Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Holy tamales, is it really MAY?

Well, tomorrow it is... it's amazing how fast time flies when every weekend is chock full of racing, riding, and recovering...

Just a thought.

(In other words, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Or something like that.)

Highlights in the Half-week

It's halfway through the week. Time for some highlights. And some not-so's.

(+) Coming in 2nd in Sunday's race, all in all a great team performance once again.
(-) Listening to the intern blab way too loudly to his mentor about how thankful he is (we GET it already).
(+) Completing my workout yesterday in spite of the rain, Spring coldness, and a great desire to just sit on my ass and watch Scrubs and Gray's Anatomy.
(-) Waking up this morning with a sore throat that has yet to go away.
(+) Finding a cheap fare to Minneapolis for the Fixed Gear Classic.
(-) Listening to static-y elevator music while waiting 20 minutes for the airline agent to get back to me about fare promo deadline.

To end on a high note, at least I got to work early today so I can go home a little after 3. Perhaps the weather will hold and I can do a dry recovery ride. Let's just hope Friday doesn't get rained out... Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Walla Walla -- Crazy Crazy legs are still totally wiped from last weekend. Racing the Thursday night series last night validated that. But first...last weekend's race report:

TT: Uphill out, downhill back, WINDY out, but kinda windy both ways. Felt strong, and did better than I thought I would (15th out of a field of 48 gals). Rode my new (to me) front Zipp 303, but kept my Mavic powertap wheel on the rear (there's no way I can do a TT on perceived exertion, at least not yet). Thinking about lacing up another PT hub into the rear 303. Glad the wind wasn't strong enough to knock me over in my aerobars.

RR: Later that same day. Legs tired from the hard TT effort. Since I had 3 strong teammates ahead of me in GC, I was a workhorse for them. Went out on a big attack up a sizable climb, and stayed off the front in a 3-woman breakaway for a fair amount of time. It was rough. The wind made it harder, and my legs were yelling at me from wanting so much out of them still after the morning's performance. They finally caught us, but I'm hoping they shed a lot of riders in the process. The race shattered on all the rollers on the back side, and then I found myself at the back of the lead group. Clawed back on a few times. I eventually got dropped up a hill, and had coughing fits the rest of the way back to the finish line. A few times I tried to start working with other dropped riders, but my legs wouldn't go. So frustrating. But those 3 teammates all moved up in GC so the effort was totally worth it.

My mind then turned to refueling and resting for the crit Sunday morning. It was an awesome 6-corner L-shaped course, flat and perfect for me. Great course. It was cold, and actually snowing at the end of our race. Got in a good warmup and pre-rode the course a bit. Stayed with the pack the whole race, and took it as my responsibility to make sure this one girl didn't get away without me (if she won, she'd knock Heather out of 2nd in the GC). I stuck on her wheel consistently with 5 laps to go, and made it into the top 10 at the finish by the skin of my teeth. The pace was pretty high the whole time, and I was happy with my ability to change my pack position when I wanted to. I also kept an eye on the lap cards - something I've had issues with this season so far. Good practice for track, too, I think.

It was an exhausting weekend, and poor Jamie who's been training towards this course all season got sick last week and had to bail after the first stage (they had a RR Friday evening as well). I'm just trying not to get sick now too!

My legs still feel like toast. Last night I raced the Thursday night crit series, and got dropped on lap 2. There's a hill on the course, and my legs just weren't happy with that. Bummer. I hope I'm recovered by Sunday for another race in the Cat4 Women's Series. My teammate Heidi is in 1st (I'm in 6th!), so we could be in for a tough ride. It's only 26 miles or something, but I hear there's a doozy of a hill ("The Wall") at the end and in the middle (it's a loop we do twice).

My track teammate Jen and I are thinking about going to Minneapolis for the NSC Fixed Gear Classic at their velodrome in Blaine. They're putting that on in conjunction with the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and trying to attract some good women racers...hopefully they'll do that and it'll be a fun experience. Can't wait for track pre-season to start -- ONE WEEK to go!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kids on Stage

When I was little, my brother, our neighbors, and I used to play this board game called "Kids on Stage." I don't completely remember how the game went, but it was a sort of charades game.

Saturday begins the first stage race of the season - and my second stage race ever. I'll have to be on top of warmup, cooldown, and most of all recovery.

Two days of racing, three tough races, and 42 strong competitors.

There will definitely be some charades going on this weekend - when your body is being that beaten up, you have to put on a strong face and just muscle through it.

Time to be another Kid on Stage again...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekends Like This

It's weekends like this last one that remind me how much I wish I could get paid to train and race my bike, and how much I hate getting up for work (especially on Monday mornings). So much so, in fact, that I just stood in the women's restroom for a good 2 minutes, playing with my hair, and staring at my face, just to avoid going back to my desk and sitting at a computer.

[The great thing about my job is that it pays for my bike and allows me to train and race more or less when I want (sure, I'd like to be able to sleep till 8 or 9am, and not have to train at night on my indoor trainer in the middle of winter, but it's not a bad compromise). But I digress...]

Really the fun started on Tuesday at PR. The first race in the Women's series was last week, and I showed up along with a handful of my teammates and a bunch of other women. It's basically a training race for W4's, and the W1/2/3's show up to give us coaching advice during the race. They're not competing with us, and they're not there to lead us out or anything great like that. Just to make us be smart or work harder.

So the first ~2-mile lap is pretty neutral, getting everyone used to the course, and then we're racing. Some attacks go off, they get chased down, then the bell rings for a prime, and coming around what I've labeled "Turn 2," I decide to launch an attack. In reality, I totally forgot that this was a prime lap, and just wanted to attack. I've got some distance, and manage to keep it going all the way around Turn 3 and coming into the line. Most of the way around Turn 3 I remember that it's a prime lap, and think, "Man, now I HAVE to keep this going at least to the line!" I totally thought I had it, but neglected to look back one more time, and one girl caught me right at the line!!! DANGIT! THAT was frustrating. So the pack catches me immediately after that, and Gina (a Cat1/2, who happens to be on my team, but the 1/2's are have no loyalties for this race) yells, "You've got someone who just blew her wad!! What do you do?!?!" And some smart girl says, "You attack!" So they do that, but luckily I've still got enough to jump on someone's wheel and I sit in and rest for a bit. Attacks keep going and getting caught, my teammate Heather and I try for an attack, but our communication is sucky, and we get caught. Lap cards go up for 2 to go, and we're kinda just rolling around at a steady pace, not really slow, but nothing that intense either. Well, we are approaching Turn 2 again, and I think, "What I did last time almost worked...maybe I can make it work this time." So I sneak up on the outside and attack around Turn 2. I give it what I've got, and see that I've got a gap on the field, and glance at my PowerTap. I think to myself: "Ok, I've got a little over 2 miles to go (once around the track, plus a little bit more). In the TT on Sunday, I was able to hold 210W avg for 12.5 miles. I'm guessing I can hold ~235W for the rest of the way." So I get into a groove to try to hold that while still trying to gain distance on the pack. It was awesome. Snot flying out of my face, breathing so freaking hard.... I stayed away all down the first straightaway, into Turn 1, down the other straightaway into the wind, around Turn 2....and I'm glancing behind me, seeing them get closer. So I try to go harder. Around Turn 3, still away. I can see the finish line, and I'm coming into it, but I hear the spectators screaming, "Get on her wheel!!" and I know that the girls are close. There are 2 of them. They're gaining on me, and the finish line isn't as close as it seemed a second ago. But they still don't come around. I'm pushing harder and harder, but I know they're not far. Then we're almost at the line, and one girl comes left around me. DANGIT AGAIN. She's going to beat me to the line - I've got no sprint left - but the girl on HER wheel...maybe I can beat her. I give it EVERYTHING I have, and I can hear her moaning, and I beat her over the line! I go 2 more pedal strokes, and start retching... I totally threw up. Not a ton, but definitely a little. That's the first time I've thrown up in a race. It was crazy. I turned my body inside out for this thing! What a training session. Second in the prime AND the overall. Pretty frustrating, but a great effort, evidenced by my power numbers. I was PSYCHED.

So that was Tuesday, and my legs were pretty dead all week from that. I had a workout on Thursday that I completed, but could feel Tuesday yelling at me. (:

Then came the weekend, with back-to-back crits Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was Volunteer Park, on Capitol Hill only a few miles from home. The non-technical course had a few nice round "corners," if you could call them that, and a small climb immediately before the sharpest, but still safe, corner. We arrived early to pre-ride the course before the first race went off, and then got warmed up and fueled for our race. At 9:45 we lined up at the front (I was particularly excited to see that Jamie and Riain both came to watch us race!), and we were off. I got clipped in quickly, and managed to stay quite near the front for the majority of the race. We could hear Gina screaming at us each time we reached the top of the climb, and it was great encouragement. I made a breakaway attempt, and managed to stay off the front for a few laps, attempting to work with a few different girls, but eventually not succeeding and getting swallowed by the pack again. But I was able to get back in and keep a good position up until a few laps to go. Then somehow the back kind of came around me and I found myself a lot closer to the back than I wanted to be. I knew I needed to get towards the front coming around the last corner, and tried to work my way back on the descent and the climb. Unfortunately, that was somewhat unsuccessful. As I came around the last corner, I could see a girl already sprinting for the finish line, and she was strong -- there was no way anyone would catch her. I tried to find a good wheel to follow for a bit of a leadout, but in the end, saw a nice open stretch of road in front of me and drilled it to the line. I ended up 4th overall -- a fair placement for my efforts, I think.

Afterwards, Dana even told me she was shouting at her girls to catch me: "There goes the race! That IS the race, girls!" which made me feel pretty good...

The weather for Volunteer Park was gorgeous, and I ended up hanging out at the park most of the day (and getting a sunburn). Jamie's race was exciting, with a one-man break for quite a while, and Jamie ending up taking 4th. Afterwards, there was a barbecue at Tom and Joannie's house, where we got to hang out and eat good food. Then we headed home to get ready for the next day...

Sunday I pre-rode the course for the Boat Street/Brad Lewis Memorial Crit, and the sun was even peeking through. But as I rode home (about 0.5 miles from the course) after the pre-ride, the sky was darkening, and rain clouds could be seen to the west. I ate, got my coffee, then rode down with my trainer to get warmed up and register. The temperature seemed to already be dropping from earlier that morning! As we rode to the starting line, Gina told me and Heidi that this was to be Heidi's race, as she was the team leader in W4 series points.

The race was a great team effort. I made a few attacks, with one long one where I bridged up to a girl from Western, I think. We tried to work together, but the pack dragged us back in. Heather eventually got into a break with 2 GH's. They kept the break going the rest of the race, and at 2 laps to go, Heidi started a successful bridge attempt. Heather ended up with a podium spot (3rd), Heidi took 6th, I was 8th, and Sara rounded out the top 10. I ended up in a pretty bad position at the back for about 1/3 of the race, and was saved by my sprint in the end. The corners were easier than I thought they'd be, and I was told that I looked comfortable, but should have been in front so I could have kept up my speed. I really wanted the race to be longer, just so we had time to DO more.

So in the end, I had some great races, wonderful team experiences, good placing, and a nice refresher on crits for next weekend's Tour of Walla Walla. My legs feel like they're getting stronger, as well as my overall fitness and endurance. Waking up this morning, my whole body felt sore, but I think that's actually a good thing. I love this feeling, I love racing, and I can't wait until the next race, until I can see how much better I'm getting, until I can see my training pay off, until I can help my teammates's amazing.

Now, back to work...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Not So Stellar

Saturday was Sequim #2. I had high hopes, with my good showing from Sequim #1. We did alright, but my legs felt tired the whole race, and I didn't have anything for the sprint. Then my number got obscured somehow and they didn't even post me in the results, although I know I'm in the top 12. (What confuses me is that they had my name listed as 11th, then I protested higher, and when the final results got posted online, I'm not even on there...huh???) Heather's not listed either, even though she came in right behind me. Whatever...guess that just gives me motivation to do well at the upcoming crits. My teammates did well, with Jackie finishing despite a crash, Vanessa riding most of the race on her own but still finishing too, Christi staying with the pack, and Heather riding strong as always.

Sunday we had a cornering clinic and my legs were just toast. Saturday I'd had a hard time fueling up and hydrating, and recovery was just shot because of that. So I guess I paid for it Sunday. At least next weekend is only a TT.

It's going to be a busy week again, but hopefully the weekend will bring some rest and recovery. What, it's already Tuesday?! It's already APRIL??? Less than four months until FSA...