Friday, April 17, 2015

A day on the bike is always better....

I am in the midst of 3-consecutive weekends of traveling and racing.  I usually try to limit my traveling/racing to two weekends/month max.  Working, traveling, and racing can be a bit exhausting and my performance usually reflects this.  At the same time there is no other way I would prefer to spend my time, and I was soooo bummed after missing out on True Grit last month due to my untimely 12-hour flu.  Since there are 3 super fun races all within a 5 hour drive, I decided that I would just go for it in April.

Weekend 1:  ICUP #2 (XC):  Cholla Challenge

I went into this race feeling great.  Training was solid and I slept perfectly the night before.  The course was quite possibly the best Green Valley race course ever put together.  After a solid start and a series of mistakes that may or may not have cost me a few positions, I finished a respectable ho-hum 4th.  I had very little time to reflect on this performance as I barely had enough time to finish my recovery drink before my family arrived to town for the Easter weekend.  We spent the rest of the weekend hiking around Zion and Snow Canyon with some early morning rides thrown in.

The Pivot Mach429 is smooth as butta' on the rocky desert terrain Photo: Lori Leger
 I spend a lot of time in the desert and the scenery continues to blow me away
Photo: Angie Harker
Yeah!  Droppin' the 'A' line
Photo: Angie Harker

 Photo: Angie Harker
Photo: Angie Harker
Not my best race, but still a smile on my face!
Photo:  Lisa Palmer Leger
Photo: Angie Harker

Weekend 2:  ICUP #3 (EXC):  Thaw Massacre:  

My post race recovery plan of hiking after the Cholla Challenge didn't exactly feel ideal and all week, despite an easy training schedule, my legs were throbbing.  After a mediocre night's sleep before the race, my legs were still throbbing before I even got on the bike.  Despite this, I have enough experience to know that there is not always a correlation between pre-race legs and race legs so I was optimistic for a turn-around once the racing began.  Since this was my first marathon distance race (40 miler) of the year and I didn't have an opportunity to pre-ride the course, my plan was to keep my pace manageable off the start and focus on looking ahead and scanning the technical trail.  Smooth, efficient, no costly mistakes.  The plan seemed to work because just a few miles in I found myself in 2nd where I remained for the rest of the 4-hour race.  The 2nd lap was crazy hard as the rough terrain was taking a toll on my body and fatigue was setting in, but I was able to clear my mind and zone out the pain and fatigue, until I crossed the finish line, where I basically was non-functional for ~20 minutes!  My experience with cancer has taught me to keep moving forward no matter how I feel or what my body is going through.  No matter how my body feels, it is always better to go for a bike ride than not go for a bike ride.  On the worst days, it is always better to get out of bed than to stay in bed.  In comparison, finishing a hard bike race is actually quite simple.

Looking pretty serious on the start line
Photo: Angie Harker
Looking forward to a long, rough day in the saddle
Photo: Angie Harker
 My Pivot eats up Moab's rocks
Photo: Angie Harker
Check out my baby pony-tail.  This is very exciting for me!
Photo: Angie Harker

 Sticking to my plan of looking ahead and scanning the terrain.
Photo: Angie Harker
The 7 consecutive miles of slick rock on Circle 0 felt especially rough lap 2, 
but the scenery certainly made up for it!  
Photo:  Angie Harker
Podium!!!  Yes that is a hard earned wad-o-cash!  
Keeping my winnings close:)  
It has been interesting paying for everything with singles this week.  

Weekend 3:  Today Shannon and I are heading back to St. George for the 6 Hours of Frog Hollow where we will race as a duo relay team.  The course is crazy fun, the competition stiff, and it is yet to be determined how my legs will feel.  No matter what the results, a weekend on the bike is ALWAYS better than a weekend off......