Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valley of the Sun- A Weekend of Firsts

Before I get into a recap of my amazing weekend in Arizona, I have a long overdue announcement. I am excited that Nytro will officially be one of my sponsors this season. Not much of a surprise since it is the shop that I've always gravitated to. I seem to be in there just about every other day for one reason or another (usually just because I love the people of Nytro!), and they've always taken excellent care of me! The kit makes it official ;-) And if you haven't sported a Capo kit, you're missing out. So comfy! The new kits are available in the store, or online.
After a quick run into the shop (literally. I ended my morning run there-can't sit in a car for 5 hours without running first) we were off.  We rolled in style, with team Felt ready to represent.  They were even nice enough to let Heather and I under the tent on our non-felt rides. 
Day 1- 22km Time Trial. When I told people I was going to do a stage race their first response was: "You'll kill the time trial, and in a stage race, that is everything." Uummmm, hell no. the tt is 14 miles not 114. 14miles= sprint= NOT my forte! My warm-up was half what I wanted. I rolled to the line with heavy legs. Ready or not it was time to dig deep. My first ever tt awaited me.
I tried to put myself in the hurt tank, but as expected failed at doing so. As an endurance athlete I've become accustom to settling into an uncomfortable, but manageable pace. While the guys were worried about "going out too hard," I was worried about simply "going hard." I was the 7th Cat 4 girl to take the course. I passed 4 girls and was passed by one. I didn't think I did all that bad until I saw the results. 13th in the GC. Ouch!

Then I watched Vince, Pete, Wattie, and Kurt come across the finish. I quickly realized I didn't dig deep enough. They had snot, spit, sweat, etc all over their face and their eyes looked a bit crossed. Hmmm, within 20seconds of finishing I thought I could probably do that 3 more times at the same intensity. Instead I headed out for a short run.

To be honest, after this failed attempt my desire to keep racing on day 2 was minimal. I told Kurt and the guys that I wanted to get in a long ride instead and would stick around Tempe. Thankfully they dragged me to the starting line for Day 2- the Road Race.

41 miles. Ok we're getting closer to my desired distance. I surrounded myself with the top girls from the TT. If any of them attacked, I'd follow. I was a bit frustrated that the attacks didn't come until the second climb. I wasn't sure if we were heading out for coffee, or racing. A learning experience to say the least. First lesson- bike racing is as much about racing smart as it is about fitness, strength, & speed!
 Can u guess what fueled me during our break away?
The attack came at the second climb- king of the mountain points were up for grabs. I didn't look back to see how many girls made the jump, I only knew there were 3 girls ahead of me when I got to the top of the climb. I pushed one of the W35+ girls to motivate her to keep working. She thanked me, but come on-it was somewhat selfish. I wanted the lead pack and figured I'd need some help reeling them in (wow, look at this triathlete starting to analyze like a roadie- lol!). It didn't take long and I was back up with the leaders. The pace slowed more than I wanted it to, but it was too windy and I didn't think I could attack and get away.  So there we stayed until the final climb- a 1mile up hill finish. The attacks started at the base of the climb. I stayed with it but waited a bit too long to throw the hammer down. I tried hard to real in 3rd place, but took 4th.
Lesson learned (there were many!): I may not have the instant jump, but I have fitness and endurance. When others were huffing and puffing at the top I kept getting stronger.

So....after day 2 the overriding lesson learned: road races are crazy fun, and I was so happy I didn't throw in the towel after day one. The RR put me in 6th for the GC. Better than 13th!! To quote team Felt: "NIIIIIIICE!"

Day 3- the crit. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Scared?!?! Ah, yeah! I always swore this was something I'd never do. Lesson learned: never say never (when-o-when will I learn this one). Final day recap to come tomorrow (with pics too).