Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Synergy

Last night I ran 3 miles with Gavin and Nora, and while we were running I was thinking of how awesome it is that we got to this point. Nora started running with Girls on the Run in 3rd grade, and then started running track in 5th, and last year did Cross Country and Track in 6th grade. Meanwhile, her brother has been watching her and although he was never really a runner, decided this year as a Freshman, to run track. Entering into Gavin's life now is a team of 8 great coaches, including the famous Coach Lober. Not being a naturally gifted runner has challenged Gavin, making him extremely disappointed and frustrated at times. Coach Lober continues to encourage him and suggested he participate in the Boys Running Camp this summer. Every morning, Monday through Friday, these boys run at 8 a.m. Gavin shows up, gives it his best, still falling short of his expectations, but still pushing on. Last night, as we ran, I could hear his heavy breathing, and encouraged him to push it a little farther. I suggested once that we walk, Nora was struggling a bit, but Gavin told me that he was going to keep on running. I watched him push it up the slight incline and pick up some speed and run away from us. 

It started out with myself encouraging my kids to get out there, push themselves a little, and get out of their comfort zone. Now, I have to say, that we are all encouraging each other and inspiring each other every day. As these kids become actual human beings with thoughts and emotions and goals, I realize that they have also started teaching me. I have to say watching this come together has been pretty great. And, it honestly couldn't have happened without a lot of support in our community and from the coaches that have been involved along the way. Thank you!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice

There have been some big bumps in the road in my life lately. In addition to these bumps, I also struggle with every Michigan winter. With shorter days and colder temps, it is harder and harder for me to get on my bike. I know the options out there for getting outside, but in short, I really miss those warm summer days that I can hop on my bike and just ride. There is no place on earth I would rather be than in Traverse City in the summer. But the winter, another story. Snow came kind of early and lots of it, and I have had some downright shitty days and weeks.

Indoor Torture Chamber
After a few months of introspection, taking a break from training, racing, blogging, and just communicating with most people in general, I can say that these were only bumps and not blocks in my road. We just celebrated the longest night of the year and now we are graced with the gift of a bit more sunlight every day. And likewise, every day gets a little bit easier for me. 

Recently I dusted off my bike, and started doing some Sufferfest training videos that I downloaded a few years ago but didn't ever really use. I have a great new set up to train indoors, and started exploring what these videos were all about.

Initially I thought, well, it will be a start but it won't *really* be training. Until I did the video, "Local Hero". Yeah. I was wrong. Let's just say this is what I looked like before the workout....





And after 1.5 hours of suffering later:

Yikes! As I was warming up I looked at the video status bar and noticed that it said 1:27:00 left. I thought, well, ok, that is long for a cycling video but probably just a bunch of easy stuff. It is a good thing I didn't know what was coming, as I may not have stuck to it. After warming up it had me do three 6 minute pyramids, with the intensity going up for three minutes and then down again for three. Then I did 5 three minute hard efforts simulating crit racing. This brought me to about an hour, and I thought the rest should be a piece of cake. Wrong again, as I then had to do 4 two minute sprint efforts. 

So yeah, it was hard. I did suffer. A lot. But I had fun. It felt great to get my heart rate back up again. My quads were screaming but I could feel my legs waking back up. I had some great music to listen to while I was pedaling. I was watching the snow come down outside my window and saw how beautiful winter can be. 

I ran across this saying yesterday...

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is the future.
Today is your life. Live it. 

Here's to brighter days ahead and living every moment in the meantime.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gaslight Crits

I wrapped up my road cycling season last weekend at the Delta Subaru Gaslight Crit in Grand Rapids, MI. It is put on by one of my favorite teams, Real Women Tri, in one of my favorite cities. I knew I would get to see lots of familiar faces and meet up with some old friends. I had a lot going on in the previous week leading to this, so I did not have any big expectations, but still hoped that I might end it with a bang. After racing in Elk Grove, one of the women there recommended that I start racing with the men to get more experience riding harder than hell as well as riding in a big group. So, before I could put too much thought into it, I registered for the women's 1,2,3 race as well as the Master's Men 35 and up. Susan Donnelly also traveled from Traverse City with me and raced the women's cat 4 race.

We arrived early Saturday after staying with friends in GR and got Sue ready for her race. While she raced, I warmed up for mine. The field was decent, with 17 women, and at a time of year
And we are off!
where everyone is pretty much in shape and pretty fast. My first race started at 10:40, and as I learned, position is everything and lined up front and center and ready to race. We took off pretty fast and right off the bat there is a 90 degree left turn. This was my first race on my new 404 Zipp wheels, and wow, it felt much different cornering on them. It took me about half the race to acclimate to the new wheels. For some reason, this first corner was the hardest for me, mainly due to the higher speed that we went into it compared to the other corners. There was another 90 degree turn, a straight away that had a full head wind, then a very sharp left turn, up a hill, followed by one more left turn. It was a fun course.
I don't know why I am smiling, I hated that turn

I made sure to stay near the front of the pack, followed a few attacks, ignored a few attacks, and
I wish this was a picture of the finish. I am in a much
better position than where I actually finished.
even attacked myself twice. I felt that I stayed active in the race and felt great physically. On the last lap, I unfortunately got stuck behind a wheel on the straightaway and watched the race move around me like a river around a stone and after I broke free I desperately tried to make up my position. At this point the girls were moving pretty fast and I couldn't get back to the front. I caught a few girls and passed them, but ended up 11th out of 17. I was disappointed that I didn't race smarter on that last lap and felt I really could have done better this time.

I rested up in the afternoon and got ready for the Master's race, which was at 3:00 pm. It was a field of 45 men, and I lined up wondering just how this was going to go. I daydreamed about me hanging in there for the whole race, and just how awesome that would be. I lined up and got in position in the second row of guys, and worried a little about that first corner. At the start, the guys took off full throttle and I jumped as well. If I thought we were fast into that corner in the women's race, it was nothing compared to the guys. I could not help tapping my brakes, due to my nervousness, but didn't do too bad the first lap. I hung in the middle, and on the straightaway I focused on the wheel in front of me and told myself not to let it go. The guys were starting to crowd in on both sides and I kept telling myself to not give it up. The very sharp left turn up the hill came up, and I took that too slow, but still stood up and pedaled and kept my position in the middle. Coming into that first left turn again, even faster this time, I touched my brakes again and got another gap. I stood up and sprinted to close it. I was moving farther and farther back, and on the third lap around on the straightaway I lost contact with the last wheel and got dropped. It was insane how fast they were going. I knew I was just going to be motorpacing, but with the turns it made it so much more difficult.
One of these things is not like the other...

I had all kinds of people rooting for me and telling me not to give up, so kept riding hard and kept my heart rate up. After awhile, the main field lapped me and I jumped in to just race and see how long I could hold on again. On one lap I was pushed over into the curb on that first left turn and I touched my brakes again, harder this time, and a man in an orange jersey rode past me and muttered the word "bitch" as he went by. This really ticked me off and I wish I would have gotten his race number. This just really showed what a pig he is.  "Watch it, move it, watch your line." Any of those would have been appropriate comments, maybe. Anyway, I think I lasted another two to three laps. Exhausted, I fell off of the back again on the straightaway. On this lap I got pulled from the race.

Racing with the guys did feel a whole lot like Tour of Elk Grove, and although I may have not had the best wheel or lines in that race, I am sure that it wasn't the worst and the more I race, the better I will get. It may be awhile before I can finish with the guys, but I think it could be possible. I have come a long way this season, and I am really looking forward to racing next season with what I have learned. I am looking forward to doing some social riding in the next month and not having to follow a training schedule for the first time in 8 months. Vacation!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tour of Elk Grove, Day 2

After the time trial on Saturday, Sarah and I headed back to her friends home to stay the night. We unloaded our gear, and had some dinner, and got ready for sleep. I was going to race two races on Saturday, the amateur Women's Open race at 8:30 am and the Pro race at 1:00.  I was sitting at the
table in the kitchen when I noticed a pile of road racing magazines. I looked at the cover of one, and it had as a headline, "Alison Powers is Tulsa's Toughest." I looked inside and saw another article about Shelly Olds. Both of these women were racing this weekend. I started panicking a little, and wondered what the hell I was doing racing against these women. Sarah tried to help by telling me that it is just a race like any other race. I didn't believe her though. I laid in bed that night, completely wired. Eventually I fell asleep about 1 a.m. Got up bright and early at 5:00 a.m. to go race.

I headed out after getting some much needed coffee. It was very quiet in Elk Grove at 7:30. It
helped calm my nerves a little. I was looking forward to this race because I wanted more practice cornering before riding with the big girls. The plan was to try not to work and mainly use this race as a warm up. There were nine girls at the start line and I didn't know any of them. The race was 50 minutes long, and we went off at a conservative pace. The corners were fun, nothing too scary. There were a few $25 primes which I didn't go for, and then I heard one called out for $50. I decided to win this one, and did my best to be second in line around the final corner and then sprinted around and got the prime pretty easily. I was happy that I made a little money. The race kept moving along, and I only pulled for one or two laps and then it came down to a bunch sprint. I was right there, but still only came in 5th place. I think my sprint improved a little, but still didn't have enough punch to beat the other girls. I also didn't want to kill myself to win this one. I did get $40 for 5th place, so it made coming out worth it.

I went and had some lunch and then spread out a blanket to take a nap before the 1:00 race. I slept next to my van on a patch of grass in someone's front lawn. I think I can sleep just about anywhere. Sarah arrived and we got ready, warmed up a little, and headed over to sign in for the race. We lined up and the mass of women racing was huge. A field of 65 women. I had never raced with this big of a crowd before. I was very afraid of causing a crash and being that newbie that just took out the whole Tibco team. I also wondered how I might get home if I ended up in the hospital, since I drove myself there. What else do people think about while they are lined up at the start line?

Girls from Colavita waiting to pre-ride the course
Team Tibco is nicely lined up
They did call ups of the TT winners and for the NRC leaders.  I was honestly just so excited to be there. Finally they started the race and we were off. I was able to clip into my pedals quickly and grabbed a wheel. We had a 180 degree turn right away, and I was towards the back. The smell of burning carbon filled the air as everyone slammed on their brakes, then stood up and sprinted. Next was a right turn, not too bad. Then another 180, straight away into a head wind, then another 180, then a right turn back to the finish line. We had 14 laps for a total of 51 miles to race that day. It was fairly warm and sunny. As we kept going through the slow down, turn, stand up, sprint to 30 mph I was getting more and more at my limit. I was bouncing off
the back, wasting massive amounts of energy bridging the gap to the wheel in front of me. My lunch started coming up in my throat, and at about 40 minutes I sat up. There was no way I could keep doing that for 2 hours. I initially thought that they would pull me from the race, but they didn't. If I kept riding and finished within the time cut I could race the next day, so I kept plugging away.

Line of team cars following the race
I was getting lots of cheers from the crowd to hang in there as I rode alone. It was getting harder to ride, as I became aware of some pretty bad pain in my shoulders and in my feet. I then heard someone call out to go catch Sarah, she was just ahead. I did see another rider ahead, so I made my way up to her. It's much better to have someone to ride with! It ended up being Sarah, and we shared the work and helped each other out as we both had moments of intense struggle. I was near tears at times due to the pain I was feeling. I ran out of water and was getting more fatigued. I shut my brain off, and did not think other than to tell myself to just keep pedaling. I became unaware of time, and just focused on doing what I needed at that moment to finish this race. We had one lap to go and Sarah was also out of water and began cramping up. She was really hurting that last lap. We made it though, and crossed the finish line together. We made the time cut and "lived to die another day" as Sarah said.

As soon as I finished I got off the course and looked for water. I almost pushed people down to make my way to a water cooler, and as I came back to reality my body was pretty mad at me. I started shaking and was overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe that I finished that race. I could barely move my left arm as my shoulder hurt so badly. I made my way to the first aid tent to get some ice on it. Riding alone is way harder than being with the group, and I may have tried to stay on longer if I realized I would be riding for another 1.5 hours by myself basically. I was proud that I finished, it was a huge accomplishment, although a humbling one.

While I was in the pack, it was one of the most fun and exciting experiences I have ever had racing. It made my determination to get faster and learn how to race in a big group like that even stronger. In the meantime, I headed back to rest some more and gear up to race on Sunday.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Tour of Elk Grove, Prologue TT

I have had a great summer of racing. So much racing that I have let the yard go, the dog has been ignored, and I am losing my gourmet cooking skills. But it's only summer for about two weeks in Michigan so I need to race and ride while I can! I recently made the plunge and requested an upgrade so I am now a Category 2 racer. This enabled me to race Tour of Elk Grove, which my friend Sarah encouraged me to try as well as my coach Chris Fisher. Nothing like just jumping right in! It is a very prestigious race where the top women's teams and pro's come to duke it out and it has a huge payout for the winners. I was just hoping at best to hang with a very large group of the best girls in the country that are racing now.

I was terrified as well as completely excited to go and try this out. A new, huge challenge. There are three races in this stage race, the Prologue TT, and two circuit races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I also signed up for the women's amateur open crit on Saturday morning. Why the heck not, right? Get as many races in a weekend that I can.

I left in the early hours and headed down for the TT at 4:30 Chicago time. Which I forgot is 5:30 our time. I got there pretty early, somehow missed that this being a big deal and a big race that there is a meeting that everyone is supposed to attend and pick up their numbers. I panicked as I was not on the start list, but was able to get it worked out in time, and started at 4:29. I would be the first to go off. I realized I have a lot to learn but Sarah was there to help.

The time trial is only 4.5 miles, since it is a prologue, which is about 10 minutes of riding as hard as you are physically able. I brought my bike in to check it in and make sure it met USA cycling rules, and the seat was too far forward and tilted up too high. Made some adjustments and I was good to go. I sat in the staging area, hoping my legs would feel ok. I had been battling a nasty cold that still was lingering and I had not been on my bike as much as I would have liked going into this. I was the most hopeful about this race of any though, as I have been doing well this year at time trials.

It was something to see the women from Pro-Optum and Tibco walking around, with their team cars and support team. Must be awesome to have that support! Myself, I parked on a side street, got dressed in my van, and warmed up with Sarah by my side on our trainers. It was nice to have company at least!

Anyway, I got on the ramp, they counted down and I was off. It was a nice, flat course and I just gave it all I had. Maybe a little too much at the beginning, because my legs were screaming when I was about 3 minutes in and when I could have been going over 30 mph on a slight downhill with a tailwind I could barely muster high 20s. I took a right turn, and my legs were adapting and I was able to tell myself to push my legs harder and they responded. 180 degree turn, into a headwind, and I buckled down and started feeling better. I had two more turns, and came into the finish, mouth completely dried out, swung off the course, and lost my lunch. A father and son walked by and looked a little disturbed, but hey, these things are normal if you are racing. It ain't always pretty.

Sarah finished up, and we headed off to get some rest. Later I saw the results and I was 50th out of 64 women, with a time of 10:50, 1:31 behind Alison Powers who won, average speed 24.5 mph. I was pleased with that, but as always....thinking I could have done just a bit better. Here are the results. And here is my Strava of the ride.

I don't have many pictures as I was here with Sarah, who was also racing and my phone battery died on Friday. But here is a great picture of me with Meredith Miller, who was racing her retirement race, it was a great honor to be with her this weekend! I will have more posts about the later, more exciting races that happened this weekend. It was an awesome experience that I will remember forever.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Chi-town Here I Come!

After a great season of racing, it's not over yet as I got my cat 2 upgrade and am heading to race Tour of Elk Grove this weekend. Soooo excited!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where have all the Cat 1/2's gone? And Tour de Mont Pleasant...

This year has been a strange year for women's racing in Michigan. There are a lot of strong women who haven't been racing that usually do. I miss them a lot, in a weird sadistic way, but because they made the races exciting. I was usually off of the back by the end, but it was a hard work out, challenging, and left me wanting to train harder so I could just be able to stay in the pack and finish with everyone. Cyclists crave suffering. Yes, we are a strange crowd.  This year there have been just a few Cat 1/2 women at the races, with the majority of the field being Cat 3. The races have felt a lot like the Cat 4 races did. We Cat 3s need the Cat 1/2's out there to show us how it's done. I hope they are able to get to more races this season. Since there really aren't that many women who race in Michigan, I actually do know where most of the Cat 1/2 women are, and honestly what we really need is just more women who want to race!
Women's 1/2/3 start

Anyway, I raced Mt Pleasant last weekend (I only did the RR, my son was in a play and I had to miss the TT and Crit). They moved the race this year from downtown and out to the casino. This was my second road race and it went much the same as Frankenmuth...pretty flat, with people trying to attack and get away, but yet not able to. The whole pack chases down each attack, even when it's their own team mate out there. I did chase down one attack, but otherwise sat in and watched the riders. The pace was steady, not too slow but not much faster than a good Sunday group ride. I chatted casually with a few of the girls, commented on the weather, the scenery, the races so far this season. 

Then I felt like what the hell, so here we are again, just riding to the finish line and sprinting again. Which to me feels almost like a toss of the dice as to who will win. Coming into the last few miles I decided to try and attack, and see what happened. I went out as hard as I could, stood up for what seemed like forever, and looked back and there was virtually almost no gap. Settled back in, took a break for awhile, and attacked again. Joann Cranson was out with me and we tried to stay away together, but got reeled in again. 

At least this got the pace up, and as we entered the road before the last turn, we were going pretty fast and we were pretty close together. My heart was racing,  we were going about 24 miles an hour, someone's handlebars were bumping my ass on the left, and the person on my right was equally as close. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, I started to slide back my position to get some room and when we came into the corner everyone was in front of me. I looked up and there was the whole pack on a one lane road one kilometer from the finish. 

Shit. I noticed that no one was over the white line on the right, so I edged back and went over to shoulder of the road, and having no one to draft off of, pushed it and moved to the front. We were probably going about 25 mph here, and I was neck and neck with the front line of women, when at about 200 meters to go they kicked in their final big push and I had no more to give. I saw the woman next to me stand up and and and...I couldn't. I watched them all ride on by. 

Everyone else pretty much finished up where they came into the corner as there was no room to go around anyone in the sprint. It would have been nice if they could have at least opened up two lanes for the finish. I missed the old start/finish in downtown Mt. Pleasant. 

So, no big podium at this race, but at least I experimented a bit and tried something new. Thanks to  Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce for continuing to put on a great weekend of racing! My vote is to move the road race back to downtown or find a way to open two lanes for the finish. :) And thanks to Kim and Dave for letting me carpool with them!
Women's 1/2/3 results