Going into the Xterra Trail RunNational Championships this weekend in Ogden, Utah, I felt the fittest I have felt so far this season. My workout around Lake Padden on Wednesday showed promise that my strength and speed is starting to come around. I gained a lot of experience from my previous races in California and Park City in regards to racing longer distances and at altitude, respectively, so I knew there would be no surprises for the course that waited at the Snowbasin Ski Resort. With all of those factors under my belt, I was excited to race.
We arrived at Snowbasin Friday at lunchtime with the intention of running the second half of the course. My knee was feeling a bit cranky so I made a smart decision to take the day off. Luckily I have Tad to act as my eyes and legs, and so while I waited in the car and ate all of the snacks I brought for the weekend, he ran the last 9 miles of the course. Saturday we were able to run the first 4 miles together and so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into before I lined up this morning.
|Me and my buddy, Brad.|
Lindsey Anderson, defending champion and course record holder, was returning to the race this year. As a local runner she has the advantage of living and training at altitude. There is also the little fact that she competed for the USA in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Liz Stephen from Vermont was the runner-up in 2011 and also returning this year. There is also the little fact that she competed for the USA in cross country skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I knew they were going to be hard to run with.
The race was off to the sound of a gun that sounded more like a canon. Before heading up the trail, they had us run a "victory" lap around the parking lot to spread out the field. People took off like it was the 5th Avenue Mile. As soon as I started the climb at a half mile, I knew I was at 6,000 feet and I accepted that I would be sucking air for the next 13 miles.
Liz took it out very hard and Lindsey just hung on. By the mile, they were out of site. I passed Tad just after the mile and he informed me that there was no woman in site behind me and, "Good job". Because he wasn't screaming in my ear to catch the leaders like he usually does, I knew that Liz and Lindsey were long gone and never to be seen again. Today I will be running for third place.
|A Hurtin' Pup|
I settled into running with the men and just ran my own race. I knew there was $400 on the line so I wanted to be sure to keep my spot. I felt as though I kept pushing and never let up for the entire race. I know this because I was breathing too hard to open a GU. Fortunately, I didn't need it today.
Lindsey ended up defending her title with Liz close behind. They both crushed the previous course record. My finishing time of 1:39:59 was solid based on last year's results.
|Liz, Lindsey, Maria|
Thank you to the Xterra race directors- you all had a huge weekend of events to pull off and you did so superbly. I look forward to returning to Snowbasin next year. Thank you to Inov-8 for my Roclite 268's- they are my go-to shoe, ready for any terrain and distance. Thank you to the kind spectator at 3.5 miles who told me that my running was beautiful- you made my day.
|Top 3 Men & Women|
After the race, it was fun to have a chance to hang out and catch up with fellow Washingtonian, Joe Gray as we waited for the awards. Rest up, Joe- you've had a great year!
|Me and my Camera Man|