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I’m an Xterra World Champion!

As an athlete living in Colorado, I typically begin structured training in March or April. This past spring, I knew I was in for a long racing season if I was going to reach my goal of qualifying and competing in the Xterra World Championship on October 24th. Thus, I put the pedal to the metal and began cranking away- in the pool and on the trails, via foot and via bike. I raced a lot, trained a lot, and managed to pull together a great race back in July at the Xterra Mountain cup, which earned me a spot at the World Championship.

Since qualifying in July, my racing season has been solely focused on the Xterra World Championship. Yeah, I raced quite a bit throughout August and September, but I wasn’t rested or tapered, which was often times pretty frustrating. It’s a good thing I trusted my coach to do his job because I definitely felt like hitting the snooze button and skipping workouts on more than one occasion…

When mid-October rolled around, I was ready. I began my taper and focused on sleep and recovery. A week later I packed my bags and my bike and flew to Maui with my good friend Becky. I had two days to stretch my legs, review the course maps (the bike and run course were not open for practice), and swim in the ocean. My family met us in Maui, complete with “Luisa- Off Road Warrior” teeshirts and their loudest cheering voices and whistles.

I awoke race morning feelingamped and ready. After a quick breakfast, lots of sunscreen, and a bit of air in my tires, I road off to the race start. Once arriving, I arranged my gear in transition, did a little run, and put on my speed suit. I made my way down to the beach and began my warm-up swim. As soon as I began gliding through the ocean water, my nerves calmed and my mind went blank.

Before the start of the race, all the athletes gathered on the sand and participated in a tribal blessing performed by the Hawaiian people. Then the National Anthem was sung by ashaman. Finally, poised and ready, myself and 449 other athletes stormed into the water at the sound of the canon and the race was off! I swam hard for the first 500 meters, struggling to find any space in the water. I swam over bodies, frantically searching for open ocean. Eventually, I found a tiny pocket of free water and wedged myself into the sea. However, I did manage to get kicked hard by some dude in my left eye, which suctioned my goggle uncomfortably into my eye socket. After one lap of the swim, I ran out the water, around the colored flags, and back in the ocean to complete my second lap. This lap went much more smoothly and I drafted comfortably around the triangular course. I exited the water and saw my family and Becky, madly cheering asran up the bank of the beach and into transition.

Once on the bike, I slammed some fluid and settled into a rhythm in zone 4. I was immediately struck by the heat as it beat down on my already drying racing costume. Sharp lava rocks and dust were abundant, as were the hills. The bike course climbed up and down over 3000 feet in 32kilometers, with some sections being pretty much unridable. I was so busy navigating up “Heartbreak Hill” and down “The Plunge” that I forgot about the heat. Athletes were crashing, chains were breaking, and tires were popping as I ripped up and down the course, managing to finish in a little over two hours, virtually unscathed.

After a quick transition and more cheering from my personal squad, I took off on the 12 kilometer run. More rocks, dust, and heat. Damn, it was hot. I focused hard, just trying to keep it together as I made my way through sand and lava rock, over fallen trees and around the “Spooky Forest.” I passed another girl in my age group, uttering a few words of support to her as I trudged onward. I began feeling cold (a sign of dehydration) and couldn’t have been happier to see the finish nearing. My dad was cheering me on as I hopped over the last obstacle, turned the corner, and ran through the finishing chute.

After finishing, my family told me I had won my age group, placing third overall for amateur females and sixteenth overall including pro women. A smile spread across my face. All of my hard efforts had paid off and the glory was grand. In fact, one week later as I write this, I’m still beaming.

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1 Lauren Birkel { 10.31.10 at 8:51 pm }

Inspiring and Motivating! My adrenaline is pumping just reading this… makes me want to get out and train hard. Thanks for sharing Luisa! Congrats!

2 Melanie { 10.31.10 at 9:06 pm }

Congrats, Luisa! You are awesome!

3 Libby { 11.01.10 at 3:18 am }

congrats again Luisa!!! So proud of you and awesome to see all that hardwork pay off!!! you are an inspiration!

4 Heidi { 11.01.10 at 9:17 am }

Nice work!!!! Great job and loved your story! Enjoy some rest!

5 barbara Bryce { 11.01.10 at 11:13 am }

As your family, we couldn’t have been prouder! We are still bragging about you-and still beaming too! Awesome job, daughter! Love, your fam

6 Martha { 11.13.10 at 6:36 pm }

So proud of you sis! You are AMAZING!!!!

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