The Xterra Mountain Championships is one of the toughest courses on the circuit and also happens to be my favorite. This year I managed a 4th place finish in a strong field of women and took over 4 minutes off my time from last year.
My swim was less than stellar and I came out about a minute behind a big group of girls. I was disappointed with my swim but not worried because I am part mountain goat and the straight uphill bike suits me well. I quickly passed many women in the first two miles of the course and moved up into 2nd place. I could see Melanie ahead of me and was inching closer to her with Kelly Cullen right on my wheel. I always gauge how I'm doing on the bike by how long it takes Shonny to catch me. I got to where she passed last year and still no sign of her. I kept thinking "Shonny should be coming by any minute". Well, turns out I continue to get faster on the bike and she didn't catch me until the top of the paved road section. When she caught me we rode together passed Mel and continued riding together until the top of the climb at which point she pulled away from me. Mel, Kelly and I continued to play cat and mouse the entire rest of the bike course. With about 3 miles to go on the bike my stomach started cramping up and I slowed a bit to see if I could get it to relax before the super hard and hilly run. I came into T2 in 4th and knew if my stomach cooperated I could run some girls down. No such luck with my stomach behaving. I managed to get through the first big climb but it was running the first long downhill that put me over the edge. I resorted to walking some, a few stops to try to rub the cramping out and thoughts of "can I keep going?" crossed my mind. Of course, I kept going and was hoping that nobody would catch me. Thankfully, I had a big cushion of time off the bike and wasn't caught on the run leaving me in 4th at the finish line and only 25 seconds behind 3rd.
Shonny took the win, Mel second, Kelly Cullen 3rd, me 4th and Emma in 5th. Yep, that's all three Specialized Xterra girls in the top 5 (Mel, me, Emma). Nice work ladies! While I wanted to be closer to a WIN I have to be proud of being only 5 minutes behind last years World Champion, Shonny. I'd say it was a pretty good day for this social worker by day and professional triathlete by wee hours of the mornings and weekends.
Thanks to all my great sponsors, Avia, Specialized, Native Eyewear, Infinit, NoTubes, and Honey Stinger! I feel like I'm on the cusp of a really great race and hoping it will happen at Nationals!