Season Opener

As the season opener has come and gone – it reminds me of a few things I missed through the winter.

For some racing is all about the training, the grit and the glory.  For me, it’s about seeing new trails, meeting new people, hanging out with friends, pushing myself beyond what I know, and of course continually learning how to rip trail that much harder.

This weekend’s True Grit proved all to fruition.

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Knowing what the trails are like, I knew I wouldn’t be “racing” this race.  The trails are straight out of The Flinstones, slick rock, ledge drops, and ohhhhhhh baby the WIND! {sure there were brutal winds in the Flinstones?}  It was a race of pacing and conservation for me, and luckily LW Coaching was in charge of my parameters.  Coming off a season of XC racing, she’s really honing me in on longer hauls.

My race was simple, really.  The start was a three mile stretch of dirt road funneling us into the first set of aggressive washes.  UP down UP down.  From the start I set myself into a comfortable pace and locked it there.  It was really tough watching the field go away from me, but this wasn’t a race I was gunning for – so I listened to the little LW inside my head and kept a lid on it.  Knowing this is a really taxing race, there is a much higher risk of your day coming to an end very abruptly… and unfortunately, about 20 minutes into the race Stans NoTubes rider Jenny Smith was on the side of the trail with a broken bike and her day was done.  This kept the thought in my head of “ride smooth” “slower is faster”.

After the first loop I made a pit stop to switch out bottles and grab some real food for the most technical loop of the day; Zen Trail.  Luckily, I have ridden Zen a few times and knew what was coming up.  Not so luckily, I missed a couple lines and bobbled more than I wanted to on that loop.  At that point I was 2 minutes behind second place, a local woman who could easily pass as a mountain bike barbie doll; tall, blonde, SUPER strong, lots of trail knowledge, and also a really cool chick.

Finishing up Zen, I caught up on eating/drinking up the road to then drop down to Bear Claw Poppy.  I took the lines I knew heading down, which included some necessary air time!  Once at the screaming fast, buffed out trail Bear Claw Poppy, I didn’t hammer and kind of just enjoyed the swoopy corners.  That’s when I noticed the wind picking up as I could see dust clouds at the turn around.

Flipping a 180 back on the Stucki climb, my small but mighty frame was not so mighty and slowed down quite a bit in the strong headwind.  I was alone for a short time when a group of three men came up behind me and I jumped on the train!  In typical mountain bike fashion the lead guy was HAMMERING and shortly blew up and popped off and we lost him.  The remaining two guys and myself took 1 minute pulls each, and besides one section where I got pushed off an exposed section by the winds – we stayed and worked together.

Still feeling good, I pedaled between each roller coaster section to the next headwind.  Then I was alone – head down and just not thinking about the wind – just thinking about how close I was to Barrel Roll.

Once at Barrel Roll, I had single track fever and felt fresh as a daisy.  I got caught up a couple times by men who did not want to get over, but as they realized they were not dropping the female voice behind they gave in and succumbed to let me pass by.

It was then the tail wind trip home.  ZOOOOOOOOM….. I ran out of gears as the wind was so strong and it was fairly flat.  Shortly before the finish I took one wrong turn and brought a few guys with me. {sorry!!!} Wind had blown the course tape in half and lined a road climbing up to the right instead of keeping us straight.  It was probably only a 5 minute detour as I felt us going away from the finish too much.  We all flipped it and hammered our way home.

Boom.  The day was a success.  No crashes, no bonking, no cramping, just a little bobbling but for the most part smooth riding, and FUN FUN FUN!

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My Scott Spark 700 SL was the perfect tool for the job, equipped with a SRAM XX1 32 tooth chain ring, Kenda Slant 6 Pro rubber, and Ergon GA1 grips.  All made possible by the good guys at Ptarmigan Group, LLC.

I was cramp free thanks to Osmo Active Hydration for Women.

Not to mention one of my favorite riding mantras, “Don’t ride like a douche” from Handlebar Mustache – as well as my favorite pair of pink socks.

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The next morning I was quickly reminded what longer, technical racing feels like…. basically like getting hit by a bus after a night of cage fighting.  Thankful for our 92fifty Elevated Legs for helping my legs recover a little faster; especially after a 7 hour drive home.

Here’s one last picture from our picnic pit stop.  Can you spot me running across the ridge?

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Cheers and Happy Trails!

Recovery 101

We have all made mistakes with our recovery.  Fact.

Whether you are an amateur or seasoned professional, taking your recovery seriously will only help you.  Who really enjoys day in day out dead legs, sore muscles, and overall fatigue?  Not I!

I am one of the many who work full time to support my racing habits.  Racing at the professional level, I am up against women who have it all figured out… and few who stand 8-9 hours a day throughout the week.  So this year, I am choosing to take my recovery seriously.

Yes – that means recovery drinks ( I choose Osmo Nutrition Acute Recovery for Women), getting adequate sleep, daily clean nutrition, plenty of yoga, and the constant hand washing when working with kids and/or retail.  Most importantly though, I have someone else in charge of telling me when to charge and when to chill… LW Coaching offers so many different coaching options for anyone and everyone with a goal of fitness, health, and competition!

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In addition to these factors – this year I will frequently be using Elevated Legs from 92Fifty.  Check out their site for a in depth description, but the very brief synopsis is that pre and post big rides/races, or in my case additionally after an 8-9 hour work day on my feet… you sit down, zip each leg up into a balloon like sleeve, press START, and reap the benefits!  The system uses intermittent compression to act as a muscle pump, speeding the blood circulation of your legs, flushing out metabolic toxins to bring in fresh nutrients packed with RECOVERY!  What does that mean?  Fresh legs!

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One of many recovery ninja secrets are out.  Enjoy!

 

New adventures for 2014…

2013 proposed many ups and downs in my sophomore year in cycling.  I was able to compete at the highest level yet, however that was short lived and finished the season with plenty of lows to be labeled in the “sophomore slump” category.  I try not to keep fighting a brick wall expecting different results, so I made a conscious decision to take a BIG time off the bike this year.  I had no structure, even a thought of a goal, and just worked on playing catch up from a heavy financially strapped season.

In this time, a few changes landed in my lap to help me in the coming years of developing as an athlete.

First of all, an opening with Lynda Wallenfels of LW Coaching miraculously appeared.  I didn’t hesitate, made a few sacrifices and was ready to get rolling with LW for 2014.

Why have a coach?  If you’re anything like me, you enjoy doing a million things that all attribute to energy suckers.  Having some fun goals ahead of me, I knew I would burn out if I went at it alone- or followed a cookie cutter like program.  Although, I’m not necessarily a spring chicken anymore – I am still fairly new to the scene, and I am much more relaxed going into the next season with the help of a female coach with as much experience and knowledge as Lynda has.

The next change is a big one for me, and was heavily thought out.  I will no longer be riding for Pivot Cycles.  They are a stellar company, filled with great people and produce amazing bikes.  Moving forward I accepted a position on a team of reps from the Front Range, Ptarmigan Group.  My enthusiasm is through the roof to be taken in by this great group and beyond thrilled about the opportunities that lie ahead that go beyond just racing a bike.  Speaking of the bike, I can’t describe the enthusiasm for the black stallion I get to tame for 2014.  Check her out, the Scott Spark 700 SL.

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Finally, my goals.  Starting out in racing, I had the high hopes of racing in top level xc races and eventually make it to a world cup or two.  Lightly touching the surface of what this would take, it’s just not in my cards.  Going into next season, I will be a little more realistic with at least one far fetched goal or two to keep things interesting, of course.  The races I am choosing are heavily weighed on course quality, a few fun destinations, plenty within the proximity of home, and from the looks of it I’ll be getting to log more time in my chamois with the majority being endurance based events.

So, I sit here… keeping in real, espresso and post ride pastry settling in my tummy after a day trip to the snowy, sunny desert… and I am filled with contentment for what lies ahead.

Cheers, and I hope to run into you on the dirt or snow in 2014!

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So… what do you do?

In a cloud of trying to piece together my constant scramble of work to be able to enjoy the life I live, I honestly cringe at the superficial space filler question… “So… what do you do?”. It’s most difficult for me, because a lot of times I lose sight at what I am really doing and automatically feel inadequate at not knowing how to answer their question.

When you’re in a new crowd, meeting people for the first time, the question will always get thrown around… “So… what do you do?”.  The majority of people will respond with their career, their position within their family, what degree they may be on in school.  I always get stumped on it and begin rambling with no real continuity.

I am the first to admit I am a very soulful, emotional person.  Passionate, caring, creatively going in and out of order and disorder.  I’m an artist, a lover, a thinker, and an athlete.  None of which with any current monetary backing of validity.

Well, one would say we need to manifest what we want.  Have a visual, a mantra, voice our wants and needs and the steps become easier in making them happen…

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So…

I want to be an athlete.  A real athlete; a positive role model for kids to look up to.

I want to travel, truly experience other cultures.  Capturing my travels through photo journalism.  Stoking the fire in others to do the same, or if anything just making them feel as though they were there.

I want to live simply, and not worry about money.

I want to see my family more.

I want to continually learn.

I want to love and be loved.

Until I can figure out how all of this will work- if you ask me what I do, be ready for a lot of “umm… uhhh… well….I do a lot of things”

Happy Friday!

 

What’s one thing you can let go of…

One million and two down dogs later, I sit here reflecting on the first day of Eagle Yoga Fest.  A first year event here in Eagle, Colorado brought to us by our very own Yvonne Schwartz owner of Yoga Off Broadway. What’s a Yoga Fest? My initial answer would be, “A festavus for the rest of us!”. (apologies for non Seinfeld fans).  My best, honest answer would be a complete yoga party all weekend long with like minded stretchy pants friends of all levels and backgrounds coming together to share, grow, or even just begin their practices.  An open arms binge of the yoga.

Having spent most of my last year focussing on racing the mountain bike, my yoga practice has unfortunately taken the backseat in my life.  Time and money just hasn’t allowed me to fit it in, so when I won a weekend pass to this festival at Eagle’s community Yoga in the Park season finale – I felt like I had won the lottery!

After one day of near six hours of practice I am reminded how important an inspired practice is for everyday survival- not to mention keeping your shit together when your world turns upside down.

The mental notes I took away today are far too long for anyone’s attention span, including my own – but in the second to last class of the day Denver instructor Dave Farmar started us out with a couple simple questions.

“What could you let go of?”

“What would that bring you?”

Common answers from the class were, letting go of anxiety and in return gaining sleep; letting go of control and in return gaining peace; & letting go of always saying ‘yes’ and in return gaining time for yourself.

Mine didn’t come to me right away as I felt like I had a whole suitcase of things I could probably let go of… but what I kept coming back to was:

I need to let go of expectations.  Somehow I have created this idea of what success should be and continually berate myself when those things are not happening.  I set the bar for myself very high, so when my focus gets derailed I tend to drown myself in a lake of criticisms, self doubts, and a pity party for one.  I need to let go of this gold standard and just continue to do what I love.  In relation to racing, I realized that this tendency is a cancer to my success.  There is no way I will survive if I continue to be so harsh on myself.  I need to continue to be disciplined, but stop having such high expectations for myself and remember I’m doing this because I love it and RIDING YOUR BIKE IS FUN.  Not to mention telling myself and truly believing that, “Hey, you’ve done pretty well for yourself in such a short time”.

Letting go of the outcome will conserve much needed energy of actually doing the task.  Not beating myself up if I crash or just have a bad race will also save energy to refocus on the next.  Without coming to my mat, I’m not sure when I would’ve slowed down to realize this.

MORE DOWN DOGS!  That’ll solve all our problems, right?!?!!… No, that’s not the point.  Yoga isn’t just about the poses we whip out on our mats.  Maybe you first stepped foot in a class because your coach told you it would be good, you wanted to tone your booty, or maybe you were just curious.  Whatever the reason, I find what keeps me coming back are the continual lessons I am taught through movement, breathe, steady, and ease.  I love the challenge, the release, being humbled, being inspired and the community that begins to build.  Plus, I REALLY like stretchy pants.

So what can you let go of?

Viva Las Vegas 2.0

Last week marks my second year in a row of completing the Las Vegas Interbike Stage Race.  Haven’t heard of it?  Last year I wasn’t aware of it either, and quickly played victim to its demands.  Basically when you put a mountain town athlete into a Las Vegas convention center for a week – it becomes a day to day survival much like a stage race minus the rewards of riding sick singletrack and the hours of endorphin release in clean crisp air.  This year, I was more prepared and made it a successful week!

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The week began with flying out from the Eagle-Vail Airport which is conveniently under 10 minutes from our front door.  This quick and easy travel allowed for a fresh start as soon as we arrived vs. spending 9 hours in the van gradually being beaten down by the heat that hits as soon as we leave the Glenwood Canyon corridor.

It’s no secret that no one likes going to Vegas… so we make the best of it.  Game on.

The interbike week begins with two days of Outdoor Demo.  Imagine 100 degrees with no shade, potential tent wrecking winds, a million bikes you want to demo as well as equal parts people you want to say hello to and catch up with.  Jeff stayed back, but I was able to get out thanks to Erica Tingey schlepping me out for a day.

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My main focus was getting to demo the Pivot Cycles 2014 bikes… preferably the Pivot Les 27.5. I got dialed in right away by the demo crew and once I broke out of my “something shiny” ADD getting through the maze of Industry goodies I didn’t want to stop riding this bike!  Seriously, this bike was made for my size riders.  Key points that sold me on this bike…

  • It’s FREAKING LIGHT!  I have never been one to fall into the “weight weenie” category, but having seen the advantages this past season racing the Pivot Les 29 which I currently have built up at 22lbs - I can only imagine how much of a rocket ship this bike can be building it up under 20lbs!  
  • 27.5 is the best of both worlds.  Wheel size obsession can get overplayed, but now that I have gotten to ride them all- I am sold on this “happy medium” wheel size.  My 29 hard tail was perfect in 90% of races or rides – however, I missed the snappy feeling of my 26.  I wasn’t able to throw the bike around as much as the smaller wheels – however a 26″ doesn’t carry the speed or momentum that is benefited from a 29.  This 27.5 wheel size as well as a slacker head angle helped bring back that feeling of control in technical sections, switchbacks, and drops that I felt I was losing with the 29.

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The life saver of the day was Osmo Nutrition hydration station which was MUCH needed as you actually perspire more just standing around than riding your bikes.  The happy hydrators provided shade as well as a NEW women’s specific product that I am in LOVE with.  ”Women are Not Small Men” is their tag line and mango is the flavor.  I probably drank 5 gallons of this stuff to keep me alive in the heat.

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The upcoming days of the indoor show were going to provide little opportunity for anything besides standing on your feet, so my Carmichael Training Systems coach scheduled in some running to keep me sane.  Each day was an up and out the door by 6am for some asphalt pounding before the 9-6 indoor show.  Needless to say my joints felt like I was carrying around 500 extra lbs and had found sore muscles I didn’t even knew I had.  Well worth it as it kept me from staying out too late or partaking in your typical Vegas debauchery (mid week anyway).

The indoor show was much more productive than last year.  Primarily because I wasn’t just wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.  This year I was hired by Ergon to help in the booth and organize their happy hour… and a happy hour it was!

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I also had a list of people to go see and catch up with and say thank you to!  Like my friends here from Primal Wear who were very excited to show me my cameo in their 2014 catalog.

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And of course these two hooligans who are my pink sock suppliers.  Thanks Handlebar Mustache!

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I couldn’t stay in all week long… by the end of the week the Vegas vortex pulled me in and I just couldn’t say no.

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Not as tasty as you may think it would be…. you know, those yard length funny slushy like drinks.  I totally know better, but HEY… when in Rome.

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The week was complete, and I got out just in time.  Back to clean, crisp Colorado air.  Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way in 2013 – and those who are on board for 2014 (TBA).

Detox.  Stat.

Bad timing

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As I sit here in the comforts of my home, miles away from the painful, yet rewarding stages of the Breck Epic; feeling pretty “ok”- all I can come to the conclusion of is my race was “bad timing”.  Maybe 50% of the population won’t quite understand, but here it goes…

The background story to the past month of ups and downs leading up to the Epic is something not even all women have experienced, and men are definitely the lucky ones to never have the chance of going through, but it’s been my reality-and I apologize in advance for explaining.  You could also choose not to read.

Since I can remember, I have always been very sensitive to being on any hormone regulation medication; ie. birth control.  Going on and off makes my body freak out in ways that could potentially classify me as ‘crazy’.  You know, the days where anything can trigger tears, laughter, or fury; usually all at the same time. Not only has this been fun to manage, I also am one of the lucky ones who gets completely taken out the first couple days of my period.  I run a fever, have to stay close to a bathroom, cramps that no position or dose of ibuprofen can mask, zero appetite, and depleted energy.

I have been able to cope and manage this, avoiding most everything that involves me being alert and alive- until I realized it was going to hit the week of the Breck Epic.  Trying to be preventative, and still make that week of riding work I went into my doctor to explain what was up and see what my options were.  This was one month prior to the race, and what we came up with was no guarantee.  She concluded that I could have what’s called endometriosis.  This is where cells from your uterus (yes, I just said uterus) grow in other places – causing the severe symptoms I was experiencing each month.  The only way to 100% diagnose this is with surgery, and I knew I didn’t have the time or money for that.  So, next she suggested I try an IUD, which is meant to help regulate and diminish getting your period- and in my case my monthly “I feel like I’m dying” days.

Knowing I was going to be sick anyway I figured why not give it a try.  So, I did… and there started my month long roller coaster of good days and bad days; not to mention basically have a period this whole time.  The days before the epic, it got bad.  My normal symptoms were knocking on the door and I was out.  I went into the doctor to see if this was normal and if everything was ok.  She empathized and apologized, saying that in a small population symptoms can even be worse for potentially 6 months to a YEAR!  She insisted I keep at it for at least another month, and at that time if my body isn’t regulating they’ll take it out.  Oh JOY!  Thinking that it would be like my regular schedule and would pass- I figured I would be good to go on Day 2.

So.  I convinced myself I was good, got a specific prescription level pain medication for my symptoms and lined up.  Having not raced for over a month now, my excitement masked any reality that was going on and I truly enjoyed the first stage.  I felt strong, kept a lid on it, and when the cramping and nausea started – I just stayed calm and finished out the stage in a very tolerable pace.  Leading for the first half of the day and finishing just 5 minutes off the lead woman’s time had me convinced I could manage a week of this pace and not be completely out of contention.  Ignoring the heavy blood loss over the two and a half hour stage, I went on with it like ‘no big deal’ and prepped for Day 2.

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Day 2, thinking I would be ok.  I decided not to take the pain meds as I had already been taking them for a week as I read that was not advised.  Starting out, I still felt good… I was climbing strong, staying in a controlled below XC and threshold pace, and holding it together.  Then… the wheels fell off.  A second day of soaked through chamois blood loss (ew, gross) and today accompanied by having to use mother nature’s bathroom pit stops once before Aid 1 and another right after Aid 1… I had zero energy or drive.  It’s amazing when your pace slows up so much, reality is much more visible.

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I was done.  No more pretending… the physical demands of a stage race was just out of my scope at this time.

Having to deal with people’s questions, “What happened”… was never a concern -and as a friend reminded me, “People get sick, and you owe no explanation to anyone”.  So I write this, not necessarily as an explanation- but just to give an example of the extra hoops some of us female athletes have to jump through. No one wants to talk about it, because a lot of people just don’t understand it, or want to- and frankly, it is a little embarrassing.

On the bright side, I got to ride and race with some pretty stellar women for a day and a half and show that my fitness doesn’t necessarily suck.  Am I bummed?  Of course I am.  I put in a lot of work leading up to this week, as well as my sponsors.  Not only do I feel like I was letting myself down, but them as well.  That’s hard to swallow when other people have so much faith in you, and you just cannot perform.

Is it worth it to stay bummed?  Hells NO!  I’m focussing on what I can do.  Our sweet Colorado summers are too precious and I will not sit around and watch it pass by.

 

Seeking Motivation

Over the course of the last month I have been on what feels like a stalling roller coaster of emotions, energy, and health.  Thoughts running through my head of, “how the hell am I going to survive consecutive 6 days of endurance racing in Breck”.  Negative self talk of, “I’m not ready”… or “I don’t know if I can do this” circulate my mind and as the days grow near to GO TIME.

Recently, I was able to step outside of myself, my newly day-to-day routines, my environment… and ask, “who is this person?”.  That’s not me.  That’s not how I think!  It’s just a BIKE RIDE… you’re ready… you’ll figure it out… you love adventure.  Stop being a whiney little girl.

To help motivate this reassurance, I have been taking a trip down bicycle memory lane via a string of photos.  Photos that stir up memories in me of an adventurous free-bird who just wants to ride her bike.  That’s way more fun than a girl who gets easily wrapped up in other’s expectations and forgets to stop and smell the roses.

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That day you packed your life into a Jeep Liberty and drove West to start a new chapter in California, and along the way joined a friend on a ride you had no idea what it would be like… slept in a crevice of your packed jeep along a dirt road, and then completed the White Rim in under 9 hours.  You survived.  Your hoo ha had better days because you hadn’t discovered chamois cream yet… but you survived.

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The multiple rides you did solo in California on trails you had no idea where they went and you rarely ever had enough food or water… or in the story behind this photo… the day you decided to watch the sunset a little too long and have to creep your way through wooded singletrack trails back to your car… thinking every noise was SURE to be some creature hungry for a girl in knee high socks.  You survived, and that photo is beautiful.

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That time, again… you went riding by yourself… on unknown trails… but this time with a route on a sticky note that you later find out is not water/sweat proof.  This time, you meet a  nice, seemingly normal guy who also doesn’t know the trails and asks to ride with you.  You agree- because he drove a Tacoma truck and wore baggies.  Lucky for you, he wasn’t an axe murderer – but instead a Fox Shock World Cup Tech.  You survived, rode some of the most fun trails you ever have, and made a beautiful friendship.

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You lived in a city.  Probably much more frightening than any backcountry experience yet.  Again- you survived…. and although it took some time…. you wiped away your stubbornness and truly grew an appreciation and genuine love for all the culture, diversity, and raw beauty a city has for you if you choose to see it.

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You love Colorado and came home.  You don’t take it for granted, appreciate its beauty, and respect its strength.  You survived and will continue to survive what challenges it possesses you choose to take on- whether you by definition “complete” them or not… you will survive… and will learn more about yourself and the world on this path rather than sitting in your comfort zone thinking what it would be like to dive out without a life boat…

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And if all else fails…. find some humor and ride it like a unicorn!

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Long overdue…

Forgive me, for it’s been well over a month since my last post… time goes by so fast when you’re spending most of your time scrubbing out your weeping wounds, wrapping them in decaderm, and resisting picking that scab that is sure to scar once you satisfy your childish ways.

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Since my last post, I have either been crashing, healing, or stressing about money.  Only racing in a couple races in that time, which resulted in BIG crashes, and annoying mechanicals.  Leading up to this string of “life” events, I had been making the most progress in my fitness yet.  Feeling sharp mentally, physically, and technically, I was staying motivated, having fun, and racing with women I have only looked up to and wondered what it would be like to race at that level.  Falling off this trajectory was frustrating, to say the least.

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I definitely hit a low of self esteem and ability at this time.  I stayed in this frustration for a bit, and in a way I just felt like a joke.  This dark place was not fun.  I felt stuck, not confident, and needing to break out of routine.

To snap out of it, I switched my focus to things other than riding that makes me happy.  I made a point to spend more time with friends, my yoga mat, and work.  (yes, I said work)  I have the joy of working with kids who are just rad and can really snap you out of a funk pretty easily, as well as an administration type job with a local PR company that helps me feel productive as well as pay the bills.

With this balance came less anxiety.  Riding was becoming a treat again.  Can’t say I’m shredding the downhill quite yet, but that’s something I am learning not to force.

Now, I have a fun focus on the horizon… The Breck Epic: 6 days of high alpine endurance!     I’m really looking forward to this race as last year I went into it blind, having never done a stage race before.  My inexperience and faulty nutrition had me pulled out of the race on day 3 with with constant vomiting… pretty, huh?!?!?  This year, I finish the beast and make the most out of the beauty of each stage.

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No more beating myself up.  Just love and appreciation for this life I have, family, friends, and a spectacular back yard.  Life is good.

I Guess That’s Racing… (?)

Writing about a poor race is way less fun than writing about a good race, but none the less… here we go.

This weekend marked the Go Pro Mountain Games.  Kayaking, rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, slopestyle, dog jumping, slack lining, and road TT; the Go Pro Games has something for everyone.

Having just gotten off three races in two weeks, my week has been nothing but flat.  Realizing what speed and intensity it takes to be competitive, and finally reaching that level; I’ve been so blown this whole week.  However, some good rest had me turning around the day before the race and feeling good and ready to roll again!

A little throw back.  This race holds a black cloud for me being my first DNF last year.  While warming up minutes before the race I had a crash that tweaked my back.  Lining up; I only lasted one of the three laps we were sent out to do.  Embarrassed, crushed, and wanting to crawl into a hold… I had my first DNF.  You live and learn… and move on.

I was determined to stay positive for this race and stay in it the entire time no matter what happened.  Little did I know what was in store this year…

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We lined up, I took a first row position and didn’t think twice about it.  Countdown and we were off.  Learning from last week I still went out hard at the start, but stayed comfortable and DID NOT surge ahead of Erin Huck.  I was 2nd wheel off the start which went to 3rd then 4th after the first little climb.  Staying calm and comfortable, I kept the pace and we all seemed very in control.  Also learning from last year, I did not freak out looking around me and seeing who I was hanging with.  I stayed focus…. until… the racing got dirty.

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Dirty could be a strong word, but it messed me up so much in the head… it was dirty to me.  A rider repeatedly and sharply pushed me out of position and cut me off.  In my head I thought, “really?!?! no one else needed to do that to get by me?!”… then this woman proceeded to cut a switchback through the grass and cause another sharp cut off which sent the other rider to put a foot down and backed us up.

I know way better to let someone get into your head, but this behavior killed me… totally unmotivated me to race.  My fire had gotten blown out- and that was basically the end of my race; half way into the first lap.  Sweet.

The double edge sword to using training data is that you find out how much you rocked or sucked during the race.  My files kindly showed me that laps 2 and 3 were spent frolicking in a nice tempo pace.  I was out of it.  Friends in the UMC category caught up and I gave cheers of encouragement and kindly got over for them to charge ahead.  Comments like, “You’re not even breathing hard” and “What are you doing?!?!” stung my heart.  Coming around to the crowds where friends lined the road; I felt like I didn’t even deserve their cheers.  I was letting them down.  I let myself down.

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Good news is that I finished… near to the end… but I finished.  I swallowed the lump of disappointment – and spent the rest of the day cheering on friends in their afternoon race and checking out the movie Singletrack High.  Which really put things into perspective.  That one person’s nasty racing isn’t racing… it’s not encouraging nor should it be motivating for the new wave of athletes getting into the sport.

Walking away with two big reminders.

1.   We’ve all done the training and prep; we’re all very close physically… but the mental game can make or break you.  Never let someone get in your head.  Use this time as fire determination for the next.

2.  We should always race clean, and be good examples for younger riders to look up to. Period.