 laps around this cold mountain lake! What are you thinking?!" Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. I was in panic mode. Minutes later, the gun went off for the Pro wave and things calmed down in my head. I watched them glide over the water with strong, swift strokes and remembered that its just swimming. Just get through the swim and then you get to climb the trails into some of the most beautiful aspen groves and scenery around.

After fighting for a position for a couple yards which always seems longer than it really is, I found my rhythm. The water was beautiful. I even opened my eyes under water (I learned after swimming in Lake Peachtree's murkiness over a few summers to keep my eyes tightly shut for fear of catching a glimpse of what lie beneath) and was calmed by the clarity and the green grasses dancing below the surface. Lap 2 flew by and I was almost disappointed to leave this beautiful scene.

I spotted Hailey and Dave as I exited the water and Hailey ran along side of me towards transition. I've never seen her so happy and excited during a race. What an energy boost that gave me! The bike started on pavement for the first mile, then began climbing the dirt single track trails up and up and up, crisscrossing the slopes of Bachelor Gulch resort and over towards Beaver Creek. I had 2 girls pass me in the first mile of single track and my goal was to keep them in site. There was a lot of traffic on the tight trail which made passing tough, but allowed me to conserve a little until we hit a gravel road climb at mile 5. I spotted my 2 friends, Paula Marsh and Julie Bruckman in their super sharp matching CocoVia kits on the gravel grinding climb and passed Paula, then hung on and rode with Julie for almost 2 miles, That was tons of fun. Julie's so friendly out there that even though we were racing and in the same age group, she is always cheery. In fact, we met during XTERRA Southeast Championships during a 3 mile bike climb and had a nice chat back then. Who would have ever guessed back then that I would get to live near her and race out here in the Rockies the following year?!

I slowed down during some tight switchbacks on the final stretch into transition, an area I am sure downhillers flew through effortlessly. I am getting more comfortable on the mountain bike, but switchbacks are still challenging for me with my Specialized Fate 29'r when I am just at 5'2". That being said, an advantage for having the bike with the bigger wheels is that it makes riding over or down rock gardens soo much easier. We got to show off on one just as we were coming into transition -perfect photo op!

Maybe I should have read the run course description before the race, but I knew it had a climb (after all, this race was all about going uphill) so I kept my head down and just started chugging. I gave my friend, Jeanine Synder, a pat on the back as I passed her a little over 1/2 mile into the run -reminded me of how we met at XTERRA Lory, my 1st race of the season out here. She is an amazing swimmer, matches my speed in the bike, and thank goodness for me, the run comes last or I would never see her out on course. At the top of the long, tight single track climb, a volunteer yelled "its all downhill from here!"... and I believed him. I let the legs go down the gravel road, heading back toward Kalei Waiwaiole's voice, XTERRA's rockstar announcer and MC. And then it happened... a red arrow pointed to the left, away from the finish and up a looming hill. I remember about 2/3 the way up the hill, I asked a guy I was passing "who put this hill here?" Seriously, I didn't read about a 2nd hill on the course, one that was longer and dragged on and on. I focused on a Braveheart kit I spotted ahead. It was Caroline Colonna, who still races Pro at age 51 and kicked my tail at the Braveheart training camp in San Diego last January. After I passed her, I tagged along right behind the 2 girls that got me at the start of the bike and probably surprised them a bit when I pulled out ahead as broke out of the tight trail and turned onto the final half mile of dirt road that lead us back to the finish.

Crossing the finish line at Beaver Creek was such a blast. There are so many people hanging around and the atmosphere is like a big party. The posted results revealed that I finished 2nd in the 40-44 age group, thus earning a spot at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui this coming November 1. Maybe I will give this XTERRA triathlon thing a push forward this year and see where it goes... After all, I have a couple of mountains out my door to climb now and the benefit of training with lack of oxygen living at over 6000 feet elevation. Plus, how much would the girls love a reason to go to Hawaii on vacation?!


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