Friday, November 07, 2014

2014 Season Close

It is hard to know where to start. Sometimes the disappointments are just not as much fun to write.

XTERRA USA

XTERRA US Nationals seemed to hold a bit more weight and expectation for me this year just because of the nature of my going Pro this season. I held higher hopes for that race because I was holding out hope for position in the XTERRA points series.  Nationals held mixed emotions. I was disappointed because I did not race quite as well as I knew I could and therefore my placing was nowhere near where I was hoping it would be. I was 18th.  However, I had decent improvements for my personal times on this course (not one that I tend to race well). Notably, I was 4 min faster on the run and had significantly decreased my swim time gaps to the leaders.  I knew it would be very difficult to place where I wanted to since the women's pro field has grown in depth and talent. The women's field was larger than the men's field! 

I tried to keep a positive outlook and move on from this as I trained for Worlds.  I felt like I had some descent training in between but not a big solid block there is just so little time in between and I got a small cold that I had to kick right away! Anyway, I really didn't know what to expect from this race. I felt somewhat confident based on my past races here on this course. But, I also knew that this would be a whole new game racing with the best of the best.

Maui
My Mother-in-law made the trip to CA to stay with Ashlyn and Drew and I both got to get away to Maui this time!

Enjoying some rest day Acai bowls on the beach.


We arrived in Maui to a downpour on Wednesday. This was the day they opened the full bike course and I came to many reports of everyone getting stuck on the course in wet muck. The course had gone quickly from wet and slippery to rivers and mud so thick that your wheels wouldn't turn. So, the next day I chose to stay off the course and give it time to dry. However, Sian and I did try to go the next day and I probably could have just stayed off :). It was better but still so slippery that you could barely walk up the steeper climbs in bike shoes!



Runs enjoyed in Maui
Drew got some great time running and SUPing and surfing and I enjoyed some downtime and just race prep :) 

Going into the race I was feeling pretty good but also just not sure what to expect. I knew I had no target on my back having gone up to the pro ranks but that also adjusts my goals. Not having an age-group title to defend and just wanting to race hard. There was no pressure not a lot of expectation. Besides that little bit inside that just wants to have some breakout race. Sometimes that is what happens when we take off all the pressure we have our best performances. This was not that day.



XTERRA Worlds
Photo by Xterra:  A little idea
Race day arrived and so did the surf. We got to the swim start with some good sized waves. The gun went off for the Pro start at a good time. I went out good and was swimming with a good pack for the first lap I felt. I even came in for my beach run successfully on top of the waves. However, that little beach run and getting back in just zapped all my energy! I was crawling as I tried to find my rhythm again. Then I kept getting pulled inside by the currents only to get swamped at the second bouy by the wave of men all packed in. The second portion, which was supposed to be shorter took my a bit longer than he first! yuck. I was eager to get on the bike but I had no idea where I was in the field.

 I started riding only to find myself continually frustrated.  I was packed in with a bunch of guys passing at very inopportune times and cutting me off. Then somehow  I kept getting behind the people that would just fall over. 3 times it happened. This kind of took the rhythm out of the first half of my bike. Finally I found some space and had a great time once I got to the downhills. The course had dried out perfectly and the conditions were great! I could actually see as we flew down the mountain. I was able to real in about 5 women ahead of me on the bike so I didn't think I was doing too terribly.



Thanks for the photo and cheers Planet Sun!
I got onto the run in feeling fairly good of course a little spent. I was not looking forward to the first part of the run which is about 3 miles of climbing. I tried to just keep it steady and get to the top and then try to let it all hang out. But I was passed by about 4 girls already. I just kept steady on and persevered everytime my course turned up again. At some point I just took to making it my mission to encourage Hannah Rae everytime we leap frogged, as I could see she was struggling through.  Finally made it through my favorite downhill (because it is close to the finish) and tried to run it fast and then I hit the beach which just hurt. Almost to the finish and I got passed by 2 more on the grass. Made it. 

 
Right at first I wasn't sure what to think. My race didn't feel that bad, there wasn't anything that I could pinpoint that really went wrong but I was thinking it wasn't that great. Then I saw results and realized just how slow I really went.  Wow, such is life.
Finishing


Post-Season Thoughts

So, many have asked if I am glad I went Pro or if I regret doing it. I can say that I have no regrets!  I feel like we have to seize the opportunities in life. I debated on the decision a lot early this season. I ultimately decided that I wanted to dive in. Sometimes the only way to keep improving is to give yourself a bigger challenge. I knew that it would be a whole new game this year and I knew that I would not be racing for the top spots. Ashlyn had still not begun school for most of the season and my time had been limited but I wanted to go for it and get that first season experience under my belt.  It seemed to be good timing. Friend and fellow rookie pro Kara LaPoint recently wrote about her first season as a pro for Freeplay Magazine and I felt like she was telling my thoughts on much of it. Similarly, I felt that I had reached a high point as 2013 age group World Champion and I needed to go for it. No, I still did not have an overall amateur title nor did I win all the time, but I knew what would take me further.  
I did have a moment during the run when I was getting passed by another age-group girl, when I was thinking that I used to be that age-grouper passing the back part of the Pros and this time, I was that pro getting passed the top age-groupers. At that moment, I sure liked it better the other way around. :) Moving on up. I learned so much this year! While many of my races were not what I was hoping for I still had a few good ones! Now I have learned from racing alongside some very talented women and I now have more experience which can lead to more focus and getting to the next level.  I am excited for next year! 

Thanks for a Fun Season!

Family-First I have to thank my family. No athlete can be successful without support. For me my family is first so without their support I could not do what I a doing! I was so thankful to get to take Drew to Maui this year and have him cheering for me!
After the race I was talking to Ashlyn and she asked me how my race was.  I told her about it.  She said, "Well, that's okay, Mommy, as long as we get out there and do our best!"  I love that girl. If I can teach my 5-year-old the ups and downs of sport and how to work hard and all the things that go into this...it makes it worth it. She still likes to tell people I was at the World Champions.  Of course the extended family too. For the Grandmas who love to make visits in October or trips to Utah and so much more!




Folsom Bike 
 and LIV -Thank you so much for all your support this season. Special thanks to Erin Gorrell for the encouragement and support. The women who gets stuff done! This shop is amazing. Thanks for all that you guys do and for taking great care of my baby. 
     WTB- thanks for the great tires. I chose to go with the awesome fast rolling Nanos for Worlds. The course was perfect and the tires were perfect.
      Osmo-Love this stuff! I first tried it before Worlds last year and now I am hooked. I love the Osmo for women and I don't think I have ever had another drink that I have enjoyed so much while racing hard! A frozen camelback of Osmo in Maui is definitely the ticket.

Thanks LIV for providing an athlete ambassador program that helps me with a great ride! An outstanding company that is doing great things for women in cycling and making awesome bikes for us!



Massage Vudoo - Thank you Tom for all your support and confidence in me and your enthusiasm. These are some of the worst (read: torturous), most productive hours my week!  You are awesome and I can't thank you enough for not only torturing me but believing in me.

Vince Hoffart - Seriously great Chiropractor! Thanks so much for your patient perseverance into my issues. I am so thankful I listened to the recommendations from my fellow athletes to come to you.

Seriously, between Tom and Vince, they keep my moving!

Bolle Eyeware- Thanks to Dave and Bolle for providing me with some of the best eyewear around for the past several years. I love these!

RooEpic - Thanks for keeping me stylish especially through all my workout. More specifically, those long hot track workouts and runs.  Gotta have my RooEpic.

Coach Joan - Thanks for all your help in the pool and believing I can get much faster! Mostly thanks for all your support and encouragement! You are always encouraging.
Also, Calfit swimmers- You guys are awesome and you make me look forward to swimming so much more!

Coach Justin- Thank you for all your help this past year. You have been awesome. Thanks for working with me and thank you for caring so much how things go!


So many more! 
Well, here is to next year and not feeling like this !







 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Downieville Classic

Ah Downieville... what can I say.

The race has become the All Mountain World Championships and consists of a two day stage race. Saturday is the Cross-country where racers endure the 7 mile 3200ft climb and then race down the mountain with 5200 descent. Then Sunday is just the downhill.

I had a great time here last year so I was excited to go back this year and see if the race would deliver again, only this time I would be racing both days and Pro.

It did.


Add caption
HERE is the photo gallery from MTBR.
 
 I entered early this year based on last year's finish but this time I would be moving up to Pro. This made me a little nervous because I know that this race generally draws a good group of Pro women. This year I was able to get to Downieville and ride earlier in the summer as opposed to just 2 days before the race like last year. I love riding around here.

Race weekend still snuck up on me! I was coming off recovery time following Xterra in Beaver Creek and I was really excited to have some fun riding my bike on some fun trails. Well, not my bike...again, this year I was riding a borrowed bike since I currently only have a hardtail. My friend let me use her Liv Lust Advanced. Such a great bike!! I rode the Lust with Maxxis Ardent front and WTB Beeline rear.

Again, we rolled up to town early on race morning and somehow, again, I was feeling a little short on time. By the time I picked up my packet, got geared up, and weighed in my bike I didn't have much time for a proper warm-up. I was also have a small problem with the fact that my Camelbak, that I had smartly filled and frozen with Osmo the night before, was still a solid block!! So I put this on the pavement in the sun and went to spin for a few minutes. I tried to get some teammates to sit on it but apparently no one was too keen on that idea. I was able to get it thawed enough to start breaking it up and I figured it would be alright.

Anyway, before I knew it we were standing on the back of the Pro start and off we went! This wave starts soo fast up the first section of paved road. Knowing that I didn't have too much warmup and also that we would be climbing for awhile I was content to hold myself to my pace and hang off the back. I could see Teal Stetson Lee just up ahead and was just fine to keep her right there.  I knew as we climbed I could get stronger. Sure enough a little over 1/2 way up I was able to real her in and make the pass. Now I just wanted to get some time on her before the descent! I was feeling pretty good. It was a HOT day and you could tell people were struggling, I think temps were around 90 on that climb (so happy to have my frozen drink). On the flat road near the top of the climb I caught Jamie Busch and kept pressing on. When I came over the top I was told I was 4th woman (apparently 1 of the girls was incognito!). I was really happy to hear this as I thought I was a bit further out than that! Now for the fun.

There are not many courses where you get to race downhill longer than you got to race up! I love this, it favors the all-around rider that can do both well. There is still a fair amount of pedaling on this long descent and there are actually still a couple climbs, so the work is by no means over once you go over the top! I really enjoyed the race down, I had a pretty clear course for most of the way. This was great! Last year I was in the lines of Expert men. As I came through the lower portions of the course I got more reports that I was about 4th women. I tried to keep pushing all the way through just in case there was someone close, but no...

I got to the end and found out that I was 5th! Going into the race I had told a friend that my goal was top 5 here, so I was happy with that even though the reports said 4th. Then, I found out that in Downieville the podium only goes to 4! A little bummed, but still happy with the day. I was still sitting in 4th in the All Mountain :)

Ashlyn and I finished the afternoon taking care of Nora, (friends dog, so he and Drew could go ride) and relaxing in the river watching the river jump.

We camped up near Packer Saddle on Saturday night, which is the start for the Downhill race on Sunday. In the morning we had plenty of time just hanging out. It was a little weird! This was my first time racing just downhill with a TT-type of start and my start wasn't until almost noon! It was nice to hang out in camp with the family, but I also have a hard time just waiting when I am going to be racing. Anyway, it finally came time to head up and get ready. This being my first time I wasn't totally sure how to go about getting ready. So, I just did some version of the usual.  I was the second to last of the Pro women to go so once we started it was still a lot of wait. I really just wanted to do well enough to stay in 4th at least, but some of these girls seemed to be really fast experienced downhillers!

I finally got going and pedaled hard right away, (maybe too hard) I was a little amped and screwed up some line that I have never even thought about right off the top. Anyway, just tried to get going. A bit later I messed up another part that I rode fine on preride then followed that with a few more bobbles and "falls" laying down the bike. Nothing bad, but stopping in a downhill is not clean or fast! I passed the girl who had been in 3rd the day before (mechanical) and I soon got passed by the last girl who started behind me. I was not feeling too good about that. Finally, I took a deep breath and calmed myself down, "just ride smooth and have fun" I thought. After that it was pretty good on the bottom section which follows the same course as the XC. I passed another girl with a flat and then as I came down to the last section of singletrack on First Divide I came across another girl walking her bike with a flat. It was Larissa, who was 2nd the day before.  She asked if I had a pump. I didn't, but I stopped and gave her an extra CO2 so that she could make it to the finish. I have been told that this is not good race tactics :) but hey, I was feeling like I had such a bad run, and I feel like it is better to go with good people tactics anyway. 
Made it to the finish in 1 hour.  Yes, it is a long downhill. It was good enough for 5th, again! I was very surprised about this with how I felt about my run. It was messy!

I spent the rest of the afternoon waiting to find out if that CO2 cost me the spot on the podium or not. The AM championship is scored on a point system! So you get points based on your finish and ties are weighted toward the Downhill. All said and done, base on time I would have been second behind a ripping Kelli Emmett who destroyed us all! Based on points I was 4th! I think it was a successful weekend. I had a blast and learned a lot.

Women's AM Pro podium (L-R) Me, Teal Stetson Lee, Kelli Emmett, and Jamie Busch
 
 Downieville delivered yet again a great weekend! This is definitely a favorite and one to keep in the schedule!

Here is a great photo recap of the weekend from Pinkbike. A little lacking on the female coverage but the photos are great and a lot of my teammates are in there!

Also, a fun little recap by the Angry Singlespeeder.

 

Monday, July 28, 2014

XTERRA Mtn Champs

I am behind again but I wasn't really sure what to say about this race. Terribly disappointing maybe...

Well, it started out with vacation back home in Winter Park for a couple weeks which was great! I was hoping this would give me ample time to get acclimated again to the altitude (at 8500 shouldn't be a problem) and some time with the family and riding some great single track. It did take a bit to breath again but about a week in was starting to feel more normal again with my training sessions. I did an Epic Single track race a week before. The start of that hurt. Those races seem to always start fast with a climb. I went out feeling good climbing with the lead girls then about 4 mins in the lung  burn was so bad! I dropped back a bit and rode the rest of the way to the top of the climb with the expert girls. As soon as we got to the top, it was a really fun course and it was just playing catch up for me! I ended up 5th, (this is CO racing :), women's turnouts for MTB is so much better!).

Anyway, I had a good week leading into Beaver Creek. I do not like this course at all but was really trying to feel positive about it and be confident in my strengths and training.

My mom and I left Ashlyn with my sister and headed to BC for the race, just the two of us. It was nice to have a night out with mom. I got there in time to get a little swim in. I thought that was important since I hadn't been in my wetsuit since Memorial Day! I got all ready to go and we had a nice dinner at our usual pre BC spot.


I look ready squinty eyes and all  :)


 Race morning came and I got all set up at T2 and then back to the hotel and getting stuff to T1. I was feeling a bit extra antsy today, but just pushed it off. I think I just had a little high hopes of doing well here. 

Swim
I felt like I started out pretty strong. I was feeling pretty good and felt like I held onto the main group a little bit longer. I was really glad that I had gotten that initial high-altitude-feel-like-your-going-to-drown swimming out of the way 2 weeks ago. However, I did get a kick to the face which caused a slow leak in one side of my goggles. I kept going and debated trying to fix it or just doing the whole thing like that. There was another girl drafting me nicely so I figured a quick re-seal of the goggles and switch spots would be good. I ended up loosing her feet though and we both swam the whole thing about the same distance apart. I didn't think my swim was anything crazy but it seemed solid despite the goggles and I was pretty happy with were I came out of the water.  Unfortunately, that turned out to be the highlight of the day. 


Bike
I had some issues coming out of transition with my helmet buckle but got ready to get into the bike. I could see the next girl, Kim,  just ahead of me and I knew that I could catch her and decided to get the legs going and real her in. But... nothing really happened. Then the next 2 girls came by looking really strong and I told myself to grab a wheel and go with them, but... no I just rode where I was. It just seemed like I had no race gear for the day. My head was saying "GO, push hard!" but my body just did nothing. Then, to make matters worse, once I came down the fun little downhill section on Corkscrew I came out on the last little fire road descent about 1/4 mile from T2 and my rear through axle came out and my wheel was coming off!! I had to stop there and spend a few minutes trying to get it back in. It took forever as I was having trouble getting it lined up right. I burnt my hand on my searing hot brake rotor in the process. Since this thing unscrewed itself somehow during the course of the ride this may well have had something to do with my lack of power possibly. Just another piece to the day.

This is where it all started going south for me.


Run
So, by this point my brain had no push and I was not looking forward to doing the run course in reverse, but I set my head to it and got to work, until it went up unrelentingly for quite a ways and I was brought to the speed walk. At this point the top two Age-group women had passed me and I gave Meagen Sheridan a good push because she still had some push in her.  I tried to run hard on the downhills and then came to the second round back up the mountain. The first part was not all that steep and I kept telling myself to keep running but kept finding myself walking. Finally, I got to the dirt road and was able to maintain a steady run up the final climb. Once I got to the single track I was ecstatic because I knew it was all down. Now, I was sure much happier to be running down this part than when we used to go up it. Made it through and I was actually a minute faster than 2 years ago. Ha! I know that I have made so much more progress than that. :)

I ended up 16th on the day. A very disappointing finish for me.  However, there were so many girls out there today that had amazing races and I was so excited for some friends! The Pro women's field was larger than the pro men's field in this race and was filled with some great ladies! Also, I believe about half of us are mom's.

As my brother-in-law says, I never learned anything about myself by winning all that time! So, I try to take these days and see what I can learn. Part of that is hard because it is hard to pinpoint why I was so flat. But, lesson of the day.... Never forget to check that your through axles are screwed tight! Many races are a test of perseverance, this one was no different. Now, not letting the bad day get to your head and moving on is the big thing. Just before the race, Kara Lapoint posted on twitter, "Our true measure is our worst day, not our best." Good stuff. The great thing is that at the end of the day, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be out there doing something I love, even on the bad days! I am grateful for all the great people that I know through this sport and for all of the ones that support me in the good and the bad!  A little shout out to all my sponsors!! 

Had a great time being back in Winter Park and so thankful for the support of my family. It was a little disappointing to end the trip on this note. I was so glad to have a night away with my mom, thanks to my sister for keeping Ashlyn!

Next up Downieville Classic!! 
Watch this for some great footage of all the fun last year.   See cover photo.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

XTERRA East Championships/ USAT Nationals



 I am so glad that I was able to make the trip out to Richmond for this race! I had heard good things about this race and really wanted to try another championship course out but wasn't sure how I was going to make it happen.  It was such a blessing how everything came together for this trip. I have gotten to know an amazing network of people in this area as well as Xterra friends! I was holding out hope to go and it came down to everything coming into place in the last week and even better than I could have hoped. From help through my shop, Folsom Bike, to friends that I swim with right down to my awesome massage guy, Tom, all the pieces came together and I owe it to all these people for helping me get there!

My mom was coming out for a visit and flew in on Wednesday so she was here with Ashlyn while I had a buddy pass to fly straight to Dulles on Thursday! I got to stay with great people David and Stephanie Miller who were heading down to the race on Friday. John, Steph and I got out and got a little preride in on Fri afternoon and I had a blast. It was definitely wet from all the rain in the two days prior and the humidity is not something I am used to but that course was so much fun. I got hooked up with an amazing homestay in the area and was so grateful to be staying with Chris Jeffrey. My plan on Saturday was to just do a short run. But as I heard about different parts of the course and looked at the swim in the river I ended up doing a little bit of everything. On this course I was glad I did. It was more than I had planned to do but I was feeling so much better than last time thanks to the amazing work of Dr. Vince Hoffart and my muscle man Tom Self at Massage Vudoo! I think I have found a killer combination there.


swim start--that's me bottom left.
Race morning was great the temperatures were down and the humidity was way down and it made for great race weather with our early start.

Swim
The swim was different and fun. You have to swim across current and up the river and zig zag for different bouys with a mini trail run on isle in the middle. I was so grateful that I got in a swim on Saturday and had a good idea how strong the current was and how high I had to aim to make the bouys!  A lot of people had problems, but I felt pretty good with my swim. I felt really relaxed amidst some chaos. I came out of the water right on Shonny's heels and chased up to transition. I was 8th out of the water, which is pretty good for me.




Bike
I jumped on my bike thinking maybe I could try and grab a wheel of Shonny for a minute or two, but nope, by the time I got myself situated she was gone! I pushed down the road and dove into the singletrack. Such a fun course! My first lap went fine. Despite having my share of bobbles, I rode most of my lines fairly clean. There were a few that I realized I needed to change on the next lap. However, when I came around the next lap I was mixed in the age-group race starting their first lap. The first part wasn't too bad as people were fairly willing to let me pass. I think it helped just a little having people around to push me as opposed to the first lap all alone. David Miller came up behind me and gave me a good push mentally when I really needed one! Then we got to all the technical parts that people were coming off or just walking and that was a little frustrating since I knew my lines for that lap and was forced to walk in the line of age-groupers. It also makes me feel a bit spastic on my bike because I am still trying to race but also forced to sit back and wait. I know this cost some time but I did have a blast on this course! Super fun with technical rocky sections, roots, bridges, creek crossings and riding through drainage tunnels, and of course sections lined with fans and hecklers all dressed up and noisy. Here is a link to a local article. I was 6th fastest on the bike for the pro field.
 
Fun section of the course lined with fans :)

Run
I came out of transition and onto the run right behind another girl. She was running at a good pace and I was trying to keep with her. I was feeling alright for about a mile and then she just opened up the gap and I could not hang. After running through some streets over railroad tracks you come to the "Myan wall" which honestly was a lot smaller than I was expecting from the way people talk about it. It is a steep scramble/climb up some railroad ties. As I was climbing I saw a girl coming right up behind me. As we ran down the tower, my head was spinning with how many circles we made and she was right on me. I determined not to lose any positions on the run and held fast. I made it through the out and back and to the river crossing and the "dry way" and was again grateful that I had come out to this the day before and knew where I was going through this rocky section. This was my favorite part of this run. Through a stream over boulders and up a little ladder. After that is just a fun section of trail and then the home stretch over the bridge and back to the finish. Through this second half of the run my stomach was NOT happy and I was a little worried. It hadn't really been feeling great the whole race, but this is where it got bad. I just kept telling myself I was almost there and I could make it without a stop! I finally opened up a gap on the girl behind me through the dry way and made it too the finish. I did not lose any spots on the run! Yay! This is a common problem for me.
Dry way


7th place!
I had no idea where I was in the field when I crossed and then Chris came up right away and told me I was 7th. I was so happy to make the last spot in the money for the pro field. This also was good enough to get back in the top 10 in the series.  

This race was truly fun XTERRA racing! All aspects of the race had fun challenges of their own and it was a great race! Definitely one to do again.

I definitely have some work to do to catch those ladies ahead of me but this was progress from my last attempt. Next up will be Beaver Creek, CO in July.


More photos here.




Oh yeah..... Ashlyn got to race on Saturday too with Nana B cheering her on.
 


 She is having fun and she got third.







 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Shasta Lemurian Classic

This is a little late being the race was the end of April. Sorry!
 
I had heard good things about this race and that it was definitely one I should do. As it got closer I actually debated whether we should actually go up there this time. Well, we did decide to go and camp (rain and all) and a have a fun family adventure. So glad we did!
 
Got up and ready and made it over to the other side of the lake where it was much colder with winds at the race start! It was chilly and then I realized I didn't even bring my arm warmers! I knew I probably wouldn't need them once going, but before the race I was downright cold. Also, we somehow managed to be running a little late even though I thought we had plenty of time. Mostly because of the racer meeting 30 minutes before start. Anyway, I didn't get much of a warmup and just got over onto the massive start. Kind of crazy, I didn't hear anybody saying anything just some clicking pedals in the front and the whole pack started going. I guess that is how we roll here!
I really didn't know much of anything of the course except that we started with a long climb and there was going to be another big climb later with a bunch of fun singletrack in between! We started the climb and teammate, Craig, told me to settle in because it went for a ways. I took his advice and got into a good climbing pace. I knew there was at least a couple girls up ahead, one I recognized from Big Sandy and another that passed and was climbing just in front of me. Soon we came down and raced on the road across the damn and onto the first singletrack, this is where it got fun! I passed the girl that was right in front of me off that first single track and then heard reports that I was the second female. I soon caught Tracie and passed around mile 9 when she bobbled and had to come off on a climb. This was right before a fun flume section of the course where my new 27.5s really shine. I was able to put in a little gap there! I love the speedy acceleration of the my Liv/giant Obsess 27.5 in the corners and punchy climbs!  Somewhere along the way, a guy I passed told me there was one more girl up ahead. I was confused but figured I needed to catch her if he was right. So I kept pushing. I have to say all the guys I was riding by were great gentlemen, even calling up to the others to let the lead female through. I have to note this because that is not always the case when passing men. Soon, the one who told me there was another girl caught me again and informed me that he gave me bad information, it was actually a guy and I already passed him :)
Then we hit the really long climb. Not knowing the course, I had no idea how long this went. I was good for a long ways pushing a good pace and then it just kept going and then finally got steeper with dry pine needles and we had to come off. I wasn't sure I wanted to use these different muscles! Soon, though we finally finished and were rewarded with a great trail that descended through the forest. There were some great little sections of trail through the end of the race.
I crossed the line as the first female by over 3 minutes.  I really enjoyed the course even though I had very little idea what to expect. The race experience was made even better by an awesome post race meal, huge burritos! We made our family kid swap and Ashlyn and I hung out for burritos and awards while Drew headed out to try and ride at least some of the course! 
 
video
We finished out the weekend enjoying the afternoon at our campsite and one more night of camping. Ashlyn worked her bike skills a bit too.  
 
I am definitely glad we didn't miss out on this one. That was some great riding and the rain the day before made the track perfect!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gotta Start Somewhere

That's my ride!
XTERRA Vegas!

I headed down to Las Vegas last week for the opening of the Xterra Pro Series, XTERRA West Championships, located at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson. I was able to arrive a couple days early and get ready for the race on Sunday. It was hot. It has been getting really warm in Sacramento, but it is Hot in Vegas. I was able to get out for a pre-ride of the not so exciting course on Friday. This was only my 3rd time out on my new Liv/giant Obsess so I was happy to get some more time on it before the race!
Yep, that's what there is to see on the course. (Photo courtesy of Danelle :))



















So, I have been on the fence this whole off-season as to whether or not I should take my pro license. I qualified but I kept going back on forth as to whether I should do it or not. There were a lot of factors going into my decision, and I finally decided a couple weeks ago that I just needed to be all in and go for it! What do I have to lose? Worst case, not much changes in my finishes, but most likely stepping up to the next level will push me harder while still keeping it fun! Decision made and paperwork sent to USAT, I still began to doubt slightly once I got there and was actually registering Pro! Yikes. To make matters worse, my neck was killing me all week! This was some of the worst it has ever been which did not help with the nerves going into my first Pro race.

So that's where I got to go
 Race morning came and amazingly my neck was feeling significantly better from the day before, thank goodness for Maia Ignatz helping me out a bit on Saturday. I could actually turn my head to the right which is really good since I generally breath to the right.  I went through the morning and was feeling pretty good, and then I went down to the water and that is when the nerves set in big time! Swimming is not my strong point so I suddenly felt I was going to get dropped right off. I got focused and calmed myself knowing that I had a plan and had been working on this swim in the pool. I thought about coach Joan's training and tips and had the plan and calmed my nerves.

Found this one. I don't look nervous or concerned about my neck at all ;)

Pro swim start

Gun went off and I started out well. I was focused on going fast and then getting on some feet. Feeling good, and then it began to happen....water....coming in the goggles. "Maybe I can do this all one eye" I thought briefly, and then the other started filling. Well, I know I cant' swim a 1500 open water blind. So that left no choice but to empty my goggles and re-seal. As I did so the rest of the field that I was ahead of surged over me and just like that I was off the back!  Ugh! Silly goggles, of course they were great during my warm-up. So, I tried to go hard but now I was off the back and had no feet or anyone to swim with the whole way. I could see the little group of pink caps not far ahead the whole time. Bummer! I was bummed because I have been working a lot on the swim and I do think I may have been able to have a much better swim than this as I did feel alright for the rest of the swim. As, I ran up to transition with one of the men, we came in and Brian, said "Well, someone had to be last right?" :) "Might as well be us." I replied. Gotta keep things upbeat :). Turns out we weren't actually last there were a couple more ladies out there.

Onto the bike, I was ready to get going and see if I could make up some ground. I could see the next female just ahead about 10 sec so I set my sights on catching her, but as I got going my legs just weren't coming around. I felt like I had no power and was just not in a good rhythm. I kept screwing everything up! As, I came around for lap 2 I was mixed in with the leading amateurs who started 45 mins after us and were just getting on the bike. I liked having the course all to ourselves the first lap but it probably helped me push a little more having people racing around me. Finally about halfway through the second lap I felt like my legs were coming a little but I still felt like I was lacking power and like my seat was too low even though I had checked and raised it the night before. Also, the wind had picked up by the second lap. So, along with that lack of push feeling I was also fighting a strong headwind on a lot of sections. 

I started the run and actually felt pretty strong, which is a new feeling for me. Another thing I have been working on this year. I was trying to tell myself that I could still catch people on the run but I am not sure I ever convinced myself. (Guess I may need to work on the mental part of this) The run course went out and then followed the bike course for about 4 miles. So, now I was running past the bikers going uphill and then getting blown by on the downhills, which was a little sketchy in sections were there was only one good route. I felt like my run was alright for me but I know that I could have run harder!

Turned out that I placed 10th and I was not last as I was thinking the whole time! It was a small pro field but I was still happy to have a top 10 (out of 12) ha ;) Both my swim and my run were vastly improved comparatively over last year!

I thought I had most of the mess-ups out of the way already before the big races but apparently not. Goggle misfortune: "SEAL!" (that's for you Elise and Steve).
Bike legs: Well, come to find when I got home, that my seat was in fact over an inch too low! Not sure how that happened since I did put it up the night before, I guess it slipped or something. Grr! It felt so much better at a local race last night being the right height! At least, that can explain some of the feeling.



One thing that does seem to be working really well, is my change in nutrition strategy! I have been loving the Osmo Women's line! The Pre-load was awesome to have for this heat. I had a bottle the night before and then a bottle in the morning before the race. I had almost 2 bottles of the active hydration on the bike and a flask that I started the run with. I have been trying to go with the Osmo motto of "food in the pocket, hydration in the bottle" too. It has been a little trial and error with what works but I am getting there. As one who has never done well with gu-type things anyway this has been good. I have often struggled with cramps on the run but have not had any! Also, my stomach felt soo much better post-race! I like that.

 All in all it was a good time in Vegas! While it was not the race I was hoping to have for my Pro debut, it was not the worst I could have had, and I learned some valuable lessons. Now, I have gotten that first one under my belt. Everyone always says that is the worst one. I was encouraged to know it could have been better and I also know some things to work on.  I am glad I decided to step up and just do it. Everyone has to start somewhere!
 
 
Figured I should have a pic in here somewhere.

Thanks to everyone's support and encouragement in this process. So, many of you have encouraged me to go ahead and take that step and so many of you had my back no matter what happens! I appreciate all of the support and encouragement so much!  

Also read this the day before. :)  "But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." Heb 10:39

Friday, April 04, 2014

Xterra REAL(ly WET)!

XTERRA season has come! It snuck in so quickly I barely knew what happened.  Saturday was my kickoff into Xterra season with the local race at Granite Bay. Xterra REAL put on by the ever great TBF Racing! We have been super dry here in Northern CA for most of the winter and have gotten very little rain to put us in severe drought conditions. This was NOT the case on Saturday. The forecast actually called for rain most of the night before so when we woke up and drove out to the race I really happy not to be setting up in the rain and I was hoping just maybe it would hold off just a little longer. No such luck, just about the time I got my wet suit on and headed down to the water it began.

The lake was cold but not nearly as cold as last year rain water is much better than runoff!  However, with the rain just starting up the wind picked up just enough to give us a little chop on the water and some waves. Despite taking in some water I felt like my swim went pretty well. I have been working a lot on the swim this off-season and am hoping the pool time will transfer over. I took coach Joan's advice on the my swim pacing and I think it went well! I was the 3rd female out of the water which is a big improvement over 13th from last year. It was hard to compare because the swim split also included our half mile run through the sand up to transition (I mentioned the drought, right!) As I came up to transition I could hear the announcer calling Kara Lapoint in ahead of me. I knew she wasn't too far up and this is about where I expected to be at this point. I also knew she has been riding that bike really well and I would have some work cut out in only 2 laps.

I got going on the 2-lap 16 mile bike course and it was still in pretty good shape. I tried to get into a good rhythm and get a little warmer on that first lap. At this point I knew Kara was about a minute up ahead of me. By the second lap in the pouring rain the bike was a mucky mess! I was hoping to get on my new Liv/giant bike for this race but once I started I was so glad that I wasn't able to get my new bike yet because by this time my bike sounded horrible! (Next race will be on Liv)! It almost felt as if it was working against me. However, I was still having fun splashing through the mud. Second lap was tough when we started spinning out in the mud! It is a gamble in these type of conditions to wear glasses or not. I went for the glasses. I would rather have some drips to see through than have mud in my eye, but I must say it was no problem! Bolle has done an awesome job making this hydrophobic treatment on the Bolt lenses, one swipe and I am usually good with no streaking! Love it!
Most of the bike I ended up feeling like I was in no man's land. I was riding solo. I think this made it a little hard for me to push that race, sometimes all alone I forget to RACE.
I did start to get a little chilly towards the end of the bike and I was ready to get running.
 
After dumping the water from my shoes before putting them on is transition I was off on the run. Hoping this would warm me up just a bit but also ready to get this thing finished.  I set off with a good pace. My run is the other main focus I have had so far this year. This has always been my weakest point in Xterra so this was a good test to see how things were going. I felt surprisingly good as I go out there and ran my first mile at a great pace! I kept pushing through the whole run and ran the sand and rocks and even the big climb up to the water tower at what felt to be much better than in the past. Turns out I ran the 3.8 mile course 3 mins faster than last year in the mud and rain. I am happy with that.
 
That finish line looked so great when I got there! Presented with a fresh lei, since the Maui tourism had come out with leis and hula dancers for the race, I was wishing it felt a little bit warmer :)  Once finished was when the cold really set in! This is a great race for us because Drew got to come out and race Xterra as well, only problem was he locked the car and didn't tell me where the keys were so I had no way of getting to the dry clothes!! BRR. Thanks to good people, friends, TBF staff and support out there I was able to get something dry while waiting and there was a little heater to try and get some heat!  Drew did come soon and I got some semi dry things to put on.

Yep, crazy. So wet and muddy but so much fun! Also happy to be to the finish!

 

Kara put in a smoking race and I never did see her. I ended up second place overall first in AG with Sian Turner rounding out top three to make that the second year the three of us took the top 3. Great fun racing with these girls out here!
 

A big thanks to all the TBF staff and volunteers who where out there all day. That had to be a lot colder and more miserable just standing there and supporting us yet they were all great! Also all the spectators that came and cheered on the whole time and endured that spectacle. I saw great people out there including 9-year-old Travis (great video on this course), soon-to-be Xterra superstar! Super thankful for our neighbors too. They took Ashlyn in for the morning, so that both Drew and I could race in the rain. I don't think she would have had quite as much fun as usual at the races since it was raining so much
Sian and I on the podium


Yay, a warm heater!
 



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