Race season is creeping up on me. Registrations for races are opening, training camps are popping up and Facebook is full of people making their statements of hard work. When I started racing in 2007, I raced beginner, but knew women who raced elite. Maybe it’s just my perception, but I think over the years, the women’s field has become very competitive – in a friendly way. It seems that everyone who I know moved up bit by bit and are now training to compete against national pros, including myself.
I am competitive, but I can’t say that I ever lined up at a race and hoped for someone to lose. For me, races are personal. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve been disappointed in races that I didn’t perform my best, but I never was angry that another girl won. She earned it and that was her day. She worked hard and came through as the stronger rider.
I’m really looking forward to this season because it will be a tough one. The women are stronger, there are more of them in the field, and everyone has the same drive as I do. They will be busting it out for every race. I must say I am so excited to line up next to these chicks, race and have fun together.
I’m not as lucky to live in southern Pennsylvania, where it seems there are a lot more people who are able to train together. It looks like they’re incorporating long weekend rides with minimal snow/ice. I’m here – feeling alone – sitting on my trainer while watching TV.
My experiment for this month will be my very own training camp. This camp will include three days of riding. I can’t attend a training camp at Rothrock State Forest, so I have set my sights on doing just as much riding here at home. THAT blog will be a more interesting one. I’m hoping that my mountain bike will be done by then and the weather cooperates. If so, my personal training camp will be a go and many miles will be ridden!I hope training is going well for everyone, and – if you’re not training – I hope everyone is getting out and enjoying the outdoors!
I’m not even a professional writer and I have writer’s block. I have been tossing around some topics for this week, but couldn’t seem to nail one down. I don’t want to bore everyone with updates of how training is going, because that’s redundant. There is, of course, the big story – Lance. I can give my opinion, but I’m not even sure what it is. Wait, disappointment. That’s my opinion.
It’s almost the end of January and I still feel like I just started to get my butt in gear for training. After last week’s rude awakening of riding, I knew I needed to get out on my bike at ANY opportunity.
Last winter was dry and cold so there was ample time to be on the bike. Last weekend was wet, foggy and cold with poor visibility. Not my visibility, but cars’ visibility to see us. Even with my blinky tail light last weekend, the sound of a car coming up behind us was a bit unnerving. The only comfort you have on some roads is hearing the tires hit the rumble strips of the two yellow lines.
This weekend was MUCH nicer and I was dying to get out on the road bike. My mind played against me on Saturday. No one else was riding andI get nervous riding alone. The sun was out and the sun was blinding. Saturday ended up with me trail running behind to Mukluks as they road through Lackawanna State Park which was 6 miles of fun on the snow, ice and mud. I also managed to spin for an hour that day too and cook a dinner for my hubby and parents. It was a great day!
That left Sunday as the day I needed to get on my bike, but it was about 40 degrees and the wind was gusting at 20mph. It’s now or never, I thought. With single digit temps looming and snow next weekend, my road bike would only be hooked to the trainer. This was my chance. I suited up in my dorkiest and brightest gear. I turned my blinky light on and I was off. A short 20-mile ride with about 2,000 feet of climbing was accomplished. It was windy, my face was wind burned but I was happy.
So, there you have it, I blogged about my training. I knew it would resort to that, but you know what? That’s okay. I am proud of what I am trying to accomplish. And I’ll feel good if I can gain any support from some people or if I can encourage others.
I hope everyone enjoys reading about my progress. I really can’t wait for my first race to really give this blog some character. Last week, my blog views crushed 1,000. I am so thankful that you all read about my journey and leave such wonderful comments. Thank you!
Since I last posted seven days ago, I spent this past week working my tail off – or so I thought.
I suffer from migraines and had one from last Tuesday until about Thursday afternoon. I still worked out, but it certainly wasn’t to my full potential. I spent the week focusing on my core muscles, cardio, legs and abs. By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get on my road bike. The weather here in PA finally got above 40 degrees, but not by much. On Saturday, I did a road ride with some guys.
Now, I know they are faster than me and I always hesitate with my decision to go, but I need to ride with them if I want to get faster.
My last road ride was in early November and then since, it’s been a few miles here and there on the mountain bike. Mentally, I thought, “Hell, I can go out and ride with no problem. I’ve been working out training so I’m strong.” Silly me. Those little spurts of cardio I did were not enough. The weather was about 42 degrees and there were six of us. I was the only girl.
We rode up the valley (local terminology) into Forest City, on through to the Stillwater Lake dam and back down. Sounds like an easy ride, right? I felt like my lungs weren’t working. And by the time we were looping back around mile 30, my quads started to cramp. No more standing for me. I felt awful.
Our ride ended up being about 44 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to what others did this weekend. (Vicki Barclay rode 100 on Saturday!) After the ride, it was a few Blue Moons and a quesadilla that got me feeling a bit better. But my muscles were tight, hips were hurting. I knew I needed to start focusing on those muscle areas.
Come Sunday, two friends of mine wanted to do a nice ride out to the country and back. The ride was probably more climbing than Saturday’s ride, but less miles. I was game.
I knew my legs would be tired so I sat in the back of Ed and Taylor and shouted, “car back!” That was about the extent of my conversation on the ride. The fog was dense to the point that it was probably dangerous to be on the roads, but it eventually cleared toward the end of the ride. We rode 30 miles and climbed about 2,900 feet in elevation. It’s not much, but I’ll take it. I was tired but my muscles weren’t as angry with me as they were after Saturday’s ride.
It’s funny how you can be so happy to be out on a ride and know you are getting a good workout, but be so disappointed. Why am I so slow? Why do I feel like my muscles hate me? How come I feel like my legs have nothing to give? Well, it IS January in northeast Pennsylvania and you have NOT gone more than 20 miles on a bike since November!
I do need to remember that the season does not start in a week and I have two more months to prepare and build myself up before my first endurance race of the season. It was a great week of working out. I noticed strength in my core and I felt good knowing my muscles were tight from working them out.
In the end, I need to really bust my ass on the trainer and get running. Cross training is great for me and I need to do it. This weekend only made me stronger and I need to keep going. This season will be tough, but I can line up and be just as confident as my peers on that starting line if I staying focused.
So, I wrote a blog post on Saturday that implied I wasn’t going to be coached this season. Well, things have changed.
I continued to panic about not having a plan into Sunday. I kept asking myself a ton of questions: How do I train? Do I only lift? Do I run a lot? Do I ride a lot? Should I go to yoga? Ahh!!! I was overwhelmed and overthinking everything, which is no surprise for those of you who know me.
Luckily, a good friend of mine – the woman who taught me everything I know about mountain biking, introduced me to racing and encouraged me throughout my short mountain bike career – said she’d help me organize my training. Or, as I like to say, she is my coach.
She is known in the mountain biking community and gained pro status a few years back. She continues to encourage me and others to be our best while she’s nursing an injury. She is a humble person who’s given so much to the cycling community over the years.
Honestly, it never occurred to me to ask her for help, but I was instantly thrilled. She knows her stuff!
We met up and talked about my goals for the season. Specifically, we decided which races I want to do well in (all of them of course), but I picked about three that are my ultimate races. She developed a plan for me about how to prepare for the races, including how to fill my schedule – but not too much. We also talk about how to get ready for 100 miles on the mountain bike – mentally and physically.
This season is going to be good one but it’s also going to be scary. My plans are ambitious and physically demanding. After all, this is my first season l plan to do more than one 100 mile race. Hell, this is my first season to ever race a 100 mile race. Luckily, my coach motivated me while keeping my feet on the ground. Our meeting was a refreshing conversation and I am forever grateful for Alaina, my friend and coach.
Ride on strong 🙂
The holidays are over, and now it’s time to get back to the grind. I’ve been very tired this past week and the whole motivation thing was almost nonexistent. All I am seeing in the online world is people training, being coached and gaining miles as well as elevation. I am not. I won’t say that I’m not training, but I don’t have a coach and the past few weeks have not allowed for miles or elevation gain on a bike. . I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. “Seriously, Cindy, focus on what you accomplish and be encouraged by others,” I tell myself.
I spent the past few days worrying and second guessing the season before it even starts. I am following athletes from the East Coast and around the country discuss their training from northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m trying to talk myself out of worrying, trying to convince myself that my gym routine is just enough, and that snowshoeing and running are keeping my cardio in check. It wasn’t working. I even went as far as to message Fit Chick – Selene Yeager – to see if she thought getting a coach is needed and if I need to switch up my routine. She was kind enough, as always, to return with a message saying that sure, coaching has its pros, but what I am doing should be fine. She said that I will be “A-Okay” with what I am doing. Phew. Thanks Selene!
You’d think I would wake up in a better mood after last night’s lovely celebration for my husband, who recently accepted a new job. I did not. Today, I stayed in my pajamas, drank my coffee and wallowed in self-pity for most of the day. That’s allowed sometimes, right? My savior today was my dog, Oreo. A nice walk outside and a one-hour stretch of my crazy stiff muscles brought me back! I feel rejuvenated and ready to ride French Creek State Park with some gal pals tomorrow
The point? Don’t worry, be happy. Stop comparing….you are your own. Love yourself.
Summing up an entire year in a few paragraphs seems impossible, but I’ll do my best. In the past 365 days, there have been many good days, some bad days, but overall, a decent year. It’s very easy for me to focus on the negatives and not the positives from the year, which is not what I want this blog to be. The year was filled with so many things to talk about and such little blog space to use. Jack and I took our first vacation together, we went to Vegas, did not hit the millions so we had to return to Pennsylvania. I got a newer car, Jack got an older car, but a better one and we updated our back patio and celebrated our 2 year anniversary.
As for mountain biking; last season, I focused my races on the endurance class for the Mid Atlantic Super Series and it paid off. After a long season of great races and one bad (Rattling Creek, ugh) I managed to squeak out a 2nd place overall for the women’s field. Also, by crawling across the finish line at Rattling Creek, it put TBR in 2nd place for overall endurance as a team. I still don’t think I compare to so many women racers, but the good season finish did boost my confidence. I raced my first 12-hour race which was a great experience, had a migraine the whole day and managed to finish in 5th place – not too bad. The races for MASS were fantastic and I met so many amazing people last year who I still keep in touch with and can’t wait to see this year.
Of course, mountain biking is a main focus of mine, but that was not the only event that occurred in the past year. Anyone who knows me, will say that I love my pets more than anything (my husband understands). Our Bubba, who was 10, got a grim diagnosis of neuropathy. We did everything we could to keep him happy and comfortable up until we had to make the saddest decision. On August 6, 2012, Bubba left us to be pain free and run with his doggy buddies in doggy heaven. This, more than anything, overshadows the entire year. He brought us so much joy and love, he was a good boy and did not deserve to go in the pain that he did. It’s very hard for me to talk or even type about Bubba without crying and missing him. I wish everyone could have met Bubba; he was our boy and will live in our hearts forever.
As I look back at my pictures from the year, it is literally hundreds of pictures of mountain biking, pets, family and friends. I’d love to share them all with you but the upload would take too long 😉 Now that it is 2013, I have that renewed feeling that it’s a fresh start and things will be great. Jack and I took our girl, Oreo, for a snowshoe today since we actually have winter this year. This year, I look forward to racing for Toasted Head Race team and training for what will be a grueling handful of races I will attempt this year (NUE, ahh!!). Maybe we’ll even save a dog and add on to our furry family (the pets, not us). There is so much that I hope for this year and we can only try to accomplish the things that we can.
Thank you all for reading and being a part of my life. Thank you to my family for understanding and putting up with my selfishness to always wanting to be in the woods and on my bike. Thank you to my friends who keep me motivated, laughing and appreciating life as it comes along. Without you guys, I’d be lost. To my parents and brother, you listen to me complain and talk about biking nonstop. I’m sorry, but that won’t change 😉 Thank you to Jack, my foundation in my life that holds me up and encourages me that life will be good and that it will all be okay……and it will.
Here are a few photos from this past year: