Skip to main content

XTERRA Off-Road National Championships!

2 years ago when we came out to Utah for XTERRA Trail Run Nationals, we watched our friends compete in the USA Triathlon Championship race the day before. I remember saying that there is no way I could ever do that, yet 2 years later, I found myself standing on the shores of that same reservoir, shivering from head to toe as the air temperature barely reached 40 degrees. I wasn't fearful of the course, the competition, or even the mass start of men and women combined during the swim, but the cold... well, that scared the beegeebezies out of me. The water felt warm compared to the air temperature which actually made me want to do a long warm-up swim and not get out of the water until the very last minute (which is crazy for non-swimming loving me).

I gave Dave a quick kiss just as the start gun went off and we dove in with hundreds of our newest XTERRA triathlete friends. It was an elbow punching, kicking, mass of arms and legs for almost the entire first loop of the 2 loop swim course. I was stoked however, knowing I just kept pressing forward amongst the chaos without freaking out. My mind was calm and excited about getting to tackle the long bike climb up to Sardine Peak and down to a challenging but fun run course if I could get through the swim. I came out of the water about 3 minutes back of my age group lead pack, which even with training this season, is typical for me. As we took off on the bike, we started climbing up a shady canyon which made me question whether I should have taken the time to grab socks or arm warmers in transition. Fortunately, a good thing about climbing and climbing is that you warm up quickly.
 
It wasn't the perfect race, having a chain snap 10.5 miles into the bike, just after passing a line of competitors, watching them fly right back past me as I bewilderly stared at my broken chain lying on the trail. Without a chain tool to fix it, I thought my race was done, but luckily another biker was standing up the trail next to a volunteer. When he found out I didn't carry an extra chain link or tool with me (they were all in Dave's pack and he hadn't come to this point in the race yet- although I was certain he would be passing at any minute), he went to his pack and brought me his, helping me shorten and fix mine so I could continue on. I wish I knew his name or what happened to him during the race to place him along that stretch of trail, but he truly embodied the selflessness and genuine support for others that XTERRA is all about.

I knew I had a choice once I got back on my bike... Take in the sites and cruise the rest of the race, thinking my competitive race was done after loosing 5 to 10 min to the girls who passed me on the side of the trail, or buckle down, give it all I had and see what the legs and heart had left. I know I had trained hard for this race, I knew my legs could climb, and after learning so much about digging deeper than I knew I could after raising my sweet Angel these past 7 years, I went for it. I rode my bike harder than I ever had, even without the ability to switch more than a few gears for fear the tight chain would snap again. Funny, a few days before the race, I heard the song by American Authors, "Go Big or Go Home".  As I lay awake in bed the night before the race, my heart going through periods of palpations of anxiety visualizing the course, that song came into my head. I actually got out of bed and watched the YouTube video of it that night. It was almost like a premonition because after the bike incident, "Go Big or Go Home" started to repeat in my head. I even yelled it at the top of Sardine Peak (luckily no one was around to hear me) just as I was about to start the descent for the next few miles down to the finish of the bike leg.

I let the legs go on the run and ran with my heart- it truly is the most breathtakingly beautiful course and despite the burning lungs and legs, I was having the time of my life out there. Much of the run course, including the first grueling climb right out of transition and a second about 1/2 way through, were the same as the trail run course so it was like running on familiar ground with flashbacks of the race 2 years ago. Crossing that finish line was such a sweet victory, knowing I didn't quit, I dug in and gave it my all. (Yes, another life metaphor) Truly beyond honored to learn I finished 1st in the 40-44 age group of unbelievable women and get to carry the title of National Champion this year.


After racing the XTERRA Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek and qualifying for the World Championships in Maui this coming November, I asked Josiah and his brother Yaro Middaugh to coach me, wanting to see what my body could do if it actually got in a pool more than once/week and trained specifically for a mountain bike-trail run triathlon. Yaro took over my workout training with Josiah overseeing and checking in from time to time. They have been amazing. They not only understand the science behind the periodization of training, but also because they both have families and other life obligations, they get that we all don't just train for a living. They also understand that brains like mine need a balance of hard, structured workouts and playtime escapes on the trail to keep my mind and body fresh and happy. I really have to credit the training plan that they put together and their belief in me that helped make what was able to do at Nationals possible. I will never forget seeing Josiah standing out on the course as I was cutting through the final 1/2 mile of downhill singletrack toward the finish, saying "Is that Dee? Go Dee, Go!" Josiah had just (well, not just... more like an hour before) won the overall pro race, yet he removed himself from the crowded finish to come out on course and cheer us age groupers on. Truly a good man and class act. I am so honored to be part of the Middaugh Coaching team for the second half of the racing season this year and can't wait to see what lies ahead for all of us.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Unfinished business

2017 left me with an odd taste in my mouth, not bitter, but like an ingredient was missing in a fresh batch of cookies. The cookie was still good, but lacking that savory wow factor that leaves you smiling while licking your lips. 2017 was a fantastic year from a race result standpoint. I won overall amateur at the XTERRA PanAm Championships for the 2nd year in a row, won overall amateur at USAT off-road nationals and XTERRA Oak Mountain, finished 2nd in my age group to my good friend Jennifer Razee and 5th overall at ITU Cross World Championships in Penticton, Canada, and finished up the year placing 4th overall amateur at the XTERRA World Championships. I even was named Ms. XTERRA and USA Triathlon's Amateur Off-Road Triathlete of the Year. The sugar coating on the cookie that was missing, however, was the fact that 4th overall at XTERRA Worlds was only good enough for a 3rd place in age group medal.

I got into triathlon to use the sport to help raise money and awareness for An…

To bib or not to bib?

Hey cycling girlfriends! Let's chat.

I have been told many times, "once you try bibs, you will never go back to spandex cycling shorts again." The idea is that bibs don't have an elastic waist that cuts in to your middle when you are riding your bike, which makes you feel more comfortable and free to move on and off the saddle.

Based on the encouragement of other girls on bikes to try bibs, I bought a pair a few years ago... and while yes, they don't cut into the waist like traditional spandex shorts do, I was absolutely miserable wearing them and vowed never to wear them again. Why??? Because usually I have to "relieve myself" before, during and after a ride. I remember 10 minutes before the start of my first mountain bike race, I ran to the port-a-potty for one last pre-race nervous tinkle and about fell out of the outhouse attempting to take off my jersey which also housed my phone and race nutrition (thank goodness neither fell into the depths of th…

What the Little League World Series Taught Me About the Game... of Life

As a little girl growing up in the small town of Peachtree City, Georgia, my family didn't have cable television (I'm not even sure it existed in the early 1980's), but we did have a little black and white tv with a rabbit ears antenna that picked up the local TBS station when placed on the back porch. Every night during the summer, I can remember my dad watching and "coaching" the Atlanta Braves along through the small screen. If only Dale Murphy, Bob Horner and Sid Bream followed his advice, they might have won a couple more games back in the day.

I was not a great baseball/softball player. In fact, I only played one season when I was in 6th grade, spending most of my time in left center field picking dandelions inning after inning. I did get to pitch in one game, but succumbing to the nerves and not being able to see straight with my heart beating between my ears, I walked 4 batters in a row and was taken out of the game. When it was my turn to bat, I prayed f…