It was supposed to be a weekend of fitness, but I feel like I made progress in more ways beyond my VO2. I learned a lot about myself--ups and downs--and I also got to connect with other riders this weekend.
So, it went like this.
Time Trial: 3rd place. A lot of breathing on my part, shifting of gears and thinking, "This one is too hard. This one is too easy. This one is too hard but my cadence is the same if I move to the easier. Am I really breathing that hard? Am I tired? Go harder. But you're tired. Oh here's a corner. BRAKE! Well, weenie, you didn't need brake on that corner. Where is that riser? Oh there it is. Oops wrong gear. Am I spent now? Weenie! It's only a 10k, etc. etc." I was happy with 3rd. I thought I bombed it. I was happy I didn't crash around the corners. And I got to sport a Spencer Chiropractic helmet! In other news, Tricia killed it--putting 18 seconds on me. That's a ton in a 10k TT.
Crit: 29th--EGADS! Rain. 8 corners. Freezing. I was horrified. I immediately got dropped from the front group and then pulled myself lap after lap trying to catch up, but before each corner I braked hard and then rolled through the corners. I was scared. I didn't want to crash. Cathy Varland came around me to assist, but I couldn't stay on her wheel. Some friends in the second group encouraged me, telling me I could do it, but I felt so out of my element and so fearful of crashing, that I was just like a deer in headlights out there. This put 2 minutes on my GC time. But worse, my confidence was completely shaken. I was worried about myself as a racer. I know I'm hard on myself but the whole experience seemed unreal to me. I was working as hard as I could and just could barely stay on the second group. I didn't know how those girls did it--they were so fearless and here I was shivering in the back, trying to catch up each straight away only to fall back after every corner. I went home and made a serious effort to forget about the race, but I was still depressed the next morning. I was scared. I thought for sure it would be "so easy" to jump back in. The crit was a reality check for me that I still have some progress to make.
Road Race: 2nd place. Comeback! 58 miles, 4 times up Mud Mountain. A group of 10 of us drilled mud mountain the second loop, organized quickly, and took off. We ended up getting a significant lead on the peloton and flipped the GC results. I felt good about the amount of work I did, I chased, attacked, worked, encouraged, congratulated, etc. I felt like I was beginning to become myself again, testing my limits--which still aren't all there--but I felt like I was making progress. Plus, it felt good working with a group to make the race hard--I had no chance of winning the GC at this point and didn't even think about winning the race. I was just excited to put passion into my race.
I also had a chance to ride with my teammate Sally Fraser, who was a pro rider in New Zealand and huge supporter of mine. We took turns drilling it up the hill and after the race, she said, "Oh Jen, how I wish I was 29 again." She's incredible. I ended up going from 10th in the GC to 5th from this road race.
Here's a photo of me drilling it up Mud Mountain the first lap. Photo from Wheels in Focus. Thanks, Amara.