Historic and vibrant, downtown Richmond, VA is the perfect locale for XTERRA racing. The (James) River City a hub for entrepreneurs, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone seeking authenticity and a unique sense of place and community.
The past two years at this race have been very kind to me, with an epic battle with current pro Andy Lee leading to a 11th overall finish in 2012, followed up by a 10th overall finish and overall amateur title in 2013. My good fortune ran out, however, in my first year racing Richmond as a pro.
I had a blast in the XTERRA pro relay shoot-out, racing on a team with 7x world champ Conrad Stoltz and US standout and Luna Chix athlete Suzie Synder. Despite the heavy rain and t-storms, everyone had a smile on their face after the relay. I was pumped to see XTERRA get creative and move beyond the traditional athlete press conference. In true Richmond spirit, the relay was an authentic and adventuresome way to promote the race, the venue, and sponsors and to introduce fans to the pro racers. Click here for a recap of all the action.
Unfortunately, after my swim in the pro relay, things went downhill pretty fast. I started having GI distress within 12 hours of swimming in the James on Thursday, and the symptoms continued through to Sunday morning. I had a very rough day on Friday, but on Saturday I was able to hold down some food during the day and maintained optimism for a great performance. Strong abdominal cramps kept me awake half the night on Saturday, but I stayed positive. At 6 am on Sunday, I tried to eat a half cup of oats, but ended up immediately back in the bathroom. Unwilling to surrender, I suited up and completed my pre-race warm-up on the bike, and rode to transition. As soon as I arrived on Brown’s Island, I had to sprint to the toilet, losing even more fluid and fuel. With only 10 minutes until race start, my mental fortitude finally gave way to reality, and I made the painful decision to back out from the race. Racing all out for two hours and twenty some-odd minutes in the Richmond heat on technical trails while severely dehydrated and still in the midst of a GI bug did not seem like a safe move.
The decision was all the more difficult to make given the good fitness I brought to the race. As of June 1st, I relinquished my self-coaching approach in favor of the expert guidance of Josiah Middaugh, and training had been going better than ever before.
On the bright side, after consultation with the doctor, I’m fairly certain that the GI issues on race weekend were an acute reaction to swimming in the James River as opposed to a recurrence of my earlier GI parasites. Tests will soon confirm the diagnosis, and I’m already feeling better and back to training.
Furthermore, we thoroughly enjoyed our home stay and the opportunity to get to know an incredible couple and their family, including two kids, two dogs, and one chicken!
Another silver lining was the opportunity to watch the race as it unfolded. The highlight for me was seeing Conrad Stoltz lay down a masters class on how to ride the Richmond trails. His seven world championship titles show that “skills pay the bills.”
I’ll have to wait a trip around the sun for another battle in Richmond, but I’m more hungry than ever for a breakthrough race on the XTERRA pro series.