Tuesday, July 29, 2008

XTerra Vashon Island

My first XTerra (off road) triathlon was a couple weeks ago on Vashon Island and I truly enjoyed the experience.

We left a day early and stopped at the Clear Lake Triathlon for Jacobs third try at this race and he improved again finishing under 20 minutes!

After, we continued south to spend the day with my Grandma and took her a surprise lunch in honor of her 91st birthday and then spent the night at my parents. We all got up early Sunday morning and were off to catch the 6 am ferry to Vashon Island so I could pre ride the course to check for dangerous sections, roots, logs, rocks, sections where I could pass and spots to conserve a bit of energy.

We were second in line for the ferry behind other Bellingham triathletes (Tjalling and Dan) headed over for the same pre ride. It was great to be able to pre ride with these experienced XTerra studs (both have raced at XTerra world championships in Maui).

The guys at BuDu Racing were still setting up when we arrived, so we went out for our pre-ride before registering. Lots of the tape marking the course had been cut down so we took our time and reset what we could and I think pre riding helped me out during the race.

We got registered and walked down to the starting dock and given the course description and I almost had to laugh... Swim out and around this red sailboat over there and then head to the green one over towards the other side of the marina. trouble was there were three green sailboats to choose from. we got it all settled out and I, being a slower swimmer, was just following the swimmers in front of me so not too worried. and we were off, nice salty water (ug!) but only about half a mile so not too long and was out of the water in under 15 minutes and up the football field of mud at low tide (made for a shorter swim and was actually runnable and not too mucky)

I don't have click style pedals for my mountain bikes and just wore my running shoes for the bike and run. I got quickly onto my bike and was off out the parking lot and a very short section of road and right onto a tough, sandy, steep up hill section that I had to get off and push my bike, and being a race wanted to run while pushing and I was very soon huffing and puffing and pretty much red lined on top end of my HR.

Once up the course has less up and down and lots of winding single track which made it hard to know where other competitors were, but I just tried to keep on pushing myself and kept up some speed. We do this lap twice and it was easier the 3rd time (counting pre ride) and never crashed but did get banged and scratched up from how narrow the single track was with all the bushes and stuff. Great fun!

The final half mile or so of the bike course is on paved roads and mostly downhill so it made for a nice fast ride back into transition and since I already had my running shoes on, I had a very quick T2 and was off running.

Coming right out of transition is a steep hill that you must go up and across the road for a short on road uphill then onto a trail that, you guessed it, continues uphill, but once up was back on windy, up and down single track and again not knowing where other runners are kinda makes you run scared. There is a long paved road (maybe 3/4 mile) in the middle of the run that I was able to open up a bit more and then after is the flying descent back to the finish line right at the bottom of the same steep hill you went up to start.

All in all, I had a great time and enjoyed the event and course. BuDu has always put on a great event in my opinion.

I gathered up my stuff quickly as we were trying to catch a quick ferry off the south side of the island for the start of our trip to the Oregon coast staying at Cannon Beach. We made a couple wrong turns and when we got to the ferry dock, the ferry was just offshore headed over to Pt Defiance in Tacoma, so we got an extended rest waiting, but then were off the Debbie's parents for a shower, drop off the bikes, some lunch and quick visit then down to Oregon. Check out our trip pictures here.

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