For those who don't know - I began track racing in 2005. I started it the same year I started road racing and had immediate success. I remember the first time I lifted my leg over the rental bike and did my first revolution at Marymoor, I knew there was something special.
That year I qualified for Elite Track Nationals and decided to go. A very green rookie but with a can do attitude - I headed down to LA with Ryan, R. Miller, Molly, and Leif to compete. In the 100 lap points race (the longest race I had done to date) I risked it all and went for a sprint lap - won it, then got shelled from the race. I still remember feeling amazing though - and looked forward to coming back the next year.
I have had great teachers along the way. Ryan Miller taught me the majority of what I know to date about racing - and instilled in me a sense of killer instinct and ability to read a race. Little did I know that what he first taught me three years ago would start surfacing a few years down the road.
Each year I would plug away at racing - diligently attending my track workouts, hitting the gym to build strength, pedaling through the cold wet winters. On the track I raced with the Category 3 men - often missing the breaks and getting shelled from the group. Reminiscent of boxing and getting punched in the face by 14 year olds - and after each bout, would get back in the ring to keep working at it. Each attempt was stored in my mind - and regardless of outcome - I would constantly strive to master those skills.
Then last season I pulled my hamstring. To be honest, this was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Sure it was a bummer to be down and out for 6 months - but it also allowed me to recognize the importance of maintaining a strong mind and focusing on the mental aspect of competition.
Flash forward to the current season. Early season races were a disaster as far as results are concerned - but mentally I was making a HUGE progression in my warrior status. I approached each early season race with an open mind - knowing my existence is not measured by my placement in those races; it is measured by my willingness to lay it on the line and try my hardest. And suddenly, about 1/4 of the way through the season, it started to click. My mind and body aligned and I found myself with the lead group. I can't tell you how thrilling that was.
Just when I was starting to get a hang of my new position - track racing started up. With the renewed confidence and fitness I gained on the road - I applied it to the velodrome. This coupling guaranteed immediate success.
The past four years I often think back to my first Elite National point race. I use it as a measure to see how far I've come and how far I have to go. Racing with the Category 3 men on Friday Nights is also a good weekly measure of that progression.
Flash forward to this past Friday. 26 men (with 2 women) lined up at the rail. It was really warm out - with ozone levels higher than they've been all year. The first race, a 10 lap tempo, was tough - with points awarded to the first two people across the line on every lap. A good strategy is to either go off the front early and obtain as many points as possible - or sit in, waiting for people to tire, then plan your attack and hit them hard and low. Unfortunately this didn't happen - but I managed one point, putting me 10th.
Our second race - a Miss and Out. The team plan was to get as many Broadmark riders in the front as possible to box everyone else out. But after a fast neutral lap - only a few riders were in the front. I maintained a tempo pace - putting in just enough effort every lap to stay out of trouble. Next thing I know I was in the final 5 - with young Miller on my wheel. I tried to give him a lead out for the win - but just didn't have enough GRRRRR to come around.
The last race - a points race - was my best showing by far. And something I am really proud of. I was able to out sprint the guys for a 5 points and maintained excellent position for the final sprint to place 3rd! Can you believe it???? 3rd place!!! Which boosted me into 5th for the omnium!
For the first time ALL season and for the first time in the past 4 years - I finally placed on the podium against the men AND won some cash. How cool is that? Now... onwards and upward to Master Nats and Elite Track nats.... I'm really looking forward to that points race. :)