LYNX athlete, Rob, recently competed in the Xterra West Championship in Henderson, NV. Here is his race review:
“When I registered for the 2014 Xterra West Championship it was with the intent to use the time prior to the event and the event itself as training to kick off the 2014 season. The warm weather would provide favorable training temperatures, the desert would be great to run and mountain bike in, and the lake was at the resort so open water swimming could be done daily. What a great way to combine a vacation and training into one week! The lake itself is not that big and is manmade. The water was really cold to start and Xterra said it was 12C. It actually warmed up throughout the week and was very manageable on race day.”
I asked Rob the following questions:
Q: Was it easy to get to?
A: I flew into Vegas then rented a car to travel 30 minutes east to Lake Las Vegas near Henderson. The resort is nestled in the desert hills on the south end of Lake Las Vegas.
Q: How was the water being such an early race?
A: The water was very cold at the start but warmed up with the 34C temperatures during the week. The lake was very murky and full of “lake zombies”. I was initially freaked-out swimming by myself as the ducks would follow behind me and would attract the lake zombies. The zombies seemed to always just stay beyond the murkiness were they could not be seen. But they were there… I know it!
Q: How was the weather?
A: The weather was in the 32 to 34C range. Out on the desert the heat was brutal. Being from Calgary, it took a few days to adjust.
Q: What was the competition like?
A: The competition was very stiff.
Q: Was the race well organized?
A: It was very organized even with a last minute move of the start/finish and swim location. The run course was changed to follow most of the MTB course.
Q: How many competitors?
A: Approximately 300
Q: What were your overall impressions of the swim, bike and run course?
A: All the courses where good. Bike / Run course was hilly with a lot of loose rock and sand.
Q: Did you feel prepared? Would you do anything differently?
A: With the race so early in the season it is hard to prepare much better. Next year I would try to run more prior to the event.
Q: Would you do the event again?
A: Yes, I plan to do this race again next year.
Weather: 30C, sunny, and very windy after the swim
Swim: The swim went well. I had no problems swimming in a group and found the swim very easy as I was only working at a 70% or 75% effort. The glare of the sun on the water and the splashing almost made it imposable to see course markers. I had to stop about 6 times to figure out where I was and get re-organized. I need better goggles and need more open water practice, as I lost 3 or 4 minutes do to navigational challenges. Coach comment: Open water practice is super important…hard to get into open water in Calgary prior to June. Watch for Talisman Centre Aquathlons throughout the year for practice.
Bike: The wind was really blowing at his point. The dust was drifting across the road in some parts and the wind would bring you to a stop in other places of the course. I had to use my small chain ring and a low rear gear on the flats in some spots. The course had lots of loose rock that made climbing a challenge and descending scary. I passed a few riders that had crashed and they looked like they slid across a cheese grater. I flatted on the first major downhill of the first of two laps and stopped to repair the flat. The tire went soft twice and I had to stop to add air. Once the flat occurred I knew I was racing to finish and I am sure I lost a good 30 minutes dealing with this problem. I passed at least a dozen riders with flats. Overall I had a great ride and was climbing well considering I had not done any MTB’ing since October. I caught a lot of riders in the technical and nasty downhill sections. It was a fantastic ride.
Portion of bike course
Run: The run was a slog. My legs were cooked from the steep climbs and the wind. Need to run a lot more! Coach comment: Approaching race season or even sooner, it is important to do bike / run brick workouts. But in this case, being from Calgary and it NOT being mountain bike season it would be impossible to mimic these race conditions.
Overall: Things went really well!!! A lot of competitors DNF’d and it was nice to finish. There were 27 starters in my age category and only 19 finished. I managed to finish first last… Next year I am shooting for second last. I met a few guys in the “pro” class and gleaned a few words of advice. That was cool. Coach comments: This was an early season race in drastically different training conditions on drastically different terrain than what you train on in the winter in Calgary. You had a great attitude from start to finish and great race. Well done!