Wednesday, October 08, 2008

An inspiring read: 2008 XTERRA Nat'l Championship Race Report

I got this report in my email last night from a Lombardi Sports teammate. He joined our team a couple years ago as a little punk who kept winning races (I think he was 16 at the time...). Unfortunately I didn't have the pleasure of meeting him in person until this year at the Sacramento International Tri back in April.

What a sweet kid (he' 18 now, but he's still a kid to me)!!! And he has come such a long way.

Last weekend, Joshua Olmstead took 1st in the Amateur Division (and 17th overall!) at the XTERRA National Championships in Incline Village, Nevada. I am so proud of him, but was even prouder after I read his race report. It was an inspiring and fun read, and I decided I wanted to share it on my blog. So, with Josh's permission, here it is!

2008 Xterra Off-Road Triathlon National Championship
October 5, 2008 InclineVillage, Nevada
By Joshua Olmstead

Place: 1st Overall Amateur, 1st 15-19 Age Group, 17th Overall with Pro
Time: 2:51:32 Swim 27:19, Bike 1:40:47, Run 43:26
15 min and 45 sec faster then last year

“With Goals Set, My Dream Came True”

When I was 14 years old I heard that Taylor Tollesson (who was 19 at the time) had become the Amateur Xterra National Champion. I told myself “I could do that,” and today, 4 years later, I just did it! I have dreamed of this, and I repeated that shortly after I threw a slam dunk and roared with my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line. My dream had just come true.

It was an emotional weekend prior to the race. My mentor and dearest friend Jamie Whitmore, the most dominating female pro Xterra athlete, was not going to be racing due to 2 malignant tumors she has been battling all year. The night before the race, at the Dinner of Champions, Xterra put on a presentation for Jamie that brought tears to everyone in the audience that night. Last year I watched Jamie dominate the U.S. Xterra Series and that night I saw her push herself in her walker to get up on stage for the Xterra Warrior Award. I realized that life is so precious and beautiful. The next morning when I woke up I wanted to race for something more than just my dream – I wanted to race for Jamie.

It was a 9:00 race start and I rolled into transition around 8:15. I finished transition around 8:30 and made my way down to the water. After I had finished a few stride-outs on the beach, I got the wetsuit on and headed for the beautiful lake before me. Just before the start, I usually look dead on at that first buoy, but this time I looked beyond to the entire lake and the mountains above. I looked over to a pro woman and said, “Life is Good,” 10 seconds before the start. I asked God for his Strength and the cannon went off.

I was able to find a fast relaxed pace as I rounded the first buoy, staying within my limits. Out of the water and a short run after the first lap then back in for more. I found some feet the second lap and carried it all the way to the finish. I came out of the water like a bullet and quickly made it to transition.

No problems taking off my Profile Design/Aquaman wetsuit, I grabbed my Trek Top Fuel 9.8 with Manitou Suspension and Hayes Disc Brakes and was ready to crush the mountain bike course. After I hit a gel and downed some Cytomax, I began ticking away at the pedals. Just up the road I caught pro woman Melanie McQuaid and realized I was in a really good position. The next 20 min I climbed and grinded a big gear all the way up Tunnel Creek, picking off some of those fast swimmers. Half way up the mountain was the last time I saw an age number on the back of someone’s calf. One of the fastest mountain bikers, professional Brian Smith passed me. I stayed right with him for a bit, then slowly started to fade. Usually he blows past me.

At the top of the hill and onto the Flume Trail I was putting down the big ring, taking chances on those massive cliffs. A few minutes later, I noticed the lead helicopter just to my right. That loud roaring helicopter was definitely a first for me! As I made it up to Marlette Lake I worked with a pro as we rode around the lake. I refueled and was ready for more hills. I began crushing the course as I hit the hills and pushed that big gear again. Right then I knew that I was flying.

I looked down at my top tube where I had a big decal that said “Go Jamie,” and it just made me push harder. After the hill, I hit the downhill rocky switchbacks and just let it rip. I felt like I was crushing the rocks under my tires, riding right over everything. Pro male Will Kelsay passed me right before the long Tunnel Creek downhill. What he didn’t know is that downhill is my middle name. Once on the downhill, I let it rip once more. About a mile down I passed Will and was screaming after every jump I was hitting, I was on fire!

Once I got back on the road, I noticed my dad was heading up the road to go watch me up the mountain. A little late to start heading up, Dad. As I entered into transition I heard the announcer say, “Look at this kid 1st Amateur Overall and 15th off the bike, he’s coming in right with the Pros!” I just couldn’t believe it. I thought, “I actually have a shot at this.”

With the spectators cheering as I left transition, I knew I had to push myself. My legs were on fire. After the first lap, I knew 2nd place was running me down. I was really starting to feel it. I just kept telling myself, “You can do it, go for it, go now.” Coming down the last mile I realized that I was about to accomplish my dream. As I rounded the last corner I heard my dad say “You did it Josh!” I slapped the spectators’ hands down the finishing chute and saw the time board: 2:51:32. I was finished!

At the awards BBQ I dedicated my race to Jamie as I got on top of the podium. I saw her directly in the crowd as she pointed at me and smiled. I’ll never forget this day - it was a huge stepping stone for my life.

I would like to thank God, and everyone else who has supported me through the years. I would also like to thank my sponsors: Lombardi Sports, Cytosport, Manitou, Hayes Disc Brakes, Rudy Project, Louis Garneau and Profile Design Wetsuits

Thanks for reading, next up Xterra World Championships in Maui Hawaii October 26th.


Holly said...

wow, that brought tears to my eyes, how amazing. and what a crazy-sounding race! mountain biking triathlons? scary!

and how exactly does one become a "pro"? winning a certain number of races? will he be considered a pro now?

Kathleen said...

beautiful story Sarah...thanks for sharing!

rocketpants said...

Thanks for sharing his story. That really was awesome.

triguyjt said...

great story...

thanks for sharing that with us....