I definitely did not feel ready for Xterra Tahoe City. The weeks leading up to the race I had been on the road quite a bit for work. Add to that the temperatures in Tahoe had dropped back into the 30’s at night and I knew Lake Tahoe was going to be one cold swim!
Race day came before I knew it! The night before I made a decision to race with no expectations, just go out, treat it as a training day for Xterra Victoria and have fun. Because of how cold the lake was I warmed up with a run before putting the wetsuit on and heading down to the pier. I jumped in with about 10 minutes to go before the start, I lasted about 2 minutes before hoping out and finding a sunny spot on the pier to try and stay warm. The first lap was tough, mentally tough, telling your body it’s ok to feel this cold and to just keep swimming. The swim is one of the clearest, you can see the bottom the whole time so I just kept my head down, one arm after the other, starring down at the bottom to keep my mind off the cold and it must have worked! Lap two flew by and before I knew it I was climbing up the ladder, racing down the pier, up a short hill and across the street to the transition area. The whole time my hands and feet were so cold, I was struggling to get my suit un-zipped and down to my waist before entering transition.
I finally got it and managed to wiggle out but boy was it hard to do everything else, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, gloves, check. Out on the bike I was shivering, shaking, but it didn’t take long to warm up, at least most of me! The first part of the bike goes straight up hill, you climb for 13-16 minutes, after that it is pretty fast with a short climb in the middle and before you know it you are flying thru the meadow and starting your second lap. I had no idea how I was doing, after the first climb I really did not see many people, a few guys as I started lap 2, but I kept on pushing and was feeling pretty good!
I came into transition not looking forward to the run, it also starts straight uphill! I made this transition quick, deciding to forgo socks, slipped on my shoes, grabbed my race belt and nutrition and took off running. I made it up the hill (last year I walked) I felt pretty good so I told myself to just keep running! As I neared the trail head I saw one of my mountain bike team members, she was volunteering on the course, she told me I was in third place – I was really confused, how could I be in third place. Anyway that got me a little excited so I kept on running – up more hills!
The run course is one of the hardest runs, it goes about 3 miles up hill and then 3 miles downhill, keep in mind you are at altitude (6500+ feet), oh and I did not wear socks was getting some awesome blisters! Anyway I made it to the top, passing some guys along the way and not seeing any women. At the top I got my legs going and really tried to pick up the pace, I was hoping to break an hour on this run course! I pushed as hard as I could down the gravel roads, but as soon as we hit pavement a few of the guys I had passed on the uphill passed me right back! Oh well, I kept on pushing, looking at my watch, I had 5 minutes to go if I wanted to break an hour. The last part of the run goes along a residential road, pass the transition area, back towards the swim pier and along the water. It really is a beautiful way to end a race. I crossed the finish line with 2 minutes to spare, I was so happy to have broken an hour on the run course! Even happier with my finish, 1st place in my age group and 3rd women overall! Big Blue did a great job putting on the race, the volunteers were great, the support was amazing!