Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Race Report

As written for my team:

I have been quietly sitting in my house for nearly the entire day,
soaking up the fantastic memories and good times had down in LA this
past week. And it's no wonder I can no longer get off my duff as
according to my calculations I logged in well over 675 laps on the
steep bankings of the ADT Event Center velodrome. That's just shy of
175 kilometers of fixed gear action.

The international omnium started things off. This year USA cycling
opted to mimic the UCI international omnium, which meant the races
were a lot longer. At the world cup level all of the events are held
in one long session, with a minimum of 30 minutes for recovery between
races. At elite nationals, however, they split the event into a total
of three sessions, with the flying lap and 80 lap points race in the
first session, an elimination (miss and out) and 3k pursuit in the
second session, followed the next morning by a 40 lap scratch race and
500 meter time trial. The overall winner is determined by whoever has
the lowest cumulative points, with first place receiving one point,
second two points, and so on. I had decided early this season to make
the omnium my focus for nationals, as I seem to do well at several
events. That meant working long and hard at getting my overall speed
up since my aeorbic engine is fairly large. Gone were the multiple
pursuit style efforts and instead were replaced with sprint workouts
with maximum power output and maximum recovery. This new approach was
some what foreign to me as only doing four 200 meter efforts for the
day compared to six two to three kilometers in training was the
previous norm. If I lost you in that description then the best analogy
I can come up with is like being used to drinking a double big gulp
and then switching to a Dixie cup.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous going into the racing with a
different set of tools this year but after my first effort of doing a
flying lap and placing third, well nobody could steal my new found
confidence. The points race could have gone better... But with the
likes of world champion Sarah Hammer in the field who easily lapped
the field after the first sprint, well I did the best I could and
placed 7th. Thankfully my competitors who placed well in the points
race were further down the totem pole from the flying Lap and I
managed to hold onto fourh place.

Between sessions I went back to the hotel and had an ice bath. It was
113 that day in LA and the velodrome, although temperature controlled,
was still blazing hot. Next up was the elimlnation race and I was
struggling for position the entire time. Fifth place in the omnium
standings luckily was called out the time before and sixth place was
called out just after me. That left me narrowly in fourth place, with
only a point separating me from my nearby competitors. With placement
at each event critical to overall placement, it's super important to
brush off less then desired results and go into the next race with a
can do attitude. Luckily the pursuit was up next and although I didn't
work specifically on that event this year, I was able to rely on my
previous year's devotion to it to carry me through. I was paired
against Colleen, who was in third, and also provided a nice carrot for
me to chase. I rolled at four minute even pursuit - certainly not my
fastest time but good enough to put me into fifth, still holding onto
fourth in the overall.

That night I envisioned the scratch race and putting in a perfect
finish. I played the race out over and over in my head, knowing that
my new found speed would be useful the following day. And guess what?
It played out exactly as I envisioned. Sarah Hammer lapped the field,
leaving the other placements up to a field sprint. With two laps to
go, I had perfect positioning near the front and sensed Cari Higgins's
attack from the outside coming. We flew to the finish line and my
closest competitors in the omnium were much further back. This move
proved to be the move that put me into third. We still had one more
event to go, the 500m time trial, again I felt confident and ready.
Sitting down in a chair near bike check, i could feel my entire body
shake from nerves. There I was, getting ready for the final event with
a podium position well within my reach. I had a fantastic start out of
the starting block, was still getting on top of my gear going into
corners three and four before realizing i should be in my aero bars.
Tela commented later that it looked like I was going to crash myself
out and i'm sure that wiggle cost me a valuable fraction of a second
but I ended up getting fifth in that event and placed third overall!
Oh man, what a feeling.

The podium presentation was surreal. I had done it. I made the
elevated USA cycling podium with some serious competition. During the
ceremony Cari said how proud she was of me for earning my spot, as did
Sarah. Wow. And the medals this year are pretty big! So was my smile.

And that was just the end of day two of five for the week! I still had
three more events to race in.

Friday morning after warming up, some of the fastest ladies of the
U.S. lined up for the 40 lap scratch race. Sarah Hammer had left the
previous day to train in Colorado and Higgins decided to sit the
scratch race out to race the individual pursuit. Jennie Reed, however,
decided to line up and have a gander at her first appearance at an
elite nationals endurance title. The race was animated in the
beginning and I was attentive in not letting any dangerous combination
of riders go up the track. The field was not going to let anything go
either so when Heather Alberts attacked with ten laps to go, and no
one really chased at first, it was time to get things moving. Chasing
her back within reach was perfectly timed, as I found myself in the
front of the group with 2.5 laps to go and Jennie on my outside hip.
It was time to ramp up the speed and prevent anyone from coming up and
over. With a lap to go, Jennie razored my outside, with Colleen glued
to her wheel and charging around me. I dug super deep and pushed as
hard as possible to come across the line for third. Another podium!
Are you kidding me? Somebody pinch me please!

Saturday's marathon session started for me in the afternoon with a 40
lap points race qualifier. With 10 spots up for grabs out of a 13
person field, the goal was to sit in after obtaining some points in
the first two sprints. Then we had a four hour wait before the 100 lap
final. Not realizing how long of a wait we'd have, I didn't fuel
myself properly. And we all know what that means - BONK! Midway
through the race, a huge crash happened directly in front of me
tangling five girls up and neutralizing the race. One of the girls was
hauled away in a stretcher and we had about a twenty minute delay
before resuming the race. I contested another sprint but just didn't
have the fight left in me. I ended up 7th.

That night I was kicking myself for sabotaging my performance by
something so important and basic. I was more then eager to go back the
following day and represent in the Madison. There was just one major
problem - my madison partner had gone down in the points race and was
nursing a mild concussion. But she was ready to go the next day,
determined and ready to get a jersey and title. In one of our first
exchanges, all hell broke loose and we collided, sending Val down the
to the apron and me chasing on to the back of the field. Val certainly
gets the toughest cookie award because she was back up and ready to go
two laps later. We then contested every 20 lap sprint out of 100 laps
and placed second in each one. The strong duo of Higgins and Reed
proved impossible to beat though and try as we did to make something
happen - they were not going to go down without a fight. We ended up
second and happy to be a part of history in the making with the first
ever USA cycling elite woman's Madison. It was a great way to round
out the week.

After logging a few hours on my couch this week, I'm headed back down
to LA to participate in a team pursuit camp. I'm very excited for the
opportunity and look forward to sharing my knowledge with others upon
my return. Thanks for all of the encouraging words and here's to
making the training count this winter toward winning a jersey next

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