Tips for the Trail – Looking forward to Lake Las Vegas – XTERRA – 3-22-2013

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published by XTERRA on March 22, 2013

It’s finally spring again! This is my favorite time of year as it means longer days full of sun and warmth.  And of course with the shifting of the seasons, this means it is time to hit the national XTERRA circuits again!

Rachel CThe trail running event I look forward to most in the early season is the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run, which is held in conjunction with the XTERRA West Championship Triathlon.  It is the perfect spring get-away.  It is the perfect reason to celebrate a sunny warm weekend with like-minded friends and fierce competition.

With the Las Vegas airport only 20 minutes away and the Strip less than 30, it is crazy to think that such an amazing desert oasis is so close to the hype and neon lights.  In fact, Lake Las Vegas resort is such a stark contrast to the Strip, it is pretty much on its own planet I like to call Paradise.  The gorgeous Aston MonteLago Village Resort’s lush setting acts as the ideal background for the race start, as well as a fabulous home base for a fun filled weekend.

My perfect XTERRA race weekend will go like this:  Arrive to Las Vegas on Friday and head straight to Lake Las Vegas resort to check in.  From there, eat a snack and drive towards the spectacular Hoover Dam.  The area is actually really neat with a lot of national history surrounding it. If nothing else, I always like to take a moment to see both the dam (website is: http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/ ) and the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (website:http://www.hooverdambypass.org/ ). Both are extraordinary from an applied engineering perspective. If that is not for you, maybe you can head to Lake Mead, which is also close by. There is some nice trail running out there with the bonus option of a refreshing post run swim.  Once finished with the sightseeing and recreating, I like to head back to the resort where they have several super fun restaurants and a casino.  Before bed, you can always hang out in a hot tub and soak your legs to be ready for tomorrow.

Wake up with the sun on Saturday morning and be sure to head down to the Lake Las Vegas shores.  Crowds will be big and energy high as this is the morning of the XTERRA West Championship.  Watching some of the top professionals and amateur triathletes in the world race towards glory amidst the desert setting will motivate and inspire us all to give our best for the trail run events come Sunday!

Once all of the racers have crossed their finish line and you’ve fulfilled your spectator limits of swim, bike and run, grab a quick snack and your trail shoes. Head out with for your mini pre-race warm-up to get a feel for the terrain.  Be certain to bring fluids with electrolytes. Remember midday temperatures can range from 50-90 degrees. Protect yourself appropriately!

Within moments of leaving the Old World inspired luxury of the resort, you will quickly find yourself “off the planet” as you will feel like you’ve run straight onto the moon!  The lush scenery gives way to desert scrub, hard packed sand and many lizard sightings.  The course is incredible. Despite the desolate desert terrain, there are plenty of challenges. The 21K course is set at an elevation of about 2,000 feet above sea level. It is full of steep short power climbs, followed by fast fun descents.  While the moonscape atmosphere is an incredible sight, take care to focus and pick up your feet. In place of roots and vines on a mountain trail, deep cracks and tiny lips in the soil will grab your toes if your eyes wander too long!

My suggestion is to set your watch to keep it short, as before you know it you could easily run longer than you thought. Save the race for your big day! Or, opt to run the 5K version of the course as practice. The 5K and 10K distances are still out there and fun, yet they cover much milder terrain than the full 21K.  The shorter distances are a great way to include friends and family opting for a shorter adventure on race morning.

After your practice run, take a cool refreshing shower and eat a big lunch. I like to eat my pre-race meal in the afternoon the day before the race. This allows more time for digestion and an earlier bedtime.  That way I can also relax and enjoy the remainder of the day. I won’t have to worry about if I’ve eaten properly for my race the next morning.  I recommend continuing to sip electrolyte beverages the remainder of the day. Swim, chill out, and enjoy your fellow racers and friends. Eat a light dinner to top off reserves, set out your race clothes, shoes, and morning food. Then get some sleep!

On race morning, awaken ready to rally!  If you eat a meal, be sure to eat at least 2.5-3 hours early.  If you are like me, I struggle to eat solid food right before a hard run.  I take my race morning calories in liquid form about 2 hours before race start. This way I avoid stomach problems and can focus on running fast and strong.  Know what works for you and be ready to fly!

The race itself is fun! It is well marked and has great aid stations with water and electrolyte beverages and superb volunteers.  If you have a sensitive stomach, carry your own drinks and calories that you know work for you.  Start out running slower than you think you need to in order to finish strong.  For the 21K racers, it is especially vital to save some energy for the end. If the course is similar to years past, race director “Kahuna” Dave Nicholas will send us straight up the most difficult hill of the day at the end of the race course. It can turn into a technical hands and knees scramble and may lead to a couple of four letter words.  But don’t worry. This is short lived as once you crest the hill it is a flying fast descent towards a rewarding finish at the oasis in the desert.

After the awards ceremony, when you are in recovery mode, take a shuttle from your hotel to the Strip with your favorite friends. Everyone can find something they love on the Strip.  My choice is to head to the Mirage for the Beatles-Love Cirque du Soleil show.  It is really great!  When you’ve had enough of the Strip, take a shuttle back to Lake Las Vegas for a well-earned rest.

There you have it! The perfect plan to spend an incredible XTERRA race weekend. Can you think of any better way to “Live More”?  I look forward to seeing everyone soon.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, including the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run, and placed ninth overall in the women’s field at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor, and is a certified running form and endurance coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.