Deanna McCurdy Xterra World Championship Profile
Name: Deanna McCurdy
Where do you live?
Is this your first year competing at Worlds? What do you most look forward?
This is my 1st year competing at Worlds. I think I most look forward to seeing the finish line and my family waiting for me to cross it… then they get mommy back and the real vacation can begin!
What is your favorite aspect of Xterra?
I love the people XTERRA attracts. We moved to Colorado a year ago from Georgia and while we didn’t race many XTERRA triathlons back in the Southeast, we loved the XTERRA trail races and all of our friends who were part of them. We signed up for our 1st XTERRA off road triathlon here in Colorado this past June and immediately started meeting some super cool, fun new friends, making us finally feel like we found a home again with our extended family.
How did you get into Xterra or triathlon in general?
Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Angelman Syndrome, when she was 16 months old. She cannot speak, suffers from a seizure and sleep disorder, has cognitive and processing delays, and didn’t walk independently until she was 3 ½ years old. After her diagnosis, my husband and I formed a charity running/triathlon team called “Team Miles for Smiles” to help raise money for research and awareness for the condition. I had always been a runner, but wanted to challenge myself with a new goal as a fundraising race so I entered my 1st triathlon 5 years ago. Never did we dream that that first triathlon would open the door to such wonderful adventures, meet so many inspiring people along the way, and get to travel to unbelievable places such as Maui for XTERRA Worlds this year.
What challenges did you have to overcome in order to qualify for Worlds, or what do you contribute your success to this year?
I think the greatest challenge to overcome on a daily basis as a mom of 2 girls, one with special needs, is making the time and finding the energy to train. We are so fortunate to have moved this past May into a home that is nestled in the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range with miles and miles of trails literally out our front door. This XTERRA season has kind of evolved as the summer progressed, signing up for one race, then the next without a specific goal. Having so many XTERRA race opportunities within an hour of our house gave us a perfect excuse to “play tourist” on the weekends, sightsee, and take in this amazing country along the way. Only after qualifying for Worlds at the Mountain Championships at Beaver Creek did we start to realize that if I actually trained, something special might happen. Lucky for me, Yaro and Josiah Middaugh agreed to coach me after that race. I think Yaro and Josiah have created a perfect plan to help me push my body and bring out the best in it, but at the same time, still be able to be a mom and not be beyond exhausted the rest of the day.
What is your favorite discipline and why?
I’m a runner by nature. I love to run, especially climbing mountains on the trails. I started running in high school and college, but didn’t fully fall in love with it until after my girls were born. I have spent hours and hours working through so many of life’s challenging questions on a trail run. I am so thankful triathlon is structured to have the run as the final segment. As painful as it can be, I really look forward to the run portion of the race. As Josiah says “you swim with your arms, you bike with your legs, and you run with your heart.”
What is your least favorite discipline and why?
The swim… if I could figure out a way to talk while swimming, I might like it more, but staring at a black line at the bottom of the pool or gasping for air while people are pounding you at the beginning of a race is definitely not on my list of favorite things.
What is your favorite piece of triathlon/Xterra equipment?
Aquaphor- it has saved my skin from chaffing and blisters more times than I can count! It is the perfect breathable lubricant if the weather is hot and humid or unbelievably dry, biting cold or wet and windy. I lather it in my bike and run shoes as well as on any part of my arms and legs that has a chance of rubbing during a race.
What is one piece of advice you would give other off road triathletes trying to qualify for Worlds in the future or to those participating in Worlds for the first time?
Don’t take your training and racing so seriously. (I have a hunch Yaro and Josiah just gasped!). What I have loved about training with these guys is that they have a balance of key, structured workouts, whether they are hill repeat intervals, or challenging swimming sessions, but also usually put a workout or two each week on the schedule that says “go out and play on the trails, take in the scenery and enjoy”. Some days, when I reach the top of a long climb and feel like my legs and lungs are burning, knowing I have to turn around and do the same climb a few more times, I have to remind myself to pause and look at the mountains around me. What a privilege it is for me to be here doing this. We don’t have to push ourselves to our limits, but we do. We are so lucky to get to do this when so many others don’t have the ability or opportunity.
Who do you need to give a special shout out to for making this season successful?
Aside from my awesome coaches, I have to thank my husband, David McCurdy. Raising 2 girls, his working long hours, our moving twice in a year, and my trying to squeeze in training and racing would never be possible if he didn’t support and encourage me. Plus, he rolls with my pre-race mood swings and irrational thoughts and still loves me. As we say in the South, bless his heart!
What are your expectations at Worlds?
I have trained as hard as I could this past summer and know that when I stand on the beach before the start gun goes off, I can say that I couldn’t have done much more to prepare for this race. Granted, this is XTERRA, so we will have to see what the day, the course, and the conditions will bring. I would love the opportunity to stand on the podium at the end of the day, but just finishing is a great accomplishment for all of us who toe the line at the start.
If you had to choose one song to get stuck in your head for the entire race, what would it be?
I always put a song into my head during races, especially when the going gets tough. It’s a great way to quiet the whining between the ears and motivate to keep pushing forward. My all-time favorite mantra song is Coldplay’s “Fix You.” It reminds me of my daughter and why I started this crazy racing journey a few years ago. When I sink into a low during a race, I try to play it in my head to boost my energy and motivate me to press on.
Sometimes, however, the song picks me rather than me picking what I want to hear over and over in my head. At XTERRA Nationals this year, American Authors “Go Big or Go Home” popped into my mind when I got back on my bike after being sidelined with a mechanical issues for what seemed like forever. I knew I could have given up at that point and just cruised the rest of the race, or I could dig deeper and see what my legs could do. It ended up being the perfect mantra song. Fingers crossed I don’t have to deal with mechanical issues in Maui, but if I do, hopefully a song like that will get me through it.
What is your favorite activity outside of training?
I love baking chocolate chip cookies (and sampling the batter). My family can usually tell if I am really feeling stressed if I go for a run, then come home and start making a batch of cookies. Sometimes I think I started running because I love eating them so much!
After the season is over what do you most look forward to doing that you were not able to do leading up to Hawaii?
When we return to Colorado after Hawaii, there is a good chance snow will be falling in the mountains. I can’t wait to try a couple of new activities this coming winter with my family such as snowshoeing and cross country skiing (and not having to worry that if and when I fall, I might get hurt and jeopardize an upcoming race).
What is one thing that you think others might be surprised to know about you?
I was in the band in high school and played piano, flute and even a high pitched, squealing piccolo (the little pint-sized instrument that loves to be heard… go figure!)
Anything else you would like to add?
One of the greatest lessons I have learned since the birth of my daughter is that we might have an idea of what we believe our life should be, but we ultimately are not in charge of it. Our life now is so much different than I imagined it to be, but we had a choice to make when we received her diagnosis. We could either hide in our home and let the condition control our life, or we could embrace it and bravely face each day and the challenges it brings. Fortunately, we chose the latter and our life adventure is so much more than we could have ever dreamed. In the words of Helen Keller, a woman who could have thrown in the towel and hid from the world because of her disabilities, but instead chose to inspire so many with her true living of the life she had be given, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”