Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tried it Out, It's Like Nothing You've Ever Seen

Today I'm going to cover my year in racing. It started with a bang. We went down to Austin, Texas for Cyclocross Nationals. I was going to do two races, but realized I was catching a cold after the first one. Which was too bad, because I really liked that course. I did get to do my biggest race to date. There were 102 women in my race. Wow.

 So, here are my race stats for the year: 30 races altogether. 6 running, 5 cycle road racing, 1 cycle gravel road race, 1 cycle gravel time trial, 2 cycle road time trials, 1 mountain bike time trial, 1 mountain bike regular race, 1 adventure race, 1 triathlon, 1 duathlon, 10 cyclocross races. Boom! That's actually a lot less than I normally do, but there was a reason for that. This year, my goal was to race less, train more and try to figure out how to do certain races better and make a few races a priority, instead of making every race a priority, which really makes it so that no race is a priority.

You certainly couldn't tell by this photo that I PR'ed in the race this year....
 My first priority race was the Hawkeye 25K in April. It's a 25K running race on roads, gravel paths and crazy, hilly, single track. I realized during our pre-run, that I went so much slower, but that made me almost finish in a faster time than I had ever previously raced it. So, I got real smart and figured I needed to pace myself better. I made myself slow down at the beginning of the race, which gave me more energy at the end of the race, and helped me finish it 20 some minutes faster than I had ever run it before. Yea!

Thanks to my sister-in-law for the photo.
  I also got to do another adventure race with my brother. I really love this race. I wasn't super strong at it this year, but the water was nice and high and we finished our canoe section WAY faster than we did the last time we did it. I had a real problem doing the running part of triathlons this year. I'm not sure what I need to fix it, or why it was so bad this year, but both triathlon type races I did this year, my legs felt like I had lead weights on them during the entire run.

Photo credit Lisa Eggers-Robertson.

 I try to do new things every year, whether it's a new kind of race, or a new discipline and this year, I did a few new things, either by choice, or just by the way things happened. I did my first duathlon, because there was e-coli in the water and they had to replace the swim with more running. Boy, did that work for me, since I suck at the swim anyway. That was the first race like that where I did well in the final run. I got my fastest 5K time in a tri/duathlon ever! Again...Who the hell knows why.

I did my first real mountain bike race this year too. I always said I wouldn't race mountain bikes because I wanted to have one thing that I just did for fun, but I decided to race anyway and I thought it was a lot of fun. I was too scared to ride a couple of parts that all of the other women I raced could ride, but it didn't hold me back too much and I ended up doing pretty well in my race. Will I do more mountain bike races? I'm not sure. It might depend on whether I can get more guts up to ride the scarier stuff.

Photo credit Paul Savala

Another new race I did was a gravel TT. I've done gravel races before, but I've never felt comfortable pack racing...Especially on gravel, so a TT really appealed to me. I loved the race, I just have to figure out the hydration on my CX bike, because I don't have bottle cages and it was insanely hot that day.

CX is always my favorite type of racing and I'm not necessarily all that great at it. I wanted to race less road over the Summer, so I wouldn't be so tired by the end of the season. I also switched to flat pedals and made sure to warm-up on a trainer before races. How did it work? I thought the flat pedals worked well for now. I may switch back at some point, but I learned a lot, changing my pedal choice up. The trainer made a HUGE difference. Older people, like myself, need a lot more warm-up time and I noticed a big, positive difference in my starts. Since I got sick in October and my CX racing season pretty much went to shit, I didn't get to find out if not racing so much in the Spring and Summer helped me at the end of my season or not. Maybe we'll find out next year.

What I got out of my racing season this year, is that it's good to race a little less, learn how to train for a few A races and not worry about every race, and always, always, always have fun. I hope to have even more fun next year.

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