The Pan-Am Champs was such an amazing experience; it was also a whirlwind of an adventure and a wham-bam kind of trip. Fortunately, I only had to take 3 days off of work for the trip which, when you have a limited number of vacation days, is a big deal. However, this meant that the aftermath was a bit stressful. I arrived back home on a Tuesday morning in the middle of a snowstorm and I hit the ground running. I’m gonna throw myself a little pity party here (no RSVP required)…that week was a bit rough-trying to get back in the swing of things at ‘the office’ while also recovering from epic travel and not to mention a pretty tough race…I just put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. I was just getting back into the swing of things, when it was time to pack up and head to Monterey, California for the Sea Otter Classic where I would be racing short track on Friday and cross country on Saturday. I’m a creature of habit who thrives on having a daily routine, so I was a bit out of my comfort zone with this variability. Turns out that this turns me into a bit of a basket case.
I arrived in California on Thursday morning, and after spending an hour or so wondering why my trusty iPhone maps app wasn’t working (it was set to the “walking” directions setting, exhibit A for me being at less than 100% of mental capacity), I made it to the Laguna Seca race venue. I got kitted up and headed out for a pre-ride. And, promptly got lost. I wanted to ride a specific route that would give me a chance to see the beginning and end of the course, while not having to ride the full 20 mile lap (strictly forbidden based on coach’s orders!). However, I couldn’t find the correct turn off and ended up spending way more time on my bike than I intended AND I didn’t get to pre-ride the finishing section. Additional evidence for the extent of basketcase-ness I was experiencing. If I had been on my own, I probably would have been bummed out and frustrated. However, my parents had decided to visit beautiful Monterey and also support me for this race. So, instead of dwelling on my failed pre-ride I got to go out and eat a great dinner with my folks. It was just what I needed to get back into a positive state.
The next morning was the short track race. In summary, I had no call-up which meant I started at the back, but I had a pretty good start and managed to weasel through some starting lap pile-ups and work my way into the top 15. I spent a few laps busting my A$$ trying to chase down a large group in front of me only to realize that I was doing all the work for 3-4 riders who were just sitting on my wheel. I sat up a bit and they went around-ahhh, SO much easier when you’re drafting behind someone. A few more tactical errors on my part prevented me from making contact with my target group and I ended up finishing on my own in 13th place. While a bit disappointed in the place, I was encouraged by how I felt and that I was in the mix.

See me? Nope, I didn't think so. Evidence of my non-existent start position. That's ok! I made up for it!

Dad congratulating me on a strong race. He had no voice left after cheering for me!

After the race I decided to give my legs an ice bath by taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean. It was cold, beautiful, and good for my soul. Another great dinner with my folks and it was bedtime.
Saturday was the cross country race and I wasn’t sure what to expect…mainly because the field was stacked and I wasn’t very familiar with the course. Doh! Due to race traffic, it took twice as long for me to get to the venue than I planned. So, in a panicked state I quickly hopped on my bike and frantically tried to find some road to warm up on. I ended up just riding the starting section over and over again for 40 minutes which actually worked out ok. Then, it was time to go!
This post is already too long, so I’m going to wrap it up. The cross-country race went ok. It was a solid race for me physically ( I think, although I can’t confirm because I lost my Garmin during the trip. Damn me and this ditzy state of consciousness!), but mentally I wasn’t as present as I would have liked to have been. I didn’t have the mental tenacity that it takes to push through and/or strategize during the race. I made stupid mistakes, I forgot to eat, and I significantly slowed down when I was by myself…the only thing that got me to the finish line was repeating a mindless mantra over and over again. I made the mistake of telling a friend my ‘mindless motivating mantra’ and they are still making fun of me, so I won’t include it here. My parents were out on the course in the absolute perfect spots and they provided additional motivation to keep the wheels rolling. I ended up finishing 14th. Again, happy with how I felt, but also confident that I can do better!

A long, windy finishing stretch. You can imagine the mental fortitude required to keep those wheels rolling...

It took a few days for me to recover physically and mentally. But, after a week back in the ‘grind’ I’m starting to feel pretty good. I’ve gotten some refreshing (i.e. tough) training rides under my belt and am looking forward to a few local races to stretch the legs a bit, and then it’s on to the next adventure! I am so excited to be racing in my first European World Cups! I can’t believe I leave in less than two weeks!