Monday, July 25, 2011

Race Report: The Great Egyptian Omnium

It’s been since May that I had a full weekend of racing, and these events were looking to be tough ones.  I had no idea what our fields would be, just that pre-registration numbers were small.  Steph decided to road trip with me to Southern Illinois.  The road race and time trial would be in Creal Springs, and the criterium would be between Marion and Carbondale.  My plan for the event was to survive the road race, win the time trial, and hold my own in the crit.

We drove to the races on Saturday morning and made great time. It was 88 and humid at race time, and our field was small—only four women, Steph, Jamie, Trish, a cat 1 from CA and me. We had two 20 mile laps. The course was mostly rollers, chip & seal, with two bigger hills coming at mile 10.5 and 15 in the lap. We rolled out through the neutral zone and got to the "start" of the race. Jamie asked if we wanted to start a paceline. That went fine for a mile or so, but Trish started ramping up the pace. The pulls at the front were so short that there was really no recovery time. Several times she (Trish) just jumped in front of Steph to take her pull. About mile four Steph fell off our group. I held with Jamie and Trish until about 8.8 miles. My heart rate was in the low 180s and wasn't coming down. I hated making the decision, but I knew I couldn't stay at that pace for 40 miles and wanted to make sure I still had energy for the tt and crit. The rest of the race was uneventful for me. I enjoyed the ride, worked on form on the hills and make sure I finished in under 2.5 hours. It ended up that Jamie was able to drop Trish at mile 30 and take the win. I took 3rd.
Lap 1, Climb 1 Photo credit:  Matt Golson

Another shot of the climb.  You've got to carry your own hydration when you don't have support in the feed zone.  *Photo credit:  Matt Golson.

Steph & I got some lunch and showered and went back for the time trial. My start time was 5:22PM and it was about 95 degrees. I went immediately behind the cat 5 men. There were only three of us for the tt in our category, but payout was for the top three women overall regardless of category. The tt course was 7.5 miles, rolling terrain, with a bigger hill at mile 2.5. The start was a slight uphill. I started in my large chain ring and 23 in the back. I immediately adjusted my gearing into the small ring so I could climb the first small hill. I love my time trial bike, but she’s definitely a flat land set up.  I went back to my big ring for the screaming downhill. About four minutes in I passed my minute man.  I don’t think he was in “race mode” because he started cheering for me.  I dropped back into the small ring for the climb at mile 2.5. With the gearing on the tt bike, it was an out of the saddle climb. I settled back in and stayed in the small ring until I turned on the highway for the last three miles. (The tt finished on the same stretch as the road race). I could see two riders in front of me on that stretch and set out to catch them. I dropped back in my small ring for the climb at mile six and passed both boys on the way to the top. I finished in 21:40ish, first for the 1/2/3 women, second overall--Master's women finished in 20 something. I can honestly say I gave the time trial everything I had left.

On Sunday, the weather really took its toll on me. I don't know if it was the afternoon start time or higher humidity, but it was miserable. The course was beautiful--five sweeping corners, slight downhills, with one small uphill to the finish, smooth concrete. The four of from the road race were the four in the crit. We got lined up and took off. The first two laps were calm and uneventful with Jamie, Trish and I taking pulls at the front. As we started the third lap we got the prime bell. It was for a Specialized saddle, what I ride, and I wanted it. I positioned myself well through the last corner, moving past Jamie and kept pace as Trish ramped up the pace. She got up to sprint and so did I. We were going up the small hill and she started coming over on me squeezing me out. In the moment I decided it wasn't worth it and I hesitated. I lost momentum and she and Jamie got off. With turning into the wind on the backside of the course, I couldn't get back to them. I sat up and let Steph get on my wheel. We took turns pulling through the rest of the course. At two to go, Jamie and Trish lapped us. I jumped with them and let them pull me around the last two laps. I stayed with them until the closing sprint, and let them have at it since it wouldn't affect me. Trish pulled away from Jamie without a problem. I have to say I've been kicking myself for the decision to sit up in the prime sprint. I don't know if she would have kept coming over or not. I do know I was strong enough to have stayed with them had I not let up. I looked at my data post race and my numbers were not near my limits. I'm trying to chalk it up to a learning experience.

Results overall put me 2nd in the Omnium. The high note of the weekend for me was I found out my tt time was 15th overall for all racers

Monday, July 18, 2011

Race Report: Wheels Over Wildwood Omnium

Wildwood Centaur Time Trial
We had a great morning for the race. It was in the high 70s with some humidity and no wind. I was a little late getting to the venue so I didn't warm up as long as I would have liked, but I made sure to agitate my heart rate and legs. I went off 16th. Kate was two minutes in front of me and I had a guy who I knew was right before me. With the two of them in that position, it was doubtful I would be passing anyone.

My start went well and I got up to a great cadence. I added a gear but my legs immediately started screaming at me. It took me about a mile and a half until I felt like I got into a decent, sustainable rhythm. I was still working on settling in when I crossed the tracks--but I lined them up perfectly and took a great line around the corner. As the lactic kept building, I kept reminding myself that the course was essentially a false flat the whole way out. I turned the second corner getting ready to head into the straight, open section of the course and there stood a deer in my lane. I yelled “move!” and he ran. I kept going and was elated when I finally saw the 500m to turn sign. I had a clean turn, a little slower than optimal but okay and took off again. I had few friends at the turn and their cheering was definitely a morale booster. I was able to put gears on right away on the way back. I was about halfway through the open section when a truck with a horse trailer pulled out in front of me. He started to pull away but slowed down, then a truck passed me and pulled right up on him. I was worried for a bit that they would slow down and I wouldn't be able to pass them both. They finally were able to pull out of sight. I have to say the thought of motor pacing did cross my mind. I was much smoother through the turns on the way back in, not even needing to get up from my bars. I had looked up my 2009 and 2010 results and had set a goal of 31:00 for the day. As I crossed the tracks and hit the one mile to go sign I knew that goal was attainable. I put myself harder at the 1000 and 500m signs and kept the pace until I crossed the line at 29:44. I ended up in third for the day. I always want the win, but I'm happy with exceeding my goal. Maureen Conley took 1st place setting a new women’s course record with 28:40 and Liz Heller was 2nd with 29:03.
Babler Extreme Circuit Race
I made sure I wasn't running late for this one. I got to the venue almost two hours before our start time. It was already starting to get miserably hot, about 88 and humid at 11AM. I had brought my trainer, but then decided to warm up on the road with Gina. We climbed Babler Beast and spun around through several other roads in the park. We headed back down the race area with about 30 minutes left to start time. We met up with Amy and talked strategy. That basically amounted to not blowing up in the first couple laps on the climb. I took my wheels to the truck and spun around in the parking lot to keep my legs warm until race time.

The course at Babler is a four mile loop. It starts at the bottom of the park. There is a small little bump and brief down before you really start to climb. The toughest part of the climb starts right after, it's about .6mi climb that pitches up short (100 feet) flat and pitches up again. After that you continue climbing rollers for a little less than a mile. You turn a corner to a screaming downhill that gently sweeps right. There are a few small rollers on the descent section, but the momentum from the downhill carries you through till you hit bottom and start all over again.

There were six of us in the race; five of us for Omnium places. I was sitting in first at the beginning with Shari and Jamie right behind me. I had done some quick math and knew I had to stay in front of Shari to place in the Omnium and not let Jaime finish more than one ahead of me. I wasn't sure where Gina and Ashley were in the standings.  

We started the race and quickly hit the climb. It was tough, but we all stayed together. I moved to the front about halfway through because they were simply climbing too slow for me to be comfortable. We got the rollers the group reformed around me. We turned the corner for the downhill and I had to fight to stay on. While my compact was a benefit for the climb, it combined with my weight made descending difficult. We were together as a group at the start/finish. We began climbing again. I saw Jaime getting ready and she took off halfway through the climb. Ashley went after her. I was blocked by Shari and Gina and don't know if I could have really given decent chase. Shari and Gina both got a gap on me at that point. I focused myself on my climbing and breathing and soon caught Shari. We moved up and got on with Gina. Amy was still off the back. We crested and began to descend. This time I decided to take a jump on the sweeping section because I had heard Shari breaking the previous lap. I was able to gain a lead on them which helped me stay up with them later. Ashley and Jaime were out of sight at this point. Amy rejoined our group on the downhill.  

As we passed the start/finish they announced they had cut a lap from our race, we were getting three to go on the cards. I knew I need to get rid of Shari at this point. We hit the difficult section of the climb and I grabbed my top bar and concentrated on cadence. I moved out of the line of the rest of the group and put some distance between us. I could briefly see Jaime and Ashley but wasn't able to jump across that gap. I again jumped back in my big ring for the rollers, and worked on finishing up the climb. Gina caught me in the rollers, bringing Shari with her. I jumped on the descent again working to get as far ahead as possible. Gina right with me through the start/finish and we had a small gap on Shari on the beginning of lap four. I focused on my cadence, positioning and breathing again. I also decided that I would stay in the small ring for this whole side of the course. I do better with spinning and gearing that way. I easily pulled away from the group. I could hear someone behind me on the rollers and saw that Gina was making ground, Amy was behind her and Shari was no where in sight. Amy yelled for us to wait. She came up and said Shari was way off the back and offered to pull us the rest of the way up the hill. I sat on her wheel. We finished the climb and went through the descent together. Mathematically the way it looked, if I finished third, I had a chance of winning the Omnium. I would need Ashley to beat Jaime though. The only variable I didn't know was how many points Ashley had from Saturday. I shared my tactics with Amy and Gina and we agreed to finish together as a team, with me taking them place and paying them out for working for me. That being said, to climb in the rhythm I needed to, I put a large gap on the two of them and really had to sit up and wait for them. We came together at the top and began our descent. We hit the 1000M sign and Amy moved to the front. I took her wheel to the 250M mark and then jumped for the sprint.
They announced results as I was circling back to the start/finish. Ashley had won. That should mean I won the omnium. Results were posted immediately and that was what was listed. And somehow, Gina had taken 3rd in the Omnium . . . seemed odd. Protest period ended. We did awards and all was great, so I thought. I was standing talking to Ashley and Amy and asked Ashley how she had done in the tt on Saturday. She had placed immediately behind Jamie. I opened my big mouth and said, wow and you didn't place in the Omnium. Well, they had her listed as a Cat 4 for the tt so they hadn't figured her results in. The promoter and the officials accepted her protest and redid the overall standings. Ashley and I tied for points. She had the higher finish for Sunday's race, so they awarded first place to her. The Omnium standings ended up with Ashley winning, me, then Jaime.

I have to say I felt better than I expected through the race. When I rode the course on Wednesday, my legs were definitely fatigued by lap 4. I felt like I got stronger as the race went on and that my climbing got better and better. That being said, tactically I should have chased harder to get up with Jaime and Ashley. I think I sometimes underestimate myself and don't push hard enough to catch those moves when I see them going.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I'm not really sure how this happened.  One day I was blogging like crazy, the next thing I know four months have gone by and I've barely thought of my blog.  I've written my race reports for Coach Chuck; I just never seem to get around to uploading them.  I think of things to write about while I'm riding and running, I just never log in and do it.  I lay partial blame on my failed 365 Project.  I had some dark days in the spring and couldn't find inspiration in much and I stopped taking photos.  Then I tried to make up when I was behind and just got further behind and stopped.  Add to that the laser focus I put on job hunting, and writing for pleasure and entertainment just fell apart.  But I haven't lost hope.  My mind and my life is in a lot brighter place than it was four months ago.  I'm no longer feel like I'm simply treading water, I'm now making wakes.  (Like the swimming analogy from the rock?)  Anyway, welcome to Blog 2.0, or something like that.  It's time to catch you up on what's been happening!

My wee ones are still making sure I stay sharp and focused, because if I don't, they will overthrow my household regime.  Bella is perfecting her diva image more and more everyday.  Although Klucker wonders aloud how she can be so prissy (nails, clothes, shoes) one moment and so gross (belching, eating with her fingers) the next and looks at me as if I've set the example.  I think not!  Boo is definitely a school age child now.  It's been so cool to watch him emerge from that toddler/preschooler stage.  He still needs Mommy love on a regular basis, but he has his own interests and points of view and will discuss politics, aliens, and video games with you.  I took them to Disney in early June and it was a trip to behold!  They didn't so much care about the Magic Kingdom, but loved the plane ride, sleeping a hotel, and Typhoon Lagoon.  I left Klucker at home and took his mom to make it even more of the adventure.  In the Klucker vs. Disney match up, my money wasn't on the mouse.

I've climbed out of the rabbit hole of the job I've lived in for the last two years.  As my lens has come into focus, I'm starting to realize just how skewed reality was (and is) there.  I already miss a handful of the people with whom I worked, but it's already beginning to seem like it was all just a bad dream that never really happened.  That is do, in part, to what I found when I emerged . . . a job in a place that seems to be doing things right.  It's a place where great things happen.  I'm still getting acclimated and discovering what I'm going to do to add to the success, but so far, I'm in love. 

My racing has been average this season.  I would always like to win more, but I'm satisified with average for the time being.  I was really fearful of catting up and failing miserably.  And I've had a few races this year where that fear seems to be the reality (Tilles, O'Fallon Gold Cup), but I've had others where my performance has surprised me (Ste Gen RR, Dutchtown, Delmarvelous).  Mostly though, I've had pack finishes and am comfortable with the fact that I can stay with the 1/2/3 group.  The next two weekends bring some fun races for me.  I'm hoping they will bring successful finishes as well. 

So that's my quick summary.  I promise to update my race reports (yes, I will post all of them and hopefully with photos) soon--and will show the posting date as the date I actually wrote them.  And my goal is to write at least weekly in addition to my normal race reports.  Keep your fingers crossed for that one!