Monday, May 28, 2012

Race Report: University City 10K

How do I get myself talked into these things?  This one went something like this . . . I was having lunch with my friend Katie who said "Marcy and I are going to run the UCity 10K, why don't you do it too?"  Sure, why not!  And then Katie bails--with good reason--but I'm already registered and committed.  Commitable may actually be the more appropriate phrase.

The day was hot and the course was hilly.  I did a mile warm up before the race down Delmar to the shop and back.  I also made sure I was at the front of the field.  This is a new habit for me since I never have considered myself much of a runner and didn't really think I belonged up there.  I also was able to find Marcy.

The course started on a slight uphill that was about 1/4 long.  My original plan was to stay with Marcy for the race and let her pace me through.  We got the start and were off.  I stayed on Marcy's shoulder and followed her as we weaved through the field.  (There was a 5km that started on the same course).  We were almost to the top of the hill and my legs were itching to open up so I went around Marcy and started stretching out my stride.  I prayed I didn't pay for it later.  I had some watch malfunction (i.e. operator error) between mile one and three but I think my first two splits were around 7:34.  The first two miles of the race were all on Delmar, which was mentally draining to me.  I was ready to turn and see something else.  I grabbed a cup of water just before mile two and kept going.  The course was rolling hills throughout and mostly shaded for the first four miles.

At mile three I realized my pace had slowed (8:01) but I felt comfortable with what I was doing and knew it was something I could sustain for the rest of the race.  Between mile four and five I was passed by a handful of girls.  Two of them passed me, but not at a pace that I couldn't sustain so I sped up a bit and got in behind one of them.  I stayed just off her left shoulder and worked to stay with her.  A few times I felt like I could push harder, but held back a bit.  One of the two girls pulled away and a little after mile five, I pushed passed the girl I was following.  I turned the final corner and saw the finishing arch and the mile six mark.  I worked on speeding up a little and finishing strong.  I was hot and tired at the end, but not dead.  In my mind I had wanted to run it in 45, but knew that was a big stretch.  My time was 48:39.  I was 78th overall in the race.  19th out of 240 women and 6th in my age group.

Here's a little video of my finish.

Crossing the line, happy to be finished.  *photo credit: John Musselman

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Race Report: Big Bottom Time Trial

My first bike race ever was a time trial.  It's still my second favorite discipline in the sport.  And I love the Columbia Bottom tt course.  That all being said, I just wasn't that excited to race this one.  It was an okay race for me, but not the race I was wanting.

It was warm and breezy, but not terribly windy.  We got there and I did my warm up.  I rode on the roads outside the park because I didn't want to interfere with anyone's race.  I went to the start about five minutes before my time and they were no where near on time.  I turned around and kept spinning for another 15 minutes or so.  I went back to the start area and there were still about 12-15 people who needed to start.  I should have turned and ridden some more, but I was also nervous about missing my start.  I had talked to Eddie and he gave me the insight on the wind (and let me borrow a tt helmet since I forgot mine) since I didn't preview the course.

My start was a little slower than I like.  I've felt that way on every tt this year, so it's something I need to focus on more.  I got my cadence up and was able to add two gears pretty quickly.  I was feeling good through the first three miles until the bend where the wind hit.  (Eddie was right on with what he told me).  I took a gear off until I got back into the cove where I was able to add it again.  I could see back there that the woman who started in front of me had added time between us.  I made the turn and saw the girl behind me had made about 10 seconds on me as well.  I put my head down and pushed.  Once I got past the bend, the wind was almost a direct tail.  I was able to add two gears and speed.  The toughest part of the course was last mile.  There it was a direct headwind.  I took off gear to maintain a decent cadence.  I finished in about 21:06 for 8.4 miles.  Slower than I would have liked.  I finished first in Cat 3, but fifth overall.  Not a stellar result for me. In hindsight I would say I could have suffered more, especially on the way out.  I didn't push as hard as I should have.  I also felt like I lost some benefit of my warm up by sitting for as long as I did.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Race Report: MO PRO

After my experiences in 3/4 races last year, I swore them off.  No more big events with 3/4 fields.  Dangerous, squirrely, skin destroying.  Yep, that lasted nine months.  This event had been branded Tour de Grove the last two years, but this year Mike Weiss renamed it to better represent all the venues involved.  He and the Big Shark event staff did an outstanding job with it.  I may be a bit biased though!  

Friday--LOOP de LOOP Grand Prix

The weather was perfect for the race.  I got to the course early enough to take a few laps on the course since this was a new venue for me.  The race started on Delmar and was a hint of an uphill.  At "turn 1" the hill kicked up a bit more.  Turns one and two really were turns, it was more of a sweep.  The back side of the course was long and downhill, very bumpy.  Turn three was tight and narrow and there was only a block until turn four and back to the start/finish straight.  

I warmed up on the road, doing a few efforts/sprints to get my heart race going.  
Ready to race, smile and all.  Great night to reconnect with lots of friends.  *Photo Credit: Don McKinney

Strung out around a corner.  *Photo credit: Don McKinney
Gettin' my sprint on . . . didn't quite get that preme. 
There was a good mix of local and out of town ladies, a lot of whom I've never raced with before.  We had about 14 women on the line.  During announcements they told us we'd have six premes in the race.  Carrie Clay (Big Shark Racing) led us out quickly.  There was little attack on the backside that was quickly brought back.  At the line we got the bell for the first preme.  We regrouped.  Someone went again on the backside and I responded.  We rounded onto the finishing straight and I was sitting third wheel and no one was seemingly sprinting so I took off and easily got the preme.  For the next eight laps or so, it was preme lap, off lap, preme lap, off lap.  The $50 cash preme was fourth in the line up.  I was in good position for it, but didn't go early enough on my sprint.  Skylar (Team TIBCO), Kelly (Bike America Racing) and I were off the pack with about 75 meters but I couldn't get them to keep going. With four to go, Carrie moved back to the front and stayed there for three laps.  Everyone sat in and let her do the work.  She started getting sloppy with one to go and finally someone else took over.  As we approached turn three, the pace really picked up.  Once we hit the finishing straight it was moving quickly.  The sprint went a little early, about 250 meters.  I did okay, but it was only good enough to net me fifth.  I talked to Carrie after the race and she asked a question I can remember asking myself when I started racing "how do you get off the front?"  My response--stop pedaling.

Saturday--Tour de Grove

Trainer tent!  I couldn't ask for better friends to train with and race against.  *photo credit: Don McKinney

The ladies are on the line.  *Photo credit: Don McKinney
And we're off! *Photo credit: Don McKinney
Finishing sprint.  What the what? *photo credit: Don McKinney
This is the prime event of the weekend--the biggest payouts.  I was excited when I saw the course.  They had repaved the sketchy corner and it was smooth.  I warmed up on a trainer because the neighborhood is a little iffy.  We had about 21 girls in the race, some of them fresh legged.  This course is a bit longer (1.7 miles) and more technical(about 7 turns).  I had two other teammates racing which worked out well.  We didn't go out as quickly.  The first lap was more moderate because some of the girls had never ridden the course.  I noticed when we passed the wheel pit at the beginning of lap two a girl was jumping in, it struck me as odd, but I didn't know what happened until later.  We got to the small chicane on the back of the course and I jumped.  I tried to get off, but they were on me quickly.  I led through the last turn and sat back in.  There were two premes in the race.  I sprinted for both of them, but wasn't really close.  I made sure to race smart though.  Tara (Big Shark Racing) and I talked mid race and kept trying to wear down the group, but to no avail.  Everyone stuck.  With two to go, it got very squirrelly.  Some of the girls who had sat in the entire race swarmed the front and were trying to take corners five wide.  A few dicey moments but everyone stayed up.  It again came down to the sprint.  I knew this one would go early, as soon as we rounded the corner.  I wasn't in a great position for it though.  I sprinted well, but crossed the line in fifth.  What I later found out was the girl who "won" was the girl who came in after lap one.  She didn't start the race on time and was a lap down the entire race.  That gave me a fourth on the day.

Sunday--Dutchtown Classic

All lined up and ready to go.  Finally! *Photo credit: Don McKinney
Breakaway!  What was I thinking! *Photo credit: Don McKinney
LOVE working with these ladies!  Top notch racers! *Photo credit: Don McKinney

Sharks leading the pack! *Photo credit: Don McKinney
This course is one of my favorites.  It's about a mile and a half and has about seven turns.  It was another trainer warm up.  We had a smaller group, and I again had two teammates.  Tara and I talked to Kelly from KC and decided we would try to get away from the start.  The races starts uphill and weaves through a chicane right away.  Our idea of out of sight out of mind.  We all executed perfectly, but Skylar let the pack right up to us.  By turn four they were on Tara's wheel.  We sat up and sat in.  The first preme went at lap four.  Tara and I moved to the front.  As we were going down the backside of the course, I told her to just keep increasing the pace slowly, nothing to draw attention.  We rounded turn seven and I slid in behind her and she kept steadily increasing the pace.  I could hear/sense some of the other girls moving into place, but I knew where I wanted to jump.  We hit the bottom of the hills and the flags and I took off.  I crossed the line and looked back and no one was close so I put my head down and went.  I kept telling myself "you're a time trialist, pretend that's what you're doing".  I rounded turn four and hit the wind but pushed through.  I still had a nice gap through the start/finish and kept pushing.  When I hit the wind again I looked back with the group was within ten meters so I sat up.  For the rest of the race the attacks either came on the uphill at the start/finish or between turns two and three.  Nothing was able to stay away, although we did drop several girls through constant pushing.  The other preme was uneventful. Trish Clark (Walt's Bike Shop) led the entire lap and kept her lead until the sprint.  We came to the final lap and everyone was moving into position.  The sprint started a little earlier than I was ready for, especially with it being uphill.  I ended up in fifth.