Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mission - Maui, World Championship of XTERRA



http://www.gofundme.com/cuebww


2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Maui, Hi

Something that started out just a few years back as an innocent idea to race in my first sprint triathlon turned overtime into so much more. I fell in love with the sport and the challenge. Now almost every weekend you can see me out on the trails mountain biking, trail running, swimming or doing triathlon races. This sport became my deep passion and gave me a purpose in life.

I’m here to prove to myself and others that anything is possible when you set your mind onto something there are no limits. To hopefully inspire women out there to get out of their comfort zone and chase their dreams, to live the passion that they all have in them. I don’t believe in putting things away for later but rather in charging life with full force to get the most out of each day. I’m trying to live life to the fullest as much as reality allows me.

When I got my first chance at the XTERRA World Championships in 2012 I didn’t care how I was going to get there, it was such a deep dream of mine that I just knew I had to be there. That year I placed 9th in the World in my Age Group and crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes. I turned my dream into reality so quickly.

Since then I placed in the top three in most of the XTERRA events that I completed. And just recently I won a UAST Off-Road National Championship title in Richmond Virginia and was the 2nd Overall Amateur Woman surpassing a few Professional Women times. With this result and also with finishing 2nd in the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham, Alabama I qualified two times for the 2014 XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hi.

I was waiting for this moment for two whole years, to come back and challenge myself once more on this difficult and demanding course with high hopes of surpassing my previous result and race at the World level. We will be racing in the heat and full sun for over three long hours with a 1 mile rough water swim, 20 mile grueling bike course with 3300 feet of elevation gain and ending with a 6 mile, 1.092 foot elevation change run that takes everything that was there left out of you. It will be a tough and testing day for all 800 best racers from around the World.

I’m trying to accomplish this while working full time, training and racing a lot. My life has become a race, training, and an event all in one. I would love one day to be able to focus completely on racing...

For now however Maui is my main goal at the moment and I’m trying not to look any further beyond it.

Hopefully one day I will be able to give back to the community in more ways and inspire and encourage people to become the best that they can. For now I am doing it through my racing and blogging and hope that it does reach others and pushes them to become better themselves and have full and meaningful lives.

Any contribution to my Goal and this Journey would be greatly appreciated!

Read about all my adventures at www.BeataWronska.com

Aloha, Beata







DTR Full Moon Endurance Challenge / 10 Miler - HOBE SOUND – FL

DTR Full Moon Endurance Challenge - 10 Miler



3rd Female Overall out of 400 competitors.

Gear used:
SALOMON: FAST WING TEE WENDURANCE 3/4 TIGHT W, EXO CALF, SENSE PRO W Shoes, and S-LAB SENSE HYDRO SET. Also L&M Vis 360 Run light, Suunto Ambit2 watch, Pocketfinder Personal GPS LocatorOakley RadarLock Edge glasses with clear lensesClif Shot Gels and Garden of Life Nutrition.




Here is a Map of my race that my husband was able to track me in real-time at 2 minute intervals as I had my Pocketfinder tucked in my back pocket. This is an hourly report that you view online or on your phone and take a look at speed and elevation at any waypoint. Pax always knew where I was during the race Thanks to this Great device. Get yours at  http://www.pocketfinder.com/ and take the worries out of wondering where your loved ones are.

It was not an ordinary run, actually nothing that would resemble running in any way we would know it.

First of all it was dark, completely dark, we were deep in the Florida flat woods and had a light from a full moon beaming down on us. But not any moon – A SuperMoon. The whole terrain had been sitting under water for days therefore those 10 grueling miles felt rather like 20. We were running, walking, wading most of the time thought deep soft mud, knee high water that often would get up to the hip and sometimes even waist deep. There were wet bridges and crazy scary water crossings with blinking lights and arrows when we were maneuvering through the swamps and enchanted forest. I felt like I was in some theme park during Halloween night at those sections but most of the time it was rather just me and the dark forest. All of it while being a hot and steamy Florida summer night was fully on. It was completely dark and the sounds of the swamps were unreal, the exhaustion and heat were overwhelming. We were soaked from all the water, moisture in the air and the sweat.

It was not any longer about who is the best or fastest runner. There were plenty of those today among us. It was about who was ready to keep going into the unknown and fight the elements, who wanted to proceed with adventure when things got tough, and mostly, who was willing and not afraid to suffer.


All geared up and ready to go!

We had so many fit, young and not so young, eager and just tough people tonight out there that I just could not believe my eyes; we were there in hundreds.

To come out in top 3 in this tough crowd was way more that I would have expected. It was mentally and physically challenging and exhausting therefore making this finish even more special and appreciated. I will not forget those hundreds of while lights and the sounds of the deep water underneath me for a long time...

I just wanted to give a Big Applause to those who didn't give up and finally crossed the finish line after two and a half long hours in the dark swamps. It was inspiring. Also the DTR crew did a tremendous job marking the trail system, having volunteers in key sections, fully staffed aid stations and of course the food, drinks, music, lights, awards and a fire pit in the gathering area.

Huge thanks to my husband Pax for being a mosquito ninja and our photographer for those long dark hours! And of course for being my mental support during this adventure.

Hope everyone had as great of a time as I did.

On to the Full Report

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Swamp Run – Full Moon Challenge 10 mi

So here we just arrived after a little longer drive than expected in Jonathan Dickenson Park.
It’s still bright out but the sun is sitting already very low. I noticed right away two things, for once the terrain on both sides of the road leading us to the race site was in standing water, secondly this place was packed. Some 400 people were scattered and were finishing their preparations, grabbing lights, stretching legs, doing some jogging or catching up with friends. I saw a great number of really fit looking ladies out there and right from the start decided that I’m just going to have fun and will proceed with my adventure in that mindset.


Just before race start...

We also saw a friendly deer just walking out from the shrubbery to the middle of the street and completely not minding the cars around him.

I didn’t have much time for anything, but I made sure I was head to toe dressed “anti-mosquito style” and topped the outfit off with bug spray.

Quick packet pickup, bathroom stop and we were ready to rock. National anthem was Angelic as the person singing it and energy on the start line was really high. The camera guy was in front of us, the photographer, my husband also with his camera in position and waiting. DTR Crew was pumping up the crowd even more.


Ocean of people ready to rock the darkness!

We had an ocean of people lined up now and we all put on our lights at the same time. I jumped up to try to see everyone and said “Wow, that’s a lot of people” and the guy next to me said “and you are going to stay ahead of all of them”. Well I was not so sure about that but I liked his approach. ;-)
Sun was setting right now and nice pink faint colors were hiding behind the tall pine trees. I knew night was going to sneak up on us pretty quickly.

And we were off! The pace was high from the start, the fast guys in front were let’s just say really fast.

Energy was up the roof right before the start...


My plan was to simply listen to my body and when I feel like I have energy to run at a decent pace I would and when it’s not there than it’s alright as well. Just one minute in we got to the first flooded section; it was just a little sneak peak of what was ahead. I was thankful for my well-draining Salomon shoe choice since I still had a whole race ahead of me. I quickly realized how the terrain most likely was going to look like and was trying to just mentally put a big check mark and don’t be fussy about it. It was wet, slimy, and muddy, standing water was pretty much covering most of the path we were running on. There were not too many choices for good lines here and I had a few goals that I was aiming for. They were quite simple.

And we are off! Hi Pax!


Don’t twist my ankles was my number one priority, since I have still two months left to the World Championship in XTERRA in Maui and wouldn’t want to do something foolish now. But without seeing what is under let’s say 10 to 30 inches of water was an obvious possibility of something going wrong. I could not tell if there was a hole or even ground and mostly there were clumps of mud and grass so careful and light footing was important. Next, I hate spiders, and especially the hand size huge Banana Spiders and I was not looking forward running into one during this race, at some point I adjusted my L&M Light to face a little more upwards just to be able to spot them. Add to the list - snakes (yeah some people told me they had to jump over one), not being alone in the dark forest and finally after all of it was not giving up on the course and finishing the race.


Picture thanks to DTR. Some 400 racers approaching the first bridge right off the start.


I stayed with the fast group as long as I could but really quickly I was passed by three ladies. Oh well I thought, I was really going hard now and was already getting tired, but if this was not enough than it was fine with me since I was giving everything I got. I looked at my watch and I was only one mile in and I said “you have only 9 more miles of this boggy mess, you got this!”

I was sarcastic to myself but I had to run weird stuff through my head in order to don’t get discouraged.  After this mile I had the sight of the third girl for a long while and still the group of guys ahead but had a very difficult time keeping up. Shortly all the colors from the sky disappeared, water become deeper and deeper and the group ahead was gone. I felt alone, I had no one to follow or pick the line off through the middle of the tight high deep water or rugged, sloped and really nonexistent often water edge. I saw lots of lights far in the back behind me but I didn’t want to slow down just because I was not comfortable being alone in the dark. This is when I said to myself “Beata, this is what you like, it’s muddy, it’s dirty, you are out in the forest, in nature, this is what you love, this is your element”.

I kept pushing and hoping somehow I will be able to get to the group in front. I saw the last faint light of one guy far away making a left turn and disappearing into the darkness. I was alone. Thankfully I was blasting now Rammstein in my one eared headphones for some distraction and had sounds of the swamp at night in the other ear.


Everything was kind of fine until I approached this weird and scary part of the course which took me completely by surprise. It had to be around mile three and suddenly the path took me over a narrow and slippery bridge into something that reminded me of a horror movie and a theme park at the same time. Big trees standing next to each other, blinking lights and arrows placed on the trunks and all of it in waist deep dark swamp water. I fell in for the first time and screamed; I scanned the ground quickly left and right for “Crocodile Dandi” and rushed in this maze of trees, water and arrows. It was really cool, thrilling, exciting and very scary at the same time. I kind of wasn’t sure if I should smile and enjoy it or if I should be terrified. I think I did and experienced both at the same time. When in the mid of it however I screamed again, “people, are here any people?” and just seconds later when pulling myself out of the water I saw a guy who seemed to be volunteering and I told him that I didn’t want to be here alone. And he said “yes you do” and I was like “no I really don’t” but honestly having a talking person right next to me was a relief in itself and made me feel that I was not there all alone after all.


Lights are on and every single person out there shortly will have their own exciting story to tell...

I kept going in the flooded knee high double track with big trees on both sides and started noticing a few lights behind me that were getting closer and closer. I knew with time they will catch up and I was very grateful when the four guys that were running together finally did. But I was so tired, so hot, soaked in all this water and couldn’t lower my heart rate even if I tried. They had a good pace but it seemed that I was going to have trouble keeping up with them. I was red lining already but had no choice, or put even more effort and try to stay with them or be alone once again in this dark place. I was fighting to stay by their side, every step was calculated and exhausting. It was the huge wet clumpy and sloping grass, or the deep water, or the more shallow water in middle with some grass poking out from it. We were hoping from one place to the other trying to pick the best place to plant the foot. It was extremely tiring and really never ending. At some point one of the guys started walking. Shortly we arrived at the second aid station and volunteers had drinks and were taking numbers of the bibs before we go into the back loop.

1:26 hours later I'm finally back. For sure it felt way longer than that!
One of the guys stopped to get water, somehow the whole little group dispersed. I was glad I used my Salomon Soft Flask that stored 500 ml of water since I didn’t have to use the first water station, but from now on I was going to supplement with extra water every chance I got besides of what I did carry with me. I heard a volunteer saying “great job you are half way there” but I really couldn’t tell who she referred to. I though yes that would be nice but I think I was only on mile 4 and assumed it was meant for the people who completed the loop and arrived once again at the same aid station. Few of the leading guys already passed us just minutes before and were already heading back. I looked ahead and now all I had left was the only guy that was still with me from the group, one with the red light on the back of his head. We headed now to a narrow single track in between low palmetto palms and the whole path was under water. We were plumping through his grassy, muddy, soggy little mess and sometimes I could see lights through the trees of people tracing back from where we were going. I had trouble to keep up, the headphone kept sliding out of my ear again and again, all this humidity, sweat, wetness, there was no way to keep it in so I put it away. Also I wanted to find out how the forest actually does sound in total silence. It was weird at first but I appreciated the quiet and realized I didn’t need the music to keep me going. We reached the aid station once again and now were on our way back. This is where I decided to have my Clif Gel that I was carrying with me during this run.


Apparently WE ARE Glowing in the Dark!

Yes, that was a good progress to be on the way back but each time I looked down at my Suunto Ambit 2s I was on mile 5.37, 5.56 5.78 and I was so terribly tired. It was the longest mile and I really wished so much to see on the watch mile 6 to finally say to myself that I was way beyond the halfway of the race. I was now fixed on the red light of my running guy in front. I had a difficult time to stay close but was determined to not lose him. Now what seemed like a hundred of other runners were heading toward us head on, I was ducking people and the rows of white lights were going by me. They all were still going out. I wanted to say “Great job”, “Good work” “Keep pushing” when I saw them but I had no energy to get any words out of myself. I just did it in my head. And once again I had to force myself to keep running high through the water and focus on lines and foot placement. And of course looking ahead and saying, “Follow the red light”, “don’t lose the light”. The guy ahead did catch up however to other racers and now there was a guy in green right behind him covering the light. I knew I was going to lose him now. But somehow with time I was able to catch up and be right behind the guy in green. He told me that there were three ladies just ahead and almost at the same time stumbled over a hidden in the grass tree stump. He was fine and his friend checked on him too to make sure he was OK. I looked ahead and I noticed the girl in 3rd place that passed me a whole 5 miles or so ago. I started feeling hope now for a top three and sped up slightly. All of the sudden I saw her bending down and started tighten up her shoe laces, I though “Thank goodness for the quicklaces I have on all my Salomon’s since I never have to worry about something like this happening to me. When she was still focused on the shoe and kneeling down this is where I made my pass. It was funny however since I did it kind of in a “Ninja style” and went by her quite unnoticed.

And when I thought that I got away with my stealth like pass the guy in green behind us decided to scream for the whole forest to the girl “Here goes your MEDAL!”. LOL, really, really, here goes away my super pass. :) We still had almost 4 miles to go and the creepiest of deep waters, blinking lights and slippery bridges section. Thankfully I was not alone there this time around and passed one guy while in the swamps, now just meters ahead I had once again my beloved “guy with the red light”.


It felt good to sit down and submerge myself in the burrito-land....

I was happy, but my legs were so heavy by now that getting out of the deep water and maneuvering the bridge was really challenging. I could now hear and see once again what was coming up since I had someone in front. I knew just from the sound when the deep water was approaching and when it was time to slow down. I also know that every little decision and line will matter since I was being chased by the girl that I just passed. It was only two of us in close proximity and the rest of the forest was dark. Now my red light guy in front stopped to work on his shoe and I said “oh no you can’t do that!” and he smiled and said “no worries, I will be there in a second”. And he was, he did catch up and led us for a really fast paced and exhausting final miles. I was very grateful. The legs now after tougher pars would just bend underneath from the exhaustion; air was still humid and hot. But there was no slowing down now. At some point he said “I can hear it” and yes I did too, we heard the announcer at the finish line. But we still had a long and difficult two miles. My pace was slipping slightly but not terribly. He thought we had only mile to go but even though I wanted to believe it I knew it was much more.


Beautiful night fire pit.

But I could almost feel it and taste it; we were so close to be done. Path got a little more manageable now and it was really no one around, I was really glad I had company. I looked back a few times and I saw lights in the distance and knew that I must stay ahead and can’t slow down even though my body begs me for it. And then I heard the sound, and said “something is there” and the guy with the red light replied “yes we are almost there” and I’m like “no, something is walking there”. Apparently some night creature was traversing in between the palmetto palms knocking loud the giant leaves. He thought it was an Armadillo and I like to believe that it was one also for keeping my spirits positive.

And finally we saw the lights, we heard the music, we were flying now thought the final water, wooden bridge and winy single-track. He took off and I kept my pace and arrived on my own some 20 seconds behind. I was happy to finally cross the finish line.


That's a proven fact: Wherever there is a fire pit, there I am. I just Love night fire!

After all I ended up 3rd female on the finish line and only 1.5 minutes ahead of 4th place. Other ladies were much further back, but the first two just destroyed it and arrived with some of the fastest guys. I was definitely very happy with how I managed this insane run.


Full moon is on!

Only my eyes and eyes of those who covered this whole race track can tell what really was out there, since it is so difficult to describe every moment, sound, feeling and detail of this adventure.
Because it was exactly it: an adventure, a challenge, and a test; something to push through and overcome.

Long after I was done and was so happy to see my husband who was tracing me along the way on his phone from my PocketFinder I had in my back pocket. After we had some nice drinks, ate burritos, talked to friends, relaxed, and sat at the fire. Long after the people were still pouring in and returning from the long journey out there in the forest.


It always had been one of my favorite quotes!

It was really tough and inspiring to see how people loved and enjoyed and challenged themselves and didn’t let all those obstacles stop them. I was happy to see them crossing the finish line with a big smile on the face.


Overall Female Podium!
Like usual all of it would not be possible if not for the dedication of my husband Pax and also all my amazing support!

Thank you: Salomon, Sunnto, Light and Motion, Suunto, Clif, Oakley, Pocketfinder and Garden of Life.




Is beautiful Bella singing to the full moon or trying to sneak a kiss?
Down to Run did put tonight one amazing and memorable event, well done!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hungryland Back 60k Gravel Grinder- Off-Road MTB Race

Hungryland Back 60k Gravel Grinder Off-Road MTB Race in Jupiter, FL

1st Overall Woman


It was a beautiful, steaming hot, muddy day for all of us who raced today. The scenery however was amazing and the race extremely tough. If anyone thought that those 60k were going to be a piece of cake, with a nice levee ride they definitely would be wrong.

All the miles of bumpy, ungroomed and overgrown grass, deep water crossing where sometimes half of my bike would be submerged, the moist and hot air lifting up off the grasses throughout the course and of course the grind of the gravel under the tires. It was a challenge from the start. Everyone worked so hard and united today and I’m happy I was able to be part of it. Congrats to all who participated and finished! Congrats to the amazing ladies today who weren’t afraid to get dirty and all the guys that I had a chance to race with!

Even though I didn’t see a Wild Boar on the trails, especially on those final grassy 6 miles, I got one to take with me home and we named him Walden…


Video of Race filmed by Air Drone...

The Whole Story...

It was an early morning start and very quiet ride up north. We were heading somewhere in the middle of nowhere and had no idea what was waiting for us. Everything around was dark blue since day didn’t wake up yet and a beautiful fog added to the magic. The less around us meant the closer we got. Finally we ended up on a wet dirt road with swamps on both sides. It was peaceful and beautiful there. But just seconds into the ride two long and slimy looking creatures just jetted in the middle of the path and started chasing each other around in a playful way. Those were two just the most adorable river otters (we call them Shish Kabobs and don’t ask me why!) which after a quick while galloped in funny hops back into the swampy water and we still could see them swimming away. It was a great sight and good start of the day. 

Getting ready for Race Start

When we arrived at the race site we seemed to be one of the first ones and a little concrete slab that was used as a parking space was located just in the middle of no one’s land…

I think I liked it there. 

Beautiful scenery of race site
With time more people arrived and gathered around the site. A full hour went by and we were ready to be set off. But before that we all biked back to the beginning of the same path were the Shish Kabobs were playing. We were all situated just behind a giant pool of water that spilled out way beyond the dirt road and to the field to the side. And we were off, dividing quickly into those who went far wide left around the water and those on the narrow right. I stayed on the right and after waiting for my turn we were at full speed quickly. The fast group of guys formed far ahead and I happened to be in the group following it. When we reached the parking lot gathering area we were sent off to the left on the path that would lead us into the HUNGRYLAND…

Pre-race gathering


It was not what I expected to be honest. In an instant we ended up in a passage with very long and overgrown grass that was uneven, bumpy, and clumpy. This terrain simply was not meant to be biked on. I didn’t know how long this was going to last and suffering did set in pretty quickly. Things got much worse before they started getting any better. Miles were going by and the burn in the legs and the whole body was fully on. Than we approached the first water crossing, one of many, it was like a big indent in the path maybe two full bike lengths and all filled with water. The depth varied from half of the wheel to half of your bike with legs being totally underwater. We just plumed in it and hoped for the best. The resistance of suddenly hitting deep water while on the bike is so strong that it almost stops you still, I was not sure if I was going to make it through but I stood up and powered with this loud sound as one would wade through the deep water. This would go on for a while with a total of six water crossings which thankfully ended, but still we were in the deep grass and I had no clue how much longer of this we had I would say some kind of frustration did kick in maybe from the unknown and from the pain that I was in. I was pushing and not willing to slow down. I even said out loud that if I knew it was going to be that bad I would have signed up for the shorter distance and I remember one of the riders telling me that probably I should considering the pace I am riding at.

And the race began

But for me as we know there is nothing in between, it is fully Off or On mode, nothing else. At that moment all systems were ON and I was not willing to slow down. I did catch up and pass quite a few riders while huffing and puffing from the heat and exhaustion, I was dreaming about seeing some flat land.

And after a full six miles I finally did, the grass spilled us out onto the gravel levy and we were directed to the right. Suddenly the scenery opened up and no longer were we in the overgrown swampy tunnel surrounded by trees but rather this vast open space in the Florida flatland with what seemed like a never ending gravel path. This is when the real work and race began. It was easier at first because of the terrain but became more uncomfortable and difficult when the speed increased.

Everyone is working hard

Now we were cruising some 17-19 mph most of the time. Thankfully I was not completely alone and had another rider by my side. We rode together until we reached sadly another grassy passage with a few more water crossings. I wondered if we will see any gravel path again. But very soon we were spilled back onto the levee and were heading now down the flat gravel track full speed and with the wind with us. It felt good to finally be able to settle now and find my pace and the zone I was comfortable with. It is kind of like disappearing in my own tolerable suffering space. We all had them and they all did vary and because of it, it was tough to stay by the side of any rider in particular for long. I joined some groups and left some groups. I was rider hoping in order to ride my own race and not someone else’s race. It required more work and pain but this was the only way to do it right. The levy loop was huge taking us in this giant circle making numerous turns on the canals to finally reach spots which would bring us to the beginning of the loop. Thankfully we didn’t have to go back to the painful grassy passage until the last 6 miles of the race.



Powering on mushy grass
Is the grass tall enough?
For every nice stretch of dirt with better padded surface and wind behind the backs we had just the opposite; the soft path with big and loose gravel and against strong wind. This is when you hurt the most and you feel like you are hardly moving. It’s easy to slip away in the scenario like this and I was watching this exact thing happening to us on the first lap. The group I was in for most of the race was great. We worked really well and Rudolfo was in it and was also working hard. We tried to stay strong but with each passing mile the pace was slipping, we went from 17 to 16 to 15… At some point I looked down and saw 12 mph on my bike computer and knew I had to do something. This is when tiny me left all the big boys and hammered my way to the front of the convoy and sped us up back to 19 mph. Thankfully guys woke up by this move and followed. 
 
Water stop in the Grind Zone

It was definitely the best part of this whole experience to see people unite and work together and encourage each other on this tough quest. I really enjoyed those interactions no matter for how long they lasted. I am grateful to the person that I rode with initially since seemed like I was hinted to lead against the wind in the loose gravel on the first lap and I just didn’t have anything more in me at that time. Thankfully later on when I regained my strength and got back to the zone and I was able to put some work in for others. The more miles and more time went by the more I didn’t mind it and actually felt better. Also I was happy and surprised at the same time to see my husband Pax right there on the side of gravel taking pictures. Thankfully next time he saw me he handed me fresh water in clear water bottle which pretty much exploded under my grip right into the air like a geyser when I grabbed it while riding still at full speed. Half of it seemed like it spilled all over Pax and I but I still got what I needed from it and made sure nothing more was wasted. Also it was nice to have this sweet drone camera which was following us at the race site and even on the gravel path. Love the images it captured, they are truly amazing.

Scott and I after the race

We were in this never ending spin cycle repeating the monster gravel loops for a big chunk of our almost 37 mile journey. Interestingly enough with all the miles initially being so painful I can’t even tell how quickly miles moved from 9th to 16th to 20th. And on the contrary I felt actually the best exactly on mile 26th, don’t know why. I was shocked in a way that we did so much of the distance already and by the time I hit the 30 mile mark and I was directed back to the miserable grass I was sad in a way because I felt I could kept on going.

Before that however I remember the rider Joel on the LG cyclocross bike;  he was simply fast and looked completely unbothered by the wind and the gravel. He was jetting through it like it was nothing. Toward the end of the second lap I had no one else in sight but once again the rider on this cross bike far ahead and it took me a hell amount of work to finally reach him. While I did it seemed like he just stopped fighting and did slow down greatly. This is when I told him how much effort I put to catch up and encouraged him to keep on going. We ended up riding together for a big chunk of the second lap and beginning of third.

On the last bumpy stretch with two water crossings, it was a third time now, we had a guy that suddenly stopped and started screaming in pain; he was just some 150 feet from finishing this section but he cramped up so badly that he jumped off this bike and was just holding on to his leg. It was tough, really it was and I was glad to see him feeling perfectly fine later on the finish line and we just laughed about it. When I got sent off by the volunteers for the final tough grassy section I was told there was a guy some 0.5 mile ahead and that I should try to get him. He was so far out that I could not see anyone for a very long time. I felt very alone suddenly and in the middle of nowhere. Now my mind started drifting and realizing how tired I was, how the evaporating moisture from the wet grass was getting to me. It was steamy, dirty, hot, humid, muddy, and bumpy; I got definitely my share today. But I still had the guy in front that I could not see, not that this actually mattered but it took my mind away from the fatigue and rather directed it to my next goal. I kept on going and other thoughts that were sneaking on me now were of the wild boars roaming around me somewhere and me being alone. This was not the coolest feeling really. But at the same time I did carry with me a Pocketfinder GPS tracker and knew that even though I am here at that moment alone I should not feel as such since my husband while monitoring knows my exact location at any time. That way even though no one was near me physically but grass I felt like I was not completely alone and I was showing my Pax that I am almost there.

Fortunately enough when my mind wondered through all those weird streams of thoughts I spotted a guy far away in the red shirt. It was a tiny dot in the distance but gave me something to work on and surely enough after some time of pushing those cranks I was able to catch up. It took so long however that by the time I caught him and some other guys we were all spilled to the road where it all started some two hours ago. All I had to do now was to turn to the left and cross the finish. Final sprint for fun with some other rider and we were done. 

Final sprint to the Finish

I didn’t expect that for sure but I got today many many times on the podium for this one performance. I had all the ladies podium, age group podium, overall ladies podium, fastest male and female podium. Yes it was more than plenty. The burritos and drinks were served  to all the riders. The medals were given to all the finishers, the trophies we got were quite special since they were hand made from the pieces of rocks and old chain rings. And I got a cute and fluffy Wild Boar which I named Walden to take home...


Overall Female Podium

Today however was not about podiums, medals, winning…
 
Feeling sleepy and needed a hug...

This day was about being happy, getting up early and getting out there, to challenge myself, to reach new limits, to don’t give up when I wanted the most.

Age Group Podium

Also it was about support for biking community, the lifestyle that I love, the nature, the environment…


Girls after the race All Smiles

And about meeting new people and spend a day alongside ones I know. To share a moment with my husband and others through this adventure…

Power of the Ladies

When I think about it however, every day is exactly about that and nothing more and whatever comes out of it is a victory in itself either way…
 
Walden getting much needed belly rub




No-one told us who we were.
No-one told us we should do this.
No-one told us it would be easy.
Someone said we are our dreams, that if we don’t dream, we are no longer alive.
Our steps follow our instinct and take us into the unknown.
We no longer see the obstacles behind us, but look forward the ones ahead.
It’s not about being the fastest, the strongest or the biggest…It’s about being ourselves.
We are not just runners, mountaineers or skiers…or even athletes…we are people.
We don’t know if we’ll find it, but we’re going in search of happiness.
What is it we’re looking for? To be alive?
Kilian Jornet – Summits of my life

Fastest Male and Female Podium
Like always huge thanks to all my amazing support:

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape, Cycleops and New for 2014 - Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!


Huge thanks to my husband Pax, who charged on his bike with all camera gear on his back around this rugged and muddy terrain… He had to go as we did through the bumpy 12 miles with numerous water crossings to photograph all of us in action. Hundreds of pictures had been taken for all of us to enjoy. Thx Mucha you are the best!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

USAT Off Road National Championships / XTERRA East Regional Championships


USAT Off Road National Champion Title
1st in Age Group
2nd Overall in the Country 
Words cannot describe...
Equipment used: Specialized S-Works Epic WC from Bike Tech Miami , Louis Garneau custom Tri Kit, LG Course Helmet, LG T-Flex 2LS Shoes, LG TR-40 Bag, Magura MT8 Brakes, Syntace Duraflite Carbon handlebars, Syntace FlatForce Stem, Syntace P6 HiFlex Seatpost, Xpedo M-Force 8 Ti, NoTubes Race Gold's, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's and Racing Ralph's,  Huub Speedsuit, ESI Grips, Rotor crank, Rotor QX1 32t Chainring, KMC 11SL Chain, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground, Suunto Ambit 2 S, Light and Motion Solite, Kuat NV Bike Rack, Clif Shot Gels, Oakley Radar Sunglasses with VR28 lenses and Garden of Life nutrition Every Day of my Life... And I used new gadget a Pocketfinder that kept track of me so my Husband always knows at all times during the race where I am.

Another year went by and I was eager to come back to my favorite race and amazing venue of Xterra Richmond. It’s easy to think that since you have been here once or twice it will be all the same and you had it figured out.

It is never the case however since so many things change each time we are here. From the weather pattern, to the race format, to the people you are racing against. And the race course is so insane, difficult, challenging, intimidating, unpredictable and exhausting like nothing else that I ever raced.


Happy to be back in Richmond

Two years back the race was just perfect, calm, clear river, dry fast trails and an awesome run. This is when I fell in love with this place and knew it will stay on my race calendar.

A year ago the tropical storm turned the swim course into a raging river and the bike course to a slimy mess that put me ultimately in the hospital with fours staples in my head. It was the only race ever for me that I did not finish because of this terrible crash.

This gave me a whole year to think about and plan my return.

And here I am driving up to this crazy city with a head full of images of us blazing down those amazing trails. I seriously miss them and just want to ride my bike here and have an awesome time. But besides the whole 884 miles being bone dry, it had to start raining badly on the last 16 miles of our trip and this awful grey sky covered the whole landscape. The joy ride was not about to happen unfortunately. We went to the hotel and planned to get on the course sometime in between the showers the following day.

Pre-ride with flooded tunnels; Part of the race course!
The purple grips on my bike were to match the electric atmosphere of the City of Richmond!

The trails were still wet after it rained here already for over two days and not everything was completely rideable or safe. We tried the following day to get out and see some more. Now the trails were drier but still not perfect. I got bruised up from this practice and kind of regretted a little getting out there on the trails.

My practice swim, the only one that I got was nice but also brutal in a way. The water level was twice as high as just a few days back and the current was extremely strong and visibility was close to none. The runoff water turned the river all dark and brown with debris and broken trees scattered all over. I got caught under the bridge in a strong current and was swimming up the river for some 10 minutes and was not getting anywhere, it was exhausting. I wondered about the race and how this was going to end up especially for those who were not strong swimmers.


XTERRA Ambassadors in Richmond
I didn't feel great the day before the race. I was nursing now a lot of small aches in my legs and was feeling tired from a whole week at work cramped in 3.5 days and an additional 13 hour travel to get here.

I tried my best to stay optimistic however and with hope that on the race day my inner power will come above it all.

The race morning was beautiful, with warm temperatures, blue sky and was full of energy.

My Pax was so excited however that when we started heading out for the race site in the morning he totally drove in the opposite direction. This added some stress of the day that he was going to go through. I’m not going to say that I was not stressed since this is part of the game to be stressed enough to be alert and motivated but still calm enough to make rational decisions. I kept my cool and after a U turn and zigzagging through a city maze we finally reached the site. I rushed for the body marking and to set myself up in the transition area. I was happy with my spot and noticed that my friend and main competitor today Brook was setup at a rack just in front of mine. We heard the announcement of the Pro start and rushed to the river bank to watch the Pro swim. All I can say is I wish we took a recording of what happened there. It was insane to watch and even more mind boggling to know we will be next soon.

Heyyy!!!

The moment the swimmers hit the first strong current everyone got swept to the side, than swam against the current and started dolphin hoping, running, swimming and log hoping along a submerged sand bar. Than when heading for the third buoy the second set of super strong currents swept everyone down the river and something that should look like a straight line looked now like a boomerang. It was a fight to make the buoy. Than the island run and back to the water for the longest and scariest part of the river. This is where hell opened up and almost everyone got swept by the river and had an extremely difficult time making the 5th buoy. If it was missed just by a few feet it was close to impossible to make it back up against the current and around the buoy. After a while of battling the current a big number of the Pro racers gave up and swam to the next buoy. However some of the racers were enforced to keep on trying and were kept swimming in this nightmarish infinity pool like a scenario for a long time without getting anywhere. This was dramatic to watch from the shore and even the last buoy didn’t look so easy to get around for them and there was a lot of chaos around this spot. This was definitely something amazing to be seen.

I had to rush now however for a quick warm up and get on with my race since I was starting just shortly after. When I got to the water edge this is when Brook and I finally had a chance to talk. For her being such a terrific swimmer I found out that she didn't even attempt to preview the swim course, it was so intimidating. I knew however that she would do well and we both tried to stay positive.


Brook and myself before the race start. Obviously both of us are quite concerned...
I positioned myself in the murky and fast moving water full of tree branches. The river was quite deep after few steps in and there was no way I could stay in the same spot and wait for the race start. Thankfully some ladies discovered a partially submerged tree branch that many of us stood on and were holding on for the dear life.
Swim, run, swim, run, swim?
 The super loud cannon went off. I jumped off the branch and I was off sprinting to the middle of the river to the first buoy. I looked around and I liked what I saw, seemed I was in a good lead at least with the ladies that were next to me. But after reaching the first buoy and heading now against the current this is where fatigue started to get to me pretty quickly. This buoy was pretty congested and everyone was stacked up on each other in a very narrow section between a small island to the right and strong current to the left. I had two ladies under my both arms and a strong current rushing against my body and I had no means to keep moving forward in that fashion. It was a hard battle and getting out of this bottle neck was lengthy and close to impossible. I was gasping now and was extremely tired and was dreaming of getting on this sand bar as soon as I could.

Which side of the buoy?

When I finally got there I didn't care the water was still deep, it just felt so good to have feet on the ground. After some walking, hoping, jogging I was off for the next buoy. Thankfully I aimed just perfectly and didn't get swiped away but the strong current. But when I looked to the left of me most of the swimmers were already down the river. Next buoy and island run and I had to jump in for the most intimidating part of the river. The current here was so strong that I could only hope to stay up and not to get swept away to the tree and down the river. Somehow I was moving through this section very well and kept calm and managed to get to the buoy as close as some 15 feet away. After that I knew it should be easier but really it was not and I remember grabbing some rocks and trying to hold on to them while being swept off my feet. Two final tough buoys and I was aiming now for the boat ramp. I had to sprint out not to miss it and let the river carry me away from the swim finish. All this adventure was so energy consuming and a very long run to the transition definitely didn’t help things in any way. When I grabbed my bike I could definitely feel the pain. For many different reasons the first lap of the bike course felt very exhausting and stressful in a way for me.

I pretty much flew off my bike after getting off the bridge and just feet away from entering the first single track while trying to figure out position with another rider. I hit my brakes so hard I skidded really far while making a turn trying not to fall down the stone edge to the staircase on my right and fell hard on my side. Luckily my Magura MT8 Brakes are so light and powerful they did the trick. This definitely shook me up and it was not a good bike start; thankfully my race didn't end here at this moment but was just about to begin.


Great picture by Rick Kent from EnduroPhoto. Diving into the tunnel...
XTERRA Americas Tour Championships Events has the very best most consistently great official photographers...
Those trails were so technical and challenging that I had to pay attention to all the roots, rocks, drops like a hawk. I rode as smooth as possible and was hoping to make some necessary ground. I was 4.5 minutes back after Brook and 6 to Misty, both amazing swimmers. Everything went pretty smooth until we got to the flooded tunnels and hike a bike climb out of it and into the Forest Hills Trail system. On the way out of the trail however and final rocky descend (Craig Evans' Creek) to the tunnel there was a rider down on the bottom of it and was being pulled as I was approaching. Unfortunately I was called not to ride this section and had to run it down. After that I was about to get on the most demanding miles of the course where all the amazing crazy spectators are, wet rock gardens and challenging wall climbs and rocky descents. The problem now was that the Sprint racers who skipped the Forest Hills were partially scattered on the trail ahead. That added sadly another element to this race that was really much uncalled for and besides being slowed down on the very demanding sections, often I had to get off my bike and just almost pedal with hardly moving forward since a line of slower riders was occupying the trails.

Man down ahead !!!

When I approached the rock climb I had a slower rider in front and was forced to dismount after covering only the first section. It was frustrating at least and I did everything I possibly could to get around all this traffic. I was happy however to ride fully the longest and most difficult and wet rock garden where tens of spectators were yelling and cheering me on when I was clearing rock after rock and ultimately succeeded. It was fun and all the encouragement gave me strength to keep fighting those elements. At some point I had an older gentlemen standing right in the middle of my path with his bike and when asked if he was fine he said yes and that he just lost his shoe. Yes, his brown leather shoe was laying a few feet below right on my path. Good times. I can't even describe in one post all the chaos and everything that happened on this course that day and how many times I had to halt my progress to go around riders. I knew I was not racing to my potential but I did the best I could under the circumstances. For the better news I was making progress on Brook who was still in front and on the mile 9 from what I remember I was able to get on her tail and make a pass. And even though I got away what seemed for a while and got onto the bridge with the cheers of the XTERRA crew and Race Director Dave Nicolas, Brook was still close by. On the second lap of the bike course for the first almost two miles we were still together.

Riding down rocky section which put me in ER last year...
She is a very good rider and has a kind heart and even gave me a complement while following my tracks. After time I was on my own however working the terrain and enjoying this tough ride. I can't describe how many good time besides all the difficult moments I had. On the second lap right before the end of the forest hills I caught up to brightly and flowery dressed Misty and was able to make a pass. This is where a fast and fun descent was and I enjoyed greatly flying over the rocks and then going over a narrow concrete flood wall with steep drop offs on both sides and another wall that I was just heading now full speed on to. This required quick brakes and right or left turn and dipping once again to the tunnel. I felt more relaxed and more focused on the second lap and managed to make fewer mistakes than the first time around. I have this whole movie of the course and my race playing in my mind and I just wish I could share it so everyone can see what we all had to go through. I rode with no issues the final miles and last long rocky descent and sprinted to the transition.

Luckily for me I made up a big chunk of time on both girls on the bike part of the race, 7 minutes on Brook and 9 minutes on Misty.

It was great to see Pro’s standing around and actually cheering me on while I was getting my run gear on and was heading out of T2. I recognized Craig Evans voice in this group.

This is where the soul searching begun. The run started in the center of the city and in a matter of a few minutes we turned toward the bridge. One volunteer looked at me and another racer and said to hurry up since there is a train around the corner waiting for us. I said 'ha that's a good one" thinking he was making a joke. But just seconds later I found myself railroad track hopping and had this monster train standing just a few feet away from me. Oh my, he was not joking at all, there was a train waiting for us. Nice. Seriously in Richmond, whatever you hear and however crazy it sounds, it’s probably the truth.

Then we got the long road exposed to the full sun and the tall staircase taking us to the dry wall. This is where I got totally woozy dizzy and when walking it down I hoped I would keep my balance and somehow recover. Now the hot gravel path dipped us under the bridge into the Mayan Ruins, the steep and brutal climb. Those big wooden beams were pointing straight up and I was crawling up like a little baby and when I finally got to the top I just wanted to collapse and call mommy! It was that tough, but the good part is it was not only me that felt that way but most of the racers had the same experience.

Final steps of the dry river crossing

It was still a long way to go and I knew the girls were both out of the transition and only some 2.5 minutes back. It was not a lot. The gravel road to the turnaround point was long and almost never ending and I couldn't wait to finally get onto the single track. But when I did I was happy to do the kind of running that I like and we had some stream crossings, wooden staircases, log hopping, muddy and slimy path that led us to the famous Dry River Crossing my favorite part of the run course. We had to get our feet totally wet and ran through the water and start boulder hopping and picking good lines for some quarter of a mile at least. This was a blast but so much more difficult on the exhausted legs. Not everything operates at that state of the race almost three hours later as you are used to. I did my traversing, climbed the final huge boulders, climbed the ladder out of the river and was spilled on the gravel road and finally a winding and hilly single track. The scary part of all of it is that the girls made up just enough time that there were just behind on the river crossing and we still had some 1.5 miles to go. It was tough, emotional, painful, I heard my husband yelling “Keep pushing Beata no matter how much it hurts!”

This is where I had to take a serious look deep inside my soul and see how much will there is still left to deal with all the suffering that was needed to keep on pushing and staying ahead for the remaining miles. The single track did last for a while and was not easy but eventually I was spilled on the open path that leads me to the bottom of the foot bridge. While on the top and starting to run to the other side I looked down and didn't see girls yet but wondered if they were maybe already on the ramp and I just could not see them. Thankfully that was not the case and I kept on pushing through this long and wavy bridge while surrounded by this amazing city scape view and raging river underneath. I flew down the ramp and now last thing to do was to cover the last long road stretch running by the boat ramp where the race started and into the expo zone and into the finish. I had people cheering me on along the way and telling me to keep strong, I felt good now. I didn't allow myself to get emotional however even though I was so amazingly happy that I was able to hold my position. I screamed so loud while crossing the finish line that knowingly or not I made many heads turn. I was just simply happy, so happy; I hugged everyone who was in my way and even got a big hug from “Big Fish”; Christine Jeffrey which was super nice.

It was an amazing feeling and still I’m trying to pinch myself that long set goal and dream of winning a title of USA Off-Road Triathlon National Champion turned to reality. Also minutes later I found out I was actually 2nd overall for all the amateur women with only Hannah Rae Finchamp ahead, who is a 2x XTERRA Amateur Overall World Champion and racer for the Luna Pro Team.

This race was also an amazing tribute to Floridian strength with 3 out of top women representing the state. I was very happy to see all of us finish so strong. Brook and Misty were only a few seconds apart and finished a little after I crossed the finish line.


Very proud of this Floridian trio placing top 4 Overall; Brook, myself and Misty after the race. 

I’m happy and grateful for everything that happened along the way that lead me to this moment. I had such an amazing weekend and so many amazing people contributed to this victory.

From my husband Pax whose role goes way beyond simply being a husband and a cheering group, and a photographer; after all he took my bike apart three times and cleaned it with Pro Gold in just three days here and drove for two days across the state to bring me to this start line. Also I have to thank his mother Theresa who always takes part of this trip and meets us here and is a big help and we turn this weekend to little family reunion. Also big thanks to all my friends starting with Xterra ambassador Marcus Barton, Jonathan Parkinson, Hugh Myrick, and Frank Fernandez Posse for great moments together previewing and analyzing the course.


Overall Podium: Beata Wronska, Hannah Rae Finchamp, Alexandra Brook Pace
You guys are simply true friends and great company.

The time we spend with friends and racers over meals sharing stories and having a great time is simply priceless. Kate and Jim from Swichio, an amazing couple which has lots of love for the sport hosted a beautiful dinner for Pro and not so pro racers and I was very glad I was able to spend the time together with amazing people like Christine Jeffrey, Josiah Middaugh, always hilarious Craig Evans and super cool Karsten Madsen and Branden Rakita. Greyson Keppler who was helping me for the past few weeks prepare for this race was there and a few other fun people. Definitely it was an evening to remember.

Also a big Thanks to Jackie and Bobby from Mizner Grande Reality who contributed to our trip.

Only people that are missing from my life and I would love to share my joy of racing with are my parents and my sister who live in Poland and I didn't see them for what seems like eternity. I wish with all my heart that one day I will be able to go back and see them and race by their side so they can meet their daughter as a triathlete and no longer a table tennis player.
This race not only gave me an Age Group National Champion title but also 2nd overall National Championship title for amateurs and qualified me for the 2015 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships wherever it may be.


Age Group Podium: Brook, Beata, Kristen. Also my amazing bike Sonia made it to the podium!
This year ITU Worlds will be hosted in Zitau Germany just hours away from my home town in Poland. I can't describe how much I want to go to this race and see my family!

Also I was so happy with everything gear wise that I chose for this race. From my amazing Specialized World Cup Epic bike that took this long two thousand mile journey on the awesome Kuat NV rack, to the tires, bars, grips, to the 32t Q-Ring that I just got from Rotor just in time for this event!

My LG race kit kept me so comfy no matter if I’m in extreme heat or drained with water. My Salomon Pro Sense shoes were incredible and handled this mixed city and off road and even water crossing terrain brilliantly and my feet stayed fresh. The awesome Huub skin suit got finally its first race in and was a joy to wear. Suunto Ambit 2S watch recorded all the action and all the pain in numbers. My new Oakley glasses stayed put and clear with the VR 28 lenses which worked out well on those mixed trails.

National Championship Jersey and another Maui slot...

Also I was testing a new cool GPS tracking device from Pocketfinder for my husband’s sake. After all I was laying down the trail last year after my crash and my husband didn’t know what happened and first time he saw me after my race was in the ER without knowledge on what happened.

This time around to the minute and also to the meter he always knew where I was and that I’m doing just fine and am staying safe. This amazing device is being used now by me on all my trainings, racing and travel… You can take a look here and always know your loved ones or racer is safe and moving - http://www.pocketfinder.com/

I wanted to Thank Grayson Keppler for helping me out with preparation for this event for the past few weeks and contributing to my USAT Off-Road National Championship title.
When you are getting ready for an important race or simply want to become a faster athlete you can achieve it by working with Grayson.
Please visit his site at http://www.kepplertrainingzones.com/
Or send him an email at kepplertrainingzone@gmail.com
Or just message him and like his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/grayson.kepp

I'm always thankful to all my sponsors for the support and trust in me and in my dedication to chasing the dreams. I'm forever grateful.

As always Thanks to...

Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Specialized, Salomon, Suunto, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains, Oakley, Huub, PocketFinder and Rotor Bike Components!

Thanks for reading and until next time!