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!
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.
Staying motivated can be a tricky thing but, I don’t need to tell you that. Motivation can come from different places, and believe me, I drag it out of anywhere I could. Every day I check Twitter a few times to see the posts that Rebecca Rusch, Selene Yeager, Katie Compton and other female pros to see what they are up to. By no means am I even comparable to these amazing athletes but, this is where I get my motivation from and thank you girls for being so awesome. I also get my motivation by seeing my race buddies keeping busy with cyclocross, and knowing that they are still racing and are not losing that edge that I feel like I am for not racing right now. Ugh, stinks living north sometimes.
I started at the gym this week and have created a strength training plan for myself. I searched on bicycling.com’s website for ideas and came across Selen Yeager’s workout videos she has done for them and they are specifically geared for cyclists. I watched them, wrote them down and put them into effect. After three days, the burn is there and the strength will only increase. The gym is a tough place to go, and I really do hate it. I don’t hate many things…..wait, yes I do…but, the gym is awful. The first night was filled with me worrying about who might have been watching me, what if I look stupid or does it look like I’m doing everything right?? Ahh!!! Almost quit……almost. Tonight was much different. I went in with a big not giving a sh*t attitude. This season is about my commitment to me becoming stronger and if I’m going to worry about silly stuff, it won’t happen. Tonight was great and I have found my new attitude towards going to the gym…just do what you have to do and screw everything else.
I will keep riding with buddies until the snow flies and then it will be skiing, snowshoeing and trail running. Let’s all continue to motivate each other since, well, we need it! Thank you to everyone who motivates me, friends, family and yes, the pros..even though they don’t know I exist. Hmmm, maybe someday they will….maybe someday I will be…………
Keep riding all.