i am not sure why but i have always wanted to do an xterra type of triathlon. part of the reason why i got into mountain biking and the idea of getting back to nature and roughing it appeals to me. but these type of events are few and far between and when they do have them they usually require a paddle leg and i dont do paddling. but my opportunity finally arrived and i signed up for the long course xadventure in dunsborough. it is a 1500m swim, 12k trail run and 25k single track mountain bike. now just because i have always wanted to do an xterra event is no guarantee that i will be any good at them - especially taking into account that i do not run trails in training and i have only been on the mountain bike twice since cape to cape in october 2011. even then i am still a crap mountain biker.
i drove down to bunbury on saturday early and picked up dad on the way down to dunsborough. you had to check in the day before so that was a bit annoying but a good opportunity to check out the course. the transitions were in different locations. got my race pack and free tshirt which actually was quite decent and fit for a change. stopped by the bakery for some carb loading and we were on our way back to my folks. i was pretty much organised so had a nana nap before catching a meal with my brother, sister-in-law and parents at the local pub. in bed early only to have the worst nights sleep ever.
i was up at 4.30 am for the 50 minute drive to dunsborough. got a good parking spot which was very handy and became like a third transition. i set up my bike first and then walked down the hill to the run transition which was directly out from the swim. set up my gear there and then headed back to the car. weather was cool with no wind. for once wind on the bike was irrelevant. the course had only one aid station and that was half way on the run. there was also part of the run where you would be required to jump off a big rock and swim around before climbing back out. so i was a little worried about nutrition and wet shoes.
i have decided that i am not a fan of the multi-sport crowd. it is not just one thing but a combination of a few. they may be a little arrogant and not so friendly. i think they think they are hard core. i did not like the competitors who were laughing at the guy doing back stroke in the swim. i didnt like the guy on the side line who made a crack at me when i came through on the second lap of the bike. seriously - he was a supporter on the side line doing nothing. i was not happy with the guy who ran up the back of my bike and tried to take out my derailleur because i didnt get out of the way as soon as he came up behind me. i called him a wanker and he called me a useless bitch. nice one dude. i did not like when i finished (and there were quite a few behind me) the recovery tent had already been packed up and they had started presentations. i didnt give a fuck about the presentation but i was really looking forward to a cold drink. this seems to be standard at any event where you use a mountain bike. then i didnt like the guys who spoke to me later at the car. they asked how i went and i said okay - i had fun and liked the course. they asked how long i took and i said no idea. they asked what my finish time was and i said again i had no idea. i wanted to ask if that was important but these guys had that new look. new, clean gear. new clothes that appeared to come straight out of the kathmandu catalogue. they looked soft and i didnt like them.
from the very beginning i was at a disadvantage. our wave was the last and over 30 minutes behind the start so this was never going to look good. i just hoped i got back before they packed up transition. this was one of my better swims. the water was cool but very calm and very clear. i enjoyed it and while i didnt feel super fast i did really well sighting and swam in ahead of quite a few girls who somehow went way off course. i wasted time getting my wetsuit off but finally got my running shoes on and i was off along the beach. it is a great deal easier running after a swim and not the bike. the first kilometre was a mix of beach sand and hidden rocks and seaweed. but before long it was just rocks and this is where my lack of experience really cost me. it took me over 30 minutes to travel 2 kilometres. it was over an hour before i made it along the coast and then up past the meelup carpark and onto the forest trails. while climbing over the rocks i had quite a few girls for company but moved past them when i got onto the trails. after that i was on my own the whole time and only managed to run past one guy. i had no trouble jumping off castle rock and it was a bit weird doing survival breast stroke with runners on. as i went to climb out i spotted $50 floating in the water. WTF ???!!! who takes money and then loses it ! but good score on my part. only bummer was i strained my thumb trying to climb out over the slippery rocks and this became a bit of an issue on the bike.
the run through the park was really nice and you caught glimpses of the ocean. it was very peaceful but you still had to watch where you ran as rocks and logs were everywhere. it was also very hilly and went up and down. this has to be the longest 12k i have ever run. in fact it was about 12.5k and eventually took me 2.09. about the same time as i run a half marathon !! i thought i was really looking forward to getting onto the bike but i was dreading it.
i was lucky that the weather never got really hot. i only had one drink during the run at about the half way mark at the one and only aid station. i thought that for a 12k run i could get away with just the one stop. if it had been hot i would have struggled. on the bike i had two bottles and that was only just enough. when i started out on the bike i was knackered. my legs were really tired and it took awhile to get comfortable on the bike. i hated the first lap. i hate the bike, i hated the fucking dirt and gravel and hills and trees that were all in my way.
i hated the fact that i really sucked and i was so slow. i wanted my triathlon bike and i wanted to go fast. one thing you must have when mountain biking is confidence and i had none. so you suck even more. i was very happy to begin the second lap. the single track was located at the top of a hill so each time you had to climb to the top. it was quite subtle but you knew you were working harder than normal. and each time there was a guy at the top who would tell you you had finished the climb and it was now going to be easy. the first lap took me 1.15 and the second only 1.02. less people and by then i had got some form together and i was feeling more confident.
at the end you had to rack your bike and take your shoes off before running through the finish line. i was pretty happy to get there. i have to admit there were quite a few times where i really wanted to quit. i had decided if i had a mechanical on the bike i would have just packed it and walked back. in the end i learnt a hard lesson that you really have to train for the course.
afterwards i headed straight down to the run transition as i knew they would be packing it up and i was right. i grabbed my gear and had a whinge to the guy there about the missing recovery drink. i then hobbled over to the beach to pick up my thongs and glide i left at the swim start. they were still there and i decided to have a swim and wash all the dust and dirt off. i then loaded up my bike and drove back to bunbury. i was starving but could not decide where to stop or what to eat. in the end i waited till i got back to the folks and pigged out on an ice cold choc milk and bananas. packed up the rest of the gear and the dogs and then it was time to drive back to perth. this is where i should have put on the compression gear.
arrived back in ellenbrook around five and stopped off at the local pizza place and used some of my $50 score to order a feast. then i dropped the dogs off and came back for them. best fucking pizza EVER. over the next few days my legs were absolutely rooted. they were not even that sore after ironman. i had trouble walking and getting up and out of chairs ! i was back training by wednesday and with a massage that hurt like hell and a few soaks in the tub i finally came good.
i would only do this event again if i trained for it. and i dont know if i want to take time away from triathlon. mountain biking is not an easy skill to learn and i am not sure i enjoy it that much. i am not into doing team events so it has to be all or nothing. this was a fabulous course and a reasonably challenging one and that alone will make the event popular. lets hope in future they give the same consideration to the back of the pack competitors as they do the fast people. the volunteers on the day were absolutely awesome.