Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gotta Start Somewhere

That's my ride!

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!


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Beginning 2014!

Everything sneaks up on me so fast and all of a sudden March is gone and I need to make updates! 

First of all this season brings some slight changes. I will again be riding for Folsom Bike but I am on their Elite Mountain Bike team! I am excited to be able to step up to this team for the season as a female on the team. Erin Gorrel has been so great in helping me out.  Along with this comes a new bike partner. I will be riding as a Liv/Giant ambassador this season as well!

This season has come up so quickly. I start of with some great MTB races with TBF racing right here at Granite Bay. I have enjoyed these and they are a great way to get warmed up for Mountain bike racing and build into my season. This year has been especially fun since we have had some more ladies coming down from Truckee adding a bit of depth to the field. I actually had someone else to race in the women's pro category!  It has been a lot of fun. I also threw an off-road duathlon in there to test out my off-season run focus. With those finishing up I moved right into my main racing season and my first two mountain bike races I had mechanical issues!  

Cool Mtb Race
Excited to get in a good race and toe the line with Teal Stetson-Lee. Started out well keeping in sight and then flat. Only about 10 min of racing I think I had a torn sidewall so there really wasn't a way I could get that one through the race.

Big Sandy
I was excited when I heard about this race it looked like a lot of fun and I thought it would be a good addition to my race schedule!  This used to be a classic point-to-point race but this year they decided to make the already long course even longer and add an extra 15 miles! This made the course a lollipop of 38 miles with over 6000 ft of elevation.
We made a weekend of it and headed down on Fri. stay in a cabin near the race venue with friends, Sian and Dennis and Julie Young. It was a fun time in the little cabin with 5 adults a 5-year-old and 4 dogs (3 of them huskies)! The problem was I got a little too moto on my crossfit style strength workout earlier in the week and was so sore I could hardly sit on Fri. So Sat while Drew got in a ride the girls and the dogs went and found the icy lake so that I could ice my legs! Just hoping they would not feel so bad in the race.
Sunday there was a record number of Pro/Expert women for the race (at 6!) which meant equal prize money! I started out strong and took the lead very quickly on the initial climb.

 Knowing it was going to be a long ride, I tried to set a conservative but strong pace. I found that I was quickly gaining a little ground on the rest of the field. I knew that there were a couple Primes for prize money out there one of them being the first 15 mile. As I got closer I put in just a little extra to maintain my lead for that. I was hoping though, that with my sore legs, I didn't burn too much too soon. Well, a couple miles after the 15-mile feed zone we started up the major climb of the course. Julie had caught me here and we were going together when I tried to get back in my pedal only to find I lost a bolt from my cleat and it was loose. I had to stop and tighten down before I lost the whole thing! During this I moved to 3rd. I rode the loop trying to make up ground. I came through the feed zone to head back the last 15 and I could see the 2nd female just ahead. I moved to catch her and reeled her fairly quickly. I was just about to make the move and get past when we had to dismount a short section and when I tried to get back on my cleat had twisted again! I made another quick fix but she got away, I think with fire under her knowing I was right there! At this point I knew I just needed to ride without coming out!  Ha! I did make quite a ways but alas, I had to come out eventually and this time I couldn't get back into my pedals. Cleat was twisted and I had tightened it so much to get it to hold that I couldn't loosen it to straighten. Also, I was just ready to be done. So, away I went for the final long climb unclipped. Made that a lot tougher than it should have been. I rode the last 3 miles with only my right foot clipped. I did make it though and maintained the final spot on the podium.
Not quite what I was hoping for but I did have fun out there nonetheless!  The race was a ton of fun, I love these grassroots races! Laid back and great people!
Next is first Xterra of the season but I think that gets its own post!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

World Champs!

Here it is at long last!  It has taken me much longer than anticipated to get to writing this race report. We moved immediately after I returned from Maui and I have been lost in the moving twilight zone the last 2 weeks. I feel like I am finally getting settled and coming back into reality! 
So, finally, here is my race recap!

As many of you know, I had been training and hoping to go to Maui this year but financially things were not looking good for me. Then, the government shutdown so our paycheck was halted a few weeks and things REALLY weren't looking good. After nationals I knew that I had something more in there and wanted to have a good race in Maui this year so I just laid it all out there and let the need be known.  So many great people stepped up and really helped make this happen.  Everything came together to make my trip a GO! 

I had a couple great weeks of training leading up to Maui. Ashlyn had the opportunity to visit my parents and "the cousins" in Colorado so I was able to get a little bit more training time! My mom and Ashlyn flew back to Sacramento on Tuesday and I headed out to Maui Thursday. It would have been nice to go a little earlier to have more time to acclimate but that is not always how things work out. I was so
great place to stay!
happy to find the super friendly Canadian ladies who were willing to take me in as a roommate and it was almost like a girls getaway that was really quite in the days leading up to the race. Besides the sore sides from laughing! 
Friday I went on a preride and opted to do the short version and only ride the first 3 miles and the last 5 which is all the single track on the bike course. Since it was only two days out I didn't want to do too much, I wanted to save it for race day.  I was pretty 'underwhelmed' about the bike course after my preride and found myself feeling disappointed right along with a lot of the mountain bikers that the course really doesn't take much technical skill.  They did try to make it harder by making it longer.
Saturday I headed out with the girls to go for a swim and try to figure out how to manage the waves. The rest of the day was just taking it easy and relaxing. I found myself getting pretty negative about the bike course and I knew I needed to change my attitude.  I talked to a friend on the way home and he was saying " aw, whatever, I LOVE this bike course!"  I decided it was up to me to change the things I have the control to change like my attitude and perspective! Thanks Rife! And this helps to have this slogan on my bike!
Good thing to see on race day

Race Day

Race morning arrived and I made sure to get my head in the game. There are always pre race jitters and doubts of whether or not I will be able to perform to the best of my ability.  I knew I had gotten some good training in and I knew I was capable of having a good race.  Goals set high, I wanted an age group win.  That top spot has eluded me in a championship race up to this point and I really wanted that to change at World Championships! I also wanted a top five in the amateur field which I knew would be a hard one to get. There were a lot of great girls from the states racing and then because it world championships there are the wild cards that I don't know. 
I got everything together and was feeling pretty good and relaxed as a rode over to transition.  I remained relaxed despite the fact that I had no spot in transition and after meandering through all the racks I had to wait while the XTERRA staff went to find out where I was supposed to be.  No big deal, I got a spot. The morning was pretty relaxed I am apparently not a well-known top contender so I fly well under the radar on race morning no talk or expectations on the mic.  I got all ready to go and then decided to get down to the water because I was hot already! This was shaping up to be a long hot day. 

Swim 28:14  -- 4th AG
Boom! Its go time! The gun went off 4 mins after the pros and 2 minutes after all the age-group men.  I tried to stay in the pack and swim on fast feet, only problem is I have a hard time knowing where I am with the other swimmers. I was trying to think about the tips my swim coach, Joan, had been giving me. Get a fast start and then get the pace. It didn't take long before we were catching the age group men and the ocean got pretty crowded.  I found myself a little far inside and needing to swim back out a little to get around the first bouy.  I felt like my swim was pretty good but it really wasn't much improved based on my time comparatively.  I was a couple minutes down to some of my competitors, which is normal but even slightly more.  I am a little disappointed with the swim because I feel like I have been making some improvements in the pool and that really didn't show at all here. However, I know that it takes time so I am optimistic. Transition went smooth but was pretty slow! I guess I was making sure I had everything for a long hot bike ride.  As I was running out I heard the announcer calling in one of my biggest challengers, Maia, so I knew that she would be hot on my heals and I had some work to do to catch the girls ahead of me.

Bike 2:07.54 -- 1st AG
The beginning of the bike is all about controlling myself and going steady. Since we started 2 minutes behind the men that puts me behind a lot of people in the bike. The first 3 miles of the bike course follow the run course and it pretty much just starts climbing and is mostly single track. There are opportunities to pass but I always have to decide whether it is worth it to start burning that much energy that soon. I find it a little better to ride the "train" and give my legs time to get going and then when the course opens I can hit it harder.  That is pretty much what I tried to do. When we got to the top and to the one technical descent on the whole course, everyone was walking when I started coming down! So I had to weave my way through. These are the places where I really start wishing I was a lot better swimmer!  When we popped out onto the road a girl that followed behind me exclaimed "what was that! Must have been all the road bikers!" LOL.  I was able to really let it go on the open descents after that and take some passes on the inside corners.  Finally, I made it to the last section of single track which was about 5 miles. I confess, I found myself actually enjoying this part of the ride a lot more than I expected! The fact that the bike was longer and this single track was at the end played in my favor just a little because I was actually able to catch a few girls toward the end and put some time in on the ones behind.  It had been a long HOT ride and I was really happy that I made the decision to take my Camelbak which I had frozen the night before. Having that icy cold water the whole way was clutch!

Run 57:24 -- 5th AG
This is always the leg I struggle with the most.  However, I kept remembering two years ago here when I had a really good run for me and I was really hoping it would feel like that again!  I started out of transition feeling good, as always, for about 3 minutes and then the legs started cramping. No! I had a flask of EFS that I grabbed and started taking it in to fight off the cramps.  I finally made it to the first water station and grabbed some icy water. At this point the course actually has a little downhill before it continues the 3 mile climb and I had gotten the cramps to go away but I feared they would return as soon as I started to climb again like they did in Ogden.  Thankfully I kept going up and no cramps!  I was running scared as I came to some steep climbs in the middle of the course! This is about halfway through the run and seems to be the "sweet spot" where I always get passed! I just kept telling myself to run hard. "You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win!" 1Cor 9:24. Duh :)   I made it to the top and began running down and I just tried to really push on and not relent. I knew I had to lay it all out there to hold on even though I had no idea who was ahead or behind.  I finally made it to the final brutal climb that they put in to demoralize everyone and could see another female ahead. I pushed on and ran the final descent as hard as I could muster. Nearing the bottom I passed a couple of pros just before I hit the beach. This hurt bad!  I kept running scared all the way down the beach and across the sand I was still convinced I was going to get passed before the finish. The race photos of my face tell it all! :) (sorry no photos, $$). 

I finally crossed and they escorted me away to make sure that I could continue to walk.  I was done in many ways! I was pretty out of it and completely spent and then someone told me to go get my time card to see how I did. Oh, yeah, braindead... 
Well, I just about burst into tears and exploded when I got this!!
Pretty excited to see this! This is the text that went to Drew.

Finish 3:37.46 -- 1st Age Group, 8th overall amateur,  29th female.

In my excitement I finally was able to notice my splitting headache and made my way to the med tent. The medical staff where awesome and laid me down and got my temps back down and replenished fluids. After some time there I felt much better! 

I finally did it! I finally got the top spot on the podium at World Championships! 

I am so incredibly thankful to all the people who helped me this whole season and all the people who helped me get here!! I could not have done this without the help of some super people.  I have to mention a few!  Justin Hurd helping me out so much and I think the run will be coming along soon.
Vanessa Carmean and Sian Turner are awesome peeps!!  Joan Marenger super optimistic, encouraging and supportive, thank you and all my CalFit swimming friends! Bayside Adventure Sports, you guys are awesome! Also, many friends and family who made contributions to help me out. I am blessed to know some really great people!

Thank you to my sponsors Folsom Bike helping me get here and keeping my bike running great throughout my spastic last weeks! 
Tom and Monsters of Massage for helping me out and keeping my body running right!
Bolle Eyewear for continuing to keep me seeing clear with awesome shades!
RooEpic keeping me styling through all my hard training sessions.

Thanks to anyone who has read this far! It has a been a great note to end my season on. Now I am happy to have some time to reboot and start thinking about next season!

Goodbye Maui! Until next time...

But, I come home to this! Even better than Maui. Always keep perspective


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ogden for "Ashlyn's" race

It took me along time to get this one up.  Somehow the last weeks have flown by and been crazy even though Ashlyn is visiting Nana B and the cousins. 

USA Nationals
I always love traveling out to Utah this time of year for Nationals. The colors were a little behind this year so we didn't have quite the stunning color out on the course but still good.
Ashlyn and I headed out early on Thursday to make the drive across the desert in time for me to get a little spin up on the course. She was excited, of course to see cousin Didi and Nana B. She was also looking forward to "her race" even though it is not a real triathlon. :)  It makes for a long day but we did make it and I headed up to get on the bike course.  I didn't get up there till about 5:30 which I forget, now that I am in CA that these places get quite chilly in the evening.  It was beautiful to ride the course at dusk though.

Friday was a nice relaxed morning went for a swim and a short run and then the afternoon was spent at race expo getting packet and then watching Ashlyn have some fun. This girl cracks me up.  She is a fun kid.  I really only have pictures of her from the event so I will post those.

She is ready...


 I ended up going to check out the pre race banquet since I actually won the Regional age group championship this year! 

I think it also took some time to write up this race report because I didn't feel like my race was great. It was one of those hard ones, where you can't really complain because I still finished well, but for me it wasn't what I know I am capable of.  Also, upon re-reading my report for last year it was strikingly similar!
I had been feeling pretty good going into this race but the day before was feeling a little tired but tried to pass it off as pre-race nerves and heightened sensitivity. Unfortunately, race day proved that was not all it was. 
It all started with the swim somehow getting all screwed up.  I got in a good warm up and had a good start thrashing along with all my competitors (I am getting more comfortable with the fight).  But as I swam the buoy seemed to take forever. As I came around the lap, I was wondering if they changed it to a one lap swim and I wasn't listening but no luck, all those ahead of me turned to make the LONG lap 2.  I felt like I was swimming well but when I got out of the water I was 11 minutes behind my goal! I knew then that it was all messed up. Apparently the buoy floated off. OOPS! Not a real big deal but giving the good swimmers that extra half mile is a lot to make up on the bike!  Not to mention the legs just didn't have it.  Started out alright getting warmed up but first competitor, Megan Sheridan passed me very early which didn't bode well.  Near the top the legs just didn't have much.  I felt heavy. I am wondering if the altitude is affecting me. I have never thought about it since I was always coming down.  Second threat, Maia, passed me a couple minutes before T2. Since she is a gazelle I have no shot at catching her running! 
Started out the run strong for about 2.5 miles then whenever the course started climbing again the legs just cramped.  I kept pushing on and ran hard the last mile and half downhill.  I held in there for 3rd in my age group, which is great!  But I was a lot slower than past, not just due to the swim, which was disappointing.  I still earned my qualifying spot for Maui XTERRA World Championships.

I had really been hoping to go to Worlds this year but I wasn't sure how to make it happen since we had no money to spare. Then the government shutdown caused Drew to work for 2 weeks without pay making the idea even more dismal.  But through some amazing friends and some great supporters I have gotten most of the money I need to make the trip!  I am so grateful for the friends and family that have given me so much support already and how the Lord cares about all the small things and provides!
 Currently I still need about $200 for travel and lodging.  If you feel like you would like to help me with my trip to race for a World Championship title I would be grateful! Every bit is helpful. I only need like 10 people to give $20 or ....whatever math you want to do :)



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Downieville Classic and Xterra Tahoe City

As we headed out to move here to California I got an email link from my old coach saying "This will be a great race for you next year!"  Downieville Classic had just taken place the week before we moved.  It looked like an awesome event and I was encouraged that there would be some great new events that I could do in CA while I missed out on the stuff I have always loved in CO.

In the back of my mind I have been planning on this race ever since.  However, as the year rolls on I was hesitating signing up with only my hard-tail.  From what everyone was saying I would really appreciate a full-suspension.  I knew I could do it but I also wanted to be competitive. 
Well, come to find out that the All-mountain competition fills up within minutes so I was to late to get in but I also talked to a friend, Clint Claassen, rider for Santa Cruz, and he offered to let me use the small full suspension that he recently built up for his wife if I wanted to race Downieville.  Yes, Please!  I was really excited and went and signed up for the XC.  Unfortunately I had to be waitlisted for the All mountain.

So, summer rolls on and then I felt like I fell apart at the end of June!  I had been training well and was getting ready for Xterra Tahoe City.  The week before the race my foot suddenly started to hurt like crazy whenever I ran and I didn't really know what was wrong.  I went out to race a MTB race at Skyline park the weekend before to get back in race mode since I had such a long time between races. Well, I started the race well took the lead but then slid out and bent my front wheel.  I continued to race on and caught a couple of the girls but took a bad line on lap 2 and endoed right over my bars and came down hard on my left hand! I still rode the next lap and held on for 2nd Pro women.  It was bad enough that I went to get X-rays the next day.  Not broken, but very sore and I couldn't put any pressure on it which made swimming a little hard and MTB...ouch.  Luckily the course was mostly smooth.  Well, I was able to still have fun in the race and hold on for a 5th overall and 2nd AG.  Not quite the race I had been planning for but when I wasn't sure how anything would work about 4 days out I was okay with it. 

After all that I decided the week after was OFF.  It was a reset week with no swim, bike, run.  I find it is really good to have one of these mid season to reset and break things up.  I was feeling a little better after the week off and started to get back into things but then we had company for a little over a week and we all traveled up north.  My foot was still bothering me some so I was trying to balance the run time on the trip since that was the only thing I could do while traveling.  Argh! 

Now it is nearing the end of July and Downieville has completely snuck up on me and I still have not made it up there to ride the course!  Thankfully TBF Racing put on a short series of Wednesday night MTB races that helped me get up to speed a little bit.  I got the bike from Clint and Jen and was trying to plan a time to get up and ride I had about 1 week to do it!  The weekend before I ended up getting a last minute entry to join a team for a Ragnar Relay at Sierra-at-Tahoe.  Couldn't pass that up so we had an hour from finding out to pack some stuff for Ashlyn and I and head up the mountain to go run instead of bike.  Had a lot of fun!  18 miles over the 27 hour time it took us. 

Anyway...back to Downieville! I was planning to go up early in the week with the Powless clan but our schedules didn't work with the day I had childcare and the days they had to go.  Then Ashlyn got sick so I couldn't go the day I had childcare! I needed to go see this course before racing.  Everyone is telling me it is "crazy" (I find Californians have tendancy to slightly exaggerate "crazy") and I was borrowing a bike I hadn't ridden before with different gearing.  It was set up 1x10 and I knew that the climb was a long 8 miles so I wanted to make sure I could handle. I was finally able to make it all come together on Thursday before the race.  I took Ashlyn to a friends and I headed up for a ride!
Long long climb but beautiful then long long and super fun descent! Despite a wrong turn and short back track, I had a great time! The bike felt great and I decided I could cowboy and climb the steep at the top! 

Friday I was little worried about being ready to race hard after riding for 3 hours the day before. I did some good recovery and got ready to go.  I originally wanted to do really well here but at this point I wasn't sure what to expect from my race I rode it once two days out and I felt like I had basically taken 3 weeks off at the beginning of July.  Hopefully that would just mean I was good and fresh. 
Race day came and the family loaded the car and headed up early.  Slightly later than planned with child in PJ and breakfast in the car we were on the way.  Then traffic! What construction on Saturday morning.  I had to be there in time to get my registration and warm up.  I made it but as we rolled into Sierra City the town was packed and Drew pulled over in a driveway and I jumped out and grabbed my stuff not knowing if I would see them again before start.  Not quite the relaxed start I expected.  I had time for only a short warm-up before I climbed and shoved my way through the people to the Expert wave. I found a girl with a Folsom Bike Womens team jersey and we chatted at the start. Before I knew it we were off on our way.  These start waves were huge and I was toward the back.  I knew it was a long climb and I would have some time.  I went for a conservative start.  I kept well within my limits till I was good and warm and then just tried to gradually push the pace the further I got up the mountain.  This seemed to work well for me.  I was passing a continuous stream of people all the way up. 
I pushed hard as I came to the flat part near the top and got in with a group of 5 guys on the road.  I had no idea where I was in the field. The pro wave started 5 minutes ahead and I was hoping I was catching some but didn't know where expert women ended and pro began.  I came through the cheering crowds at the top and was so excited to make it there in what I felt was pretty good time.  Right before I hit Sunrise someone called out that I was 14th female.  I knew some of those were pro so I had to be doing all right.  I dropped in and passed some guys on Sunrise and then on the way to the baby heads section on the road I caught 2 more girls.  I was picking my way up.  Got another one on Baby heads so I think I was about 11 and looking for more.  Then as we came through I heard a female call out behind me and pass me! Oh no! I got caught on downhill.  She was riding smooth and I kept her in sight most of the way. 
As I rode down the rocks and some tighter switchbacks toward the bottom of Pauley creek I had a scare.  I hit a rock wrong and heard/felt the small burp of my tire and saw some Stans shooting up.  "Oh Nooo!" I thought.  I slowed a little and rode for a minute a little more gingerly on that front to see what this Stans stuff was made of.  "What!!" a minute later still riding front tire fine!  Game still on!  First time that I have tested the Stans like that.  I don't flat often and I was really not wanting to happen here.  As I came out of Pauley Creek I found my girl again on the climb. I dropped into third divide and was trying to go hard but was starting to feel the fatigue.  I had a small mishap on a section and had to let someone by and I lost sight of the girl ahead.  I rode behind the one that passed a little and it was not the pace.  I got a little recovery and thought about it.  No way was I going to let this go that easy.  I told him I needed to go and make one last ditch effort to catch her!  I raced down the road onto first divide the last section of single track.  I came around the last big corner and at the bottom there is one last little climb out before you hit the pavement and there she was.  I climbed on her wheel and when we hit I gave it a good pushed and dropped her going to the finish.  My legs were done!  Then about 5 yards from the line all of a sudden I feel my bars nudge over! She pushed my bars out of the way and went into the finish shoot! Its alright...Nice race. Turns out she was Pro so I actually beat her by 5 min.
I went and found Drew and Ashlyn enjoying some ice cream.  Drew says, "Hey, how did it go?" At this point I still had no idea how I actually ended up so I said alright.  "Well, lets get the truck and go up, its my turn" (It was something to that effect :p)  I drove him back up to where the start was and he headed off to ride.  Ashlyn and headed back down and stopped at the river so I could have an icy dip. After that we headed back to the race festivities to get some food and hang out to watch the river jump.  I finally found the results posting and saw that I won! I took the expert field by more than 3 minutes and I would have placed 8th in a super stacked Pro womens field.  I was pretty happy with that.  Always room for improvement but it was a good day!  I was just wishing that I was racing the all mountain the next day.  Maybe next time.
I have to give a big shout and Thanks to Clint for letting me use the bike.  So much fun! I also made it in the little video recap (or should I say Ashlyn)!  Check this fun video of the race!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Into 2013!

I know I am a terrible blogger in the off season!  Apparently I need to find more worthy things to blog about.  But I also figure this blog is primarily about racing for those who want to hear the nitty gritty details of my races.  So here we go into the 2013 Season!  I have to do a two in one for XTERRA on this post!

Well, for starters, moving out to California presented itself with all sorts of new challenges and opportunities I guess.  The hard part was moving away from all of my great local supporters that I had over my time in Winter Park.  Moving to a big city where I knew no one or any teams etc.  It is like starting from scratch to build up some support which is so important!  Also, just finding people who know where to train and where to ride!

So I joined Folsom Bike Racing Team for this season and their Tri Team out of the Town Center lacation.  I was steered toward them from a number of people that I had met around here.  It has been great getting to know some of the people on the team and everyone who works at Folsom bike has been great and always helpful.

I kicked off the 2013 season doing some of the local bike races just 10 minutes from my house at Granite Bay.  TBF Racing , who I also joined as staff, puts on a ton of great races and they have a series of 4 Mtn bike races through the winter.  That was new to be bike racing all winter!  Nothing like Winter Park, these are a loop course that is the same course just more loops(I am really good at that loop now), but fun still! I was able to win 3 of 4.
The bike racing felt like an alright warm-up to kick off my Xterra Season on March 30.  However, it had been a slow off season with some hip and hamstring things going on.  I have been trying to get everything to feel good again so my running was way down.

This seemed perfect for my first race of the season a nice warm up race.  It is put on by TBF and the bike course is that one I had been racing all season.  I was excited to get into Xterra but also not sure how my run and swim would stack up.  My parents had been visiting for the couple weeks before and were here for the race which was great to have my familiar support and also a good opportunity for Drew to jump in and do his first open water Tri ever!
We got a beautiful day for the race water was a little chilly but being form CO with swims at Indian Peaks and Buffalo Creek and even Moab it was perfectly normal at about 55.
Swim went off fine.  Nothing crazy to speak of I felt pretty good for the most part this one is short so it is only a 750.  As I exited the water I was just happy to see Kara Lapoint right in front of me.  She is last years winner and normally a much faster swimmer than me.  As we were running into transition she was getting told she was 10th woman.  I breezed through transition really smoothly and felt like it was pretty good in and out until I went to jump on my bike and my chain was off! Anyway,  I got out of transition ahead of a few of those 10 and quickly began to try and make my way up through the field!  At the end of the main climb my friend and competitor Sian took the inside and swept past.  "Oh!" I thought, "yeah, we are racing today!"  So I remained right behind her for the next section until we got to the back of the course where they added in a slightly technical sandy section I rode through pretty smooth and took the lead for Women.  I knew I had to keep pushing and gain as much ground as I could on the bike since that is my strong point.  I also know it would be tough to get much on this course because it is fast and relatively easy.  I actually didn't know I was in the lead till the next lap when Kara's boyfriend told me, after I asked him who was up, that I was in the lead by about 30 sec.
I came off the bike feeling pretty good and headed out on the run.  I tried to use some recent advice and get my legs turning over fast.  I was feeling ok for the run but was soon dismayed when Sian passed me way too soon!  She was killin that run!  My quad cramped pretty bad on the steep climb right about the time she passed and I had to stop to get it moving!  This put a damper in my fight to stay with her.  I got my butt moving because I knew that Kara was sure to be close behind.  She was.  We climbed the steep climb to the high point of the course and she moved past just at the top.
I took 3rd overall.  The three of us were within about 2 min.  It was a fun race and good to have some great ladies to push with out there! I knew I had some work to do for Vegas two weeks later and not really alot of time for that.

Next up Vegas!
XTERRA West Championships

This weekend kicked off the Xterra Championship races in Las Vegas.  I flew down by myself on Thursday and stayed right on sight at the Monte Lago Resort with Sian.  Friday I headed out for a pre-ride and had a good time riding with Brandi Heisterman, one of the pros from Canada and some of the Luna Chix.  The bike was true to the rumors.  Not real exciting but also somewhat challenging.
Saturday was race day and they had set the start time for the championship race for 10:30 with the forecast calling for a high of 90!  Apparently they wanted the sport race to be off the course.  I don't like starting late.  It gives too much hanging out being nervous time before hand.  Not to mention it was getting hotter as I was just setting up transition!
Swim  Swim was declared about 57 but I am pretty sure it was a little warmer.  With it being so hot out already when we were getting ready to start the water felt great!
I felt good and pushed out the start with a good group pretty sure I was swimming stroke for stroke right next to my age group competitor Meaghan Sheridan for a good portion of our swim to the first buoy. I felt like I had a pretty good swim but I never know with these things.  After transition and jumping on my bike I looked at my watch and it seemed that it had in fact been pretty good as far as I could tell.

26:12   30th female 19th amateur and 3rd Age Group
Bike I went out like normal to try and start making my way up through the field. I had a little fire and help getting moving from new CA friend Cliff Milleman "Lets go catch Hannah Rae" He said.  I was game.  This bike course was not particularly exciting.  It is like biking on the moon.  Not a very technical course but a challenging course with steep loose climbs some short loose descents and nice sandy section.  I worked my way up the field and took a spill on a sharp corner that I just went into wrong in my excitement of being on the mtn bike :)  (I seem to have this problem ofter) No big deal jump up and ride on (bruised hip).  I had no idea where I was in the field of women as I hadn't really seen anyone I normally see besides the first couple I passed early including Kara Lapoint and I knew she would be pushing hard to stay close.  Halfway through the second lap my friendly update guy (Kara's boyfriend again, August) let me know I was actually in 2nd for amatuer women!  Really!  By this time though the heat and the wind were starting to wear on me quite a bit.  It was around 90 and I had a love hate with the wind that was just killer.  Nice and cooling but making flat sections really tough not to mention just keeping things in line!  About 3 miles to go on the bike I got passed by two girls in my age group!  One I didn't know we rode pretty close for awhile and then Meaghan (Age group winner) made the pass.  I battled the wind on the rode home to transition and tried to make sure I had fueled and hydrated enough to get going on the run.  I was a little upset to have been in 2nd and knocked to 4th there at the end. I knew something special would have to happen on my run.

1:41:49   14th Female  3rd amatuer  and  2nd Age group
RunThen it was onto the run....ugh.  After biking in the conditions it was hard to get the groove but I had  started to besides getting passed by the first two girls. Then the run course just started going up and up the steep loose climbs and then more and then add in some scree climbs! Somewhere in there about mile 3 Maia Ignatz came passed.  I am pretty sure this is our sweet spot.  She seems to always pass me on the run right in this area :) She passed and I watched as she moved further away up the hill that put me into 4th in the age group.  Brutal conditions for a 10k here.  I ended up moving from 4th the 7th on  the run.  It was rough and I obviously really need to work on my running.  It was tough but I know most people were having a rough time out there. Except for maybe Lesley Paterson the women's winner who put down the fastest run split of the day beating all the pro men on the run and finishing 4th Overall!! Wow.
(maybe we shouldn't talk about this one ;) )  1:05:53  33 Female  18th amateur  5th Age Group

Finish 3:13:58   21st Female   7th Amateur   4th Age group  
Yes, my age group is stacked.  I went into this race knowing that my age group would be really tough and it would be very difficult to get a Worlds slot for Maui (there are only 2).  If I were any other age group over 20 I would have gotten a slot.  :)  guess I have work to do over the summer for my next chance!  Bring it.

SO,  there it is all caught up if you made it this far!  

Taking Second Pro Women at Cool Mtn Bike Race.