Vegas, the race that started it all

Vegas 2015:  My 5th Vegas and finally in the top 10!

Vegas 2015: My 5th Vegas and finally in the top 10!

CrossVegas 2012, my first Vegas.  Jess Cutler and I all smiles post race.

CrossVegas 2012, my first Vegas.  Jess Cutler and I all smiles post race.

Cross Vegas is the race that started it all.  It was my first big CX race, 2012, I had no expectations, I just wanted to race my cross bike against the countries best.  I went from last row to 13th by the finish.  I pedaled my ass off, I didn't know what I was doing, but I did it and I felt proud.  Everyone at home was cheering loud and rooting me on.  Racing Cross Vegas has been a tradition ever since.  The following year I finished 11th, and 11th the year after, and then in 2015 the first edition of the World Cup I finished my lucky #13, just like my first ever CrossVegas.  It felt heartwarming, I was proud of my ride, that spot was meant for me, I just knew it. 

Photo:  Mathew Lasala   Vegas 2013  - my second Vegas

Photo: Mathew Lasala

Vegas 2013 - my second Vegas

Flash forward 1 year.  We're back in Vegas for the first round of the World Cup circuit, the course vastly different than years past.  During pre-ride on Tuesday I wasn't really sure I liked the course, it seemed there was an awful lot of pedaling to be had, the grass seemed extra squishy and spongy, but yet half dead and slippery.  Race day is always an anxious one, my nerves start about mid afternoon and don't really settle until race time, but this year was a different one.  I was nervous in the afternoon, but once I got to the course, did a hot lap or two, I stopped being nervous.  I wasn't really sure how the race was going to go, but I knew however it went, that it was going to be all I could do.  My legs didn't feel particularly good, they were absolutely feeling the efforts from the previous weekend and the travel, plus the heat and dry air of Vegas.  I knew that whatever I did out there was going to be a result of heavy legs from the intense start of the season we've had so far.  That also meant I had nothing to lose.  

Since the weekend I had been pondering what I need to do to stay in the front of the race.  At Rochester Day #2 and both days at Trek, I was missing something, speed was one of them, but I knew it couldn't have just been speed.  I reflected on my races, what could I change, what can I improve on?  I was visualizing where I had previously lost spots, what happened to my mental game, what could I change what could I improve?  One thing came to mind, I needed to pedal more and coast less.  All day Tuesday and all day Wednesday I told myself "pedal, pedal, pedal.  Never stop pedaling".  During the race my mantra continued, pedal through every corner, pedal on every downhill.  Do not quit.  Do not give up, do not take a break when a break shouldn't be taken, dig, push, go.  

Vegas 2013:  Kenny Wehn always seems to capture my faces

Vegas 2013: Kenny Wehn always seems to capture my faces

I was the first call up to row #3, not exactly where I wanted to be, I knew I had to choose my spot wisely.  The further back you go, the more of a delay there is off the start, the further back you go in the pack.  My start sucked.  I kept getting cut off by riders, people running into the fencing, having to stop and unclip so I wouldn't crash, people trying to shove me all over the place.  I think I went by the pits for the first lap in the mid20's.  My legs felt pretty bad, but I remained calm, I've raced Vegas enough to know what happens to people, they blow up catastrophically.  When I would catch up to riders I would sit on their wheels, catching my breath, seeing when the right time to pounce was, feeling out how they were riding.  I watched as riders in front of me were forming gaps from the riders in front of them, and I dug to get by and latch onto the next group of riders.  I moved into the top 20, into the top 15.  I was getting passed by riders, only to catch up to them a minute or 2 later, sit on their wheel catch my breath and move on.  Before I knew it, I passed a group of Euros, dropped them and kept going.  Then I was 10th, with 8th and 9th just in front of me.  Going into the last lap I caught 8th and 9th, keeping my pace steady where I needed to stay steady and attack the corners where I knew I could attack the corners and not vomit.  Ultimately, the last lap was vomit inducing, a bobble with another rider on the last half lap on one of the stair sections left me dropped and tired, and I held onto the finish for 10th.  FINALLY a top 10 finish in Vegas, and to have it be a World Cup at that.  

Vegas 2015  - Race Prep with Nicole!

Vegas 2015 - Race Prep with Nicole!

For the first time in my racing career I feel like I actually raced, instead of riding around in circles really hard.  I thought about how best I could come out on top of the race when I didn't feel amazingly awesome, and it worked.  Watching from the pits Chris said I looked smooth, I closed the gaps when I didn't think I could, and I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to never stop pedaling.  

 

 

 

 

I can't thank my sponsors enough, my equipment is top notch, and worked flawlessly.  I didn't ever once question how my bike was functioning, which is such a peace of mind.  I realize I haven't written about my bike set up, so heres a brief on what I rode in Vegas:

  • Frame: Focus Mares
  • Wheels: American Classic Aluminum Tubulars
  • Tires: Clement LAS (24/25 front/rear psi)
  • Bars: Easton EC90 SLX 42cm
  • Stem: EA90 80mm +10 rise (because I ride grandma style!  Actually it's because of my torn labrum in my hip)
  • Seatpost: EC90 Zero
  • Saddle: SDG Circuit Mtn
  • Crank + Chainring: Easton EC90 SL 38tooth
  • Drivetrain: SRAM Force 1

Also, I can't speak enough amazing things about the new Feedback Sports Omnium Trainer.  This thing is a magical piece of equipment.  Gone are the days of lugging around a 40 pound awkward to carry trainer, gone are the days of me begging my host house for a trainer to warm up on.  The Omnium is 14 pounds, can be carried onto a plane (trust me I've done it, it gets through security), and it's even easy to ship with your bikes if that's how you're doing your bike transportation.  This trainer isn't just for the privateer athlete, this is for everyone.  Heading to a local cx race?  How many times have you been drug down by lugging your heavy 5 year old trainer from the car to your team tent?  I know I've been there, I'm happy to say I won't ever be there again!  Oh, also, gone are the days of inconsistent resistance on those silly heavy trainers.  

The season is here, I'm so thankful for my set up, my sponsors, my support system, I don't know if I could be any happier?!!  

Life is like a chapter book

Life is a series of chapters, one era closing, while a new era opens.  Each chapter should have a smooth transition, one to the next, something that distinguishes each part from the previous and the upcoming chapter.  

When I was a young teenager I started babysitting, like most teenage girls, to make some money. Once I could drive, I started nannying in the summer, and from there I progressed to a minimum wage job.  When I was 17 I started working in a gym, doing front desk work, learning all about the life of being a gym rat, and I loved every minute of it.  It was there, when I turned 18, I learned about the Exercise Science degree at Western.  I went to college with a plan, graduate with a degree in Exercise Science, become a Personal Trainer.  I didn't work my freshman year of college, I did the whole college freshman thing.  Figured out what it was like to not live with mom and dad, be on my own schedule (sort of), meet new people, be in charge of my own choices.  Like most college freshman, I went home for the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year, I nannied, worked in the gym, studied to become a Group Fitness Instructor.  I also bought my own car that summer.  I saved up all summer long to have my own car, and $5,000 later that dream became a reality.  I passed my Group Fitness Instructor Cert, and I started looking for jobs in a Gym.  I was 19.

My Sophomore year I started teaching at the Rec Center and Bellingham Athletic Club.  I loved teaching Group Fitness.  I expanded my horizons, teaching different classes, and decided I wanted to take the Personal Trainer Cert.  So I did, I passed, and started working as a Personal Trainer.  The following summer, at 20, I moved home, one more time.  It was that summer that I took Anatomy, a jump start to my degree in Exercise Science, worked in the gym and continued to nanny.  

My Junior year I was working part time teaching at multiple different gyms and Personal Training, and because that wasn't enough, I got a job working retail at the Mall.  All while attending school.  I was focused, driven, and energized.  That summer, being freshly 21, I balanced 2 paid jobs and 2 unpaid internships.  Literally, I spent my summer either at the Mall or in a gym.  My focus and dedication was impressive.

My senior year I continued with 1 job at the BAC, picking up more hours, classes, and clients.  I studied hard in school, staying driven, but still trying to have fun.  I lived my life on a fully regimented schedule, flowing from one activity to the next, never feeling tired, or dull.  I turned 22 that year, I met Chris, and little did I know my life would change forever.  

I graduated college in the Fall, I moved back home with my parents, like a lot of post college grads do.  I worked in the gym I worked at in high school, and my 18 year old dream was coming true, only I wasn't happy.  Actually, I was miserable.  3 months of this, and I moved back to Bellingham, applied for Graduate School, and went back to working at the BAC and spending nearly every day with Chris.  Fall of 2008 I went back to school for my Masters degree, where I continued to juggle work and school (like most college students).  It wasn't until my Masters degree that I really got into cycling.  In 2009 I found myself loving riding my bike, previously I found my outlet from running, but ultimately I knew my body wasn't meant for running, and riding gave me the same outlet, the same feeling that running gave me, only I could walk after I went for a ride.  It was here where I learned to balance school, riding, and work.  I graduated my Masters in 2010, continued to work at the gym, opened my hours to more clients and rode my bike more, trained more, explored the outdoors.  

Since then I have continued to work, continued to train, continued to race.  I always found balance between everything, but then my love for the bike grew, my strength grew, and my desires and goals increased.  I continued to push myself beyond what my body knew, I became a better, stronger racer, but it was always a hobby.  In 2012 I entered my first UCI CX race, I did well, and all of the sudden I was traveling to races chasing UCI points.  In 2013 I went to more races, I improved upon my results from the previous year, and put a little more into my racing.  In 2014 I jumped in head first for a FULL UCI CX calendar, I juggled work, I tried to find balance, but I started to get tired, mentally and physically.  

2015 brought all new struggles.  The exhaustion I was experiencing from juggling racing, training, and working was unreal, I was cranky and tired all the time, I wasn't a fun person to be around.  When the 2015 season started, I was cracked, and the season hadn't even begun.  I was crying from exhaustion, from irritation to my first race of the year, complaining, angry, bitter.  Not a way to start the season.  I had lonely panic attacks sitting at host houses thinking about work, I struggled mentally, physically.  I was slowly losing the ability to juggle, to balance, and I continuously blamed myself, I used to be able to juggle multiple jobs, time with friends, and still exercise, but now I was struggling.  I don't know if it was years of wear and tear on me emotionally and physically, but I was cracked by the end of the season.  I took some time off work to recover, took a vacation to Hawaii, took time off the bike, and kept my hours low at work once I went back.  I slowly felt like my energy was increasing, my livelihood was back, and I didn't feel like an awful human being to be around.  By March I was in such a good place in my life, it made me realize how miserable I was in 2015.  I didn't know I was struggling so bad, until I stepped back and looked at how I was living my life the previous year.  I thought I would be able to maintain this upward projectile of positivity in my life, until things started to crumble once I started mountain bike racing in the Spring.  Anxiety, stress, and fatigue was coming back.  The guilt of leaving my clients behind, while I take off for a race, the anxiety of not getting enough sleep, of standing on my feet when all I want to do is curl up on the couch to take a nap, it became unbearable.  

I love what I do.  I love my clients.  I am so lucky to have such amazing clients in my life, but I made a choice and I quit my job.  I'm given 1 life to live, one ride, one chance, multiple chapters.  This chapter, it's taking me somewhere else, it doesn't mean I won't come back to my 1 true love of working with the human body, but for now, I'm going to fulfill the new chapter with adventures, goals, friends, and love.  

Living in the fast lane, where have I been?

Do you ever wake up one day, and wonder where the past 10 years have gone?  There is nothing I would change if I could do it over, but sometimes I wonder, why are we moving so fast?  Why aren't we soaking up our lives to the fullest?  The past 6 months I've realized I needed to slow down, I needed to focus on something that was going to make me happy in the now, not something that would make me happy in the future.  Life is now, and it's meant to be lived.  Towards the end of last season I struggled hard to find the work life, race life, train life balance.  I knew things needed to change come the new year.  Since then, I've taken time off work, took time off my bike, cut back my work hours, and I couldn't be better, I'm a much happier and more pleasant person to be around.  

So where have I been?  For the first time in a long time I feel settled, grounded, and ready to take on the world.  Having complete rest post CX season was amazing, it gave me new energy to conquer new goals, take new trips, and plan better.  Trip #1 included my very first Sea Otter, which I absolutely loved.  4 days in the California sunshine?  Count me in please!  Not only did I spend 4 days in sunshine with friends, but having the chance to catch up with Sponsors in person and hang out, have some chats you never get to have, was amazing.  On top of that, I had the opportunity to help with Rebecca Ruschs' SRAM Gold Rusch Tour AND race my Cyclocross bike in April, where I put on a fabulous show for the people sailing over my bars in the pea gravel and chasing from nearly DFL to 2nd.  That was fun.  

After Sea Otter I came home to charge up for the Whiskey 50 the following weekend.  I didn't make it to Whiskey, which, perhaps when the time is right, I'll post why.  

The week after Whiskey I had my appointment with my Ortho regarding my Labral Tear (yep MRI tells me it's torn).  This time, Chris came with me for a 2nd set of ears to remember what sir doc had to say.  I've been seeing Dr. Nowak at Everett Bone and Joint, and after having several people tell me I need to see the doctor THEY saw, I finally settled with I don't care what others have to say about their amazing doctor, I'm sticking with my gut instinct.  My goal is to make it through the upcoming season, which I believe won't be a problem.  I know my limitations, I know what I can do, I know what I can't do, and I monitor my "pain" and my symptoms quite well.  He thinks I'm crazy, but I'm just an athlete.  Chris, myself, and Dr. Nowak all agreed that if the symptoms increase and my pain gets bad (right now I would say I'm at a 1 or 2 of 10), then I will end my season early and opt for an earlier surgery date, but currently I'm aiming for a post season surgery.  So there you have it, hip update #2.  Perhaps I'll blog all about how strong my right hip is compared to my left (my right one is the one with the tear) at some point.  

Last week I headed out to Grand Junction for the Grand Junction Off Road, the second stop in the Epic Rides series!  Of course I tried to prepare myself with a couple of local races first.  My first stop was the Gear Jammer up in Squamish, BC.  Unfortunately this was the last year of the race, so I can't tell you to go up there next year and race it, but holy smokes, that was a hard race.  I was pretty nervous and intimidated at the start of it, being a mass start and all, that I opted to start in the back with my friend.  When the gun went off I watched the front of the race (pros and lots of men) take off, and I scooted my way to the start line to get going.  That's okay, because I had a ton of fun chasing and racing my own race.  I ended up catching a fair amount of women in front of me, then I caught some pro women, and ended up finishing in 3rd.  Stoke level was high, cramp level was above the roof, and my body fatigue was right there with a 24 hour mtn bike race.  OUCH.  I was beat up and tired.  The following weekend I headed out to the Peninsula for the Stottlemeyer 30.  I hadn't ever done this event, and it's been around for a few years now, so it was time.  The trails were a ton of fun, rolling terrain, some roots, twists, and lots of flow.  This time, I wasn't nervous at the start, I knew the women and the men at the race, and at the start I gunned it, hit the single track first, and it was all fun and games from there, finishing first in my wave of peeps.  I'll give an updated blog post on the Grand Junction experience, other wise it will make this one WAY too long!  

A huge shout out goes to Borah Teamwear for completing my mountain bike kit.  It arrived just in time for the Stotty 30, and I was super excited to wear some fresh new threads!  I've said it before, but I'll say it again, if you're in the market for a new team clothing company, Borah Teamwear should be the only company you choose.  They have low minimums, no minimum on re-orders, quick turn around times, and they're super easy to work with, plus their clothing quality is impressive.  Please reach out to them, or ask me if you have any questions.  

There you have it, my Spring has been busy, but yet quiet at the same time.  I wouldn't change anything for the world.