“Update website” has been on my to do list for the past 4 weeks. I put it off for a few weeks, and then the Olympics started so that made it that much more difficult. But, as today is the last day of the Olympics I don’t have any excuse for further procrastination. Lets do a quick recap:
After Windham, I flew home for a few days then hit the road for Sun Valley, Idaho for the National Championships. After a strong race at Windham, I was feeling optimistic about a potential podium at Nationals. Admittedly I thought my chances were better for the Short Track race, but I wasn’t counting myself out for the cross country race. Despite very careful preparation the days leading up to the race, and a great start, a podium was not in the cards for me in the cross country. I did improve on my ninth place finish last year by finishing 8th and I feel like that was the best I could have done on that day. I was also a lot smoother on the rocky downhill-thanks leelikesbikes! I still held out hope that the short track the next day would be a better finish for me. Sadly, it was not. I was actually shocked at how ’empty’ I felt during the short track race. I can usually push it pretty hard for those 25 minutes of short track racing, but not this time. I just didn’t have any gas in the tank. My legs were tired, I was gasping for air the whole time…it was one of the worst short track races I’ve ever had. So needless to say the podium eluded me yet again as I crossed the line in 9th.
Then, it was back home for a few days, and on the road again to Missoula Mt…notice a theme here? In Missoula I got to stay with one of Ari’s best childhood friends who now has a family of his own…it was super fun and a nice break from the typical race environment. Missoula marked an important race for me. One of the automatic nomination criteria for selection onto the World Championship team was based on who was leading the Pro XCT series prior to July 31. Missoula was the last Pro XCT race within this timeframe…and I was tied for first in the series. So, the pressure was on: I had to finish in front of Pua Mata in order to clinch that automatic nomination. I’ve never beaten Pua in a cross-country race, so I knew it was a lofty goal. At the least, I was hoping for a top five finish to hopefully set myself up for a discretionary nomination to the World Championships. Sadly, neither goal was achieved. The feeling I’d had in the national championship short track race the weekend before, the “there’s nothing in the tank, the legs can’t push, and the lungs aren’t working” feeling struck again. I ended up finishing in 7th. At the time, I was disappointed in the finish but knew that I had given it everything I had and it could’ve been worse!
Maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve procrastinated this long to write this…it’s given me a lot of time for reflection. And with reflection, I’ve developed a new perspective. I realized that I’ve never raced for 7 weeks in a row. I’ve never traveled for 4 weeks in a row to race. I’ve never done 2 World Cups the 2 weeks prior to National Championships. Heck, I’ve never even done more than 1 race of the Pro XCT series in a season before…let alone be tied for first in the series with 2 podium finishes. And despite what my racing license says, I’m not a professional mountain biker. I’m a project manager who races bikes on the side. I finished 8th at the National Championships and I consider that a not-that-great-of-a-race. I should not be disappointed with that, and yet I know I can do better. But, I wouldn’t have traded my World Cup experiences either so that brings me right back to where I am now. It’s been a great season….more on that in the next post;)