The latest stop of the XTERRA US pro point series was June 10th in Richmond, Virginia. This is a unique venue since it is so close to downtown Richmond. It is always good for me to get out of the mountains and get a little culture of the bigger cities. This year I met my big brother Yaro at the race which is always good times regardless of what happens in the race.
The swim is short but interesting. We cross the currents of the James River twice and there are huge, belly scraping river rocks throughout. The bike course is on very well-maintained trails that twist and turn along the river and up and down the bank. There is more pedaling than the Alabama course, but more technical with more variation in terrain–still a very flat course. The run has a mix of urban terrain and trails with a few technical running sections, but again very little elevation change.
With three weeks of new technique swim training under my belt I was excited to see some improvement, although this crazy swim course is not always indicative of swim ability. About 200 meters into the swim I see two people sprinting by 0n an ankle deep sandbar, straight to the front of the race. I tried my best to keep my stroke together and keep the intensity up and during the second half of the race I found myself alongside my good friend and superior swimmer David Henestrosa. I exited the water in 4th position and just over a minute down to Conrad and Branden. Craig was off the front but not too far with the shorter swim.
I focused on riding the bike clean and putting down the power where I could. Towards the end of the first of two laps I was into 3rd place and I was actually gaining time on the lead. I found out later that Conrad had added a bit of distance with a wrong turn but regardless I was riding well and looking to put myself in position for the run. Then suddenly on the last section of single track on the first lap my chain jumped over the big chain ring. I tried to soft pedal the chain back on but ended up twisting the chain in knots and ripping it out of the rear derailleur cage. I was completely baffled for over 2 minutes trying to figure out how to unloop the chain without breaking the chain and how to thread it back into the rear derailleur. Meanwhile the race was zooming past me and the lead was becoming out of reach. Back on the bike I tried to get back into a groove but several more times on the course I was off the bike, putting the chain back on by hand. The mechanical was completely my fault since I was adjusting the set screw the day before so the chain wouldn’t rub in my highest gears. Note to self: Let the guys at Pedal Power tune the bike before big races. With a longer bike that in previous years I made sure to use nearly all of the 400 calorie EFS flask from First Endurance along with 2 water bottles to make sure I had energy for the run.
Onto the run I knew the lead was likely out of reach, but it was possible that I could run into second but it would have to hurt. I laid down the fastest run of the day by far and was able to catch Craig less than 200 meters from the finish. I didn’t hear a single split until about mile 4 1/2, Mac Wirth let me know that I was 1 minute down. Craig ran a good last mile and making up the last 20-30 seconds was very painful.
A cool feature of this race was the online tracking thanks to Luck Stone. We each wore GPS tracking devices so people at home and on race cite could watch our progress throughout the race. The next championship race is in Beaver Creek, Colorado and Luck Stone has decided to use the technology again so look for it on XTERRA’s website.
The Richmond race was the last of the flat-land races with the rest of the races on the schedule including very challenging mountain courses with long sustained climbs on the bike and run. I try to prepare the best I can for all XTERRA courses, but the fact is that I live in a place with great access to hills and flat, twisty courses are hard to simulate. I took a short mid-season break following Richmond and my main focus now is building endurance and getting my climbing legs back.