Xterra, Granite Bay, Folsom Lake

Xterra, Granite Bay, Folsom Lake
.5 mile Swim, 16 mile mountain bike, 3.5 mile trail run
Sunday, March 27, 2011

This race of all races has led me to question whether my passion for the extreme has finally left this 40-something body.   I’m contemplating packing up my things and heading to somewhere tropical for a really long time.

Anyway, with that being said, here are the freezing, muddy details of my (our day)


Driving to my Aunt and Uncle’s place in Auburn with rain pelting my windshield and wind threatening to thrust me into the ditch, I questioned whether I would actually compete in Sunday’s race.  Remembering last year and the brutal impact of the icy waters of lake Folsom, I was not in the least bit excited.  However, I’ve never backed out of something I’ve committed to mentally, physically, and financially. Plus, now I have so much more experience, conditioning, an Ironman wetsuit, thermal cap, booties, of which I did not have the year before.  (Last year I raced in a diving wetsuit that was a size too big, no cap, no booties)

I thought, “How much worse could it be”?  I pushed the negative thoughts aside and focused on how ready I was for this event.  “I was training for a ½ ironman for heaven’s sake, how hard could a little xterra sprint be”?  Oy VEY!!!!!


Woke up to cloudy skies and a speck of sun.  Hey, this might end up to be a pretty good day after all.  My thoughts reverted back to my sublime experience at the Alcatraz Tri last August and my spirits lifted.

Pre race nutrition between 8am and 10am

  • Slice of toast, little bit of peanut butter
  • 1 Dark chocolate Ensure
  • 1 medium starbucks coffee

Arrived at the race site at 830am, registered, found the porta-potties (only 4, no line…..yet)….public restrooms CLOSED.  UGH! Met up with Rob Noble, cool Kiwi from HIT and we headed over to the transition area with our gear. Set up went smoothly, didn’t forget anything, loaned a few extra things to Rob. Wish I’d brought my extra pair of booties for him.

As 10am approached, a beam of sun pierced through the clouds and I felt a little relief as I stripped down and then pulled on my skin tight wetsuit, booties, thermal cap, goggles, ear plugs, check, check, and check.

THE SWIM .5 miles, must have been below 50 degrees


Quick photo op when my Aunt and Uncle walked down to the lake shore.  A few pleasantries and “you guys are crazy” were exchanged.  I could see the “let’s all just go have breakfast, watch basketball, and drink bloody maries,” look in their eyes.

Can you imagine rolling around in snow in your birthday suit while eating an ice cream, then someone dumps a bucket of ice water over your entire body.  Well, it was worse than that for the first 5 minutes.  I attempted a few freestyle strokes with my head out of the water, then forced my face in….yikes!  A few more times and we were called back in. ….shoot, not enough warm up……

Let me just say, my race would have ended after the warm up if Rob were not there, without a thermal cap, no booties, suffering alongside me.  We commiserated, said good, luck and we were off.  Two strokes into it I started to hyperventilate, even though I didn’t feel cold (probably numb).  I could not catch my breath, started to panic, looked for a kayak and thought….shit I’m going to drown I can’t breathe.  I think I only took two or three free-style strokes, the rest of the race I stuck to a calm breast stroke, with my head above water.  There were grunts and groans all around me. Knowing I was not alone in my pain helped me press on. Finally hit the beach in 13:36 minutes…..wow, beat last year’s time doing the breast stroke, unbelievable.

¼ mile run to transition

Felt great to be out of the water.  Cruised past people trying to shimmy out of their suits.  I waited to make the attempt until I neared transition, knowing my suit peels off quickly and I needed time for my digits to defrost.  It was important for me to transition quickly so I would not get stuck behind a bunch of slow pokes on the single track (or so I thought)

Transition went smoothly until I jumped on my bike with my camel back half on and some of my nutrition fell out of my newly purchased sports basement deeply discounted jersey pockets (although very cute, I guess I found out the hard way there is a reason it was discounted).  Realizing I was about to hit the trail where I would not be able to make any changes to my set up, I stopped, made some adjustments and charged out of transition.



My favorite part of this course last year was the sweet single track swoopy trails.  This year, it was a muddy, gear grinding mess.  The pack or riders leaving transition at the same time I did spread out quickly as it was slow going through mud bog after mud bog.  I managed to stay on my bike but barely, with many close calls.  16 miles at a snail’s pace without momentum became a grind and I found myself wishing I only had one lap (8 miles) instead of two, looking forward to the run as each mile ticked off my speedometer.  Of course there was a dreaded stand trap at the end of each lap just to add more pain and suffering to the mix.

I only managed to eat two clif blocks before I lost my grip on the package, dropped a clif shot before I could open it, a few sips of water since my mouth piece was always gritty from all the mud. I managed to grab a Gatorade on the second lap but I had nowhere to put it since I gave my water bottle cage to Rob so I only managed a few gulps before the second lap grind from hell began.   On the second lap I thought I would look out for fallen nutrition along the way if I needed a boost.  One could have stocked up on water bottles and GU for the rest of the year sweeping the course after the race. Time 2:03:13

Transition: For some reason I decided to put a pair of Knickers on over my tri shorts after the swim.  Once I hit transition after the mud fest ride I realized what a great decision that was.  I stripped off my muddy pants to a clean pair of tri shorts underneath….great for photo opp on the way out.  (If I only thought to wipe the mud off my face, oops)

The Run


3.5 miles of fun single track, dry shoes for the first mile, then a few mud bogs, felt great, passed a few guys along the way, sprinted the last quarter of a mile to the finish.  Nutrition on the run: one clif shot, one packet of clif blocks, 8 oz water, few sips of Gatorade.  Time: 40:25

At finish, very thirsty, downed entire bottle of Gatorade. After Race Nutrition Immediately: 2 servings GNC Protein Shake 40g protein1 hour after Hamburger Patty, Swiss cheese, fries (couldn’t resist). Lots of water

Total Time 2:57:14.
4th out of 8 in my age group
107 out of 163 overall

Best part of the race


The finish line
Rob and my Aunt and Uncle being there to share in my misery and provided encouragement to continue.

Things I would do differently:

  1. Drink more wine the night before
  2. Not hear my alarm and miss the race
  3. Do the relay and only do the trail run
  4. Never sign up for a race when the water is only a few miles from snow pack and in the winter/spring months
  5. Slow down, remember I’m doing this for the fun of it!!!

Sorry for the negative report, but this race ruined my love for the Xterra.  I’m too old for this shit!  Give me a warm lake, smooth road, a dry trail, 3.5 hours in an RST class, but never will I subject myself to such abuse, I respect myself too much……until the next race that is……






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