In retrospect, any of you who competed at this event: do you agree?
I bet most of the answers will be a "hell yeah"!
So this little write-up is a little about my return race to Xterra competition and and a lot more about Xterra Portland, and it's (hopefully) long future.
As I mentioned it before, I learned about this event from Will. He was very busy letting all pros know about this event months in advance. He did that through Facebook as well as on Instagram.
The race was held on the same weekend with Xterra Mexico so I calculated that the best of the best in the Panam series would be racing in Tapalpa. I was, luckily for me, right about this one.
Will helped me arrange a last-minute homestay with a family. They were super-duper-uber-awesome. Nikki and Doug made me feel home. Doug is an avid and active cyclist in the area and even helped me clean my bike the night before the race. I had some amazing meals with them and great talks. The room place was as great as it gets. Hopefully this didn't sound like airbnb review. They are great people!
The drive to Portland was rather smokey. Major fires throughout California made it breathing difficult for me, while it must've been a nightmare and a major catastrophe for those involved.
Upon arrival I quickly found my place and rested the night.
The next day I was able to find some pros who were willing to ride the course with me. Suzie Snyder and Jessica Koltz didn't know much about me before and hopefully didn't regret letting me tag along ;)
The bike course was a one-lap not-too-technical course. It reminded me of the course over good old Harmon Lake in Mandan, ND. Ya, most of you know nothing about that course. Never mind. It's like that. Fast, windy, short punchy hills, heaps of sand and brush to end up in. The faster you go the more difficult it gets. You get it?
The run course was mostly on the same course as the bike, except a section that was not at all (fun). The trail was led through this pasture that was never, ever, moved before. It was rough, the ankle rolling type. The kind you'd never think of running through unless you're ready to give up running forever after tearing your ligaments around your ankle. Lastly, the swim was in the Henry Hagg Lake. Water temperature was warm enough to swim without wetsuit- not a fan of it as I'm not a fast swimmer.
Race day came and I was ready for this. Or so I thought. My last Xterra was back in 2016 in Canada. Since then I'd had my fair share of injuries and bad lucks. This race was to shake the rust off and get motivated for the remainder of the season.
Will, the emcee, walked us through the entire race, a tradition at smaller Xterra's. When the gun went off we all splashed into the water. Surprise?! I say I had a pretty decent swim, came out of the water in front of former world champion Lesley Paterson- that was a booster for me. On the bike I had to pedal hard to fight off Lesley's continued attacks to pass me on the single track. At that point I still wasn't up to full speed. When I finally found my biking legs I was able to pull away and ride my own rhythm. I came across a few guys and was also passed by one or two. I did my best to ride hard, not to leave anything out on the course. However, I also wanted to play it safe and make sure that I didn't blow my legs as they tend to cramp when exhausted. Another worry of mine was hurting my calf muscle again. Those muscles tend to just pop and gone even during an easy run. Let alone at race pace after having pushed me through a grueling 17 mile bike race.
After getting off the bike I put my fears up on that shelf and I blew out of T2. Well, at least I thought I did, you know, it's the feeling when you think what you are like, but what you actually look like is a whole lot different. Like funny different.
I kept at it and passed back a few guys who got ahead of me on the bike. I ran the first lap reserved and picked up the tempo for the second lap. When I saw that there was no chance of reeling in the guy ahead of me anymore I let off the pace to keep muscle strain at bay.
Placing 5th in the pro division was a great feeling but completing the course without any injuries was even better.
The race concluded with a huge slip n slide at the finish line that was probably the highlight of the entire race.
Organization-wise the race was top-notch. The crew did their best and beyond to make sure that all turns and crossings had volunteers. The course was also well marked. A little more variety is all this race needs and it'll be a great race in the future.
Thanks again for Will, Doug and Nikki, and all the friends and family of other Xterra racers who clapped, yelled, and supported as I ran/biked past- even if you didn't mean to cheer me on- it felt great-- haha!
I'll try to come back and race again in 2019. I also hope that Will Kelsay will continue to help this event with his expertise and that the race continues to get better- there's no limit in excellence!
2018 Xterra Portland Results:
Find (and REGISTER for) the 2019 race at: