Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nobody Told Me There'd Be Days Like This

sleep walking/shuffling to the pit
 10 races in the books with this past weekend in Sterling MA  and you'll likely agree
that #10 will not/should not be
my lucky bingo number. The day started race routine..well almost.
 Apparently I've managed to skip the chapter on "How To Pin Your Race Number On" because
I was responsible for pinning not one, but two  race numbers upside down.

 Cyclocross course designer Tom Stevens, left his signature  flair all over this one. Lots of technical, off camber 
twisty, winding gotta-use-your brain- stuff. 3 solid ez course inspection laps and I felt primed and ready for the early morning women's 3/4 race on Sunday.

 Perhaps I should have taken the number pinning snafu as an indicator of  how the day may unfold. Within seconds of sending us off the start line, 2 girls were down on the ground in front of me lying in a twisted pile. 
I stood there for what seemed like 5 minutes, then scrambled to get AROUND them while the rest of the field was getting away. DARN IT....
Not a good start for me... I need all I can get to stay within reach of
some of these girls.  Slightly miffed I was already in a deficit. I brushed it off trying to focus on staying in contact with whoever I could and everything was seemed peachy.

Not 5 minutes had passed and the peachy-ness bubble burst. I found myself at a stand still (again) staring down at my rear wheel with my tubular completely off except for one small section. I contemplated rolling it back on but it was taking too long so I just
picked up my bike and started running with it  around the course to the pit that was
conveniently located on what seemed... the other side of the planet.
I was TRASHED shouldering my bike hoofing it around that course.  In hindsight, I should have
taken the time to get the tire back on and THEN gingerly ride it to the pit. 

Finally I got to the pit (gasp) but not without feeling the love of sympathy cheers on the way.
A quick wheel change and back out I went deflated and wondering "what is the sense?"Quickly weighing the options, I realized I'd feel worse not making the effort to continue so off I went....  to burn up some Thanksgiving onion dip calories, use the course as another opportunity to gain some experience, get in a workout for the day.  Good enough.

Reason # 3 (or is this #4?) why I shoulda maybe slept in....
 I wore socks I normally don't wear this day. Why? Strictly a fashionista decision, pink of course.
Short "no show" socks that  I quickly felt but ignored, slipping down around
my heel. At the next hilly section, my shoe came off as I dismounted my bike. The sock-less  heel must have been slippery enough to cause my foot to come right out. Joy!

**Picture tall girl you just saw running by with a broken down bike is now back leaving one pink sock on the side of the course while trying to wedge naked foot  now grassy and muddy  back into a shoe .**  

Shoe on and rolling again, I was left to play-  Lets see how far you can get before the top girls lap you game. It wasn't long and sort of fun to see how many seconds I could stay with them as they seamlessly AND politely scooted by me.   A day full of unexpected mishaps but that is part of cyclocross I am learning  and no one is immune from it.  Ok..maybe the sock and number screw up. :-)   

One more race on tap this weekend but not without a freshly glued tire, a number pinned
on correctly, a Garmin that is working  and socks that don't suck my shoes off. 
Hup! Hup!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

EXCITING NEW CHANGES..and a remount that just keeps getting better

My goal for the next 48 hours is to (try)and contain myself from not consuming my body weight x3 in the food
selection that soon I will be facing. The carrot in front of me that will (hopefully) cause me to find some self control? I have to slip into a skin suit
on Sunday for a CX race without ripping the zipper off. Motivation if ever so slight. You know what my biggest weakness will be??
Onion dip.

Yes, that is what I said. Sour cream and Lipton onion soup mix. Like this:

I can sit down and scoop out 1/3 of
the bowl on to one chip and repeat without blinking an eye. Hell, just give me a spoon and I can save some calories
on the chip side of it. Frightening.. I know.

See.. this is EXACTLY why I am thrilled to have cyclocross in my life at the moment. It's a good calorie burner onion dip burner
so one can hope the start the new year I am not too far gone.

In other news, and way more exciting than onion dip.....
I have a new CX team! Last weekend, I raced for the first time as a Hup United team member. Before, I was racing as
a triathlete and honestly, it just wasn't very fun at times feeling like a dandelion in a field of poppies. For
the most part, all the girls are very nice but there is a lot of interaction among team members before racing, at
the starting line with the other women and while you are racing. A lot of teams/clubs have tents where they gather, hangout, w/up on trainers and EAT all day.
How fun is that?? VERY.. and I was missing out so I did some research found the perfect match for me.

Hup was started back in 2003 by some very cool dudes at Seven Cycles. Zac Daab was one of them and still remains
the constant in Hup United overseeing the different chapters across the country and designing the very cool
kits. There is no sponsorship involved which keeps out the drama/pitfall that can come with it.
Simply put: Hup really is about being part of something bigger than yourself and really enjoying being a part of a team supporting each other pushing each other, as quoted by our New England manager, Chip Baker.
Chip has gone out of his way to make me feel welcome and I've appropriately shown my gratitude by heckling him
while he is racing. (expected and welcomed in cross)

Here are some pix from this past weekend racing in Lowell of me. I thought Plymouth the weekend prior was tough but
Lowell bit me in the A$$ with 2 hills I could not ride and 5 laps of racing. My Garmin shows an all time record spike of 190 for
a heart rate. Good lord, did I suffer and I was NOT going to choke without a fight representing my new team
and I managed just fine. 25th out of 42 in the 3/4 women 


Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rewards For Taking Risks

Howdy Peeps!
Lots going on over here in TGP land. The good news? I'm healthy and fit keeping the locomotive athletic engine steaming along  with the sole intention of justifying my margarita and dessert fixation.  Here's what I've been up to:  Masters swimming 3 days a week, TRX Suspension training 2 days a week, and cycling 4-5 days including one day, occasionally two days of racing cyclocross. Not one step of running and you know what? I don't
miss it right now. I'm too busy busting my a$$ with cyclocross either recovering or laying out heart rates I never thought I could. I've got 8 races in my pocket thus far with at least  4 more in the cards. Coming up next, Boston Road Club's-Shedd Park Cross in Lowell MA. 
This past weekend saw me down  in Plymouth MA for the Plymouth Festival of Cyclo-cross.The course was challenging  but it also had lots of long flat (zone out)grassy power sections with little turning. One minute I was on a flat athletic field, the next a sudden drop off  into make-me-wanna-pee-wooded trail sections with rocks, ruts, roots mud and tight twisty turns. During the warm up my biggest concern was a fairly steep hill that most people were riding up but I would bottom out smack in the middle and have to get off and push my bike up.  LAME.  My other course concerns were 2 sand pits and one slick and muddy rut filled section. Could I ride them? Should I try? I couldn't manage them during the warm up  which is never a good feeling before rolling up to the starting line.
 However, I've found this  to be a familiar pattern now:  I finish the course inspection/warm up feeling  overwhelmed and never confident that I can tackle the technical features of the course but when that whistle blows and we are off the starting line, it all comes together (mostly) and I  somehow just get it done. Often times I'm left standing over my bike at the finish  stupefied I actually stayed upright  and grateful everything is still intact.  Suddenly those tough sections that made my armpits itch during the warm up, instantly become doable. I'm  transfixed and focused ( think deer in headlights with less itchy armpits).  Add in a sprinkling of adrenaline and I'm TGP with some guts. grrrrrrr.
 I rode the sand pits on Sunday when I would most likely dismount and carry my bike. I rode the steep longish ride-up out of the saddle to the TOP without one bobble of the 4 laps that I couldn't manage in the warm up. I nailed all my  freshly learned remounts. Wanna see?

It was one of the toughest courses cardio wise for me. The areas where I thought I would get rest (the straight grassy sections) were wind filled and energy zapping.   I manged just fine though and if there's one thing for sure, It's a huge relief and more so, an awesome feeling to
finish knowing you gave it your all for 40+ minutes and tackled something that
made you want to load the bike back on the car and head to Ihop for pancakes.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cyclocrosspaloosa! Are you still with me???

It's HOT hot hot right now.The cross season is in full sizzle schwing!  This past weekend proved nothing
short of it. The entire weekend's  focus was  prep, race, recover
 do it all over again.Cycle Smart International Cyclo-cross 2 day event was the place
to be in Northampton Massachusetts. Kudos to Adam Myerson and his crew. This two day venue of racing just gets better and better every year. 
 Both Saturday and Sunday
started with a 4:25 AM  wake up call for the drive and prep for
start of the day- racing. On Saturday, I had double duty with a
  9:30 race and directly after, I rolled over to
attend a 2 hour women's  CX clinic hosted by the ladies of Luna Chix including
Katerina Nash, one of the top ranked women in the world. Of course she
made any and all skills pertaining to cyclocross  look easy and buttery smooth. It
was very informative and  I picked up some good advice/tips but one stands out
in particular. My less than perfect cyclocross
bike remount conundrum .  Now I did blog about this a few weeks back with a video included
showing that I had made HUGE strides in mastering this skill but...
I was only 82.4 % there. I still couldn't make that full commitment
of letting my left foot go and launching on to the saddle. Well peeps, I'm proud to say I
pulled up my big girl panties and put this to rest. No more stutter step, no stopping
in my tracks to swing my leg over and clip in. It's a done deal. The full
monty. With just a bit of tweaking and listening to some simple advice, it just clicked. 
I did it once perfectly during the clinic and I stopped dead in my tracks, jaw hanging open with veteran cyclist Roz Puleo watching and yelling " You JUST did it!"   Of course I thought
this was just a complete fluke and no way had I really gotten it but I  did it again, and again,
and again, and again, and as the story goes, ain't no turning back. I had REALLY  mastered it.
Of course I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the day out on that field until the sun started to set
making damn sure It was planted FIRMLY in my gray matter.

Sunday was the true test.  Would I become verklempt and blow it during my race when push came 
to shove in the heat of racing?
Miraculously I held it together and nailed every remount. I felt like a STAR at the barriers with lots of eyes watching and me feeling
 very proud I could play with the big girls now even if it was only by a newly learned
skill. Of course I have no proof of this because here's a fact:The photographer is NEVER in any
of the pictures and now I'm wearing plain black, no logo, no team sponsored gear so not
only am I racing in the back, I'm the generic  back-o-the pack-cross plain jane no one snaps photos of all because a race official told me I shouldn't be
wearing or signing up for cycling races under Team Psycho ANY MORE as it's not a registered cycling
club/team. (another story)

Ok, so here's some technical data to lull you to sleep after my verbal spillage thus far.
 I wear my Garmin while racing to gather data including my lap times, speed, heart rate. It appears that I I'm fit because as you'll see, I am not wilting like a daisy as the race progresses and frankly, if I'm gonna have a chance in hell to  pick off other girls out there, it's always toward the last 2 laps when (lesser fit) people uncoil and can't hold the pace. I wish more of *those* would show up! I lack the skills and pure power to ever be in contention with the faster girls. (again.. another story)
 Forgetting to hit my watch for the first lap, one is missing below but notice my average speed and my times per lap of the remaining 3 of the 4 I captured.  NEGATIVE  splits as the race progresses and really, the first (slower) lap not shown doesn't even count because you
are in a train of girls bunched up and climbing over arms and legs in double sand pits and bottle necked in narrow steep run ups TRYING to
shake things out, stay upright and waiting for the congestion to clear out (while swearing under your breath)

Click on me to zoom!

 Next up, a few photos of some of the action over the weekend and maybe even PROOF via a photo or 
video that YES, I'm a remount Diva!!

Thanks for stopping by!