Race Anecdotes: Superior Morgul Classic – TT

Because I didn’t preview the TT course, I had no idea what to expect. Which, if you’ve read any of my previous anecdotal posts, you’ll know by now that it’s imperative to preview courses.

This is why I rarely previewed courses:

  1. I didn’t think it was necessary.
  2. It was too much work to find the course, create the route on my Strava account, and then import it into my Garmin.
  3. I had no one to ride with.
  4. It didn’t fit my “training schedule.”
  5. It was too much of a hassle to drive to all the different courses throughout Colorado.

Okay, so let’s break these down.

“I didn’t think it was necessary.”

Truth be told, I didn’t think I’d do all that well, so I thought it wouldn’t matter if I knew what the course was like or not. This sort of thinking sets you up for C-effort. This is why I came in 5th and not 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

Previewing courses is necessary. You’ll know where the hills are, where you need to turn, where you can go full throttle, where the finish line is, all the things you need to know prior to racing if you want to strategize. Granted, my strategy was “giving racing a try.”

 

“It was too much work to find the course, blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t like finding courses on Strava. I don’t like making my own routes on Strava. And I really don’t like the process of importing the route to my Garmin. Sure, the whole process could take me an hour tops, but that’s an hour I can spend doing something I enjoy. It’d be much more convenient if the race directors inserted a link to the Strava route (which some do) within their race flyer, so we know what we’re racing.

This really comes down to being lazy. If I would have just bit the bullet and added the course/route, I would have been able to at least see where the hills were on Strava if I wasn’t going to ride the course myself.

 

“I had no one to ride with”

I didn’t want to ride alone on a new course. I can ride routes I already know, but new ones, ehhhh… not a fan. I think it’s the fear of getting lost. I don’t know why this scares me so much as I’ve been lost before with a riding buddy and we eventually found where we were going. I think it’s the idea of being alone and being lost and not being able to figure it out. I’m too prideful to call someone to pick me up and I have an irrational fear of my phone dying and being lost forever.

 

“It didn’t fit my ‘training schedule.'”

Truth be told, I didn’t have much of a training schedule as I was trying to do too many things at once. At this point in the year, I was still training for a double century, the Seattle to Portland ride, to be exact. Driving up to Boulder for an 11-mile bike ride was not part of my “training plan.” Could I have turned this 11-mile bike ride to a 50-mile or 80-mile bike ride? Yeah, sure. And then I didn’t.

 

“It was too much of a hassle to drive to all the different courses throughout Colorado.”

It is a hassle to drive to all the different routes peppered through Colorado, but winning takes effort. Winning takes strategy and planning. And if you don’t want to win, then don’t put forth effort. But don’t bitch and moan when there’s a hill you didn’t expect. The difference between the gal who comes in first and the gal who comes in last is effort. That’s all things effort: training, experience, planning, etc.

 

The takeaway:

Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.

Race Anecdotes: Oz Road Race

Oz Road Race

I can’t say this race’s name without thinking of Dorthy and her skipping along the yellow brick road. Although, this race was anything but a skip through some fields. We weren’t in Denver anymore.

 

Racers Ready – Practice Starting

We lined up, all chatting away our nerves. I was next to Anna and wanted to stay next to her the whole race. She’s a strong rider and I don’t want to ruin the ending, but she Catted Up after this race.

I think they started playing Eminem as we revved our engines, or you know, clipped in and waited for them to blow the whistle. The announcer finally gave us the go-ahead – Eminem spittin’ out lyrics in the background – and I couldn’t get clipped in. I fell quickly to the back and was a little embarrassed.

Takeaway: Do not get new gear that’ll change how you race during race season. My suggestion is do it in the off-season to get used to what you’re changing. I should have either bought new pedals in January or waited until October. It can be detrimental to your results. Or make you look like a total n00b. 

 

The Breakaway

I caught up to the group in no time. Then all of a sudden, there was a wave of chicks coming at me. We found out there was a snake and some lady was trying to avoid it, which caused a butterfly effect through the group. There was also a squirrelly rider and I had to get the hell away from that. I’m not about the crash life.

I saw Anna at the front of the group (lost her because of the n00b pedal move). There wasn’t much a way to get past all these ladies, but one of the older women (MW 60+) kept shouting about pacing ourselves and being safe and yadda yadda. The first time I heard her say that to the group I was like, “yeah, fuck yeah, Helen (not her name). She knows that safety’s important and now I don’t have to worry about someone being stupid.” Wrong.

Helen had become more annoying than insightful and I had to get the fuck away from her. There was a teensie bit of room next to the yellow line and the rider next to it. I figured, “screw it, what do I have to lose?” so I started toeing the yellow line.

Helen started yelling at me: “You’re not allowed to cross the yellow line!” If I had the technical skills to look at her while NOT crossing the yellow line I imagine her eyes bulging out of her face, wagging her finger like a grandma would to her misbehaving cat.

I was going too fast to see Helen’s physical reactions. I could only hear her squawking until I met up with Anna and then it was silenced. Peace and heavy breathing graced the front line.

I wanted to be in the front because of the dirt road. At this point in my cycling journey, I had not practiced dirt enough to feel comfortable racing on it, so needless to say, I was petrified and I sure as shit wasn’t going to be taken down by another n00b.

The first mini hill we hit, there was a breakaway and I followed. Anna, myself, KC, and one other lady who I don’t even think was in our category. We dropped the group like it was hot. We fell into a paceline, each taking turns pedaling.

Takeaway from the breakaway: Racing is strategy, timing, and luck. You need to strategize your placement in the group. Then you need to watch the others. Timing is key. If you’re not ready to pump it out when someone else does, you lose your chance at the breakaway. You could also be stuck in the group, have the power to breakaway, but the shitty luck of not being able to get around the other ladies. 

 

The Dirt Road

I saw the mile-long dirt road coming up. I also saw a fucking ambulance and Laura from Primal Audi holding her hand. Luckily, I have a sweet teammate, Ashley, who took the time the day before to show me how to handle dirt better. They said to be on the tops of my handlebars and to not death grip. Two things I typically do.

I inevitably lost the three ladies to the dirt. I was going at a pretty quick speed – fast for me on dirt road – feeling my bike rockin’ and rollin’ with the sand, but the ladies were probably about twenty feet ahead of me. I knew I’d catch up to them eventually and I didn’t need to be right on their wheel just in case they ate shit.

I learned later a ton of people fell on that dirt. It was loose too. Several times I wanted to deathgrip my handlebars or pull off to the side and just, you know, walk it. They do that in races, right? Kidding.

 

Anna’s Breakaway

Anna had a ton of gas in her tank that day and seriously just off. It was like a Red Bull commercial. She sprouted wings and was fucking gone. It was KC, the Master’s Woman, and myself taking turns pulling. The MW was like, “we’ll get her.”

Kudos to Anna because out in the fields where we were, there was a headwind every direction you turned. At least pulling with the other women we were all able to save our energy while Anna was left to herself. I figured we would eventually catch up to her, but if we didn’t, I was going to give her the biggest high-five. She was just gone.

Eventually, we did catch up to her. Then we all started taking turns pulling. It felt like the course was never going to end. It was just miles-long of straight roads. If we weren’t racing, it would have been super boring.

Takeaway: Pre-ride courses. I was going to pre-ride this course, but it snowed the day before I planned it and I couldn’t find anyone to ride with me. For some reason, I let that deter me. I also didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to nowhere. I was under the assumption that I didn’t really need to pre-ride the course. Wrong. So wrong. They don’t say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” for nothing. Take the time to preview every race you plan to undertake. Not only will it just be a new/different ride, but you’ll know what to expect and how to pace yourself. 

 

Sprint Finish

I learned from Rio that I don’t need to be asking everyone how they’re feeling 100 meters from the finish. I wanted to grow a gap between Anna and me and the other two ladies. I was in the front and picked up the pace and the others followed. I tried to signal to Anna what I wanted to do, but I don’t think I communicated it well because we all stayed at the same pace.

50 meters to the finish and the pace is fast, I’m about to throw-up my heart.

25 meters and we’re sprinting. I think this was the point where I accepted third. I knew the Master’s woman wasn’t in our group so I didn’t have to worry about 4th. This was a trend I noticed throughout racing season: accepting third. I mean, third’s not a bad place to accept, let’s be honest. At least I wasn’t so apathetic to accept last. Even when that happened, I didn’t like it.

I couldn’t keep up the sprint power to the finish line. Anna won first. KC won second. I got third. I know it was my training over the winter. I focused on endurance because the training plan I adopted by Mark Sisson claimed that you really just need endurance miles and you can sprint during whatever race you’re in. I thought that was odd, but I had no idea what to expect in a race as this was my first year. I assumed he knew what he was talking.

Well, we all know what assuming does (makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’).

 

Takeaway: Practice sprinting. After long rides with your buddies, race them to street signs, to ends of streets, to the tops of hills. Get your sprint down because the finish ALWAYS ends in a sprint. I don’t know what planet I thought I was on thinking we all held hands crossing the finish line like some woman’s retreat in the woods. That shit doesn’t happen in races. Be prepared. 

 

Race Anecdotes: Clasica de Rio Grande

Fact: Riding dirt scared the bejesus out of me.

Fact: By forcing yourself to do things that scare the shit out of you, you take their power away, you overcome fears, and you excel.

The Rio course was my first road race of the season and I previewed the course twice before race day, but the dirt still scared me.

The first time I rode the dirt section which was seriously a mile – but seriously had loose sand – I was white-knuckling my handlebars.

Death-gripping as if having a stiff upper body would somehow stabilize my awkward ass in the dusty road. My bike swayed every which way through the sand. I couldn’t help but laugh, crying out to Jared, “This is bullshit!”

Surely, people didn’t race on this shit. I didn’t even bother to try the section again to feel comfortable. That was so far out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t even see the line that it crossed. It was past the end zone, outside the stadium kind of zone.

The other preview was with the Spradley Barr Team. All the people were helpful and inviting. The first pointer was not to death-grip the handlebars. It was a false sense of security and actually destabilized me. It was all about relaxing and letting the bike do its thing.

Fact: I have trust issues.

Fact: I have control issues.

The pointers just didn’t register. How do I relax when clearly I’m about to fall to my sandy, pebbly death? How in the hell do I trust this inanimate object who I call “Thunder”?

I rode faster the second course preview but accepted the alternative-fact that there wouldn’t be an podiums in my future.

I registered with a few hours left before the deadline since I wasn’t sure about paying to lose. I also wasn’t a fan that the prize purse wasn’t equal between women and men.

Fact: sickening inequality pervades the cycling sphere.

It’s no wonder why women aren’t motivated to pay the same registration fees yet race for a shorter time period and are “awarded” less money or simply awarded “merchandise.” Also, this was only for pro-level, but I have lofty goals, and if I’m a Cat 1, working as hard – if not harder – than a Cat 1 dude, then surely I should be compensated equally, especially when I pay the same registration fee as these men.

Race day came upon me faster than expected.

So did the weather. It rained the night before into the early soaking the loose, sandy hell into a muddy, sticky pit. It wasn’t rideable. And I was so excited to hear that I wasn’t going to get sucked into the brown abyss.

We lined up.

I totally doubted myself, my abilities, and my desire to win. I was in the back with the other self-conscious noobs.

Fact: BRAC/USAC/course directors like to bunch up a ton of women’s categories because they’re limited on time and they justify clusterfucking the women.

The Master Women 60+ were leading our pack.

And they led it like we were out for a Sunday stroll. The pace was unreasonably slow. I thought to myself, “is this seriously road racing?” This crawl lasted for a few miles until the first Hill when I saw three women sprint for it. I was, as I mistakenly positioned myself, in the back. With the yellow line rule I struggled to pass. I yelled at the chick in front of me, “ON YOUR LEFT!” Thinking I’d scare her over. Nope. She held her position.

I teetered on the yellow line because fuck it.

I sprinted past the clusterfuck of women stuck on the hill. I was the chaser. I heaved. I ho’d. I sprinted to this group of 3 while they looked back at me. I was afraid they’d double their efforts to drop me, but I caught up.

The gap opened and we all took turns pulling.

It was the same positive experience as I had with Katie at the Air Force Road Race. We all worked together to create the gap. Then we caught up to the men. We were told we had to leave a gap but there was nowhere to go.

The peloton was gaining on us.

The men finally stopped dicking around and picked up their pace and we did too.

It was the four of us with 1 kilometer to go.

I was leading the pack and asked them, “how’s everyone feeling?” I heard, “fine. You?” I said, “oh, you know, just a little winded.” All of a sudden, Jennifer picked up the pace, and before I knew it, we were sprinting to the end.

Fact: I had not developed sprint power at this point. This is still a work in progress.

Corey and Anna had their sprint power down. Jennifer and I, not so much. But what did end up happening was my ability to power through the finish just a smidgeon faster than Jennifer – securing the third step on the podium.

And just like that, I was shocked.

I still doubted the results. There was no way I was good enough to get third. This was my first race. I chalked it up to “Beginner’s luck.” It was hard to fathom was had happened even when they called my name for third place. But I sure as shit accepted my medal.

You Need a Personal Trainer

You need a personal trainer just like you need a doctor. Personal trainers have specific training to help you reach your goals faster just like doctors know what to prescribe you to heal your body quicker. Investing in your health costs money, but then again, when you’re in tip-top shape, you’ll use your doctor a lot less.

 

  1. We Keep You Accountable

You can slack off when you’re alone because no one knows. So maybe you didn’t squeak out that last rep. Or maybe you cut your run ten minutes short because you didn’t feel like it. Like many people, without someone holding you accountable you may skip one workout and then because no one stopped you, it becomes a habit. Before you know it, it’s three years later and you don’t even know where to begin.

When you schedule an appointment, and pay for that appointment with a personal trainer, you’re holding yourself accountable. Not only will you lose money by not showing up, you bet your sweet ass I’ll be calling and texting to find out where you are.

 

  1. We Motivate You

Personal Trainers become such because we love training, working out, and pushing ourselves. That self-motivation is easier for some and it comes with practice. When you hire a Personal Trainer, you’re hiring your very own cheerleader. We’ll cheer you on for that last rep. High-Five you when you push yourself for another 10 minutes on the treadmill. A Personal Trainer becomes your best gym buddy because they won’t let you slide and they’ll make you feel great for pushing through any obstacles. You’ll want to push through because they’ll motivate you to become great.

 

  1. It’s an Investment in Your Health

We pay for health insurance hoping to not have to use it, right? But people still get sick, break bones, and must go to their doctor. Then you pay for the appointment. You pay for any prescriptions. It adds up, but because it’s our health, we don’t question the cost too much. This is an investment in your health. Another investment, one that is proactive rather than reactive, is personal training.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and everyone else) claim that regular physical activity is one of the most important factors you can do for a health life. When you work with a personal trainer, we can develop a program to strengthen your bones and increase your cardio endurance. When you consistently work out, you’ll become a healthier version of you. You won’t be seeing the doctor as much and you’ll literally sleep better at night.

 

  1. We Give You Consistency

Working out once a week isn’t enough to generate the benefits of exercise. You need to be consistent and have specific goals. Otherwise, you’re going to the gym on Monday, doing a couple of lifts, not activating the right muscles, moving on to another weight machine, and doing it over again. Thirty minutes later, you’re leaving and you don’t return until next Monday.

While one day a week is better than no days a week, you’re not going to see results from a single weekly session. You’re certainly not going to see it without having an exact plan or goals.

A Personal Trainer will be able to keep you consistent, especially when you’re paying them. If you paid for three sessions a week – and if you’re anything like me – then you’re showing up for what you paid.

 

  1. We Help You Set Realistic & Specific Goals

Want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days?! Want to run a marathon next month?! Never set foot in a gym or ran a 5K before? Well, then, having a Personal Trainer will help you set realistic goals and specific goals at that. When you up and decide you want to lose 30 pounds, first thing is being realistic. Unless you want to be super unhealthy, losing 30 pounds in 30 days in not an obtainable goal. Same goes for running a marathon. You cannot go from the couch to 26.2 miles in a month. But once you realize that it takes time and dedication, a personal trainer will help you set specific goals (i.e. running a marathon in 8 months). No more meandering the gym or guessing what exercise you should do.

 

  1. Improve Mental Health

According to everyone and their friend, moving your body makes you feel better. Working out inevitably increases your ability to manage stress. The same chemicals that react to stress can be increased through exercise, making them, in a sense stronger. Exercising also release endorphins that make you feel happy. And when you feel good about yourself, it comes out all over the place. When your body feels good, your mind feels great, you’ll be unstoppable.

 

  1. We Give You Instruction

When you’re busting out rep after rep (and try not to lose count), are you also watching yourself? Do you know if you’re doing the move correctly? Are you exacerbating your knee problems by messing up the squat? Are your knees passing your toes? Are your knees bending in? How about your back? What’s it doing? Personal Trainers are trained to watch your movements and instruct you to do every move correctly.

 

  1. We’re Efficient

Face it. It’s more efficient to pay someone to tell you what you don’t know. With all the other things going on in our lives, the last thing you need to do is spend months researching, testing, reading, asking friends, blah blah blah. When you pay for a Personal Trainer, you’ll get months and years of studying, testing, reading, and education packaged in slim-fitting athletic wear. It’s efficient. All the time you spend reading could be spent with a trainer who knows their shit and getting results.

 

Get at me if you want to stop wasting time and start seeing changes.

Race Anecdotes: Front Range Cycling Classic Road Race

THEY WARNED ME.

They told me women’s teams raced dirty. I was on the offense before we even clipped in. Well, when they blew the whistle, I couldn’t actually clip in (new pedals that I wasn’t used to), so I fell to the back of the pack quickly. Eventually, I caught up-ish.

The Front Range Cycling Classic is a 13.45 mile circuit (3 laps) through the Air Force base in the Springs. Because this race doesn’t recognize women’s categories, we were all grouped together: as a Women’s Open. Which means the Cat 1’s & 2’s (elite level) raced against us sorry 4’s and 5’s. The Cat 3s are kind of their own thing. They’re not elite level, but they’re certainly beyond the beginners.

GOING INTO THIS RACE, I KNEW I WASN’T GETTING ANYWHERE NEAR THE TOP BECAUSE I’M A CAT 4.

Cat 1’s and 2’s are those for a reason: they’re fast. Fast as fuck. I couldn’t even clip in correctly at the start.

The first lap I was able to stick with the pack about, well, half-way through until a gap grew and it hurt to keep up and then the wind caught me and my legs were sort of tired and it was my first road race.

I FOUND WHEELS TO SUCK.

Not because I want to be known as a wheel-sucker, but because it’s strategy. The straightaways and the headwind were absolutely killer. I dodged it by hanging on to taller and bigger women’s wheels, letting them take the brunt of the suckfest.

Then I found Katie. She’s a Cat 3. We alternated between pulling and wheel-sucking. She told me if I was feeling it, to just go and to not wait for her. A few times I dropped her, but she eventually caught back up. Throughout the climbs, we chatted a little and it was more of a ride than a race.

MENTALLY, I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE I WAS RACING

because I knew there was no chance in hell I’d make my way on to the podium. Instead, I focused on learning about Katie. I watched the trees swallow the blue sky as we pedaled deeper into the forest.

It was a hilly course and 40 miles of sorta race pace, my legs were exhausted by the last climb to the finish.

I told Katie I didn’t have in me to sprint to the finish. It was hers if she wanted it. She said, “We’ll cross the finish line together.”

This road race opened my eyes to racing and how, even if we’re on different teams, women find ways to work together and overcome obstacles to help each other out.

 

Race Anecdote: Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial Series

Last year I was lucky enough to work from home and therefore, could easily leave my house to get to Cherry Creek Reservoir on time for my race. This year I was even luckier – I have a job 6 miles away from Cherry Creek Reservoir. That was my warm-up to the start.

TOO BAD I TOTALLY MISSED MY START TIME ON THE FIRST RACE.

I was so busy focused on trying to enjoy cycling and not take the race so seriously, that my warm-up and ho-hummery distracted me from my start time. I had one minute left to get to the start as I raced down the road. I pulled up. My time had already been called: “296! 296! I’m here!” I thought I was done for. I was about to call it a day and drag my sorry ass to my car.

BUT THEN THE REFEREE YELLED AT ME, “JUST GO!”

I booked it. I rode harder than I ever had. Gasping for air. Drooling a little. Yelling “PEDAL!!” any time I saw a teammate.

After the first debacle, I arrived 5 minutes early before my start time the other 6 races. I continually placed third. It was shocking. I didn’t expect to do that well. Over the winter I gave the Primal Endurance training plan a shot. I had the endurance, just not the race factor.

Little did I know that this third place streak would lead into my other cycling events.

I CAUGHT THE PODIUM BUG. AND BOY IT STUNG.