Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Regional champ?!?

A few weeks ago I got an email informing me that I am the Women Age Group 25-29 Southeast Regional Champion for XTERRA Triathlon! Meaning that I qualified for the 2018 World Championships in Maui! As exciting as this sounds, I think it deserves a big LOL in addition to feelings of success and accomplishment. I don't want to belittle it and sound all aloof, but sadly I didn't have a ton of competition at the two XTERRA races I did this past summer. Not that I didn't try hard at the races, of course I did, but due to the low numbers of women, I was more competing against myself than for age group spots.

Strangely, being someone that loves races, I'm not a very competitive person... against other people. But I am super competitive against myself. My goal for most races is to do the best that I can do, and wherever that lands me in the rankings, I'm happy with that. My feelings of accomplishment in a race come from knowing that I pushed myself to my limits and gave it my all, not necessarily that I placed in my age group or overall (but it definitely doesn't hurt!). There are too many variables to winning that it quickly gets overwhelming and stressful. Not my style anymore. I've spent too much of my time as a road triathlete worrying about races, and finally realized it's just not worth it. I do way worse at races that I stress about and way better at ones that I go into excited with no expectations except to have fun.

But if you are someone who revels in how you place (which is completely fine, you do you!), my getting the regional champ label is a good lesson in the benefits of just showing up to races -- you never know who will be there and how they'll do. Don't ever avoid races because you think there will be too many fast, competitive people. And no matter how much I say it doesn't matter to me, a podium finish is an awesome way to end a race. Getting on the podium is such a confidence booster and a great motivator. Just for me personally, I know I can get obsessed and I don't want such a consuming goal to take over my life at this point in time (maybe someday again though...).

But back to the world championships, it would be fun to go do that race mostly for the atmosphere and scenery. And to have the opportunity to toe the line with some of the world's best off-road triathletes. It would also be cool to see where I rank among them. And racing at such a cool event would make me push myself even more.

Yet when I watched recaps of their past championship races, the bike course looked a bit disappointing (aka boring). It looked like it was mostly fire and access roads (wide gravel or dirt roads) instead of single track. I know those are "off-road" and they can be challenging physically with climbs, but I'd expect a world championship race to challenge their athletes with more technical single track. Or else it's just a road tri on soft roads. I saw this year they're adding more single track, so things are changing hopefully!

Highlights from the 2017 XTERRA World Championships. Bike portion starts around 2:00. Where's the single track??

Unfortunately, racing at the world championship this year is just not possible for various reasons. Not to mention the crazy race cost ($550), getting to Hawaii with all my gear, and hotel costs, all which add up top a ridiculously expensive race vacation. I've really been liking the lower race costs of off-road tris compared to on-road ones, so it's a bit disappointing that this one is so freaking expensive.

Maybe one year I'll qualify again and the stars will align and I'll be able to go. But until then I'm very happy racing for fun and seeing where the wonderful world of off-road tris and mountain biking takes me.

Do you race to place? Or is fun your ultimate goal? Or some combination? I'd love to hear your thoughts about race motivation in the comments section!

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