Tuesday, February 24, 2015

HARDing TTRecap

Well this one fire road I sometimes do my intervals on happens to be the location of a local hill climb time trial, and I love nothing more than going up hill for an hour, so doing this race was a no-brainer!

I meant to scour Strava the night before to know what landmarks I should hit by what time to beat the previous record, but that didn't happen. I meant to change my Garmin home screen to include distance so I would know how much of the 9 miles I had left during the race, but that didn't happen. I also meant to eat a healthy dinner and drink lots of water the day before, but, alas, that didn't happen either (our home made enchiladas ended up being cheese bombs!). So I was set up for success :)


When I arrived at the race I set out to be successful by doing my warm up, and then rolled to the start where I promptly waited in line for my turn to go, for 30 min... yeah, more good preparation. Then when it was my turn, and I went off the line WAY too hard. This is where my poor decisions stop though (well, almost). Thankfully coach had talked me through the ideal average power a few days before so I promptly pulled on the reins and tried to control myself for the first 30 min. So basically the rest of the race went something like this: drink juice, pass some dude, obsess over power numbers, pass some dude, repeat. It got painful near the middle, but I was passing a lot of dudes at that point, so I had to act like I wasn't trying too hard. Then I got to the small downhill section near the end. At this point I knew the previous course record was well within my grasp, so I was flying, trying to break the record by as much as possible. I passed a dude and a chick, and then WAM! I cooked a loose, slide-y right turn too hot and hit the ground super hard, right in front of said dude and chick. I knew my knees and butt were pretty messed up by the incredible pain they were feeling, but I also knew I could still set the new record if I kept racing so I was back on my bike before anyone else caught up. The nice thing about crashing is that suddenly the agony in your legs from racing is replaced by searing pain in your wounds, which is kinda nice to me, to change the focus of the source of pain. Then basically I tried to see how much I could possibly hurt by sprinting at the finish, and crossed the line in 57:15, not bad for a girl!

The best part of the race, aside from the moment I realized I was going to beat the old record, was being crowned queen of the Santa Ana mountains (a title I secretly coveted all year). I've been collecting all the QOM's in my home mountain range for the past few months, because, well, I ride all these trails and fire roads so often, so it was kinda fun to be given the official title :)

Being crowned Queen with a plastic tiara>>


Tinker won for the men, again. Also, second ever jersey I have won in a race, and first polka dot jersey!
After the race I rode a bit more, but was soon very much aware of how much damage I had done to my legs, there was even blood on my bike... so I called it a day and rode down Motorway.

Despite the terrible ruts and loose rocks and overall horrible condition of the trail, it was kinda pretty seeing all the burned scrub brush at the top, and lots of new green is coming up nicely in the Silverado burn area.



One interesting thing I observed from this race is how much more power the guys have to put out to go just as fast or a little faster than me. I guess being small has it's advantages!
Also, can I just say it made me smile to see my time in the top 10 overall of Strava users!
I make breakfast while Brendan sleeps in every weekend. 
And we capped off the weekend with Nutella/banana filled crepes on Sunday morning :) 

So far this year I am three for three, but the race this coming weekend is going to have a formidable opponent, so defending this winning streak might be difficult! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Motivation

I know it's already Wednesday, but this past weekend deserves a blog post of its own. We got a 4 day weekend from school because of the presidents and what not, but it wasn't quite as glorious as a 4 day weekend would seem. I did learn a lot about bikes and whatnot though, so it wasn't a total waste. 

Friday I thought I would ride to the DMV to renew my already expired license. I had an appointment for later in the month, but thought I would just show up extra early and get it taken care of now (you know, to avoid driving with an expired license). I spent 5 hours waiting despite showing up an hour before they opened, and by the point I was called I was bonking so hard I was crying and thought I was going to faint. Needless to say I didn't bother to straighten myself out before my new license picture, so I'm expecting an exceptionally bad one! Lesson learned: stick with the appointment. The wait is NEVER worth it at the DMV. 
Sat I got to do a rad little Santa Ana ride with the ShoAir mountain bike team. They were super fun to ride with, but hated my trails, haha. I gashed the sidewall of my super light weight tire on the rockiest part of Joplin, and had to shove a GU wrapper in there. Lesson learned: don't ride race weight tires on Joplin.


On Sunday I gashed the sidewall of ANOTHER race weight tire, and this time I didn't have a GU wrapper to shove in the gaping hole. Lesson learned: Always carry a GU with you just in case you have to patch up a sliced tire! Sandwich baggies don't hold up quite as well!

Plastic baggie did not want to hold the tube in!
I also forgot to wear gloves on Sunday's ride, and proceeded to ride Silverado trails for a few hours. Lesson learned: It is ALWAYS worth going back for your gloves, because the bushes with scratch the crap out of your poor hands!
My poor bloody hand!
Maybe the most important thing I learned this past week though is that motivation is not a constant. You just can't expect to feel motivated to tear the crap out of your legs every day of the year, and it's ok to have a little slump now and then. I had a really hard time getting out the door on Sunday, and Monday it took a lot of effort to get on my bike as well. As much as I love cycling, every once in a while I just want to do something different, paint the house, run, hike, build something, garden. The hard part is that you can't just skip workouts/rides willy nilly when you have lofty ambitions, so I come up with little ways to motivate myself to do the work. On Monday that meant ending the ride at my favorite bakery/favorite muffin in Laguna Beach, with a book and a view of the ocean. Then as time passed, the motivation returned. I did a bit of hard work this week on the bike, and now I'm getting stoked again to do more! Which is a good thing because tomorrow is race day! Harding TT here I come!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sickie Sick McSickerson

Sometimes working as a high school teacher is awesome. Those times include winter break, spring break, summer break, and almost every day at 2:30 when I can potentially leave work to go ride bikes. It's also awesome when kids say "This is my favorite class!" I mean, it's math for goodness sakes, who wouldn't want a kid to love math?! And on days like today when all your freshmen algebra 1 students are factoring their little hearts out, and asking you for help/what they did wrong one on one. Yeah, today was a good day. 
Sometimes being a teacher is kinda sucky though because being surrounded by hundreds (literally, I have 200 students) of kids all day means you are def. going to get sick, no matter how baller your immune system is. 
This week I got hit with my second illness of the school year, and although it was just a little head cold, it threw a gigantic wrench into my training, and overall just bummed me out! It's one thing to be sick in the off season, or base season, when you can miss 3 days of riding to recover, but right at the start of a hard block of training, leading up to TWO races?! The timing couldn't have been suckier! 
Alas, I spent most of the week in bed (when I wasn't teaching with horrible sinus pressure and a sore throat), and got very little done. I still managed to be outside long enough to...
catch a glimpse of my babies peaking out of the dirt. The sight of little baby plants will never get old to me! In this planter box we have sweet peas and spinach. In the one not pictured we have tons of carrots, chard, and lettuce. We went small with the garden this year to keep it manageable with racing and all. 

and go for a little mountain bike ride on Tuesday (the day I got sick). I started my intervals from hell, then had to bail and rode the luge instead (because coach said to knock it off since I was sick). On the way up to the top of the luge I could see Harding Truck trail, where I was supposed to be suffering, it made me sad to be missing a key workout. 
 And even though this week has been suckie, I did get to do an incredible Holy Jim/Coldwater ride last Sunday, so at least there is that!
The views on my favorite fire road, Indian Truck Trail, are awesome, this picture doesn't do it justice. Why do I love that fire road so so much?!
The views on the way down Coldwater were out of control too! Fluffy green fuzz lining the trail the whole way down!

Brendan gave me new shoes for Valentines day, and they match my kit! How lucky is that?!
So here's to hoping that this is the last head cold of the year! Stay healthy kiddos, you don't want to miss 3 days of riding like me!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Harding Truck Trail...

As you could probably tell I was on cloud 9 last weekend as a result of winning that road race and eating incredible nachos (I have thought about those nachos almost non-stop since last Sat). Then, I had a rest week. A full week of just commuting, core, and work. Sounds nice, right? Post rest week, this morning, coach gave me a pretty tough workout, the kind that I get a little anxious about the day before. I rode out to Harding Truck Trail feeling hopeful that all the rest I have been doing would make me super fast, and then promptly failed epically at meeting my power numbers. By the third 20 minute interval I was in tears. It hurt, I felt weak, I could not for the life of me go hard enough to stay in the right zone, and I basically just felt like a failure. After a little time went by I checked my attitude, put a smile back on my face, descended Harding and headed home. I'm not proud of the fact that I am the kind of person who could possibly cry as a result of failing a workout, but the emotions, they are just there, a bit out of my control sometimes.

One of the craziest things about elite bike racing is the vast range of emotions I experience on a daily/seasonal basis. Winning a race, killing a hard workout, being acknowledged by someone you look up to for your performance all make me smile-till-my-cheeks-hurt happy, that feeling that all the hard work and sacrifice has paid off, and that yes, you really do belong here, and those sacrifices were worth it. I used to be so overwhelmed with these emotions I would cry like a baby at the finish line (collegiate road nats 2009 after the road race I sobbed). Then there's the flip side, the almost crippling doubt, insecurity and disappointment when I finish a race poorly, bomb a workout (like today) or get dropped by a sponsor. These experiences make me wonder what I am doing spending so much time and energy on a hobby, if I should be doing something more meaningful with my life, if I am really good enough to be throwing myself at racing full force.

I know that I am not the slowest human being on the planet, but it can be incredibly frustrating to fail at something you feel should be completely possible. That along with the fact that I have reined myself in all week, gave up Tues and Weds night mountain bike rides and live a life of 8pm bedtimes and countless other sacrifices to do this hobby well, kinda makes the failure sting a little more. The incredible thing about mountain biking though, is that it has taught me to deal with these failures. Pretty soon after my meltdown today I was able to shake it off, to remember that the sun was still out, I was on a bike and that I am healthy. Sure I was bummed for a while, but tomorrow is a new day, and I know that expecting 100% perfection in my riding is a ridiculous thought. Just as the high of winning Boulevard faded as the work week began, and as I can hardly remember the disappointing workouts of the past, this one too will pass.
And that's the story about the steady state intervals from hell, and a sorta crappy start to the weekend.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Boulevard Road Race Recap (The Long Version)

I have no idea where to start with this one, because I still can't really figure out what went on yesterday during my 3rd experience racing Boulevard Road race (first was 4 years ago in college, and second was last year). All I can say for sure is that you know you are a mountain bike racer when you cannot for the life of you figure out what the heck tactics were going on/what you should have done in response in a bike race.

But first, a picture of my motivation to race road bikes in San Diego County, the best nachos of your life. 
So good I am already trying to find another excuse to go down to Alpine...

Obscenely confusing tactics aside, Boulevard is my favorite road race in SoCal, and even though I am 99% a mountain bike racer at this point, I can't imagine missing it. The race started as usual, with the group riding conservatively around the first 22.7 mile lap to the base of the hill. The first time up the nasty 20ish min climb I covered some attacks and eventually was off the front with local strong woman Tracy. At the top we were 45 seconds up from the pack, not enough time to be worth it with just two of us. We let the chase of 7 catch us and I tried to recover. It was hard work sitting in though, somehow I found myself on the front several times covering small attacks that no one else seemed to want to chase. Second time up the hill the group stayed pretty much together until I attacked, again bringing only one other girl with me, not worth it. Seeing how I had already done a lot of work/pushed the pace on the climb twice, I thought I would sit in for good till the last time up the climb to the finish. I chatted with some of the more experienced ladies about tactics, tried to stay in the way back, recovered a little. But then, halfway through the 22 mile lap a girl went off the front (while I was picking my nose in the back) and NO ONE did anything to chase her down! A minute or so went by and I became a bit frantic. Why was no one going after her? Were they just going to let her win? Eventually I went to the front and started to work because I certainly didn't want to hand the win over that easy! After some time on the front I sat up and moved over so someone else could help out. No one did. I worked some more, sat up again, and again, no one came through to help. Eventually I put my head down and decided to do all the work, because even if I was shelled for the final climb, I couldn't stand the idea of giving up like that. I eventually caught the chick who had been off the front, and then tried again to get someone else to pull through. Nothing. So basically I sat on the front all the way to the climb and then, because I was pissed at the group for leaving me in the wind, I attacked. Oddly, this worked. Tracy and Caitlin eventually found me, and we tortured each other the whole way up, until about 500m to the finish. At this point Tracy and I were just waiting for the other to initiate the final sprint. It was agonizing, waiting, stressing about which gear to be in, trying to figure out exactly when I should dig in and attack, worrying about the fact that she had raced smarter than me and worked less during the last 3 hours. I can't remember who eventually initiated it, but suddenly we were riding as hard as possible up the hill to the finish, up shifting as we went, pushing down on the pedals with agonizing force. I kept telling myself that I wanted it more, that I could withstand any amount of pain for the win, that I had it in me, and then, as soon as the sprint had started, I was over the line, in first. 
This part was unbelievable painful, but so worth it :) Also I may have stolen this picture!
I thought about this moment a lot over that past week or so. I though about all the time and energy I have put into training, about how smart my coach is and how much faster I feel from working with him, and a lot about how one flat tire or busted shifter cable could cost me this win. In the end, winning Boulevard was just as sweet as I imagined it would be, maybe more because I had worked so hard and was still somehow able to pull it off. 

When there is no podium, you just gotta improvise.
This race marks the first time I have ever won a real P123 road race, and the first time I've won a jersey in a race. It was pretty exciting times down there in SD county, and then, of course, there were nachos!
I can think of a few things I could have done differently, and maybe next time I will learn from my silly mistakes because doing all that chasing and sitting on the front could have easily cost me the win, but for now I think I'll stick with mountain bike racing :)