Monday, June 28, 2010

Race Report: Hot Time in Webster

I was not looking forward to this race because of my experience there last year---I was not prepared to race with the 1,2,3 field and it got the best of me. I was spit off the pack early on, tried to work with a girl who was happy to knit, got lapped and spit off by the leaders a second time. I had memories of a killer right hand turn following a downhill and an ugly climb. Even though I know I'm having a better season, I still wasn't mentally in the game.

We got to the course early so that the kids could do the kids' race. CRK has a great race face--she will be a serious racer some day! AWK is just out there having fun. He wins the style points. They both enjoyed the races and have announced that it's time for the training wheels to go!

AWK stylin' & profilin'
*Photo credit: Mike Dawson

After the kids' races were over, I headed out with the Steph and Kate for a warm up. No matter how much I ride in mid county, I still get turned around and am always greatful for their navigation. I got a little over 20 minutes in and was wishing for a longer time. I'm coming to find that I do better with a longer warm up. I decided to try something new yesterday to deal with the heat--I put an ice pack in the radio pocket in my bibs and in the back pocket of my jersey hoping to keep my core temp down and my heart rate under control. I pulled to the line and got a great position. We got instructions and a whistle and were off--no problem getting in the pedals! Right away Chris took off. She had started in the back row and quickly established her place. Everyone went after her and we were off and racing.

Most of the race went by in a blur. It was hot and our field raced well. It was all I could do to concentrate on staying in the race. The first prime bell rang and I made a conscious decision not to go after it. Instead, I made sure I was ready for the sprint and staying with the group that did go for it. Luckily, the girls slowed down after crossing the line. I may have fell out had they kept that pace.
Wheels on the line.
About eight laps in we got another bell for a prime. Kate went off the front early on this one. Britta, Natalie and I made an effort to go after her. She was still out in front as we passed came into the finishing straight. Since Kate hadn't been pulled in, so I went on my own to pull her in. I got her wheel and decided I might as well put a little more into it for the cash. I grabbed the prime by a tiny margin--I looked to my right as I crossed the line and saw that Chris had been right there.

Right after that I heard the nasty sound of a crash as we went through the first corner. It was behind me so I couldn't see who went down. Someone said it was Emilie. I later found out that Steph felt like she took the corner too shallow and laid it over. I know Teresa and Emilie went down with her and both got back in after their free lap...Emilie's bike sounded out of whack for the rest of the race but she still managed a strong, strong finish.

The next two primes went pretty well the same as the first.

Rounding the final corner early in the race.

At five laps to go, I started to work on positioning. I knew who the other 4s were and made sure I was in a good spot compared to them. We got the bell lap and everyone played it safe. We made it to the final corner and the sprint took off. I was sitting about 4th wheel at that point. I felt strong in the sprint, but Courtney held on by about half a tire, with Britta a bike length ahead.

This year was much better for me than last. I felt like I had a good grip on what was going on at all times, I was able to anticipate what was going to happen, and had it in my legs and lungs to react. My goal for next year will be to make things happen instead of reacting. And BTW, that downhill right turn and ugly climb somehow got flattened out over this past year. I gotta find a member of the Webster street department and thank them for that!

Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Things I Learned From My Dad

Father's Day got me thinking yesterday. With some time alone on my bike, I had a lot of opportunity to reflect and think about my dad. I often think about him when I race, and wonder what he'd think of the craziness of a crit or cx race. I know he'd be proud that I'm even out there trying--he was stoked when I finished the MS 150, so I can only imagine how he would have felt when I got my win earlier this season. But on Father's Day, I thought about his legacy. What did he teach me that impact the way I live now? There are so many things, but I limited it to the first ten that came to mind. Some are life lessons, some are just practical, some are just pure Donnie Ray.
  1. Every home should have a good hammer, Phillip's & flat head screw driver, needle nose pliers, duct tape and super glue. While my dad began his adult life wearing a tie, he retired a master mechanic. His skills came from high school shop class and trial and error. He was good with an engine or a piece of wood. (His electrical work did scared me a little.) He impressed on me the need to be able to do basic maintenance myself. There was no need to hire someone or need a man to do it--not his daughter. When we bought our first house in Soulard and it needed renovation, he was in heaven. He helped me spend a weekend trimming out a decorative window on our third floor, including holding my legs while I leaned through the stairwell to put the cornices on the other side.
  2. Love literature. My dad finished high school, barely. He was a hands-on type guy. Classroom learning wasn't for him, but that didn't mean he wasn't well read. During his stint as a real estate agent and an insurance salesman, he had a lot of flexibility. During the summer months when it was hot (and we didn't have air conditioning) we spent countless hours at the library. And as I got older, I went back and read some of the novels I remember him reading then and I got the chance to pass on great reads to him. As he got older, I started buying hardcover books because the print was easier for him to read. I have to consciously stop myself from doing that because he's always in my head when I'm browsing books.
  3. Diverse interests make a person interesting. This lesson I gleaned from watching my dad live life. He was at home in the woods, behind a camera, with his nose in a book, under a car, or walking through the art museum. I would venture to call him a modern day Renaissance man. His approach to life has guided me in keeping a broad range of interests.
  4. It's always time for a good cup of coffee. (and piece of pork) My dad's tastes were simple. He was definitely a "meat and potatoes" eater, though he would humor me and try whatever I concocted in the kitchen--I think it was a relief just not to eat my mom's cooking. He started the day with a good cup of coffee and a bacon or sausage sandwich. He kept the coffee flowing through the day. It was common that he was sipping on a fully leaded up at 9PM as well. The only time he deviated from this was during hot days when he was working, he'd still start and end with coffee though. And as for the pork, it won out over everything else, except maybe fried chicken.
  5. The greatest reward for a parent is to see their child reach successes. The older I got, the deeper the conversations were between my dad and me. This is a direct statement he made to me. He told me the big accomplishments were wonderful, watching graduations, marriages, grandchildren being born. But little things were important too--my refrigerator having real food and not just milk and beer. He told me that the way I had grown up made him know that he was a good parent. That counts as one of the best compliments I have ever received.
  6. Dull knives are dangerous. This was a practical directive from my father. When I was growing up, our kitchen knives could always split a hair. I think this came from his time hunting and butchering in Ava. I wish I would have learned from him how to use sharpening stone. He tried to teach me, but I never got it quite right. I have become as emphatic as he was about this.
  7. Don't make promises you can't keep. Your word is important. It's a testament to your character and who you are as a person. My dad lived this and spoke it outright. If we promised to do something and a "better offer" came up, too bad. You committed, you stick with it.
  8. Be respectful to the earth. My dad was by no means a tree hugger, but he valued the earth and what it provides. We didn't hunt or fish just for sport. You only kill what you can eat. You plant trees and flowers and make sure they are native to the area. Never disturb a bird's nest or animal's home.
  9. Work ethic-you get paid to do a job, do it. No job is too menial. My dad sold real estate in the late 70s when interest rates were off the charts. It didn't bring in a lot of money. There weren't a lot of other good paying jobs out there. I can remember him working at a gas station to bring money in while he looked for something else to support us. I think this one goes hand-in-hand with keeping promises. You take care of your family, they are a commitment. He didn't take a lot of time off work either. Sick days were few and far between in our house. With the exception of my maternity leave, I have only taken three sick days in my career.
  10. Never be afraid to tell someone how you feel. Life is too short to keep your feelings inside. While my dad always told me he loved me, a major regret he had was that he didn't say that to Poppy until he was in the throws of Alzheimer's. He regretted not being as affectionate with his own dad, and sons, as he was with me. That realization was important to him and he spent the next four years making sure he told my brothers that he loved and working on them to be more open with their feelings.
While a few of these lessons were spoken outright, I'm sure my dad didn't realize he was teaching me the others. He probably wasn't consciously aware of how much I watched what he was doing. That can be another lesson I learned from him--live a good life, because others are watching you--most importantly your children.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Race Report: Tour de Grove

What a great weekend of racing! Mike Weiss and everyone at Big Shark did an outstanding job of creating an event for the Tour de Grove. I think the Grove events can only get better and attrack more racers and spectators each year.

Saturday started at Midtown Alley. It was hot and humid...very reminscent of last week in Tulsa. And, my heart rate reacted to the heat the same way it did the weekend before. I was running fast! I jumped on a trainer for the warm up and did about an hour warm up. I didn't feel like I was doing hard efforts, but my heart rate was running really high. I didn't pre ride the course because of the timing of our race, but wasn't worried about it because it was a basic rectangle, four-corner crit. The the north and south borders were long straight aways, the east and west were one block long. The backside was a gradual downhill with the start finish being a gradual up hill.

Fourteen Cat 3/4 women pulled to the line. I knew, or knew of, most of them. We got the pre race instructions and were off. Vanessa immediately began pushing our pace. She is known for her strong, relentless attacks and Saturday was no different. We were several laps in, staying together as a field, when she launched another attack on the east side, we went through the corner after her and she pulled off--broken spoke. Another lap or two and they rang the bell for a prime. That's always what I like to hear! I watched my pack position through the course. We made turn four and I started my move. This was such a long straightaway, I knew my timing was critical. I decided to go at the barricades and made my move. It was a good decision, an easy prime.
Crossing the line for the prime. *Photo credit: Paul Pate
I knew I didn't have it in me with the heat & humidity to stay away so I sat up and tried to get back in. Nobody was budging. I sat on front for about three quarters of a lap, in the wind. I finally eased back in when another attack went off. We hit the start/finish and got four to go. I looked at my data and was running a 192 heart rate--I felt really taxed. I stayed on with the group until we hit corner four. They got a small gap on me then. For the next two laps, Ashley and I worked to get back on, trying to catch Kate and another rider off the back. I was spent and knew it. I finally was able to jump back on in turn three of the last lap. We made turn four and the sprint started way early. I didn't have it in me to give. I didn't sit up, but I couldn't give as much as I would have liked. Ninth place for me. It was disheartening because I know I'm stronger. I didn't give as much for the prime as I have in other races, but just couldn't hold the race together.

I hung out and watched the other races and got to enter my kids in their first race. They were both excited as they pulled to the line. Callie had another little boy in her heat. He was about an inch shorter than she is, but was already riding without training wheels and boy could he move! She finished 2nd but and got to bring home a teddy bear. Andy's group was next up. He had a few more in his group and cruised to an easy 3rd place finish to bring home a bear as well. They were all smiles afterwards. The big win for me was that Callie said to wanted to race again (Andy did as well) on Sunday. I may get the little diva to be an athlete after all!

I headed to the street sprints Saturday night. It was nothin' but ugly. I lined up and was in the second heat. Carrie Cash, pro rider, another cat 1 rider and the winner of my earlier race were in my heat as well as another girl. Top three were to advance. We got the signal and were off. I was geared wrong off the line. I made up a significant amount of ground on the Cat 1 rider, but ended up fourth and didn't move on. That just added to my frustration about my results on Saturday afternoon. The crabby bug had bit me in the butt!

Sunday morning I was in a foul mood. I was still mad at myself over Saturday's results. I was contemplating forgoing the race and just doing the 80 mile ride with the group. Instead, we got packed up and headed over to the course. It was a three mile, 13 corner circuit race. I got to watch my friend Eric celebrate his 40th with running the 5K--he won his age group. Also, I wanted to preride it before the other races went off. I made a quick lap and made some note of some tight corners. The course would be interesting.

I hit the trainer area and got set up. Sunday's races were over an hour late getting started, so I went easy and got off the bike a few times during warm ups. I made sure to do some hard efforts on the trainer because, like last Sunday in Tulsa, my heart rate was way low. I jumped back on the course with a few laps to go in the master's race. I rode it with Teresa and Courtney and we discussed our strategies. Today was Teresa's "A race" so we talked about how to support her. We made it back around and watched the finish of the race and got on course. I pulled right up to the line and took my place. We had 16 women in our field today.

The whistle blew and I struggled to get in my pedals. UGH! Turn 2 and the first attack was launched by Vanessa. We reacted and brought her back, but it set the tone for the whole race. Attack after attack was launched. Two laps in, another Proctor girl lauched an attack between turns 11 and 12. She had a little gap and bombed into corner twelve. The corners were tight and close and she hit a rough patch and grabbed a handful of front brake. Can you say endo?
Proctor girl hitting the deck. Never grab a handful of front brake! Photo credit: Paul Pate
Video of the crash. *Credit to John Musselman
I think everyone made else made it through ok, but we definitely raced more heads up for the last three laps. The attacks and responses continued to come with no one getting anywhere. It was all about riding heads up and placement for the last lap. We got the bell and began our last trip around the course. Around turn nine, Vanessa faked an attack and sat up. The pack responded and sat up when she did. There goes Tara. I had warned our Cat 3 racers about her--that she would try to go from the front. The Hub girls responded and worked to pull her back. I was worried about going that hot into turns 12 and 13 but she got reeled in just prior to them. We hit the last turn and onto the finish straight. Time to sprint. While Saturday night's sprints didn't turn out for me, I at least had that knowledge about what the sprint was like. I stood up and went with the girls. I'm not sure who the two were immediately in front of me, but I made short work of passing them. Allison had a bike length on me and I still had life in my legs. I had no idea how much gear I had left--I had been spinning up and adding gear like crazy. Please, please, please let me have more. Click--there it was! I pulled along side and then ahead. Yes! I was on Teresa's wheel with 10 yards to go. I probably couldn't have caught her and didn't want to try. This was her race. She took third, I took fourth. I felt great and still could have given more.
Heading through the finishing straight.
The new kits look great from behind too!
*Photo credit: Paul Pate
The rest of the day was spent hanging out and guarding my corner! It was a great vantage point for the pro Women's and Men's races. Of course, epic is the theme of my life and the end of the Pro Men's race was just that. With eight laps to go, a thunderstorm moved in and the rain came. We got soaked to the bone! The officials made a wise move to shorten the race and called one lap to go. In the midst of that last lap, some how four cars got on the course and one of them stalled. It was mayhem getting them off, including pushing the van, but everyone came through safely.

Great racing, great accompanying events, excellent venue--it can only continue to get better!

Friday, June 11, 2010

And They Lived Happily Ever After

I've been thinking a lot about relationships. Several people close to me have been struggling and as I listen and try to coach them, it's caused me to reflect on my belief system. What is happily ever after? Why do some relationships make it and others fail?

I'm a mixture of an idealist and realist. I grew up believing in the fairy tale and happily ever after. Juxtapose that against my real life and parent who didn't get along. There were many times I wished they would divorce so life would be simpler. Sprinkle those pieces with my mother who filled my head that successful=married. I know, I'm a psychologist’s cash cow with all my issues! I won't turn this into a biographical essay regarding my relationship mistakes, but I do need to process my thoughts on how it all fits together.

Relationships are hard work. Fairy tales always end with the kiss or the wedding and the "and they lived happily ever after" line. Really? How did Snow White react when her prince was supposed to be home before 3 and got there at 4:45? What did she do when he repeatedly left dirty dishes in the sink? What Prince Charming did think when Cinderella worked late three times last week? And then fell asleep on the couch and didn't want to have sex? The rush you feel at the beginning of the relationship fades quickly and it takes hard work, flexibility, compassion and out and out desire for a relationship to last--from both of you. One person can't keep it going.

I've also learned that I would rather be happy and alone than miserable and with someone. Even though I can now say my parents were right about many things, my mother was dead wrong on her thoughts on marriage and men. I don't need a man in my life to have a great ring on my finger. I'll buy the damn 2 carat diamond of my dreams myself. Heck, K was too poor when we got engaged to even get anything close to the bling I wanted. And now if I'm getting a piece of carbon, screw the diamond. I want a fabulous frame or component. I alone am responsible for my happiness. I cannot control someone else. But I can control someone's role in my life. And if that person being in my life makes me unhappy, he needs to go. I have been very clear, maybe even a little brutal--he is in my life because I want him there, not because I need him. For me, it makes both of us work harder at being a good partner. Because if that want ever goes, I will pack his bags--been down that road once already.

It is at the core of my person that your partner be in your life because of want, not need. (Neediness is unattractive to me.) But, the realist in me comes out when I say that it is impossible and unfair to expect your partner to be your everything. No matter how much you love someone, are in love with someone, he or she cannot fulfill every need you have. The trick is how to get those needs fulfilled and that, to me, is how many relationships get in trouble. A friend of mine recently said, "There is nothing wrong with whetting your appetite somewhere else, as long as you come home to have dinner." To me that is a great metaphor. You may have a girlfriend with whom you dish about the latest gossip. You may have a co-worker who shares your love for sushi or great coffee. You may have a guy on your weekly group ride with whom you flirt shamelessly. That's all ok. And I know there are folks out there who seek other outside fulfillment and still can manage to have something left for whoever is at home. (I'm inclined to reserve judgments). My point is, if you want to have a long lasting relationship, celebrate a 50 year anniversary, you have to take the blinders off and take care of yourself. Someone who is unhappy with herself can never be truly happy in a relationship.

I can respect that people will disagree with me. I do wish fairy tales were true. But the realist in me knows that if I want glass slippers, I better be searching out that perfect pair of Manolo's or Jimmy Choo's and be prepared to lay down my own platinum card. We each have to live our own truths, as colored by our own experiences. And more than that, we each have to be able to sleep at night, knowing what we know.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Living on Tulsa Time

You put a bunch of Rev girls on a group ride and usually something epic will happen. At the very least, we walk away with a good phrase or let us road trip to Tulsa to race and watch out--it's the making of a great comedy!

Our actual drive to Tulsa was pretty calm and uneventful. Steph won the Oklahoma State Line Sprint and promptly got to pay the prime at the toll booth. Funny, I didn't think that's how primes worked. We got closer in to the city and I was navigating. Let's just say I need to work on my timing. A quick dash across three lanes, 5 eff bombs by Steph, and me being called a Klucker effer (by Steph again) later and we found the hotel. We got unloaded our stuff and headed out to the Blue Dome Crit. BTW, Steph really enjoys company in the revolving door if anyone happens to get a chance.
We found the race course, parked and headed over. The Blue Dome Crit is an eightcorner course, sorta a figure 8, with 90-degree corners. We got there in time to watch the Men's 3 race and cheer on the Hub riders and Big Shark's Jonathan Shilling. The guys did great. Next up was the Pro 1/2 Women. I was so in awe of the ladies out there. They took the course at top speeds, nativating through the corners so easily. Carrie Cash was dubbed "Queen of Primes" walking away with some fat money. We met up with Allison, Courtney, and Jessi while we were down there. After the race we headed to McNellie's for dinner and refreshment. Apparently Tulsa had an avocado shortage because none of our dinners came with the avocados promised. C'est la vie--still good food.
Alice & I enjoying are cold beverages. *Photo cred: Steph Nadeau

We watched the end of the Men's Pro Race after dinner while walking the course. AMAZINGLY high speeds. We headed back to the hotel for bed.

The next morning started with coffee and breakfast. I know we looked a sight in the hotel dining room, chowing down on oatmeal and fruit, still in our jammies. Teresa and Jamie came down and we got course pointers from them. We got back up to the room and slowly got dressed. We knew it was going to be a hot one with heat indices of 101 predicted. I got a text from T to come down to Cat 3 central to talk strategy. Uh-oh!

So here was the plan. I was the sacrificial lamb. I would attack from a good position about four laps in, once everyone had calmed down. They said after turn two or three would be best. I would stay off as long as possible. Once caught (cause we all knew I would get caught) I would sit in and stay in good position. Jamie would then attack a couple of laps later and T would go with her. I would move up and hold back the pack (yep, little ole' me hold back 50 other girls!) and would go after anyone else who tried to chase them down. In hindsight I must, who the hell were we kidding!!!

Back in the room, I shared the strategy and we finished getting ready. The Hedge and I headed downstairs. Let me just say, Saturday in Tulsa was hot with a side dish of humid. I was dripping wet when we hit the course.

The course was a six corner L-shape with two small hills/false flats. The headwind would hit you in the face on the downhill between turns five and six. We rode over to course and started to look for roads for a warm-up. CycleOps had open trainers at start/finish so we jumped on those and got a good hour in for warm up while watching the men's races. We about 10 minutes before our scheduled start time, I hopped down and got women trying to get on there. I ended up with a rear starting position. Pre-race instructions and a whistle--lots of girls struggled getting clicked in their pedals. Since I was in the very back, I had to weave through them. This was not part of our plan. I stayed calm and started working my way through the crown. I picked off racers in front of me one-by-one. I felt like I was playing frogger on the bike. On the back downhill I was finally where I wanted to be. I planned to sit there until after turn three and then go like hell on the false flat. Turn 6 changed that. I heard it, then saw it. Carbon carnage everywhere. It was my first time with a crit crash and I was right behind. I stuck to Teresa's wheel and went right. I was almost too wide and went into the curb, but I made it through upright and without clicking out. I wasn't geared well and couldn't jump back on with the girls who were ahead of the crash. Time to start picking them off again. The first was the girl in the brown kit. I got on her wheel and others joined us. Within two laps of the crash, I think we had 6-8 women in a small group. Alice was with me, but I didn't see Steph. I knew Teresa was ahead and saw Jamie heading to the pit. I wasn't sure wher Allison was. I started to organize us to chase back on, but the girls in the green kits got smart enough to realize that had two girls in the lead group and refused to work--can't blame them. We did our best to work around them, but we it didn't help we had one girl who just wanted to go on her own several time. Disorganization reigned. And I got a bit annoyed as well when I saw the girls who may or may not have gone down behind me get put on the back of the lead group as I was working my butt off. I know that's the free lap rule, but it sucks when it works against you. It was time to make the best of my situation, ride smart and finish strong. There were still plenty of opportunities to learn. With five laps to go, our chase group got a prime. I thought, Ok, this is mine. Smart racing. I took 2nd wheel and sat in. Let the others work for me. The girls in green want to control our pace, let them. On the down hill, the girl in black went wide and tried to go for it. No way, I grabbed her wheel and let her lead me out around the corner. Where was a good spot to go? How long could I hold a sprint? About 250meters I stood up and added gears. I couldn't see her in my peripheal vision, but I wasn't going to let up. That sprint felt like it went for ever and my legs were crying. I crossed the line and heard Towle said it was close but 145 took it--yeah, baby! Our momentum through the sprint let us catch some girls who had dropped from the lead pack. We had a larger group now. We finished that lap and got neutralized. The main field went by us after turn to and crashed as they tried to pass. It was behind me, so I was clear of this one. I momentarily thought about trying to jump on with them, but no one else made a move, so I stayed put. We got our bell lap and I knew positioning would be key. Even though I was out of it, it was another opportunity to work on my sprint. No one tried to go this time. We rounded the corner and I hit the sprint in the same spot as before. I took this one with what felt like a comfortable gap. The scoring ended up screwed up, but even with that I wouldn't have been top 15 for money.

After the race, we headed to Sunday's venue and pre-rode the course to get a good view of Crybaby Hill and the sharp right. To me Crybaby Hill is like Carl Street in my neighborhood plus about 50 feet. The little turn and continued uphill wasn't fun, but it was do-able. Still, I kept la, la, la-ing the La Quinta theme when Steph would try to tell me the grade.

Back at the hotel we showered and decided on Mexican for dinner. We text Courtney and she joined us. We headed back over to Brady Art District. We got acosted by our rude waiter before we even sat down. He didn't like how we walked to the table and told Steph to move it. Then we practically had to beg him to take our drink order. Finally, Steph headed in to find someone else to wait on us and Courtney let our waiter know his services weren't needed when he came to take our order. A little sangria and lots of good food later, we met up with the other girls.
Spectators Extraordinaire: Alice, Me, T, Steph, Jamie, Courtney, & Allison *Photo cred: Courtney Green

We got the opportunity to watch the Pro Women tackle our course. It seems the corners gave them as much trouble as it did the Women's 3/4. It was a great race to watch and to see tactic and strategy unfold. After the race we walked over to the Trek tent and oogled pretty bikes. We also happened to stumble upon the Pride Parade on the next block. Queen, roller derby girls, and lots of candy! We had a blast. But Steph's sweet tooth was aching for ice cream so thus began our next adventure.
We asked folks on the street about somewhere to get ice cream. After a few moments of thinking they recommended the Nantucket Creamery and gave great directions. We ended up in a neighborhood with a great rich kid park and found ourselves at a posh outdoor shopping mall. Steph's and my phones both showed we were on top of this place but we couldn't find it and we were on a deadline. Their website said they closed at nine and it was 8:46. Finally after asking a few folks, we found this cute little ice cream place tucked away. It was worth effort.

The trip back was a hoot. Alice was driving and apparently is able to change red lights at will. As Steph's yelling red, red, red and the car showing no apparent signs of stopping, the light turns green. It was then that Alice realized what Steph was saying and we stopped. I laughed so hard I threw my head back. Ooops! Phil is right about needing those headrests in the back seat.
Sunday morning came with a gentle wake up from Steph. We'd all missed our alarms but only by a few minutes. We headed downstairs to the coffee shop and had breakfast in bed or on the floor or whereever there was a vacant spot in the room. I had decided to be the stinky kid on Sunday and wear the same kit (in all fairness I washed it out in the shower) because I love our new kits. While I was as calm as could be pre-race Saturday, I was torn up on Sunday. I kicked back on the bed and tried a little savasana as Alice and Steph finished getting ready. The time was finally upon us and we headed out.
Pre-race yoga--helmets are a must for safety! *Photo cred: Steph Nadeau
Sunday's course was a four corner crit. The start finish was along the river. An easy right turn to Crybaby Hill with turn two leading to a little more ascent. On the backside after the short climb, there was a roller with a big ring hill, right turn into a screaming descent and a sharp right back onto the start/finish. We rode over to the course, pre rode it again. The descent seemed more scary with the rodes closed. We rode over to the CycleOps tent and they were still setting up so we rode up the trail & back & came back & got on a trainer. I spun on the trainer for about an hour did two hard efforts. In hindsight I should have done more. I got off the trainer with 10 minutes to go before our race. This time I chose a better spot to get on the course. I sucked down the Gu and waited. They opened the course to us and I rolled up. This time I was sitting 3rd wheel for the start. I decided to start in my small ring because the hill was so eminent. We got prerace instructions and the whistle. It was a fast start and I lost ground in the small ring. The hill was there right away. I got out of the saddle, not because I had to, but more because of the mental factor. I was fighting to stay on when we hit the backside. Time to play frogger again. Grab a wheel, breath and go. I heard Carrie yelling at me on the down hill that to stay in and work hard. Three or four laps in they called the first prime. I moved through the pack trying to get through the front and couldn't make a hole. We hit the descent and turn with some faint of heart girls breaking hard and we started to split. I was off the pack. Alice was with me and we started working together. I had been out of the saddle for the climbs up until this lap and decided to try it seated. Felt good but it wasn't crowd pleasing--I think I should have been doing it seated all along. With 10 to go they called the QOM prime but we were way outta contension. With nine to go, we caught a Tulsa Tough girl on the top of the climb. I asked if she wanted to join our party and she said she was fading. I hopped into the big ring and did the descent and second hill and the big drop. I looked and Alice and girl were off my I wait or go? I decided to go. With seven to go I thought I was going to be pulled. I looked at the chief official and shook my head no. I'd come this far I wanted to finished. It actually energized me and the hill felt easier that time. Around and down and around and I saw the official in the middle of the road. I knew what that meant. I sheepishly tried to shake him off again but got the signal. My day was done. Disappointing, but fair. They'd pulled men in the 5's race and had pulled other women already. I felt my Facebook status said it all, "Got drowned in the Riverside Crit. This little tiger shark bit off more than she could chew."

We watched the end of the race, with Jamie taking the QOM prime and finishing 5th. After seeing the results it was back to the hotel to shower and pack. That process actually went smoother than expected. We found a nice restaurant on the way out of town, grabbed some ice coffee and headed east. This drive was calm and easy with no eff bombs. We shared the driving, Facebook and Twitter posts and lots of silliness and laughs as we recounted our adventure. And maybe did a little pre-planning for Tour of KC.

All-in-all in was a great experience to race with large fields. It was good preparation for the upcoming Grove races. I successfully navigated a crash, took a prime and learned lots about moving up in the field.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Live As Well As You Dare!

If you were lying on your deathbed, what would you regret most not having done? Have you ever thought about it? Two summers ago, I gave it some thought. I was in a quite different place in my life. Personally and professionally I was a HOT MESS. Not that I don’t have moments I’m a hot mess now, but then it was ugly. For someone who admittedly has control issues, there were many things that were out of my hands and I was making poor decisions to compensate for them. I knew I needed to do something to restore a semblance of sanity and order to my life; I needed to think about what I really wanted for myself. As trite as it is, I had the line from Life’s Little Instruction Book in my head “Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” So I created a bucket list.

What 100 things did I want to do before I died? Now, to be honest, I haven’t gotten 100 things on my list as of yet. I want 100 things on it, because I’m an overachiever. I don’t want to have 10 and get them done and wonder what else. And to be perfectly honest, I have to tell you that I haven’t revisited my list since I crafted it almost two years ago. I think the visualization and self-reflection it took to start the list made it possible for me to set myself on a positive tract. A conversation last night got me thinking about it again…what all had I put on it? Were those things still important to me? What else might I had now?

So this morning I pulled up my list and took a look and thought about it why I had originally included those things. I revised my list a little today, added a few, removed a few and strategized how to complete some of them.
  • Drive Route 66 in a convertible.
    I had a convertible for a while and loved every day I could put the top down. I drove it from St. Louis to Starved Rock State Park one weekend, top down the whole way (that’s a whole other story) but fell in love with the idea of driving it across the country. The drawback was that I was a poor teacher then, with friends who couldn’t take off two weeks in the summer to tackle my adventure. The romantic notion hasn’t left me. And when I hit California, I’ll drive the coast!
  • Go to Carnival in Rio.
    The splendor of Carnival has always been alluring. In my mind it’s like Mardi Gras with a little more class and Latin flair. I realize that could be a misperception, but I’m willing to head south of the border and check it out for myself.
  • Find my birth parents.
    This is one I’ve started and stopped a few times. It’s one that really scares me but something I need to do for many reasons. I know someday I will go after it full force. For now I know my leads are accurate. I just need to take the next step and be prepared to accept what I may find.
  • Ride a century.
    As much as I ride my bike, I have never ridden a century. I’ve hit 75-85 miles multiple times, but never done the full 100. It’s an important milestone for a cyclist. Maybe the MS150 in September will let me cross this one off my list.
  • Be a published author.
    As evidenced by the fact that I keep a blog, I like to write. Although my dissertation is copyrighted, I’ve never published any of my research. I did submit an article for publication early this spring, have not gotten the rejection letter, but also haven’t gotten the acceptance letter. I can tell you I won’t be writing the great American novel, but I’ve plugging away at this one.
  • Learn to swim.
    Even though I’m often referred to as a tri by my cyclist friends, I swim like a rock, or at least like a young child in the midst of his first set of swim lessons. I’m not afraid of the water, I just never had the opportunity as a child to really be in the water. Columbia didn’t have a public pool and we didn’t have the money to join the private one. I’ve signed up for adult lessons at the Y to have them cancelled and just need to fit private lessons in my schedule. I know once I do that though I’ll have the need to compete in triathlons. Then I have to embrace the run more. It’s just a big vicious cycle.
  • Take a plantation tour in New Orleans.
    I fell in love with NOLA in 1994. I’ve visited the city more times than I can count but have never done this. The splendor of the South and it’s larger-than-life living is alluring to me.
  • Watch a stage of the Tour de France.
    Here’s the cyclist in me again. I want to stand along the road in a mountain stage and cheer and get caught up in the festivities. Watching the ToM was phenomenal, but watching the TdF is what it’s all about.
  • Camp on a beach.
    I don’t care if it’s Hawaii, California, or in the Northeast. There is something about sleeping on a beach that calls to me. Maybe it’s the campfire and the sound of the ocean before bed. Maybe it’s watching the sunrise in the morning. Maybe it’s more the idea of spending the quiet, beautiful moments with someone and having that memory to share forever.
  • Dance at my children’s weddings.
    I think this is every parent’s dream. I want to watch my children grow into successful, happy adults. I want to share important moments in their lives. This one will just take time, patience, sleepless nights and tears of joy and sorrow along the way.

I won’t share my whole list—a girl has to hold a little something back now and then. If you’re brave you can ask me about some I didn’t include. Or if you’re really adventurous, maybe you can tackle a few with me.