If you read my last blog post, whew, what a crazy whirlwind of a season, right?
Before I get going and don't find a good spot to place this, I want to say how impressed I am with the whole production of Nationals. The course was really top notch, I loved the elevation challenges (even if I hated it at times), the grounds beautiful, and I really did feel like I was at an event, not just a bike race. So, thank you to USA Cycling and everyone else involved in this amazing production, you did it, and it was an incredible weekend in Asheville.
I flew out to Asheville, NC on Wednesday before the big race on Sunday. This gave me time to prep mentally for the race and get a little time on course before the big day on Sunday. Saturday I checked out the course, and got some openers in. I opted to ride the course in the later afternoon while the rain was falling, that way I could get a feel for the course in the slippery conditions, since the weather was calling for rain all night. Saturday night I did my usual night before the race - prep, and tried to hit the pillow early. I really struggled with sleep this night, I always blame it on the moon, but I tossed and turned all night. I did my usual pre-race morning prep, ate the usual breakfast, packed my bags and headed to the course.
Myself, and a handful of other Elite Women jumped on course around 12, trying to see course conditions not so close to our race time (since our official training time was at 130pm, 1 hour prior to the start of our race). The course was pretty slick at this time, so it gave me a good idea of what the conditions could be like when we raced. I still wanted to ride at 130 to see if anything changed, and when that time came around, boy had the course changed. The slick dried out, and the course was getting pretty fast, soggy in sections, big mud puddles by the pits from the previous pressure washings, but that was it in terms of mud. I would say the muddiest and slickest sections included the run ups (filling all our shoes with mud and grass) and the puddles near the pits.
I knew I wanted to have a good start, but sometimes I need to tell myself to calm down and not take the hole shot!!! Perhaps I'm really good at blowing my wad in the first 30 seconds. I was a little concerned with the small camel hump, not sure it was going to cause a crash or not, so I opted to avoid that situation all together. After the first lap I had an idea my race was going to get ugly. I was really struggling to turn the pedals around on the climbs, I was having trouble accelerating out of the corners, and I was having issues getting into my pedals (which I imagine most if not all of us did) and then got dropped in the group I was riding in. Got caught by the next couple of riders, and after that lap (with 2 to go) my legs went into spaz mode. Both quads started to seriously cramp, the run ups became walk ups and if I was having trouble finding my pedals in the previous laps, well good luck trying to get into the pedals now.
I'm not sure what went wrong. My body failed me at the time I needed it most, I was (and still am) so incredibly crushed by my race. After being home for a couple of days and reflecting back at my race, I can see that not only did I physically break down, but I mentally failed myself. Yes, my quads cramped, and sometimes its nearly impossible to push through such pain, but I let it get to me, and I let it get to me from the very beginning. Looking back at that race and seeing where I fell off the pace, I wonder if I mentally gave up then, knowing exactly with my placement I wasn't going to make the Worlds Team. I went into this season with a goal (well lots) and I feel so discouraged and let down that I couldn't accomplish that one goal.
Since last year, I knew I wanted to make the Worlds Team in 2016, I thought about it all Spring, all Summer, and all into the CX season. I made 2 trips to Belgium to show my commitment to that goal. Sure, my racing over there wasn't spectacular and I'm not afraid to say it, but it doesn't mean I can't be disappointed. When I came home from Belgium after Christmas I did what everyone told me to do, rest as much as possible, and prep for Nationals. Going into Nationals this year I was mentally ready, I didn't feel mentally fatigued, burnt out or anything. I really felt prepared, to have such a race happen like it did, is defeating.
I came home from Nationals ready to rest hard and eat lots and plan a vacation to Hawaii, when I received an email asking if I was taking my start spot at Hoogerheide. That's when the wheels turned, and I realized I hadn't completely checked out from racing yet, the thought of racing one more World Cup got me REALLY excited, and with that, I go fight for one last race this year. Sure it's a long way to travel to 1 race when (unlike everyone else there) I won't be racing Worlds, but I'm excited for one last hurrah and I know that whatever I do, I'm doing it for me. I'm not racing to try and make the Worlds team, I'm not racing to impress anyone, I'm racing because I want to. I'm racing this last race for me, and I couldn't be more ready.