This race, while logically not my A race, was emotionally that and so much more. XTERRA was my race before I got hurt, and ever since then, I have been working toward improving with XTERRA always in the back of my mind. Today I made my comeback. It was not pretty, but off-road triathlon never is. Plagued with freezing water (figuratively), a cleat that decided it wasn't going to stay in my pedal, and a mountain run that was UP a mountain with all its rocky glory, this was by far the most fun I have ever had.
The day before this race, I got a call from my dear friend Sasha, who was also doing this race. She was wondering since she was in it for fun and not to race, if she could stick by me through the bike and swim. I said sure since I was terrified at that point. That day came and we had more fun together in that race than anyone could have. :)
After the initial shock of getting in the cold water, Sasha and I warmed up a bit to get used to the water. Then we warmed up more to fill the time until our wave started. When we finally went, we were READY. I practiced sighting in the open water and I did SO much better than last year. I only went off on 1 squiggle :) I was really happy with my swim.
Oh the bike. This is where everything went crazy. By the end, I knew this beast was going to take me a long time, so I changed my mentality to finish and have fun. First, I named different sections of the bike, like ’Bridges Galore,’ ‘That Section Where I Endoed,’ ‘Oh my goodness, look at those hills,’ and The Last Part that I Only Saw Once because I Got a Flat Tire.’ My cleat on my right foot decided to, on race day, get knocked a little loose and while it still held so I could finish, it came loose every time I had something stressful come up. But the good news was that I went over some obstacles I never would have considered doing. Apparently I have extremely good bike handling skills for someone that cannot lift her bum off the seat. Sasha found it quite hilarious how many times I did a ‘rolling fall’ and just hopped up and continued on my merry way.
The first 7/10s of a mile, I ran the singletrack. Then the mountain came. I decided to walk the extreme uphiill parts and jog the rest. Then the rocks came, and I decided to not die. There were two people that ended up running with me because we were having so much fun. :) We climbed up those rocks, encouraging each other along the way, navigated across every area with about 4 inches of good trail, climbed back down the mountain, and finished running the last mile. I fell 7 times. Each time I laughed, especially when I had just navigated some intense rocks and the I fell on flat smooth dirt. That last 200 yards in was the most amazing part of the run. Sam (my husband), my sister, her husband, my handler Anna, her boyfriend, Sasha (who did not run with me), Sasha's mom (who did run with me) and her crew all came out and ran me in to the chute. There was no better way to make my comeback into the off-road world of XTERRA as that right there. Oh, and I got first place female in the physically challenged division. :)
Read Sasha's account of the race and more of the backstory at Becky Piper: Xterra Nats qualifier, savagely attacked, comatose & paralyzed, and back to Xterra again at Local Lory Race, June 19, 2017, by Sasha Underwood.