So, agreeing to compete in the first round of the Invercargill Winter Series the night before and leaving Dunedin at 7am is just second nature. Bloody hell though, I forgot how really freezing cold even Autumn can be in our southern parts, and it proved to be very troublesome during warm-up. It took a long time to get my legs to even respond , and I had to design an improvised warmup strategy – not knowing at all the physiological effect, simply responding to body signals. Of course, this created doubt about my ability to race strongly, but luckily with some stern talking to myself, I managed to reign this stray pony in before the start line.
I always dread mass-group starts. Boys, girls, young and old, all vying for the front row. The consequence yesterday, I was the last girl going into single-track. Instead of lapsing into stress mode, I just reassured myself to focus on getting into a rhythm and sussing out the track first lap. I managed to pass three chicks first lap and was feeling really good about my response to a totally new track. I like to continually set micro-challenges when I race, so targeted a chick up ahead. I closed the gap surprisingly quickly, latched onto her tail for a good 5 min through singletrack, trying to stress her into making a mistake and getting tired. Whether or not this worked, when the first opportunity arose I hatched my attack – I passed her and put in a strong sprint along the fire road to create a gap.
The second lap I was focussing on putting in a consistent, strong and flowing lap and also close the gap with the next girl ahead. Unfortunately, with my race face getting in front of my logic, I missed a turn off back into singletrack and lost 2 minutes trying to retrace my steps. Instead of being frustrated, I used a Steve Gurney strategy to refocus – “energy goes where attention flows”. Cheers Steve – you’re working wonders even in your retirement!
Coming into the 3rd lap I made a resolution to build on the intense focus and strong performance I was giving. Despite feeling strong, I was starting to feel tired, but focussed on using specific skills- pumping, intense efforts and flow to aid momentum and speed. This proved to be an absolute winner and I put in my fastest lap yet.
I came into the finishing straight to see Ben with his camera out, egging me on. I put in one final sprint and managed a 1.21:55 for 3rd Expert Open Woman (don’t be fooled – Expert is just an extra lap!). The result was a nice surprise, I never focus on results, just performance. But it’s always welcome!
I guess my state at the end of the race reflected the strong effort I felt I put in. I was well and truely blown at the end, wobbly on my feet, my hand cramped, had a hoarse voice, my joints were screaming and RH elbow was locked and painful. Despite the pain I loved it – and was proud of my effort.
Although there a few issues to work on in regards to starting and keeping it together when things aren't going well, I have taken stock and am quietly pleased with how my riding has progressed over the past 6 months. I have never actually committed to a specific training program, but reflecting on the sheer quantity and occasional structured intensity of riding, I guess I’m doing ok!
I’m definitely excited about what the next race season will bring. It’s going to be a huge learning curve, but I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve with specific training and direction. With the new Carbon Bergamont arriving early August and the direction and support of a truly inspirational Coach in the new season, I’m hell bent on giving it my best - and seeing where this new stretch of road takes me...