2XU's Erin Densham makes XTERRA debut with flying colours
2XU's Olympian and power ITU Aussie triathlete Erin Densham made her off-road debut at the Xterra World Champs (KAPALUA, Hawaii) this month.
Well.......where do I start with that race? Man that was tough, which I always knew it would be. But really, that was something else. I rode the entire course twice during the week. Then did the more technical section one extra time. While there was a need to do the course as much as possible, I also had to be careful how much and at what intensity because even riding it easy left me tired and my legs trashed. In the end, I think I found a good balance.
Race day was upon me at no time at all. It was a 9am start - quite reasonable i think! I felt a little out of my element on race morning. I didn't know if I had everything or what kind of warm up to do, but the great Greg Welch was there to talk me through my transition set up and what I would need and things like that. So that was great.
The swim was a mass beach start and it was awesome to be back in the salt water after all the ITU swims in dirty rivers and lakes. But what was amazing was that I started with about 700 other people and only got thumped about twice. In a WCS race with 65 to 80 other chicks, it's just a massive boxing match the whole way! I had a really good swim and came out with the main pack of elite men and some 2min ahead of the next girl.
T1 is a bit different. Actually putting shoes on and running out in them. Then putting gloves on while riding the only flat section on the course. I took a little dive at about the 3 mile mark right before the first climb so was in the wrong gear and had to go through the gears while standing there before even remotely thinking about getting back on. The first girl, Mel McQuaid, caught me just after that. She rides so impressively.
I found that the places where I lost most time was on the bike descents. After nearly falling off from trying to go hard I guess I lost a little confidence. But more than anything it was just brutally hard, and these girls were pedigreed Xterra racers with much more experience on their side. By the time I got off the bike I was in 7th position. But not too far back on the podium positions.
I was really feeling it in the later stages of the ride and couldn't wait to start running. But when that time finally came.........I had nothing. I trudged out of transition thinking I will start feeling good once I get to the only flat part of the run which was 300m away and probably went for 200m, and guess what, I did feel good! I was up tall, my cadence went up. I puled away from the girls beside me. Then the gradient went up. Unfortunately I didn't go with it as quick as I would have liked. But it was all a really great experience. A real eye opener.
When I tackle it next time I want to be way more competitive so will have to totally change my training. At the moment my longest training is an EASY 3hr ride and this event is 3hrs of relentless intensity...so it was a shock to the system and my body is totally paying for it now! But the whole experience was so enjoyable - such a refreshing change from ITU racing. People go out of their way to talk to you and are all so willing to help wherever needed.
So now, it's back onto the roadie!