Monday, March 17, 2014

Race Report

So, after the fiasco that was VOS, I was feeling a bit dejected. It’s still early in the season, and there is plenty of racing ahead of me, but I realize how much work I need to do between now and the next series of bigger races.

My plan had been to temper my season a bit over last year, and be more selective about what and when I race. This was for the sake of both my own sanity and the challenges that ensue when juggling a full schedule of racing, a full-time job, my private consulting and freelance work, and the needs of two really busy little people.

But I sat down after Arizona, and really evaluated what had gone wrong. There were a lot of things…some miscalculations and missed efforts, a little bit of laziness on my part, and a whole lot of confidence shaking. That last bit was a MAJOR factor. I was intimidated by the field, and got sucked into a lot of self-doubt. The only way to get over that? Race. A lot. 

TTs are all about suffering.
So, I woke up a week ago with a terrible cold, and headed out for a time trial. The Frostbite TT is normally an exercise in total misery. I did it the first year I came back to racing, and swore I’d never do it again. High winds, freezing temps, a rolling course.
This year, though, the weather was unseasonably awesome! I raced in a short sleeved jersey, and there was little more than a nice breeze. I felt a little rough because I was sick. I’d actually teetered on the verge of not racing at all because I couldn’t decide if I was doing my body more harm than good, and I was worried that a subsequent race disaster might only shake my confidence even more. But as I started warming up with Annie Toth of Groove, I began to feel better. Certainly well enough to make a go of a short time trial.

Katie closing in!
I got to the line and found myself starting in front of Katie Harrer from Naked Juice. We chatted for a bit, which calmed my nerves….though Katie is a much better at time trials. I had a good start, which assuaged some of my wounds from the mess of a TT start a week earlier. I held Katie off for as long as I could, all the while chasing the rider up ahead. I would come close to taking her over, and then she’d push a little bit harder. I just couldn’t quite catch her. Shortly after the turn-around, Katie whizzed by me. True to form, she yelled, “Hustle, girl! Keep it going!” It gave me the momentary awareness that I had a little bit left…to push a touch harder. Katie ended up first, and I came in second. 

Glad to be back in CO, racing with these women!
After collecting our hardware, Katie asked if I was doing the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb the next week. I shook my head. Lookout is a notorious route here in CO. It’s a favorite because it is scenic and short. If you want to get in a good training run in a time crunch, Lookout is the best option. A lot of people near Golden will ride it on their lunch hour, in fact.

Lookout ascends just under 1300ft (400m) over 4.3 miles (7km). A good share of that climb stretches alongside an exposed face of the mountain, where you get a lot of high winds. Headwinds. It’s hard enough to ride it….racing it is a whole other deal. As a rule, I don’t do hillclimbs. And if I were going to do one, I probably wouldn’t choose Lookout.

Front side of Lookout Mountain.

But as the week wore on, I decided that my climbing needed some work, and there is no better way to get in a good effort than to bite down and do the race. The whole day prior, I was again on the fence. By this point, I was running a low grade fever, and had a nice, hacking cough. Still, I’d paid my race registration, so I felt obligated.

I got up that morning feeling awful. I was so tired on the drive to the race that I considered just going back home. I was hopped up on coffee and cold medicine, and really questioning what I was doing. Unlike the week prior, the weather was not cooperating. It was freezing, and there were constant bursts of gale-force winds. Having stopped for some caffeine, I got to the race later than I had wanted, and was stuck frantically stripping down and changing into my skinsuit while in my car. I had to search around to find my missing race license. I got my bib number just in time to watch a whole stack of numbers fly away in the wind, and then had only minutes to try and warm up. I was thinking, Why am I here? Who does this? Sick and tired, to race the kind of course I loathe in conditions that are nothing short of miserable?

Again, though, I ran into Katie and some of her teammates, and we began riding around and doing some short climbs. None of us felt really ready when we got to the line. In some ways, the fact that everyone was having the same thought process was kind of oddly reassuring.

Feeling better on the final pitches.
I felt really sluggish for the first couple kilometers. I was in too low of a gear, and my legs were decidedly stiff. I realized that I needed to loosen up fast if I was going to make up any time on the remainder of the climb. Julie Jermyn was behind me, and she is a brilliant climber. I held her off for as long as I could, but she caught me shortly after the midpoint. I rode through a wall of wind on the exposed portion of the climb, just as John Guala from Psimet-Zilla was descending the mountain. He laughed and yelled, “You go, Girl!"

I found Katie waiting at the finish, and some guy asked us if we wanted to get out of the cold and wait in his car. We gladly took him up on the offer. Once everyone had crossed the line, we headed back down. Katie and her teammates had left drop bags for the descent, but I decided not to figuring that the way down would be fast. My fingers felt like they were going to break off by the time I hit the bottom of the mountain. 

No one was willing to wait too long for results, and it is a good thing…because my understanding was that they were never posted. Much as I love supporting collegiate racing and the Colorado School of Mines, if you are going to promote a race, you have to do your due diligence in the organizational aspects of it. That’s all I will say on that front.

So, the next morning, I checked results. Julie got first, Katie was second, and I was third. 

With small fields, the results don’t even matter. It’s not even a relevant thing. What matters are the times. On the one hand, my times were clearly better than they would have been at this point last season. On the other hand, I was minutes off Katie in both instances. It’s hard to really know where that leaves me. Katie came in second in the state TT championships, so she’s definitely fast. Still, when the gap is MINUTES and not seconds, I get worried. 

Happy kids??
My teammate and Xterra World Champion, Mike Hebe, took some time to give me some really good feedback on Sunday. (Thanks, Mike!) And I’m headed to a much larger stage race month-end, which will give me a better sense of how things are coming along. But, in the spirit of keeping balance, I took Sunday off. No training. Instead, I went and spent a last winter weekend skiing with the kids!

No comments:

Post a Comment