Monday, December 13, 2010

A Wild Ride.

Whew. Okay so I know I have slacked off a ton this fall with my posting but I have been racing, I promise. Grad school is awesome but all consuming; blame Statistics for my lack of timely posts.

This fall has been riddled with highs and lows in my racing. I had one incredible day in Ohio, two disappointing days in Ohio, some fantastic racing in Georgia and North Carolina and  some challenging days at the USGP in Louisville. The short version of everything: I spent half the season battling a sinus infection that I did not know I had and another couple of weeks dealing with the aftermath of the flood caused by a broken pipe the weekend of Ohio. My Cross season was a roller coaster of ups and downs.

Even on the bad days I found some good things. At the USGP in Louisville I was on antibiotics (finally) from the sinus infection and was not at 100%. My goal was to work on bike handling and my starts. I had fantastic starts all weekend. I was top 5 going onto the dirt both days. I faded after that, but the initial effort was there. I learned how to push through the bad days and have fun just racing my bike.

In North Carolina I was healthy and ready to race. I had a great weekend. It was a UCI weekend and I rode as well as I ever have with 7th and 6th place finishes. WooHoo!!! I was finally starting to find my legs... hopefully this was going to be my year at Nationals. I finished the Georgia series strong, I remain undefeated in the Southeast. I sure do love the GA Cross scene. What an incredible group of women. And my teammates are also hooked. Look for more of the team in GA next fall.

This past week was Nationals in Bend, OR. Against my better judgement we loaded up a ridiculous amount gear and got on an airplane in hopes of glory; or at least a lot of fun. It is exam week so I had to do a little bit of sweet talking to make sure it was okay for me to be gone. I was registered for 3 races (plus a TT for start position in the Masters race); collegiate, masters and elite. As a full time student, I was eligible to race the collegiate race and I wanted to support my school and the cycling team by representing at nationals.

The TT was my first event and I rocked it. I took second and I was psyched. Unfortunately I rocked it a little bit too well and my legs had nothing the next day for the actual masters race. I had a horrible day. Grrr. Okay now I am just angry. After a day of recovery I was going to rip off some legs in the collegiate race. I wanted to come home with a medal so badly I could taste it.

The collegiate race and the elite race were the same day so we had some interesting logistics to contend with. The morning was a balancing act of eating, warming up, racing, cleaning up, eating, more warming up and racing again. We would be lucky if we pulled it off. I could have never done it without Mark's help. Thanks babe!!! My warm-up began before the sun came up (my first race was at 8am) and I was sleepy but excited. I was definitely the "old lady" of the collegiate ranks. I did not know a single person I was racing against so I was just going to have to take it as it came. UTC is  Division 2 for cycling; both D1 and D2 were racing at the same time with a 1 minute gap between us. They sent off the D1 ladies and I was focused. It was show time. They blew the whistle and I was immediately at the front with three other girls. Okay, I am going to settle in and see where I stack up against them. After the fist minute or so I knew I was "on". My body felt good and everything was rolling perfect. I LOVE that feeling. I passed the front girls and never looked back. I floated over the mud and flew around the course. I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air. I had just won a national championship!!!!!!

The rest of the day was a blur. Somehow I cleaned up, ate and made it to awards before it was time to race the elite race. The elite race was my victory lap. I enjoyed every second of being out there and even though my legs were done I pushed hard and did okay. I know I could have raced a lot better had I not already raced that morning but I no longer cared where I finished. I just wanted to enjoy the race and the cheers. The fans were incredible. I still finished in the top half, almost top third (47th out of 111 starters) with tired legs and a tired (extremely MUDDY) bike. I collapsed that evening and didn't even get to celebrate. I was too exhausted.

We are now on the journey home. My season has been the most incredible one ever.

I raced for the US National Team at a World Cup.

I won a gold medal and a national championship jersey.

What a wild ride it has been.

Thanks for reading....