I was using Extreme Endurance when I won the World Championship!
In her own words.
Well…it ain’t over til its over…
Having won the World Xterra Championships over a month ago, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on this momentous achievement. I think it’s finally sunk in….
It was a challenging day to say the least. I’d gone out to Maui 10 days early to prep on the new course. During that time, I was lucky enough to stay with a bunch of British guys that took all of the anxiety away and filled my heart with the wonderful sarcastic humor that is home! Sharing 1 small bedroom with 3 other blokes, I quickly remembered why I love the sport of xterra so much. It’s gritty, its tough and its one big family struggling through together!
With illness and injury having plagued me for the last 12 months, I was relieved to wake up on race morning feeling quite good. Sharing the car with my best friends Tammy and Jess as well as hubby Marshall, we trundled towards what is now affectionately known as ‘the front line’. Like soldiers getting ready for battle, we sat in silence…awaiting our fate.
The swim start was BRUTAL. I guess it always is. For once, when the gun went off, my nerves dissipated but boy was I beaten up! After the first lap, I was already 30 secs down on where I wanted to be. I’d been blocked by slower swimmers but with the run on the beach, I managed to make some time up and get clear water ahead of me!
In and out of transition and before I knew it, I was right where I wanted to be. In third position, on Mel’s (McQuaid) wheel and ready for action. But no, a win is not a win without hardship! I felt a spongy-ness bellow me and yes, I was right…a flat tire!! In pole position and a friggin flat tire. I couldn’t believe it. With every negative thought pouring through my brain, I got off and attempted to fix it by using CO2. A minute down, I headed off again, now with a semi-flat tire and the first set of trails to contend with. After a technical descend, the tire almost rolled off. Again, flat as flat could be. Luckily Jess had convinced me to carry 2 CO2s so after another minute of messing around, I got the tire filled up. Now 2 mins down and behind a bunch of other pro chicks that I’d spent hard earned time in the pool trying to gain a lead on, I was off.
You know its funny because even with the years of experience I have in racing, I still get overwhelmed by nerves and pressure. I knew I was fit enough to contend the race but somehow, in many races in the past, I’ve let the pressure get the better of me. However, with this flat tire, there came a strange sense of calmness. I didn’t care anymore. the race was over so what did I have to lose? i might as well enjoy this beautiful course and race until I blew….
On a rode, passing this girl, passing that girl and finally realizing that I was actually going pretty well and maybe I could salvage a podium spot….
Meanwhile, poor Si (aka hubby), was going through an emotional roller coaster. Having not known about my mechanical he was baffled by the twitter feeds.
Into T2 – 3.5 mins down on 2nd and 3rd, 6.5 mins down on the lead held by Mel. Normally this info would distress me but not today. I truly wasn’t even listening, I was just ready to run. Feeling the best I have probably ever felt coming off the bike, I got going up the path. Up and up and up. Passing this person and that, overtaking 2nd at only just over 2 miles. I knew the game was on.
The rest is poetry really. There are so few times in an athletes career where they see the tunnel but this was one of them for me. And by a tunnel I mean that I was so much in the zone that all I wanted to do was go forward, all I could see was the next few steps on the trail ahead of me. Dancing over the rocks and tree stumps I went from 6.5 mins down on the lead to 1 min 20 with only 1 mile to go. I kept on thinking to myself, ‘every step has to count’…that was it. That was my mantra.
And so on the last single track descent, with a helicopter above me, I saw Mel ahead, laboring. This was it. This was my chance. I pushed it out of my mind and focused on taking one step in front of the other.
In a flash, I overtook her. I was now in the lead. Coming down on to the road, there was Si, screaming and shouting..pretty much going ballistic. Focus focus focus…thats all I kept saying to myself.
With a technical river bed yet to navigate, I had to keep my wits about me. Would Mel try to stick on my heels? Was anyone behind getting close to me? BOOM, and down I went. I tripped on a rock and smashed my knee into a boulder. With blood pouring out, I popped up instantly. “Paterson get yourself together”….drumming through my head.
Limping up the riverbed, I finally got on to the beach. People were shouting and cheering but all I wanted to do was get to the finish. I daren’t look behind me. Finish finish finish.
That last 50yards in to the finish was glorious. It was like being a kid at Christmas. All that hard work, all that sacrifice, worth it….to see Si jump around, to see all my friends so happy. Magical. Plain and simple.
The days after were a blur, so many well wishes, emails, phonecalls. That’s been the best bit. All those people that have helped me through the years, just so pleased for me. My dad, my mum, my family, my training partners, my coach. When you achieve something like this, you realize that you have done this for them as much as for yourself!
I will never forget what that felt like and hope to feel it many times over in the future! I never forget how lucky I am to do this job. How lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to excel. Thats something I want to give to others and I’ll continue to try and do that as long as I can.