Monday, April 26, 2010

More "Don't Quote Me" Wisdom

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what have already done." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It seems that the US Today "Don't Quote Me" puzzles are doing more for me that just staving off Alzheimer's Disease (something I'm afraid of, even before my 30th birthday). They are also providing me with little bits of bike racing-applicable wisdom. Today's quote was interesting to me because it's something I've already been thinking about for the last couple of weeks.

It all started after the results from the OC were posted and I went through a bit of "I coulda been a contender" remorse. Okay, not a contender, contender, but like a not last place contender. For me, that is kind of a big deal.

I started comparing the OC results to the Syllamo's start list to try and make some sense of what I could expect on May 1. I know darn well that this type of speculation is pretty futile, and I generally force myself to refrain from it, but this time I just had to go there. Guessing by past OC and Syllamo's results, less than half of the 34 women entered will even finish, and based on past OC, Lumberjack 100, and Pisgah stage race results, I will not be one of those women. Guessing by what I feel I am capable of doing, I will be among the top half that finishes and perhaps even a bit better. However, I have a feeling that most of the other women on the list feel the same way or they wouldn't still be signed up at this point. Only Saturday will tell who actually survives back luck, bad mud, or bad pacing. I'm just crossing my fingers that it will finally be my day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things Seen

I may be starting up on a short picture-blog kick; I'm not sure. That's okay. I go through phases, and it's hard to come up with stuff between race reports. I'm sure you'd rather see this cute painted mule-baby that I saw on my ride last night rather than hearing the excruciating details of my Vo2 max intervals.

Painted Mule-Baby

I also saw a Little 5 team doing a motor pacing workout out on Bottom Road just a few days before the big race. That was interesting.

I, however, did not have a motorcycle pacing me, but I still managed to set a new all-time best five minute power record.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Beat Goes On

In deep concentration mid-race at the DINO Spring Tune-Up. I was hesitant at first, but really I friggin' love my 29er. Look at it. It looks way faster than I do.

So whatever was killing me last week finally let up. I still feel a little dry and itchy in the throat, but that could easily be the Singulair that I'm still afraid to stop talking, even though I think it gives me headaches. I rode easy over the weekend and plan to resume normal training with some Vo2 max intervals tonight.

One cool bit of news is that last night I recieved an email informing me that I had won a drawing for a free entry to the 2011 Ouachita Challenge, so I guess my race schedule is already shaping up through the next year. Not that I wasn't thinking that far ahead already, but a free entry sealed the deal. The only problem is that I want to race it again now and not have to wait another whole year. Normally, I would think about how much faster I will theoretically be in a year, but I think this season is much more about doing the best I can be now instead of focusing on how fast I might theoretically be in the future.

Photo via:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Killing Me Softly

(Pretty tree, not my house)

This spring has been without a doubt the most beautiful since I moved to Bloomington and started mountain biking. There have been almost no un-mountain-bikeable days since early March, when 4 or 5 is normally excellent in March and 50% is usually good in April. The flowers and the trees are gorgeous, with the exception of the poor tulips in my yard that seem to be stunted this year. This weather is great except for one thing.

It's killing me. Okay, that's not totally true, but for the last week I've not been able to get on board with all the Facebook and Twitter posts about how nice it is outside, because I've been stuck inside with a horrible allergy/cold thing. I'm not sure what it is, but pollen is a definite player. The thing is that I've never had allergies before, except for a random sniffle and sneeze here and there. From a nose perspective, that's all that I have now. However, the sore throat that I got last Friday turned into severe sore throat which move to an itchy, scratchy, irritated feeling down in my chest and I'm having a heck of time shaking. I got allergy medicine from the doctor on Tuesday, but I'm still having a hard time getting well, so I'm wondering if it's some sort of germ and pollen perfect storm. The only thing that has really helped was staying home from work yesterday and doing absolutely nothing, including trying not move too fast, breathe through my mouth, or speak above a whisper. I'm improved, but not out of the woods, so I'm trying the same approach today.

It's frustrating not being able to do anything when the weather is so nice, especially since Syllamo's Revenge is only two weeks away now and I just missed a key week of training. (Vo2 max cycle is favorite.) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get well soon so that I can actually enjoy the beauty outside instead of being afraid of it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Reverse Dumpster Phil Effect

I did not go to the road race today after all. When I woke up, the sore throat that I've had for two days, but ignored so that I could race yesterday, was significantly worse and I felt like the scratchy feeling might be migrating to my chest. I didn't want to do another hard effort and push myself into full sickness. Plus, the whole right side of my body was super sore, which I often try to make myself HTFU and push through, but I just didn't feel like it today.

The interesting thing is why my body was sore. The obvious answer was because I road a really hard race yesterday, and quasi crashing when I tried to ride off of the tread of a bench-cut trail, grab a tree, and get going again so the guy behind could get through did not help. However, the worst part is the pain in my butt from falling down the basement stairs yesterday. My slipper slipped off the tread 3-4 steps from the bottom and I hit my butt, elbow, and upper back on all of them on the way down.

So that, getting lost, and other vague nuisances were what I meant when I said that I horrible morning trying to get to the race yesterday. I also skipped my openers the day before in hopes of not aggravating the sore throat, and I had fish and chips at Upland Brewery for dinner the night before. Then I got 6 hours of sleep. Basically, it was the most imperfectly executed few days leading up to a race possible. Then I rode one of my best races ever.

A couple of years ago I wrote about how I sometimes succumb to the Dumpster Phil Effect, which is giving yourself a prepared excuse for a bad effort through either purposeful self-sabotage, subconscious self-sabotage, or conveniently writing things off to bad luck before you actually even know if they'll end badly. The Dumpster Phil part mostly focuses on purposeful and subconscious self-sabotage, but I've expanded the definition to include all of the negative pre-race thoughts/ behaviors that I've been guilty of in the past. (Seeing as it is my own layperson definition that I made up and not a documented sports psychology phenomenon.)

Paul Harvey: And now the rest of the story...

Perhaps the most important part of my Ouachita Challenge race report from a couple of weeks ago was what I didn't say say. While my mom and I were driving from my parents' house in Oklahoma to the hotel where we would stay the night before the race, the battery on my car suddenly went out. Luckily, we were only 10 or so miles from where we were supposed meet my mom's cousin for a late lunch/ early dinner. She and her husband came and picked us up and took us out to eat, but at a different restaurant than we had planned. The BBQ beef and French fries were delicious but not the best thing to eat the evening before and important race. Then we addressed the battery situation, which turned out to be an alternator situation, which meant that we had to borrow their van if we wanted to make it on to Arkansas. We made it, but it was much later, much more stressful, and my GI tract was worse for the wear by the time we did.

That night, as I lay tossing and turning my hotel bed probably four hours before I had to get up, I was thinking about how the long awaited race was actually happening in a few short hours. I thought about how nothing had gone right that day, and wondered if I would be able to hold it together when I was already worn down from the stress (my major issue with traveling to races). Then I told myself that whatever happened the next day, I was not allowed to blame in on what happened the day before. I swore that the story would not make it to my blog, no matter what.

And it didn't. At least not in the context in which I forswore it. The reason I'm telling it now is because once the race went off, it no longer mattered. Unfortunately, I still had some excuse making to be made when the race was over, but the two goods hours of racing that I had proved that the previous day's events had nothing to do with it. Nor did the events of Friday and Saturday morning have anything to do with how I raced yesterday. I actually remember thinking in the middle of the race yesterday, "Dang, I need screw-ups and bad luck become me." Really, I don't like racing sleep deprivation and an unpredictable stomach, but apparently I can do it just fine.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

DINO Spring Tune-Up

Holy Snikeys....

So it turns out that there were actual, you know, people at the DINO Spring Tune-Up. Most-of-the-time adventure racers Jayne Prater and Chikage Castle, as well DINO regular Bette Gumerson, were all present and insured that there was in fact a separate women's wave. Jayne was the sole Cat 1, so the rest of us made up the Cat 2 field.

I had a pretty horrible morning trying to get to the race, because the Garmin couldn't find my destination and Google maps misled me yet again. After a panicky couple of hours of driving, I arrived at the race 45 minutes before the start. After signing in and getting dressed it was close enough to start time that I was afraid to take the chance going for a practice lap and not getting back in time, so I had to rely my memories from 2006 and 2007.

The start was the most civil I remember since the DINO Spring Tune-Up of 2006 when the three of us beginner girls went to "Oh you go first" mode when siren went off. Today we jockeyed for position, but it didn't feel nearly as hard as it normally does. Jayne was first to the singletrack and Chikage was in front of me. She's normally a crazy-fast starter, so I was kind of surprised at the opening pace. As soon as we hit the doubletrack, I passed her and thought, "Holy crap, I'm LEADING a race with, you know, people in it." No longer sucking is weird...

I built up a pretty sizable gap, and even though I struggled on the rooty ups and downs that make up the last third of the lap, I maintained my lead until hitting that section again on the second lap. At the bottom of the steep, rooty hill that serves as the gateway to that section of the course, I was trying to granny gear and to keep my effort below completely cross-eyed level, but one of the expert men caught me and the trail was too narrow to let him pass without stopping. Unfortunately, once I stopped, I couldn't get going again and had to run the whole thing.

I struggled really bad through the techy section and Chikage latched onto my wheel as we went through the start/finish for the last lap. I tried going hard to gap her again, since we were in the section where I lost her before, but this time she was sticking to me like glue. I was completely gassed and was afraid I would crash trying to lose her, so I let her come around. She gapped me while I got my composure, and although I got within a bike length of her on the last pass of the steep rooty hill when I was able to ride a lot more of it than she was, the effort of doing so left me kind of useless for sealing the deal.

So there's the tale of how I almost won an actual race. The worst part is that the race director switched the race from two to three laps AS WE WERE LINING UP, so if we'd ending it at two like we were supposed to, I would have won. That's not really fair, because she might have gone harder if we'd been doing two, but it's still frustrating. I also have some regrets about having to run the hill and about giving up too easily when she was on my wheel, but the fact of the matter was that I rode well and I was actually in contention. That's still pretty cool.

In the end, my only real regret is that I didn't ride the sick drop that I said I was going to. It's a lot more tricky than it looks in the picture, and since I didn't do it at a composed effort level before the race, I was afraid to do it with lactic acid on the brain during the race. It was fun to go back to Avon after a three year absence, because it confirmed that my claims that it is the hardest course on the DINO circuit are in fact true and not the crazy ramblings of beginner chick who it once reduced to tears.

So tomorrow I road race with the newly formed Cincinnati Velo Bellas, which should be fun, and then it's back to work prepping for Syllamo's Revenge. I'm getting excited since I now have a bit more evidence that 2010 might finally be my year. I just need to refine a few things, like my killer instinct.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quickie Friday Post

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

I was catching up on the Don't Quote Me puzzles that I've missed the last couple of weeks and this quote was among them. I liked it.

Tomorrow is the DINO Spring Tune-Up. I was hoping to race some actual, you know, people, but considering the grapevine-circulated roster for this weekend's SERC race in Tsali, I'm sort of doubting that's going to happen now. Oh well, IMMA RIDE THIS SICK DROP TOMORROW!