Farr.... last week has been absolute madness for me!
October means exams for Scarfies = plenty of study and no socialising = busy. In addition, both the KiwiFutsal (Primary Schools) and Secondary Schools Futsal leagues have begun, which entails logistical coordination on a mammoth scale - sometimes not always going to plan.
Fortunately, I have managed to fit training and racing in, which balances out all the stress with a bit of high speed madness and definite fun! A spot of Commonwealth Games coverage managed to find its way onto the flat's TV. I am very proud of the effort the Kiwi cyclists and athletes put in - Shanksy bringing back another gold and Nikki Hamblin bringing back two silvers in Athletics. These girls came from behind to clinch their medals, which just goes to show what can be achieved if you keep a level head and focus on doing your thing.
First and foremost, I have some news which I am pleased about. Bergamont have announced their 2011 Bergamont-Endura racing team, putting me on the team as an U23 XC rider. I am excited about representing Bergamont and Endura at events around the country, and look forward to learning from my very experienced and sucessful team-mates. More about the team and the brands can be found on the Bergamont-Endura page.
Yesterday proved to be a typical spring day - totally unpredictable! Myself and Tanya Louw embarked on our journey out to Waipori Falls at 8am - a quality hour for a Sunday! Sometimes I forget how fortunate we are to be New Zealanders. On a great day, NZ scenery can not be beaten, which made the 60km drive to Lake Mahinerangi incredibly enjoyable, albeit difficult to navigate. We arrived at the site of Mahinernagi Madness MTB slightly late, just like everyone else, and went quickly to work setting up our bikes and registering. Navigation proved to be a major issue for most competitors, resulting in the start time shifting 45minutes late. Things change quickly in racing, so I went from being short of time to being in excess. Nothing wrong with extra time to check your bikes and warm-up again though! Unfortunately with the later start, I had to race the short course due to other committments in Dunedin in the afternoon, so this halved the distance. Next year I will be taking on the full course without a doubt.
This impromptu change ultimately proved to be a blessing, as within an hour the temperature dropped 5 degrees and a gusty front arrived from the south. I made my way to the front of the start and on the gun sprinted down the hill. We were greeted with a long steep climb which quickly put my heart into it's maximum pain zone. I was in the lead bunch after the first few climbs but was really feeling the burn. After the course tapered out a little, I got into the groove and really put it into the dog, averaging 35kph for the undulating final 10km. Coming into the final kilometer, I was cheered on by a group of walkers. This kicked me into a crazy gear -there is nothing like being extremely focussed and knowing that your performance has been consistently beyond max throughout the race. I arrived at the finish line in 59.3 minutes, with the next racer arriving a shade over 10 minutes later. The course was mainly loose gravel roads and 4wd track, but was still fun.
Looking back on the race, I feel great about my performance. I got the mixture of pre-race nutrition right for once, and did not feel tired during the race - after a week of hard training and no taper. All I could feel was pain and burning - a timely reminder that I am alive. After the race and for the remainder of the day I was feeling very strange, easily irritated and detached from reality. I'm not sure quite what this is - perhaps a post-race fuelling issue, perhaps a sign that I pushed way beyond, or maybe just nervousness about exams. Either way - it's all part of the journey and every race presents me with a new challenge - sometimes it really, really hurts!
I will leave you with this. It is a reminder to focus on your own race and trust your instincts. Just like Shanksy and Hamblin!