Another great weekend of racing in the belt! I left Friday late morning for the XTERRA event near Lincoln, Nebraska at Branched Oak Lake. In case you’re wondering, B.O.L.T. stands for Branched Oak Lake Triathlon! Clever… Anyway, I had hoped to arrive around 6 to 7pm, but because of numerous construction on I-80, I arrived at the campgrounds next to the lake around 10:00pm! What a long drive that was. I had never expected Nebraska to be so humid, I ended up having to run BOTH the wipers and the defroster to get my windshield de-fogged! That’s how humid it was!
I woke up early next day, to pick up the race packet and get the transitions set up. This would be my first race to swim point-to-point so I was very excited about that. I came to find out we also swim without our wetsuits! I was a bit nervous as I never have swam without a wetsuit in open water. The water was perfect temperature so I put in a good amount of warming up in the water, before the race, to get my mind used to the environment and the thought of swimming without my security blanket!
As I waited around for the start, I noticed that the field was smaller than the other 2 Xterras I’ve been to this year so far. As a typical deaf athlete, I let a row of people stand in front of me so I know when the race started. Once everyone started moving, I jumped into the water and started swimming. I noticed I didn’t have to pull or push so many people, so the start was very painless – no bashing in the face or foot meeting the nuts! It turns out I was 9th out of the water, so that was good news for me because then I don’t have to pass so many riders as you all know that the bike is my favorite part! The course was very much like a cyclocross race – mowed grass, tight switchbacks, muddy corners, and beer poured all over us… ok, no the beer didn’t take place.
I caught up to the first place when I got on the pavement (which was about 1/3 of the way through the bike leg) and he tried to get behind me by implementing the draft effect. I knew his game plan as I was passing him and could see him trying hard to keep on my tail. I tried shaking him off by swerving out and pushing a bit harder when he fell off my tail. I looked back after I put in a good push and sure enough, his head fell downward and I could see him pull back his power. YEAH!! Thanks to my coach for the awesome training! I continued putting in diesel power to build my lead. I blew by a turn-off point, so I had to turn around and pass the same guy again and rebuild my lead. Then, we faced even more switchbacks! Their trails really meander here! Then I missed another turn! I lost maybe a total of 4-5 minutes… By the time I was done with the bike leg, my abs and arms were unusually fatigued. That’s how many switchbacks there were!
The run mostly took place on the grass through the campgrounds. I couldn’t really power through it because the grass was so wet that if you tried to push off too hard, you’ll slip! So it was almost like running on sand the entire time. The altitude is significantly lower than at home, 1120′ versus 6600′, so the run was pretty easy to breathe through, however my legs weren’t 100% since I did a pretty hard training run workout on Thursday, which was ok – it’s all part of the training plan for the Nationals anyway. **Suspense music plays…** dum dah dum… I ended up winning the race! SWEET VICTORY! Hats off to Wade Wheatlake for 2nd place, Kevin Burke for 3rd place, and Jessi Stensland for 1st female overall! Great race and great people, as usual. See here for results!
Then I stayed around to help the breakdown of the course – the coordinators were so great to work with. Many thanks for the opportunity and I look forward to coming back next year.
Thanks to my coach, sponsors, Charlie Brown @ Mountain Pedaler and my family and friends for always believing in me and giving such great support. Always remember to be grateful for those around you – they’re a huge part of your life… well, at least mine anyway 🙂 On to the next one! -Klishy