It has taken me way too many years to understand the recovery is where we get faster. This year with 2 different instances of cracked/bruised ribs and chest contusions has taught me that pushing the redline always comes at a price especially with my most recent trail running injury. This is year is slightly different since I am self-coached and need to re-evaluate on a daily basis the balance of stress and recovery I have placed on my body.
The other important part of this post is the story. About 2 years ago I was racing in a local cross race with my friend Amy Dombroski. She was using gift certificates from her massage therapist, Ed Westhead as prizes for the race. I remember an amazing race where I fought really hard with a then Chloe Forsman and even made Amy look over her shoulder in one switchback:) Chloe really brought out all the fight that I had that day and I finished with some great memories and a great effort under my belt...besides some new friends:) As we know, Amy was hit and killed by a truck while training in Belgium last September and many of us in the cross world and her world will remember her forever. I was actually hit by a car about 6 days before Amy was when commuting to work and the news of her death was so unsettling to me based upon my recent experience that I can soundly say it changed the way I looked at racing, life, and everything important to me. I still believe in a way she is with us, looking over our shoulder on training rides and races...telling us to go harder and dig deeper and making us remember why we do the things that we do.
Ed was touched by Amy like so many of us were and I think when I emailed him about a month ago asking if I could use the gift certificate, it brought back some memories of an amazing girl and racer with a huge heart. Since then Ed has been working with me through massage on ways to reduce injury and improve recovery. I have noticed my ITB is no longer as painful or tight as it normally is this time of year and that my running form has improved since am not carrying all the stiffness and soreness around from my regular training load. Before I write more all I can say is thank you Amy and thank you Ed. Both amazing people that I am so happy I have gotten to know.
Trail running has proven to be a bigger adversary then I thought. At first it took me in and welcomed me. My pace decreased day by day. I found a local track group and local trail running group. Nothing is more exciting then meeting new people and running in new places....especially new trails! I love the primal feeling of picking my way across hogbacks on the front range and feeling the crunch of fresh snow under me feet after we have been blanketed. But, about 2 weeks ago I had my first major crash ever.....off the bike. I didn't think you could get hurt off 2 wheels. After a flying superman on the trails of the hogback, I feel like all the memories of my rib fracture after nationals came flying back. My pace was slow, I couldn't complete a track workout, my chest hurt to move my arm and breath, and all of a sudden I was waiting for minutes to pass so I could get better. I have gotten better but everything takes time and I have once again realized that racing is not only about hard work and training but luck and timing. It requires us to be humble and confident at the same time and never, ever take anything for granted.
Learning to Swim
It has been one year to date since I decided to learn how to swim. This has been a little disjointed with a UCI cyclo cross season thrown in (pool time seems to be hard to find in the middle of the schedule) and 2 separate time instances of broken or bruised ribs with the last only a little over 2 weeks ago. I have definitely proven to myself that I can learn anything that I want no matter what age I am and be better at everything I know as well. One person told me I would always struggle with swimming but I would rather say it is adventure of learning and focus to see what works for you and how amazing those moments are when you develop the feel of the water. After deciding to pursue XTERRA racing as a professional this year and started the season off with a bang at Las Vegas West Coast Championship (a little humbling to be honest), I have come miles in my form and strength as a swimmer. With the help of my local swim coach, Jim Murphy, Lakewood's Green Mountain Master's swimming sessions, and SwimLabs out of Highlands Ranch, I have become an open water swimmer in one year.
2013 ended up being a season of growth for me as a person and athlete. It started with a midseason decision in june to train for the Beaver Creek Sprint Xterra. I have never swam before this past year so I had a huge amount of work in store for me. This combined with my decision to buy a craigslist wetsuit the week of the race was a pretty good statement of my expectations for this race. I left the water in 63rd position but ended up racking my bike in 5th overall. This combined with a top 10 run placed me in first for the women and a top 15 result overall but most importantly I had a blast! I ended up completing 2 other xterra events with decent results but more importantly found a new passion and room to grow as an athlete for the 2014 season.
The cross season started out a little slowly after training for xterras during the summer. I ended up back east with a top 10 UCI result in nittany but quickly discovered I needed to go home and put the specific training time in for cross. At home, I quickly realized the wealth of resources available to me in Denver when I start training and working with Pete Weber and the boulder junior cycling team. Not only did I gain some skills from working with this group but also learned how much I enjoy working with juniors and mentoring in the sport of cycling. I noticed that I might especially have an influence with young women and what cycling means to them. This was my biggest lesson learned in 2013 and shows how the meaning of sport can evolve with everyone as time progresses. I was able to finish 7th at a C1 event in the mud at cincinnati this year due to all the help from my boulder friends as well as top 10 results in St. Louis with strong races. However, I ended up getting bronchitis mid season on my way to Kentucky and Iowa City which dragged on till I was able to come home and heal. I finished the season with a ton of strong training only to end it with a rib fracture in my Master's race in Boulder. A disappointing end to the season but still maintained a top 20 ranking in the pro cross standings.
All these lessons learned have produced a solid base for my 2014 season where I plan to compete in the national Xterra scene as a professional this year, continue mentoring local juniors through working with the Golden High School Cycling Team, and continue with plans to complete another UCI racing season with Van Dessel Cycles.
So much has happened since my last post. I complete my first marathon mountain bike race....and finished despite carrying about 4 water bottles around with me that I never drank:) And had the honor of racing in a local stage race with all our local favorites and one of mine, Alison Powers.
However, my favorite trip so far as been Iron Horse. Located in Durango, Co; the iron horse is by far one of the most spectator friendly mountain bike course in colorado. Last year we spent several laps riding over a fly over which the crit was also using as part of the course....think mini circus. This was the opening to a ride into a bar, down a ramp, and followed by come technical features.
Another race weekend and things are improving. Weather is better with no signs of snow in the coming week. Water levels look a little better in some areas and the local mountain bike races are taking place!
Battle of the Bear that occurs in Bear creek reservoir not even 1 mile from the cross country ski pictures taken thursday of this week. Rates are increasing at local races with a fee of 80 for the half marathon which I think goes to funding the junior racing. Thane is the promotor and kindly let me volunteer in registration and course take down for my entry fee.
So, race morning arrives and so does congestion and a chest cold:( Put on a bunch of layers and pedaled my way down to the course. Lap times were super fast ie 30ish minutes in some cases for a 10 mile lap. Course conditions were perfect and just a little tacky from the rain. Women's field looked great and ended up turning out a sub 2 hour winning time for the half marathon by Erin Huck. My time was 2:04 with an average heart rate in the 170s. Great training and a ton of motivation for next weekend's firebird race in eagle, co! My time placed me in 4th, one spot out of the money and podium but can definitely see the time gaps closing and feel my fitness coming back.....now to kick my chest cold before firebird!
So maybe not the most typical week in the front range as it is the start of May, but starting it off with a 4 hour mountain bike ride that connected Green Mountain, Zorro, Hogback, Matthew Winters, Apex, Chimney Gulch, Hogback, then back to Green Mountain. 4000 feet of climbing and at Lookout with some trail confusion and also in Golden for my uniform pick up at Golden Bike Shop. Ramping up for the local mountain bike race this weekend!
Thanks everyone for another awesome weekend of racing in Colorado. Spent saturday riding from home to the federal center for an hour of fun attacks and watching some local team tactics from rise against cycles and natural grocers only to see Julie Emmerman pull off an amazing break from the beginning of the race and hold it for a solo break away. Inspiring!
Deer trail turned out to be a little atypical with 80 degree temperatures that somehow my body was not a huge fan of. Turned out to be a great training day and overall fantastic training weekend. I think all the posts of the Whiskey 50 had me inspired to race as hard as I could this weekend. My thoughts go out to all those at Joe Martin and Whiskey 50!
Off again to Fruita I go since I was just there last weekend with my new team rocky mountain racing. I arrived at the James Robb campsite at 3pm on friday with my travel team of Liz Sampey and Matt Jaeger. First goal is to set up camp which is when Liz pulled out her mega tent.
First night went uneventfully well. No major wind like my past visits to Fruita. Good sleep on my awesome new dream thermarest with super cushy memory foam on top. Total car camping trip. Bike is dialed. Some great riding on 18 road for the openers and ready in the am for the race.
Small field of women in the pro field of about 10 riders and gaps opened up really fast. Felt good and was really glad to be racing again in the pain cave. Got a great workout in and had some super fun times on zippity and chutes and ladders on 18 road.
Fruita spring weather strikes again and when we arrive home at camp from a day of racing and riding my tent is nowhere to be seen. Half way across the campsite, a friendly camper has found my tent but the fly is damaged from being blown several hundred yards. Liz's tent breaks while the wind picks up and almost is carried away by her air mattress in the huge parachute of a big agnes tent. A quick call to Talitha and Josh Voight and we find a spot for the night.
The next day, a little travel weary and sore we are assaulted by Talitha and her phone first thing in the am. Darn morning people. The short track goes not so well with an attack of banana round two midway into lap 2 on the course. Bad news bears.....no pictures of that thank goodness. Well the season is off and running.