This was the second year in a row that I decided to drive down, morning of, for Xterra Fort Yargo. Neither time has it seemed like a good plan but for some reason I keep doing it. Hopefully next year I will learn and decide to camp for the weekend like most races I do. To get there in time and allow time to stop for gas, food, and bathroom, we left my house at a very early 2:30 AM, which probably ended up making me more tired for the race than I thought.
After stopping a few times for necessities, we finally made it to the park just in time for me to get a great position in transition. I got my transition set up, body markings done, and before long it was time to head down to the water. Between Xterra Myrtle Beach and Xterra Fort Yargo, I have found a bad habit of running out of time to get a proper warm up in. I try to do very little not to tire myself out or waist any extra energy, but also feel rather unconfident starting the race with completely cold muscles. I later found out that I missed a couple of my other secret pre-race traditions so all in all this race was not starting out on a good foot…
The siren rang and off the swimmers went. Before this race, I was never fast enough to really experience this “washing machine” that they call a triathlon swim start. Before even making it to the first bouy I had people hitting me in the head, cutting me off, going over me, and I’m pretty sure someone tried to go under me too. I had no idea what any of these maniacs thought they were doing, but it seemed like they cared more about hitting me than going forward. When I finally made it back to the beach of the “half mile” (haha yeah right, much longer than that) swim, I was very thankful to get out of the water in roughly 19th place.
I managed not smash my toe into a root or step on one of those dreaded pine cones between the water and my bike. Once I grabbed my shoes, helmet, and bike, it was off down through transition and onto the trails. I took a few minutes to get comfortable but once I did I was off to the races.
I was flying past people left and right trying to pedal as fast as I can. I got stuck behind a couple people that didn’t seem to want to move over very quickly, but nothing that tarnished my speed too much. After roughly 5 miles through the 10 mile bike, I started to notice that I couldn’t see any more riders. About another mile later I passed Jason Childre and he jumped right on my tail for the rest of the bike ride. We were flying in and out of trees, dodging the little amount of technical aspects on the trails doing anything we could to catch this elusive lead pack of racers. We finally made it to transition and I realize that the next few spots were not as far up as I thought.
I threw my bike on the rack, grab my shoes, bottle, and number belt and got out of there as fast as I could.
I ended up catching Yaro Middaugh who was currently in 3rd and passed him. After about another half mile of Yaro right on my tail, a terrible side cramp came out of nowhere and my pace was diminished. We had Josh Schaffer in sight and were slowly gaining, but by then I was slowly declining. After another few miles, Yaro had passed both me and Josh, my cramp had gone away, and I was slowly gaining on them again.
Although I was back in a good running condition, I didn’t have enough miles left or speed to catch either of them and ended up in a 4th place overall finish, 1st place age group.
I have the best cheering squad ever!
What I learned: Never underestimate a course because it seems that it is easier. Easier courses just mean that there will be more sprinting, which in turn can be just as if not harder than long courses at a steadier pace.