Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something to work on

I think I figured out my number one goal for the 2010 season - how to hold back. I know, sounds silly, right? But for some reason, once that gun goes or that whistle blows - I come shooting out of the gates like a rocket and then BAM! Get nailed later by the build up of lactic acid. If I can just figure out how to pace myself.... then look out!

I was reminded of that this very weekend in fact. My first cyclocross race of the year - second ever. I decide to jump in with the cat 3 women despite my lack of obvious skills but figure, why not? My license says I'm a 3 (thanks to the automatic road upgrade) so I dabbled in it. In classic form, I take off like a rabbit on the first lap. I'm feeling good - sticking with the lead group. And then the barriers come. Uh oh. Suddenly I was off the lead group. And each time I would come upon those minor obstacles, I'd find myself further and further back. Thank goodness my mind set was solid - I was just there for the workout. And workout I did! Each time I would encounter the barriers, I would automatically start laughing at myself - thinking about how funny it must be to watch someone who has zero skill at doing trying to gracefully dismount and remount my bike. I will say this - I didn't fall. But I did belly laugh an awful lot despite being deprived of oxygen.

The past few days have been filled with scouring the Internet trying to learn from youtube examples of how to do this essential act. Just goes to show though - watching someone do something is no substitute for actually doing it yourself. So tomorrow night - rain or shine, I'm going to practice at Marymoor. Bring on the mud!

Oh - and here's proof that I suck at barriers - look how fast the dude next to me is cruising! My camera is notorious for NEVER capturing moving objects in focus .... enough said.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The leaves are watching....

Today I felt the cool wind on my face, damp with recent rain falling down from the gray sky. My wheels rolled over billions of fallen leaves, matted down to the trail like paper mache. Relying on the fact that I know the bumpy Burke Gilman trail by braille, it was easy to avoid known obstacles despite their disappearance.

Today was the first day of training for 2010. I dug out my winter clothing - with each piece tried and carefully selected for one purpose - warmth. Six seasons of winter training and I think it's safe to say I'm dialed in for the weather ahead. Now I have to maintain the delicate balance between staying motivated and not over doing it.

I thought of Ryan a lot today. He's been on my mind a lot lately and a frequent visitor to my dreams. I'm always thankful for his presence and absolutely miss him. But he also keeps me motivated because I know he's always watching and won't let me slack one tiny bit in my quest for pedaling circles on a world cup level.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Traditions

Now that one year has come and gone and all of the firsts, as far as the calendar is concerned, are now seconds, I get to focus on creating new memories and traditions. My friend Sharon provided me with that key insight and it renewed my spirit for the upcoming holidays (which I dreaded last year) and thinking of ways to spend them. The more outrageous the better!

So thrown into the mix for Thanksgiving (which is a 4 day weekend!) and Christmas include...

Another Rogue River Rally
Mazama Mania
Smitten for Smith Rock
Curious for Coastal Cruises
Ping Pong Punishment at the Lodge

What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I'm the first to admit that time spent off the bike means I start obsessing about other things. But my current obsession on Facebook and privacy is definitely warranted... and you should be paranoid too.

Identity theft. Ever heard of it? Ever dealt with it?

The Federal Trade commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year. Sure you've probably heard of someone having their social security number lifted and then found out later some impersonator had opened a credit line in their name. Then that person probably bored you with the details of all the hoops and red tape they had to ensue to clear their name.

But what about the current form of identity theft taking social networks by storm?

Did you ever stop to think when you signed up for Facebook or MySpace that you should deselect certain options - like not allowing non-friends to view information about you? Or how about when you download a "fun" application (who doesn't have the food throwing ability on their profile?) that this was allowing third party applications to view ALL of your personal data? Unless you have specifically gone through the myriad of security measures (that are NOT user friendly, by the way) then you are opening yourself up for potential identity theft.

I hope this is common knowledge for most. I hope I'm just preaching to the choir.

But let me back up a bit and put into context my recent paranoia.

A few months ago, I was surfing FB at work. On my home page in the friend suggestion box a name popped up that has ZERO connection to anyone anywhere within my social network. He was someone I only contact in the professional world. I immediately grew suspicious.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she thought we were friends already on FB and that she keeps getting a friend request from me. I thought nothing of it, and so did she until she kept getting the same request this past week. She forwarded me the profile and this other "Jennifer Triplett" has lifted 7 photos from my profile in attempt to gain access to my friend's profile. She knew it wasn't me when that fake profile only had two friends on it. We both immediately reported the profile.

Then later that very day, I receive an email from "Microsoft" reporting that my email server is changing and it needs me to update some information. I contacted my friend Josh who hosts my site to let him know about the email and he said it looks like fraud.

Three instances that have sent me into a serious paranoia and serious contemplation of shutting down and closing all of my social networks.

I suppose the moral of the story? Keep tabs on all of your stuff. Set your privacy settings to Fort Knox proportions. Don't let it happen to you. And make sure your friends and family are doing the same.

(PS - I get back on the bike next week. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nationals 2009

And now, the long anticipated race report....

Tela, Wheeler and I flew down on the Saturday before racing started on Wednesday to get some track time before the big day. Even though I have gone to nationals 4 times in LA, the track still freaks me out! I probably averaged at least 25 mph during our first "get calmly used to the track" session. Why, you might ask? At 250 meters and 45 degrees in the banking, you have to maintain a minimum speed of about 17 mph or face the humiliation of sliding down the track. It also helps to have new, gripping tires - wearing the same tires you've raced all season at Marymoor simply won't work. Add that with nervousness of the event and a week of taper - you bet I had the fastest warm up of my life! (And yes, I did spend hours of gluing with Jennie by putting on new tires on all of my race wheels.)

A couple more days of track time definitely calmed my nerves and by Thursday I was ready to go. First up - scratch race heats with the top 10 of each qualifying into the final. Shelley Olds proved the right wheel to be on in the final laps and we easily cruised through for top placements. But as long you achieve a top 10 placement in the heat is insignificant.

Next up - the 3k team pursuit. This is the event we've been focusing on. Unfortunately with Kendi away at Whitman for the past month, Wheeler and I had been doing the efforts minus one person. Once Kendi arrived in LA, we were able to nail down our exchanges in the training sessions a couple days before and went into the race confident and ready to go.

I started, Kendi second and Wheeler third. Call it nerves or something but my start was blistering fast and I looked back to see I had created a small gap. I toned it down to make sure we didn't blow up in the first lap. This is an event where you have to finish with all three women - if you have gaps between you then it makes it that much harder and slower. Toward the end of our go, a little gap started to open between Kendi and Wheeler once I pulled off - so I slipped in between them, giving Wheeler a little more time to rest the finish. We posted a time of 3:54 - a 3rd place podium finish! (First consisted of World Champ Sarah Hammer, National and Pan/Am champ Dotsie Bausch and National Champ and Junior World medalist Kim Geist with a time of 3:34, setting a national record. Second was the Proman squad (Higgins, Olds and King) with a time of 3:41.)

We still had business to do - the scratch race final. I'm not sure what the rules are as far as team tactics in a track race - but if you could have seen the scratch race in person you might have mistaken it for a crit. Proman was countering attack after attack and sitting in the chase group and slowing down any forward progress of catching those off the front. In a well timed attack, Shelley Olds went off the front of the group solo and lapped the field, securing a consecutive scratch race national title. Even the announcer was calling the obvious team tactics and as a rider in the field, it was frustrating. But that's racing and lesson learned - if you can't beat them, keep trying.

On the way back from the track, we gave Bobby Lea a ride back to the Redondo Beach house we were staying at and he offered some amazing advice into track racing. Coming from an Olympian and Scratch race winner that night, I really took to heart what he said. I find myself in complete amazement of being surrounded by such accomplished track stars - I can't think of any group of people who could possibly lend more insight into this sport.

Friday was the individual pursuit. I had a good ride and did a personal best - placing me in 5th! A couple of things to note though - my opening lap is as fast as Sarah Hammer's. I've tried and for some reason can't dial down my opening effort. I have two options - either figure out a way to start slower so I can have a more consistent effort for the entire 3k or build up my capacity so I can maintain the blistering fast pace I start out with. Option B sounds better, what do you think?

After a solid night's rest, it was back to the track for the 50 lap points race heats. The first heat was stacked - with Hammer, Olds, Cliff-VanRyan, Williams, and several others battling it out for the top 10 spots to qualify for the final. Kendi and I were also in heat 1. A decisive mid-race move containing 5 women who lapped the field, left the rest of us to qualify by sprinting for points. With 3 laps to go, I came up to the front of the field alongside Hammer. I could sense her getting ready to take off and as she sped up, I fell in line right behind her. Rounding corner 2 seated right behind Sarah in the last lap was the hardest I think I have ever gone on my bike. The last few laps were definitely a highlight of my season.

The 100 lap points race final was a few hours later and the plan was to watch the main players and wait for the move. With 10 chances to gain points, I sat in for the first couple of sprints and then watched as a perfectly timed attack from Sarah and Shelley went right before my eyes. I was on it - but with the slight hesitation I had, couldn't quite close the bike length gap between myself and Shelley for a decisive move that cost me the podium. I spent 3 laps in la la land - spending a HUGE amount of energy and couldn't quite close the small gap. Sarah and Shelley ended up lapping the field. I drifted back to the field exhausted, deflated and generally bummed out. Negative thoughts started drifting into my head - I was emotionally ready to break. But then I was able to gather myself back up, thanks to Jennie shouting encouragement from the side line, and scored a few more points. I ended up getting 9th. Looking back on it now though - I was so close to the podium that the woulda coulda shoulda's have been played over and over in my head. But at least I went for it.

The final day of racing had a demonstration women Madison. Another 100 laps. Christine and I partnered up for the event and, how do I put this lightly, got creamed. We finished 6th out of 10 teams. Unfortunately we weren't really in the mix with the top 5 teams to contend for any points - so it came down to the final placement on the last lap. It was fun participating in the first event for women at Nationals but my competitive edge has left me hungry and eager for more.

All in all Nationals was very successful on multiple levels. I made the podium in two new events, had several personal bests and learned some tricks to stay calm while inside the 'pressure cooker.' I also had the opportunity to watch my teammates express their abilities on the track and cheer them on. Wheeler's first go at it was amazing - she definitely has a future in this sport. And Jennie's support and coaching was world class - she deserves a National Championship for that in itself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you...

I am absolutely certain life's trials attributed to my success this year at Nationals. Being able to make the most of your time on this planet - especially when focused on an athletic endeavor makes the time pass quickly and easily. Now that I've had some time to reflect at home, this past year was one of the best performances I've ever had and fuels my fire for the years to come.

Having something to focus on while experiencing a year of firsts since Ryan's death was a God send. It would have been far to easy to slip into grieving unconsciousness, letting the blues consume me. Instead I found the right mental and physical support group that pushed me to new levels and helped me realize that I can do this.

I'd like to personally thank Jennie Reed for being a world class coach, mentor and friend. Her commitment to coaching me was beyond the call of duty and I feel so very blessed to have been coached by her. Not only did she provide kick ass workouts, but she also spent nearly as much time at the track as I did - providing lap times, effort explanations, encouragement and laughter. I learned how to give each effort 100% and go beyond what I thought was possible.

I'd also like to thank my mom- who was flexible with work, life and time throughout my demanding workouts and quick dashes to the track when the weather was dictating what could be done.

And of course all of my friends and family who provided tons of encouragement and cheering while I pedaled several hundred miles in circles.
Wow - what a great past two weeks it's been. Not only was Nationals a highlight of the year - but I also got to top it off by spending a week in the High Sierra's. There's nothing like climbing at 10,000 plus feet to get your mind off things.

Race report to come....