Saturday, July 31, 2010

Race Report: MO State TT

The ride out to Jefferson City was great. We got there, picked up numbers and headed to the start finish. It was humid and a bit windy ~10-12mph, probably around 85 degrees with sunshine. Sam got the bikes ready while I pinned on my number and I headed out for a warm up. I came back to pull to the line and found out the start was delayed about 20 minutes. I grabbed an ice pack and stuck it in my skinsuit and headed out to continue spinning. Another 12 minutes on the warm up and I headed to the line.

As I moved up, I chatted with Larry. I pulled to the line and got my countdown--no holder. I got the whistle and took off. I clipped in and did a few more out of the saddle pedal strokes before settling in the bars. I concentrated on breathing and cadence. I was a few minutes in when I looked down to see where I was with those numbers and realized I hadn't started my computer. I hit my button and kept going.

The course was right at 40K. It was very flat with only a few small rises, probably not even at 1%. It was out and back in what I would consider a boomerang shape. The line of the road made the wind difficult. I would have a true head or tail wind only for a few minutes before it would change direction. I hit the 10K mark and felt good, but it seemed like a long 10K to me. About 16 minutes in, I was passed by the guy who started two minutes back. I kept my focus on my cadence and pedal stroke. I felt some lactic burn in my legs, but they felt good. Right before the turn around, my minute woman and teammate Amy passed me. I don't know if she was trying to let me draft or not, but she didn't speed by me. I sat in behind her for a few minutes and felt good enough to go around her again. Right before the turn, I began feeling my ribs and my elbow. The pain wasn't unbearable, but a dull ache. I hit the turn and heard Amy tell me to take it first. She was right behind me. She immediately passed me afterwards. I couldn't hold onto her this time. I saw Vince, who started three minutes behind me, was closing in on us. Within a mile, Vince passed me and was gaining on Amy as well. I kept them close until we got to the 30K mark. Also, sometime in there, the guy who started 10 minutes behind me passed me like I was sitting still.

I struggled with focus during the last quarter of the race. I couldn't get comfortable on my bike. I would move my arm to lessen the ache and would feel off. About two miles from the finish, I hit a wall of wind. It was pure headwind and I struggled to hold 20 mph. I talked myself through, repeating spin, not fight, spin, not fight. About 1000 meters out I could see the line and added gear. I kept spinning myself up and adding gear, when I knew I could hold it, I added more.

I can tell by soreness in my glutes that my form/pedal stroke was off. I assume that's a result of my injury. That being said, the woman who finished first was at 1:04--a tri on a one-day. This was the first Cat 4 TT this season I didn't win. I'm ok with how I did...always would like the win, but I gave it all I had today.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Aftermath

I hurt. I don’t like hurting. I can’t run, ride, move or breathe without being reminded of my crash. Showers are uncomfortable. Taking off a sports bra brings tears to my eyes. I cringe when my kids are on my right side because I’m afraid they’re going to bump the wrong area. I haven’t slept well in days because moving or rolling over wake me up because I jostle a sore spot.

I’ve tried to be proactive about my injuries. I diligently iced my hip 15 on/15 off during my drive home from Springfield. I stopped every hour and stretched as well. I spent more money than I won on good first aid supplies to protect my road rash. I’ve seen the world’s most wonderful chiropractor twice for adjustments, ART, kinesiotaping and muscle stimulation, but I still hurt.

I feel like a guy. I don’t like being injured and I don’t take it well. I don’t lay on the couch and whine, but I can’t sit on the sidelines either. And then I get crabby because I hurt or can’t perform as well as I think I should. My friends and family outside of the racing community don’t get it. They just tell me to rest. They don’t understand that my last seven months have been building for the two races coming up this weekend. I’m not going to be 100% for them. The best I can hope for is 80%. Is my 80% going to be enough to take against everyone else’s best form? I will be a Cat 3 racer next year, I will race hard, but I know my chances of taking a state race will be slim. This is my last best chance for a jersey.

I did power sprints this morning. The deep breaths weren’t as painful as I expected, but getting out of the saddle made me wince every time. I know the girls against whom I am competing, and as much as they care about me, they won’t take it easy on me and they shouldn’t. How will I react to the attacks? Can I stay on? Can I give the sprint I’ll need to give at the end? I don’t know if I can even support my weight in the aero position for the tt .

I believe there are a reason and a purpose for everything. I am trying to maintain a good perspective on this. I now know how I will react if I go down; I’ll get back up and race. I know my injuries could have been worse—the girl who hit me/ran over me has a broken wrist. I know this weekend I will give my all to my races and I will learn something about myself and my skills. I always do. And I know that even if I was healthy, I would be going up against tough competition and anything could happen.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It Was Bound to Happen Sooner or Later!

What a day! Let's start with the course...I loved it! It had seven corners, all 45 degrees, the pavement was beautiful, and there were some false flats but no real climbs. It was about 75 and overcast at race time. The second half of the course had wind to contend with, but not awful.

I got to the course, registered and did laps. Women's 4s was the first race, so I was able to do my warmup on the course. We pulled up to the line and had about seven in our field. A few triathletes, two other bike racers, and a few first time racers. We also had about 12! juniors in our race.

We got the go and the ABCycles girl took off. I had flashbacks of Carondelet and wasn't about to let that happen. I immediately went after her and by turn four was on her wheel. I hung on her wheel for the first three laps until she finally got tired pulling. (I was willing to let her go the whole race.) I took a pull, and waved Mandy (Tyson) around. I realized as I moved back, I realized there were only four of us by this point. We took turns pulling. At one point, the ABCycles girl tried an attack, I answered and held her wheel. We had about a half block gap when she sat up. I urged her to keep going, but she was spent. The others, with some lapped riders, jumped back on. We again took turns at pulls. It came down to 3 to go, then 2, then the last lap.

The ABCycles girl took off after turn five. I went after her and sat on her wheel until the final turn. I had figured out a good sprint point during my warm up so I knew where to start. I eased into my drops at turn six. We made turn seven and I was up and off. I added gears and spun up until I crossed the line. Win number two for me in the books! SA-WEET!

I went back to registration and got my Women's Open number. There was Aubree Dock from Tulsa Tough. She's a strong, strong three. I knew then the Open race was not going to be a walk in the park. I spun easily around the neighborhood and kept my legs warm. The 4/5 race ended and I jumped back on the course for a few laps. The clouds had cleared and the sun was out in full force by the time we pulled to the line.

Nine women lined up, beside Aubree, Pam Hinton, the women's open MO RR champ was there. Three other women from the 4's race was there and another girl, Megan, in her first race ever. We got the whistle and Pam went out hard. I went right after her. My legs felt great and I was ready to play! The first lap was fast. We got back to the start/finish and it calmed down. Pam, Aubree, and the girl in yellow were happy taking pulls. I made sure to sit 4th or 5th wheel so I would be ready to answer anything that went. About three laps in, Pam yelled at Megan because she was all over the place. Pam and Aubree gave a few more attacks, and I felt comfortable going after them each time. I took my turn pulling, but made sure not to work more than I needed to. 21 minutes in came the prime bell. I toyed with what I wanted to do. I decided to wait and see who jumped. Pam and the girl in the yellow went. I gave chase, but just enough to stay on their wheels and not be gapped. The girl in yellow took it. Aubree and Pam each launched another attack. They were quickly reeled in. We cruised past the start finish with 38 minutes on the card. I remember thinking, next time we'll get 4 to go.

Mandy was in front pulling at this point. I was sitting second wheel and our pace had slowed. I knew to expect something, I just didn't know when. We made turn seven and Pam went. From her earlier attack, she always took the far right. I glanced over my shoulder and saw her coming. The girl in yellow was hot on her wheel. I was up and out of my saddle, ready to go with them. Holly Guacamole! Mandy wasn't going and there was her wheel. I moved right but still grazed it. We were on the cobble strip and I felt my back wheel go. KABOOM! Helmet meets cobbles, right side meets pavement. I heard skidding behind me and felt someone ride over me. It was Megan and down she went! I jumped up and tried to figure out whether to grab my bottles or bike first. Megan was face down and groaned. I wondered if she had broken a wrist or collarbone. My first thought was that I couldn't believe I had raced so hard and lost it so close to the sprint. Someone picked up my bike and I asked if it was ok. He said the chain was off. Somehow that caused me to think what Larry told us at the start, up until 4 to go, we got our free lap. We hadn't crossed the line with four to go when I crashed. I got a free lap!

I told the guy, "Give me my bike, I wanna race." I started fussing with it to get the chain on and I heard Richard ask me if I was ok. "I just wanna race." He told me ok and took my bike. I grabbed my bottles from someone. Larry was running down telling them to get me to the pit. Richard told me go and I ran 50 or so yards and went in the pit. Megan followed. The pace car came around and I saw the pack. We were warned to jump on the back. Someone gave me a push and I jumped on the back of the group. The crowd went nuts cheering. There were three to go and I immediately worked to get in a good spot. Somewhere on the lap I heard "Hey Big Shark, glad you're back." We got the bell and I was calm and ready. I was sitting sixth wheel and knew the sprint would be hard. The pace of the lap was fast. In no time we were on the finishing straight. Let's see how bad I was hurt. I was out of the saddle and sprinting with all I had. I ran out of gear and kept going. I knew I had 5th, but tried to take 4th from Pam. I came within a wheel of getting it!

I took a cool down laps and found the medics and let them clean me up. The sum of the damage is as follows: quarter size abrasion on my right knee, some good scrapes on my right forearm, a softball size lump on my right hip, pain on the right side of my rib cage when I take a deep breath. I know my run will be slow and laborious tomorrow. Hopefully, with some TLC, tape, and stim from Dr. Matt, the ride tomorrow afternoon won't hurt.

Roxi looks good. She'll need new bar tape. There's a scuff on my seat. Gotta love a ti titan! I think my helmet survived too. No holes in the kit...most of the road dirt came out in the wash, but there are a few marks there to remind me.

Crashes happen. They suck! If you're going to ride or race hard, you're going to meet the pavement at some point. If you never do, you're not going hard enough!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Race Report: Living the High Life on the Highroad

I usually do a lot of research for races when I'm not familiar with the course. I typically plot them on and make myself post-it notes of what to expect and study it for a week prior to the race. I'm pretty happy I didn't on this one. Because, if I had, I probably wouldn't have raced today. Now, I knew I was getting into a hilly time trial. I knew this was the course the pros had used twice in the Tour of Missouri. And I knew there was at least one climb where I would probably need to come out of my aerobars. I had no idea how long and big thes climbs would be though.

It was a long drive down to the course and that gave me plenty of time to hydrate. I have to disclose that I did have a slight detour on one of my nature breaks. I thought I was turning on the road that led to the gas station, instead I was turning onto 44, heading back to StL. Oops! Other than that, my trip was calm.

I turned off of 65 and realized that I was actually driving in on the second half of the course. I was immediately intimidated. The hills were incredibly long. I got down to the end of the highway and parked. I was still trying to decide which bike I would ride. I was worried about riding the 11/23 on the TT bike and I had my road bike with the 12/27 on it. I decided to warm up on the course on my TT bike and see if I could handle the hills on it. On my way back from registration, I met the promoter and he advised the TT bike. He also told me to ride about the first four miles of the course and then come back. He said I would hit the biggest hill that way. He neglected to say the one immediate prior to that was only a slight bit shorter. Again, in this case ignorance was better.

The warm up went well, but I realized the second half was going to hurt. There was a diagnol wind, that coupled with the hills, had me crawling in some places and feeling unstable in my aeros on some of the downhills. I got back and continued to spin around to keep my legs warm. I put ice in my bra and and ice pack at my lower back and headed up to the start/finish. Larry called me up (I was the first on the course) and gave me a countdown. Just as I was taking off, the starting tent started to collapse! I ducked and pedalled and took off. The first down hill was less than a hundred yards. This is the first time I ever have been able to get this bike into the 54/12 and maintain a +90 cadence. I think I hit 44-46 on that first descent. The first climb was small. I was on the second longer climb when I was passed for the first time. It wasn't long after that I got passed again. This climb went on forever. It never got really steep, maybe 4-7% at the most, but it was long. There was a steep long descent and then another long climb to the turn around.

I made the turn and had a great descent. I was passed the third time there. The climbs on the way back were much harder. I found myself struggling to maintain a 50 cadence. I was able to stay in the aerobars on the descents, but had to sit up for the climbs. The last two climbs I had to alternate sitting and standing to climb to keep forward momentum. The final climb was about a mile long. I was glad I had pre-ridden it because it gave me a great psychological advantage when I was tired. I knew how much longer I had to go and could gauge how much I had left to give.

I did some light spinning for a little bit after the race and continued to hydrate. There were only three women racing today; no one in the Open race (yes, I tried to race it but they told me only 1/2/3). I finished about 4-5 minutes ahead of the woman in second and about 22 minutes in front of third place. It was a physically hard win, but a race I really enjoyed in spite of it. I'm glad I made the trip and hope tomorrow's crit goes as well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Race Report: Centaur TT

I got out to the Chesterifeld bottoms and got my number and chip. I went back to the car to pin on and get the bike ready and guess I spent a little too much time kitbitzing because all of a sudden it was 25 minutes to my race time. I headed out for a warm up and made sure I got my heart rate a bit agitated before heading to the line. There was a ghost rider in front of me, so I chatted with Aero. I really think he would have talked me up past my start time if I hadn't asked about a holder. It was like a light came on and he realized I had to race. I rolled up to the actual line and the holder grabbed me with 30 seconds to go. I clipped in and back pedaled to get a good start position and my chain dropped. I stayed calm, hopped off and got it back on. 10 seconds to go. I couldn't get my left foot back in my pedal. Come on, come on, come on. Buddy started counting me down from 10. I got the go sign and took off. I fumbled, fumbled, fumbled to get in my pedal. I rolled off the start mat and tried to take off without being clicked in. Finally I felt it lock. I imagine my mistake cost me about 8-10 seconds, though it felt so much longer. I stood up and gave it all I could. I got my speed up and dropped in to my bars. My heart rate was over 170 at that point. With some self-talk and controlled breathing, I got it down to about 168. I felt comfortable in my gear and got settled in on the bike.

I rolled down the straight away and into the trees. The railroad tracks would be coming up soon. I knew from last year that the railroad tracks should be covered. I hit them doing about 22mph and heard a clunk and hit something. There went my water bottle. The mat wasn't as plush as last year. I kept going, debating if I should tell a volunteer, but didn't know how to yell it out for them to understand me in such a quick pass. I made the short turn/jog in the road and prepared for the small risers. The course appears to be flat, but in actuality, it climbs oh-so-gradually. I concentrated on my cadence and focused on breathing through the lactic build up. When I started seeing the racers who started in front of me coming back, it gave me a mental boost.

I got passed about 14 minutes into the race, just before the 500 meters to turn sign. I made the turn easily, stood up, added gear and took off. It was nice to have the gradual downhill and tailwind. At some point I was rolling between 27 and 28 mph. I was about 8 miles in when a dump truck turned in front of me. There was a recreational rider in front of him and I assume the narrow roads made him too skiddish to pass her. I knew I was closing in on him and would have to cross the yellow line to pass. As I got up on him, I made sure it was clear and turned it on as fast as I could to get by. I used that momentum to keep myself going. I went around the jog in the road and headed to the tracks. Yep, my bottle was still there in the middle of the road. (This is the 4th race this year where I've dropped a bottle out of the cage...first time on the tt bike). After the tracks, I added gear. I felt good and wanted to finish strong. At the 1000, 500, and 250 meter mark, I added gear. My finish was strong, although I'm not quite sure which line was the finish.

I had hoped to break 30 minutes on this race, but realized after seeing everyone else's time that may have been an unrealistic goal. Overall, I'm pleased with the results, the improvement and the recovery from the fumbled start. I was over two minutes quicker than last year and six places higher.

Photos are at: #5, #23, #29, #41, #116(the ones with my skinsuit unzipped are when I was retrieving the wayward bottle!)