I don't think there have been many times I have managed to win the same race a year later. Something has typically got in the way, like a toe or knee surgery. Thankfully, (knock knock) I have managed to be injury free for almost 2 years now, and I think the results are starting to show that. After doing 2 70.3 races already in June, I was not really looking forward to racing yesterday in Wales. As I have said before, the course there is notoriously demanding, and there is really no where to hide. You just end up suffering like a dog. To top it all off the weather ended up being "bloody awful". It chucked it down all day, and made the course muddy, and slick....but a lot of fun.
Of course it was also Mike's big debut at Xterra racing, so both Dibens were waiting nervously for the starting gun. Having led out all the men before in Xterra, just before the start I doubled checked with the race organizer where the swim went. It wasn't totally obvious, as they only had tiny little turn buoys marking the course. The start of the swim is never fun, and what makes it a little tricky for me, is that often a lot of the guys have more initial speed than me.
Then as they start to suck wind, I have to make the judgement call as to whether to just conserve energy, or make a move round them and keep the pace high. We hit the first turn buoy with about 5 of us all in a line....and sneaky MD tucked in nicely behind. After we turned the buoy I made a move for the front. I managed to take the lead just before the 2nd turn. Now this is where all the shenanigans began. I new at this point that we then had to hug the bank of the lake and make one more turn before heading to the exit of the lake.
So there I was swimming along, and all of a sudden I can see the whole field heading straight to the swim exit. Well whole field minus Dibens no.2!!! So from what I hear everyone cut the course except Mike and I! So really I guess you could have said they are all DQ'ed, leaving Mike and I to battle it out for 1st and 2nd! That's not what happened, but it would have been nice :) They ended up giving us a minute time bonus on the swim, hence we had the two fastest swims. Which I think actually was a little generous...but hey we'll take it. Luckily it had no real impact on the race results...but hopefully it was a lesson learnt by all.
Once out on to the bike, for both of us, it was just a case of putting our heads down, and settling into our own rhythm and pace. Being faster swimmers, we end up getting passed, quite quickly, by some of the top pro men. You are always tempted to try to go with them, but with climbs ahead of us on the day we had decided to just ride our own pace. The bike was pretty uneventful for me, which is a good thing. Other than during the first 20 minutes or so, it also ended up being a pretty lonely ride as I was in no man's land between the pro men, and the top age groupers behind. It was extremely muddy, wet, and slippery, but thankfully it wasn't cold, so it was all manageable. I had one wipe-out going through a ridiculously rocky section. As I was going through I remember think......ohhhhh this might be slippery....next second I was on my ass. Luckily no one saw. For my second wipe-out I wasn't quite so lucky. I was cruising along the flat grass into transition, and tired to take my foot out of my shoe, and just hit the deck right in front of everyone. I figured all the spectators needed a good laugh to lift their spirits in the rain.
I had a pretty comfortable lead heading out on the run, which was what I was hoping for. I was really hoping I didn't have to red-line it, as I knew my body hadn't recovered fully from last weekend. It certainly wasn't easy out there, and I have a huge amount of respect for everyone who made it round. Talking to Multiple Xterra World Champ Conrad Stoltz afterwards, he said that this was the hardest Xterra run course by far!
Fourth is no good enough