We got to Whistler several days before the race, and one of the first things we did was ride the course. I mentioned I love Whistler riding. Generally it means riding the super-fun trails in Lost Lake, or suiting up with armour and baggies and trying some tougher stuff in the valley trails - usually with Jason as a spotter and lots of do-overs. But I'm thinking for racing, I'd chose the super-fun stuff I can ride well on. Unfortunately the bike course was of the harder, really technical (and very Whistler) variety. It started nicely with a single- and double-track climb, and then wound down flowy xc trails. After that, the course turned ugly. Really technical, super difficult, and not fun. It also went over A River Runs Through It, which is an amazing trail but not one I can race to say the least - big stunts, bridges, drops, and generally pretty crazy.
After pre-riding the course once, I figured I couldn't do it and wouldn't start the race. After all, this was my vacation and I was here to enjoy myself and have fun! Jason and Kiki talked me into keeping an open mind, so Jason and I went back the next day to ride the course again and work on some of the harder stuff. To get my confidence back, first I headed into Lost Lake and ripped around on a trail I love in there, and can clean all the bridges and drops. That helped, as I ended up doing better on the second pre-ride.
Life truly is all about choices. I was really stressed about the bike course, and couldn't decide whether I should start the race or not. I kept going back and forth. That evening we went to a birthday party, and everyone there agreed the bike course was crazy hard, and not really like any other Xterra. I felt less alone in my loserishness, and decided I would do the race. I also decided that I would choose to have FUN, and laugh when I was over my head instead of get all miserable about it.
On the beach race morning, it seemed like a lot of other racers had that same internal dialogue as there were about half the number of athletes on the start line than the race director announced had registered. I reminded myself I was choosing to have fun. The race started, I sprinted off the start then settled in, and ended up with my fastest 750m swim time of the year, and 6th out of the water. Then a long silly run into transition, then another longish run out as we couldn't mount our bikes until after a set of railroad tracks. I chose to take it easy in transition because as soon as you are on your bike, you are climbing, so I wanted my heart rate to be under control.
The climb was uneventful, then on the descent I passed a couple of people. One guy said I was a good descender (which of course made my day) and said he was going to follow my line down. We ended up riding the rest of the bike course together, laughing and joking when we were way over our heads on some stuff. Thanks Jim from Ottawa, you made it easy for me to stick to my choice to have fun!
|Near the end of the bike leg.|
We started the run together, but it didn't take long for him to drop me. This was a course for the super-strong runners, as it's steep uphill, then more steep uphill, then even more, then steep downhill. I don't know what was harder - the up or the down. I chose to stay positive and turn it into a power hike, and decided I'd say something positive to everyone who passed me. That turned out to be a good choice as it helped keep me in a good frame of mind.
|Heading out onto the run course.|
I was pretty happy to see the pavement again, as it meant we were almost finished (a weird surprise at the end of the run was winding down two flights of stairs at a resort before the finish line). My time was brutal, but I had FUN! The cherry on top was winning the women's 40-49 age group... but I won't tell you how many competitors were in it besides saying the victory wasn't completely uncontested.
|Humu and I post-race with my first-place medal.|
You see Tana, dogs are allowed on Whistler couches!
For anyone thinking of doing this event in the future... I'd leave you with a caution. I think the Whistler Xterra is a great event for mountain bikers who want to get into off-road triathlon. If you're a triathlete who wants to try out off-road, pick a different Xterra. Come to Whistler instead for fun!