Monday, March 30, 2009

First race of the year on Saturday - the Burnham Racing Super Spring Crit. I raced this last year and really liked the course, a moto speedway about two miles long. Flat with wide turns and serious wind.

I got there early to watch the women's cat 4 race. Leah from Flatlandia won it for the second year in a row (Congrats, Leah!) and an up-and-comer from Cuttin' Crew took second. Then I warmed up for the women's open with a bunch of the other racers. There were ten of us at the line: Beth and me from xXx, a couple Kenda Tire girls, Pascale of Project 5, Leah of Flatlandia, Sue and Jessie from ABD, a woman from Cafe Hollander and a woman from Wolverine.

I have to admit, I've been a bit apprehensive about racing in the women's open. A bit intimidated. This is a bad mindset to bring into a race - it makes you tentative when you should be aggressive.

We start. No one wants to pull into the wind. I'm trying to get a feel for the group - I figure I have a couple laps to see who has what, a couple laps to settle into the course. I'm sitting near the back trying to get comfortable in the group - when Jessie attacks. I see her go by me and my first thought is to stand up and do everything I can to grab her wheel. But that millisecond passes and I'm boxed in. I shout out to Beth - and everyone else - that there's an attack. Its the first lap, I don't really expect this to go anywhere. But it's Jessie Prinner, so it breaks up the field and I'm on the wrong side of the break.

Such a dumb mistake. I watch four women ride away and feel like a chump.

I try to organize the five women in my group into a viable chase. But riders start dropping off one by one. After three laps, its just Leah and me, and she - tired from her efforts in the cat 4 race - is fading. So I drop her with four to go. Occasionally I get a glimpse of the race ahead of me. I time trial through the rest of the race. I enjoy it. I like the course, I like riding hard, giving my all. But its sad and bitter trailing the leaders.

Jessie wins (congratulations, Jessie!), Pascale takes second and a Kenda cat one takes third. I'm fifth of ten.

Moral: the women's open is not a cat 4 race. As expected, its faster and harder and filled with strong women itching to animate the race. But its not anything to be afraid of - I'm up to this challenge. Its better to try something grand and fail than to regret your caution. What would Jens do? Everything he possibly could. Time to start racing like Jens.

Big kudos to the xXx men, bringing home first and second place in both the 4/5 and the 30+ 4/5!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A lot has happened since heading off for San Luis Obispo on March 6th. Training camp was awesome, of course. I started the week with a cold which really effected my stamina. It was all I could do on Saturday to ride wheels. Some very nice teammates dragged me along the coast and back to the Peach Tree Inn for a much needed nap. Sunday was better -- no punch, but more endurance. Monday was up and down - endurance was OK, but I couldn't climb well. I bonked about halfway through the 108 mile ride, but recovered and finished feeling much better than I had any right to.

After our recovery day on Tuesday, I started riding stronger. Felt pretty craptastic at the beginning of each day's ride, but I was climbing much better and able to follow the attacks instead of watching everyone ride away. I rode up Black Mountain with Heidi and Greta and enjoyed it a lot more. It seemed like such a ridiculous thing to do last year, ride up a crumbling 7 mile access road with several 20% grades mixed into a 7-8% average. This year, it was sorta fun. Heidi used the first long 20% section to launch herself. Greta ended up having to put a foot down, so the three of us chased each other to the top.

The day we rode up the Wall, I could also see improvement over last year. I made it up faster and more easily - and later in the day did not get dropped on a series of smaller hills and flats into a headwind that had defeated me for the last three years. That alone made my week. By Saturday, I was feeling good -- just in time for a quick 30 miles before the trip home.

I had the next week off work for Spring Break, so instead of scheduling a rest week, I continued with long endurance rides. The weather was lovely and I found myself really wishing I had the youth and talent (or whatever) to quit my job and ride my bike. I had a big weekend scheduled.

But ended up flying to Philadelphia instead. My father drove the 6 hours from his home in western Pennsylvania for a conference, and ended up in the hospital with septic shock from an infection in his replaced hip. He had two surgeries in the first four days to clean out the abscesses, and had two more scheduled for Monday and Thursday of this week. My stepmother had to return to their home to prepare for an indefinite stay in Philly, so I flew out to be with Dad. Good thing, he really needed me. The infection is clearing up, but he's looking at long-term antibiotics and a complicated removal of the hip prosthesis with uncertain results.

I'm back on my bike today - ostensibly for a rest-week endurance ride. But I had tons of stress and nervous energy to burn and ended up in a paceline with my HR at 90%. Ooops. I'm planning on my first race of the season this Saturday and I'm looking forward to it. I really have no idea how I'll do in the Women's Open this year, so it will be good to start getting a feel for where I'm at and what I need to do.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Heading out to camp today!!! I'm so excited. I'm feeling much better -- not 100%, but much better. I rode yesterday and I'm hoping that helped my immune system. The warm weather certainly isn't hurting.

The Dish Network guy is here and I can't start packing up my bike until he's done. I have five hours until I leave for the airport, but I'm starting to get ancy. Here's hoping I can get the second pedal off without issue.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm so frickin' pissed off - I'm SICK. Three days before camp and I'm sick.

It started differently than usual - instead of getting that nasty feeling in my throat, I got this heaviness in my lungs. Now I'm exhausted and coughing and feel like I have a couple bricks on my chest. I'm eating zinc like its candy, and painting my nostrils with zicam. Somehow I need to get more sleep, but with work, training, and preparing for camp, I'm lucky to get 7 hours.

Maybe this explains why I was so slow on Saturday and so exhausted on Sunday. I felt like a dirty, dirty shirker Sunday and had to force myself onto the trainer. The workout was fine - my workout today was fine - but afterwards I felt like a dishrag.

I hate being sick. I've done really well this past year. In '07, I was sick, like six times, but I started taking the zicam and washing my hands until they cracked and bled and I stayed healthy all year. And now, right before the week I look forward to more than any other week of the year, SICK.