Monday, August 29, 2011

Race Report: Sedalia Crit and Otterville Road Race

I should start by telling you I went to bed Friday night with a migraine and it was still lingering when I got up Saturday morning.  It was enough that I had second thoughts about heading out to the races.  I took some ibuprofen and got some lunch with Steph before meeting Ashley and Kelly.  I was feeling better so decided it was game on.

Our drive to Sedalia was calm--no tickets, no wrong turns--I was a little surprised.  We pulled up to the Hotel Bothwell and found a tight space to park.  The hotel was like stepping back in time and the desk clerk was a little too excited to see four ladies checking in together.  We got our room and found out we weren't on the "haunted floor" but were on the fifth floor and the elevator was out!  The bikes definitely weren't spending the night in the room now!  Our room was actually pretty spacious and comfortable for as old as the hotel was.  What was really nice is that we could actually see the race course from our window.

Kelly got ready for her race and Steph, Ashley and I walked the course taking note of the corners and pavement.  The sides were four or five blocks long with a little rise/fall and the ends were only a block.  The streets were nice and wide.  There was a grate in turn two that was coned and large pot hole right before turn three, but otherwise it was beautiful.  We watched the Masters' race and Steph got chatted up by a creepy guy with no teeth.

Around 7PM we got ready to head for a warm up.  I made sure to do about five or six hard efforts because I had a feeling we'd start hot.  There were nine of us (Steph, Ashley, Chris, Aubree, Becca, Shari, Kelly Skinner, Michelle Jensen) in the race.  I'd raced against everyone but Michelle Jensen--Steph said she's a great racer and someone to watch.  The whistle blew and Michelle took off.  I jumped right on her wheel and held on tight.  We slowed down after turn two and moved into a compact group.  We passed the start/finish and there was the prime bell.  The first of nine for our race.  I had no intentions of going for it, but wanted to stay close to the leaders.  There was some positioning on the back side and we hit the front straight and the sprint was on.  Without really thinking about it, I found myself out of the saddle going for it.  Chris passed me like I was sitting still and took the prime.  We regrouped after the start/finish.  By that time, my head started pounding again.  It did off and on through the race, anytime I exerted hard effort.  That lap I took turn two poorly and went wide.  I corrected just in time to avoid hitting the curb.  I readjusted and calmed myself.  We passed the start/finish and got another prime.  This time I just sat in and stayed with the group.  We regrouped and headed back around and another prime.  I again just stayed in the pack for that one.  We had about two laps of "normal" racing before the prime bell went again.  This time it was a t-shirt prime.  As soon as we rounded turn two, Shari just rode off the front.  No one looked like they were itching to catch her, so she was just riding away.  I decided I might as well see what I had so I took off.  I jumped on her wheel and we had about a hundred yard gap on the pack.  I told her we had a gap and to take off.  I followed her wheel through turn four.  With about two hundred meters to the line I jumped and gapped her.  I  stayed away from her until midway through the back side.  She caught on and we got caught by the pack just after the start/finish.  We had a few more calm laps before the prime bell started going again.  I didn't give any real chase for any other one but made sure I stayed with the group.  Several girls tried attacking throughout, but no one got very far.  It all came to the last lap.  Chris jumped as soon as we turned the corner.  I was sitting about third wheel.  I was able to hold onto them, but couldn't make up ground.  Ended up with 5th.  I felt like I knew what was going on in the race and could see move unfold.  I physically felt like I was able to respond to the attacks and didn't have to hope someone else would cover them for me.

Post race we stopped to talk to Aaro and he had great news for me--the guy who had sponsored the t-shirt prime felt like that wasn't enough, so he gave Aaro $25 for me.  Score!  We were all hungry so we parked the bikes and walked to Subway.  We watched the Men's Pro/1/2 and ate dinner.  My next stop was the Mich Ultra tent.  My team kit made me a big hit in there!  After showers, it was near midnight by the time we got to bed.  I think I woke up with every little noise and looked around to see if it was a ghost.  No such luck though!

We had breakfast the next morning at the hotel, but the coffee was less than stellar.  We agreed to pack quickly so we could find the Starbucks on the way to Otterville.  We missed our turn to Otterville, but realized it pretty quickly, so we were right on time for the race.  
I was a little more nervous about Sunday's race for two reasons.  First, simply because it was a road race.  Second, because I hadn't been able to locate a course map/profile.  I had been told it was rollers with one steep climb near the end.  I hate going into a race blind though.  I could also feel that Friday's migraine was still lingering.  We had seven girls in the race and all of us had done Saturday night's crit.  At the line Michelle asked how we felt about working a pace line through the first lap and calling "game on" for lap two.  Everyone readily agreed.  We formed a rotating double pace line right from the start.  About 10 miles in, Steph dropped back.  She had been struggling, not feeling well physically, for the last three miles or so.  We sat up and had Ashley drop back to pull her up.  She said if she fell off again, to go on without her.  It was about then when my headache returned.  As long as I kept my head up and my heart rate below 160, I was ok.  Any hard effort and I could feel my heart beat pounding in my head.  The steep climb came about 21 miles into the lap.  I was totally unprepared for it.  I got caught behind someone who was going slow and almost fell off my bike trying to turn the pedals over and get around.  I made up my mind I would be on the front for that one on the second lap.  Just before the feed zone we started talking about lap two.  We decided to work together until mile 12 and then race full out.  I got two fresh bottles in the feed zone (my first time ever taking a feed!) and we started out again.  My head was still bothering me on climbs, but I was set on finishing with the group.  We got to mile 12 and no one made a move.  We still rotated through.  We hit a little climb about mile 42 and the group started to break apart.  Shari went off the front and Aubree fell off the back.  Michelle gave chase to Shari and I stayed on Michelle's wheel.  The five of us came back together but Aubree was gone.  When I saw the steep little monster in sight, I moved to the front of the group.  I took the hill pretty aggressively and got a small gap on the group.  (little did I know that everyone else small ringed it).  I guess Shari thought I was attacking because on the downhill she flew around me.  I jumped on her wheel and stayed there.  And everyone else stayed on my wheel.  Shari tried to shake us, but no one would take a pull.  She would slow down, but no one went around.  She kept looking back at me and I just smiled at her.  I knew I was in no shape to take off and stay away.  We were about a mile about when Michelle easily moved to the front and ramped up the pace.  Ashley went along side of her.  We hit the hill to the feed zone and the paced quickened even more.  I was still holding on at that point.  We turned the corner and started the little hill to the finish and the sprint was on.  I tried to go but couldn't stay out of my saddle. I was able to hold onto Becca's wheel but had nothing left to go around her.  My head was killing me and my legs were rubber.  Ashley was able to zoom ahead of Michelle and take the W.

I found some shade and got my helmet off.  Once my heart rate/blood pressure dropped, I felt well enough to walk back to the car.  Getting into flip flops also helped as well.  Steph and Kelly were wonderful enough to walk the cooler back from the feed zone and I began to take on as many fluids as I could.  It took a good 30 minutes for me to feel semi-normal.  We packed up and were St. Louis bound.  A much needed stop at Chipotle in CoMo refueled our tanks.  The races were great, the road trip was fun.  These will be definitely be on my radar for next year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to Celebrate?

My dad would have been 71 years old today.  This day, more than any other, brings sadness and longing.  I don’t so much mourn the day on which he died, because his death took away his pain and suffering.  Instead I mourn the day we would have celebrated together because of the joy and happiness I’m missing.

When I was a tween, we would typically celebrate my dad’s birthday with a float trip.  I have lots of memories of floats on the Black River and bond fires late into the night.  I don’t so much remember what we would do to commemorate his birthday while I was in high school, but I vividly remember the first birthday he had while I was in college.  He turned 50 that year and I had been at school for a little over a week—went early for sorority rush.  My mom had a party for him.  I had bought him a figurine of girl that was titled “Daddy, I’ll never fill your shoes.”  I called during the party and listened as he opened the box and then got quiet.  His voice cracked as he said, “Thank you sissy.”  I, of course, lost it.  After college, I made that we would celebrate his birthday the way he wanted every year.  Usually that involved fried chicken from somewhere and ice cream.  When I lived in the City that would often mean Hodacks and Ted Drewes.  When we moved back home I would have everyone to my house.

It was my dining where we celebrated his last birthday.  My mom had gotten a cake decorated with a guy in a red pick up truck with dogs in it since my dad had seemingly adopted Jeffrey’s pooches.  I brought home fried chicken and made vegetables.  We didn’t yet know the pain and suffering, heartache and tears the next eight months would bring.  Dad knew he had a chest xray with a spot, but he hadn’t told me yet.  That being said, even if we had known, I can’t believe we would have celebrated any differently.

I made everyone get together to celebrate the first birthday after his death.  I was 34 weeks pregnant and in the middle of being sued by a wack-job former parent, so no one argued with me.  I held myself together for most of the day, but it was a chore.  And while we tried to be convivial, it just wasn’t happening.  Since then I haven’t involved anyone else in my remembrances.  Last year I hit a KFC drive through for chicken legs complete with a full sugared Pepsi.  My system revolted from that shock. 

So here we are, it’s been six years since the last time I celebrated with him.  I don’t know who around me knows that today would be his birthday. (Last year mom let it pass without a mention.)  As I wonder what I do to honor this special day, I have decided that it does not need to be an overt gesture, instead it’s this:  I will continue to work to live my life in a manner that would make him proud.  My dad once told me that he measured his success as a parent by whom my brothers and I were as adults.  I want him to know he was the best.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eating Healthy

In my last race report, I referenced that I had been changing my eating habits.  Because I love food so much, and I love racing even when I suck, these changes have been front and center in my mind.

The last week of July brought three days of meetings for my new job.  One thing I will say about public education, while it doesn't pay well, we typically eat well.  These three days were no exception.  I found myself having tiramisu, brownies, cookies, and then the post meeting happy hour food.  Plus I was going home in the evenings and having chocolate or an adult beverage or something else less than stellar.  Add into that my love of coffee and diet coke.  And the big problem was I couldn't stop myself.  I usually employ these rules:  (1) one small sweet per day or one glass of alcohol.  (2) ice cream only on Sunday evenings and only the good stuff and (2) one diet coke per day.  I believe all things are fine in moderation, but two or three Whole Foods caramels covered in dark chocolate topped with sea salt and a glass of pinot grigio are a bit much (I don't even want to think about the calories!)  Amazingly, the scale did not reflect my eating binge, but I noticed that other things did.  My clothes were tight in the tummy and I could barely get my ring on--hello, bloat!  I was cranky and irritable.  I wasn't sleeping well either.  So I decided rather than try to limit my intake, I would eliminate my intake.

I've "given up" foods before.  Before my wedding to Why? I went on a huge calorie restricted diet that eliminated all sugar and caffeine from my diet.  I lost a ton of weight, bonked hard without the sugar, and found out after the fact that the doctor who was monitoring my diet was giving me ephedrine in those wonderful little vitamins he prescribed.  I've also forgone soda or sugar for Lent in various years.  I can do it.  I've found that typically once I get past the first week or two, the cravings decrease and it almost becomes a non-issue.  The thing that I haven't done is try this while I've been training hard or racing.

You see, I have a confession to make.  Up until recently in my life, to me the phrase "eating healthy" meant getting skinny or losing weight.  Food was, and still is to a degree, a form of pleasure for me.  I enjoy a great meal.  I savor a decadent dessert.  Cooking is a huge hobby.  Plus, when I would give up sweets, I would just switch to Splenda or something else artificial.  The changes were more about weight than healthy living in general.  Right now, I don't really worry about my weight.  I will publicly tell you on average I weigh 135 and I'm a size 4. (WOW!  That's a big step for me!)  I instead worry if I'm fueling my body correctly and if the food I take in will benefit my training and racing.  That being said, I still love eating and great food.

For the last few months, a handful of the ladies I race against have been doing the Clean Diet with mixed results.  One has stuck to it religiously, it doesn't seem to have effected her training or performance.  Two others have gone through the detox portion and are following the guidelines with some modifications.  Another made it a week or two but was so lethargic she gave it up.  I read some information on what Dr. Junger proposes and some of it makes sense.  But I'm also realistic that I work a full time job, have two kids, make time to train and don't have a lot of time to make trips to multiple stores or make multiple meals.  Also, I like the sensation of eating.  I don't want to drink two smoothies a day.  So instead, I decided to look at what my bad habits are.  If I eliminated some of my poor eating habits, would I benefit?

I started with sugar.  I didn't eat my normal dark chocolate after lunch.  I mindfully stayed away from the caramels in the kitchen.  I did great for the first four days.  Then Sunday hit and I wanted my ice cream.  So I had it.  I was about half a cup into my pint of Ben & Jerry's when I started to feel sick.  I put it away.  I will normally eat half of it.  My stomach churned.  It growled.  It gurgled.  It was so bad that Klucker asked what was wrong with me.  I stayed sugar free again until Wednesday.  I wanted that ice cream.  I finished that pint Wednesday evening.  Within five minutes of putting the container in the trash, I was hugging the toilet ridding myself of its caramel, chocolate goodness.  I couldn't tolerate it.

Also on that Wednesday, I introduced my next elimination, soda.  I typically have a fountain diet coke every morning.  It's part of my day.  I did fine without my diet coke, not really wanting it until after I raced on Sunday.  Then I had to have one.  I needed something to comfort my bruised racer ego.  I had one.  I drank a 32oz fountain diet coke in less than ten minutes.  I wish I could tell you that it made me feel bad as well, but it didn't.  Damn it!

Monday started my next elimination, artificial sweetener.  This one is the toughest.  You see, I drink Splenda in my coffee.  I drink Splenda in my iced tea.  I use Splenda to sweeten desserts because I can still have them and say they're sugar-free if I used Splenda.  I'm mid-way through day three of no sweeteners and it is hard.  I have an iced tea in front of me and I'm not really enjoying it.  I want something to drink besides water and unsweetened tea and coffee. (and they would frown on my drinking beer at work)

My main goal in trying all of this to be healthier.  I know sugar and artificial additives are not good for my body.  I know that my body was not meant to run on the diet I've been giving it.  That being said, I don't know how it will be to live without these items in my diet.  It's nice not following a prescriptive plan, because I get to decide what I'm doing and not doing, e.g. still using GU and Coffee Mate.  At the same time, I'm a rule follower and have always done better when I have something to tell what I can and can't do.  I had a list in my mind as to what I was giving up when (caffeine, alcohol, dairy, red meat) but am already making adjustments because of the struggle I'm having this week.  I was very surprised at the negative effects it is having on my riding.  I thought any change would be positive and didn't imagine my body needing to retool.  That retooling is what's keeping me going right now.  I don't want to have sugar because I don't want a setback.  I don't race again until August 27 and I'm hopeful that by then I may have some of my prior energy back.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report: MO State Criterium

I went into today's race with the attitude that it was time to try something different.  What I've been doing the last three weeks or so hasn't been working for me, so I need to try something new.
It was sunny and 83 with a light breeze.  I stayed in Jefferson City last night, so I was around the course all day.  I spent one race in the pace car and got a good view of the course.  I got two laps in between some of the earlier races and then headed out to warm up.  Teresa, Amy and I warmed up together and talked strategy.  It was our prediction that the battle would be between Chris and Emilee, with Carrie supporting Chris and Aubree supporting Emilee.  We saw some of that, but that's not the way it ended.
We had a good, strong field, with 16 women (Amy, Teresa, Soli, Shari K, Chris, Carrie, Aubree, Alice, Natalie, Kelly S, Britta, Ashley, Emilee, and two others I didn't know).  The whistle blew and Chris took off right away.  It was a fast start.  We all came together quickly as we went down the back side hill.  The first five laps went like this:  attack, counter attack, knit.  I decided that I felt good and moved myself towards the front laps four and five.  Lap five I found myself on the front.  I took a short pull and tried to move back into the pack.  I eased back in and sat second wheel.  Lap six on the first uphill I moved to the front and ramped up the pace.  Chris was right on my wheel.  I pushed harder, she and the pack stayed with me.  I obviously wasn't getting away so I started letting up.  Boom!  Chris goes and the group follows.  I knew it would happen, but I couldn't get a wheel.  I worked kept pushing myself because I wasn't ready to be off the back.  I couldn't get back on.  I came within 200 yards of the group the next lap, but another attack went and I was off.
The first thought I had was "this sucks."  I rode hard and pouted and made nasty faces for about two laps.  Then I asked myself the question "If this is so awful, why are you going so hard and why don't you quit?"  And I smiled.  I let myself have fun and decided how long I could go without being lapped.  I made it to seven laps to go. During that time I made faces at Aero and Mark.  I asked Nola if there was a field prime for my group.  I told Patrick I was tired.  And I grinned even bigger when I came along the front side and hear my friends. cheering.  The pace car and Carrie eventually passed me.  She told me to make sure to stay in the group.  The pack picked me up; Amy made sure to give me a gap to get me a wheel and I was back in it.  A few attacks went in the next three laps, but when we hit three to go, it was an unbelievably slow pace.  Carrie was out of sight by this time.  It came down to the last lap and the climb before the parking lot.  Emilee took off and the sprint was on.  I stayed with the group but didn't mix it up because I wasn't really contesting the sprint.  
Final results have me 12th on the day.  I doubt that's right, but I didn't see the results until after the protest period was over.  The bad news on the day is obvious, I fell off, couldn't catch a wheel, and had a less than stellar result.  The good news is that I felt good today, much better than yesterday or last Sunday.  My fluid/nutrition intake was good and felt like it was keyed into what I should be doing.

Of course I've shared all of this with Coach Chuck.  For those of you who read this and race without a coach, you need to get one.  His feedback and insight are so invaluable to me.  I shared with him that I've been changing my dietary habits the last several weeks.  I've given up processed refined sugar and diet coke.  His feedback was this
ok, long term this is a good change for sure. remember that a month ago you improved your ~30 min tt by about 2 minutes. so you didn't just become unfit in the last 30 days. but you changed your energy sources, think of it as converting from gas to electric power in your car. you now are getting you energy from different sources and at different rates. so when you are just doing daily things and going easy, any changes are barely noticeable. only when you are doing sizeable efforts are your new limitations noticeable. you step on the gas and the engine sputters and hesitates. and you are more limited as to the duration of your high-intensity efforts. this will be the case while you are rebuilding your engine, which takes longer than a month in every case i am aware of (i have other folks in various stages and commitment of this). 
For someone who is as competitive as I am, this means a lot.  It lets me know that I'm on the right track and that I don't just suck.  It puts things into perspective.  So I will deal with the struggle because I know in the long run it will be worth the temporary setbacks and disappointment.  BTW, next gone is artificial sweetener . . . that's really gonna hurt.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Race Report: State Time Trial

No jersey, not even a podium for me today.  I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with me.  I don't feel like I've been racing well for the last month or so. 
The weather was sunny, humid and windy.  The temp was in the high 70s/low 80s.  I got about a 35 minute warm up in, raised my heart rate in the 160s twice.  I pulled to the line and felt great.  I was good off the start and settled into my rhythm quickly.  I was passed 7:23 in, but was expecting because Chris Harre was starting behind me.  I had a slight cross tail during the first 10K.  I did that section in 14:54.  
Moving into the 2nd quarter, I could see a rider in front of me, so I set out to catch her.  The wind direction became more a true cross or a diagonal head wind in some spots.  I went 16:08 to the turn around.  Eduardo started four minutes back of me, he passed right after the turn passed me.  I had expected that as well.  I began having trouble holding the gear I was in.  My cadence would drop sub-100 and I would take gear off, then I would be able to get it back to 107/108 so I would add gear.  It would drop to 104, I would hold it for 30 seconds to a minute and not sustain it.  I did the 3rd quarter of the course 16:49.  I kept getting slower.  

It was at the 30K mark when the wind became awful.  My cadence dropped to the low 90s at one point and I was working hard to keep it there.  My heart rate also popped to 191.  I really struggled and pushed to finish the last 10K.  My last quarter was 18:13.  My overall time was 1:06:04 which put me in 4th and slower than last year. Maureen, the winning women, came in at 1:02 and some change.  My heart rate average was pretty high for the race 181, and I maintained a 104 cadence, which is normal for me in a tt.  

I'll work tonight to get my head in the game for tomorrow.  We'll have a tough field, a lot of the same ladies that raced last Sunday.  Good news is the high temp for tomorrow is supposed to be 83.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just Close Your Eyes

I love back to school time.  As a perpetual student, I get giddy when the school supply displays go up at Target.  I get nostalgic about riding my bike up to the junior high or high school to get my class schedule and decorate my locker.  It's so, so much fun. And then to think back about the start of school when I was in college!  That meant sorority rush, parties, after hours, and football games.  Oh yeah, and class too!
I think I had a pretty unique "get ready for college" experience.  When I applied to University of Illinois and then signed my acceptance letter, it was sight unseen.  I had never been to campus.  I had been to my second tier schools--Illinois Wesleyan, ISU, and Western.  But I had never set foot in Champaign-Urbana.  That didn't matter to me.  It was the best public university in the state and that's where I decided to go.  I made it to campus that spring, but by that time, the decision was made.

You see, my parents didn't go to college.  My brothers took some classes at the community college, but never went to a four year school.  I think Mom and Dad realized I would get my degree, but in their mind probably pictured BAC, followed by SIUE.  I know they knew I applied; they had to write the checks to go with the applications.  But I think they assumed when it came down to it, I'd stay home.  So when the housing and financial aid forms came, I filled them out myself as best as I could.  I had some help because my cousin was going as well.  She and I had decided to be roommates and her parents had taken her on all the college visits.  I at least knew which dorms to put on my list. 

Eventually orientation weekend arrived.  My parents and I went to campus and I think that's when it finally hit them that it was a done deal.  I was going to school at a campus three hours away with 30,000 other kids.  Plus I was rushing a sorority.  I'm sure they wondered who put all these ideas in my head and how were they going to pay for it.  I remember the thought hitting me that weekend, "What the hell have I done?"  I only know about six people here.  The campus is larger than my hometown.  The dorms aren't air conditioned.  And the big one, these kids are smarter than me--I'm going to have to study. *GULP*

I've done that many times in my life, forged ahead with a plan with full realization of what the consequences may be.  In other words, closed my eyes, jumped and prayed for a big splash or soft landing.  Sometimes my prayers were answered, and sometimes it was a bellyflop or broken ankle.  But I can honestly say, I've never regretted it.  Sure, if I had taken time to think things through I may have avoided some heartache, tears or wasted money.  I would have also missed once in a lifetime experiences, great friends, and stories that I tell over and over again.  I believe in dealing with the consequences of my actions rather than agonizing over what might have been.  I love the quote that's been floating around the interwebs for years:
Dance like nobody's watching
Love like you've never been hurt
Sing like nobody's listening
Live like it's heaven on earth.
Life is too short to live with regrets and missed opportunities.  Make your opportunities happen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Race Report: Edwardsville Rotary Criterium

Pre-race, deep in thought.  *Photo credit:  Mike Dawson
I wish I could pinpoint where exactly I went wrong in my race prep.  I know I didn't get my usual fluids on Friday, but I made sure on Saturday to take in plenty.  Yesterday was hot and incredibly humid.  It was in the mid 90s around race time.  We had a great field, 18 women.  It's one of the fastest, strongest groups with whom I've raced.  The course was nearly flat, seven turns--a figure 8 of sorts, and narrowed in the back side.  I got a good warm up in and had plenty of fluid on my bike.  We got our instructions and took off.  I tried to stay mid-pack.  On lap two, right after the first turn, it sounded like a gun went off--Teresa blew a tire.  She headed to the pit and we went on racing.  The attacks were tough--Catherine Walberg, Jamie, and Soli threw up some great moves.  The ladies were smart, trying to get away on the back side where the course narrowed and the pack had to slow down to navigate the turns.  I felt good for the first 5-6 laps. 
Still with the group, turn one.  *Photo credit:  Mike Dawson
It with 10 to go when I knew I was in trouble.  I was fading to the back and struggling to hold a wheel.  With 9 to go, I fell off the first time.  I was able to catch back on and stay with the group for the next attack that Catherine launched.  It when Jamie launched a counter attack that I couldn't sustain.  I fell off the back.  I stayed with 10-20 seconds of the group, but couldn't get back to them.  Cory tossed water on to try to help me out.  Then, with five to go for some reason, the officials pulled me.  I hate getting pulled.  I understand why they pulled the riders behind me, they were all a lap down, but still don't understand (and have been questioning Klucker because he was officiating) why I was pulled.  If I'd had enough sense I would have tried to wave him off and keep racing--the worse that could have happened was they would not have scored me the next five laps.  I wasn't quite with it at that time though. 

I'm guessing when I pulled off I looked pretty rough because I was quickly surrounded with people trying to cool me down.  Steph grabbed some guy's water and poured it over me.  Eduardo shoved a bag of ice down my jersey.  Someone else took my helmet off.  That, and other bodily indicators lead me to believe I may have been dehydrated.  I can't tell you if I stopped sweating or not because I was dumping water over my head to cool down.  I'm really disappointed in my performance because I know I race better than I did yesterday.  I finished 14th and should have been in the top 10.  I don't mean for that to sound conceited or that I'm some unbelievable racers, I just know what I'm capable of doing.  My hope is that I'm able to feed on this next Saturday when I go to the line at the state time trial.  In looking over the field, there will be some good competition for that jersey.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Race Day Prep

I think most competitive athletes have "race day" rituals--those little things you do to get ready to compete.  They help you get in the right frame of mind and make sure you have everything you need.  When I was a runner, it was usually having my clothes laid out the night before, a half cup of coffee and half of a peanut butter sandwich. I'd head to the race, get my number and pin on, pee twice and be ready to run.

When I was a Cat 4 racers, it was very similar.  Most Cat 4 races are early . . . I think because promoters know that it's typically only family or friends who come out to watch.  I would get up and eat (usually a bagel or oatmeal), have several cups of coffee and head out the door.  Because bike racing is a gear heavy sport, I have a "race bag". So besides throwing in a clean kit, my bag was always race ready.  I would try to get to the venue 90 minutes before my start time.  That gave me enough time to get my number and pin on, put my bike together, kit up and warm up before going to the line.  And usually, I would be home by noon.

Then I upgraded or "catted up".  Now I race with a group I lovingly refer to as the big girls.  There are so few women racing, as compared to men, three of our categories are grouped into one.  So although I'm only a Cat 3 racer, I race with typically much faster, stronger, Category 1 & 2 racers.  And because we're the women's "main event" we typically go right before the Men's Pro/1/2 race.  That means an afternoon start time.  I've been trying to adjust to this change for five months now and still don't feel like I've found my groove.

The first thing you need to know is that I'm a morning person.  Weekdays typically start at 4AM and weekends at 5AM.  I like to get my stuff done before lunch, whether that be chores, working out or racing.  I like to go shopping or veg after lunch.  On race days, I don't know what to do with myself.  I get up and coffee and breakfast.  While I consider sleeping in (today I stayed in bed till 6:30!), having two little early risers who start kissing and tickling me by 5:30 doesn't bode well for such a luxury.  I typically figure out what time I need to leave to get to the race on time.  Now I've got to factor in finding a spot to park because that spots are typically near full by the time I get there.  I may start a little laundry, check Facebook and Twitter, and start driving myself nuts.  I think of stuff I'd like to do, but probably shouldn't pre-race.  I wander aimlessly around my house.  I check on my kids while they play, go back to Facebook and Twitter, and generally get disgruntled because I want to get the race over with.  I need to leave today by 10:45 to get the kids to my mom's and get to the venue on time.  My bike is already on the car, my bag is sitting by the front door.  All I have left to do is to let the dogs out one more time and put my bottles in the cooler.  I have to eat a second time, because my breakfast won't sustain me until my 1:45 start time.  And finding something that doesn't screw with my digestion or make me want to puke when covering the first surge is tricky.

I'm sure with time, and growing kids who learn to sleep till 9AM will help.  Until then I need to find TV better than "Meet the Press" or find a low energy hobby to entertain me as I wait and pace.