Be extra attentive to nutrition
Thanks to the rough course, the three gels I had tucked into the back of my race singlet were gone by the time I reached for them. Xterra isn’t like a road triathlon, where you can pull out your water bottle or eat pretty much whenever you want. The steep ascents, descents, loose rock and dirt force you to keep both hands on the handlebars much of the time. And because the mountain bike and trail run will take you longer to complete—and be far more taxing on your body than in an Olympic-distance race—getting in your nutrition on the bike becomes even more important. Cerra advised me to put most of my nutrition in a water bottle and drink whenever I could, which I did. Better yet, wear a hydration backpack, which Major and a number of other competitors used so they could drink relatively hands-free.