Thursday, February 14, 2008
Top Ten BABY!
Due to my multiple head injuries sustained back in November that dragged my fitness level below that of a plump, out of shape bon bon eating, whiskey drinking slug, I was forced to rethink my definition of a successful race result. Replacing my original designs of consistently placing top ten in world cups and top five in other UCI events were more modest aspirations of mid-pack finishes and possibly, just maybe a top ten before the season commences.
Last Sunday, I realized my modified dream with a 9th place at Heerlen Cyclo-Cross (UCI event in Holland.) Yippee!
It is not much but after a season filled with frustrations, pain, and double vision - to name a few side effects of stupidly racing with a concussion for most of the season, i'll happily take the 9th place with a huge-ass smile spread across my face.
(top 1st and 3rd photos to right taken by Bart Hazen of cyclingfx.nl)
(white jersey with red stripes: Elke Riedl - Austrian Champion)
My coach, Elmo, consistently gives me a hard time when i talk about my "lessons learned" - how i always find some sort of bright side to any otherwise dismal situation. His issue is not with my positive attitude but rather with my continually having to learn lessons. He would rather get me to the point where I no longer learn lessons, indicating that I am no longer making mistakes!
Hopefully he's not reading this blog because I collected another "lesson learned" from this whole head injury debacle. Having spent a chunk of time away from any form of exercise, I learned that I truly love being an athlete. I love to go for training rides through the fields, over the hills, on the tiny cobbled roads. I love to put on my running shoes and head for the woods. I love to prepare for the races, pack my bags, fill the water bottles, make the pasta. I love to stand at the start line, heart racing, sweaty palms, twitchy legs, complete focus on the sound of the gun.
And, even with poor fitness, I absolutely love racing. During the race last Sunday, I once again had a bad start since I'm simply out of practice. But even so, I loved every moment of the race! Every time I rode near someone, I felt like a little kid on a play date.
(to the right: Jonathan Page on Lars Boom's wheel)
At one point in the race, I even busted out laughing! I caught up to a gal just as we reached the bottom of a very steep, barely ridable hill that takes the racers back out of Hellegat (Dutch for Hell's Hole - a deep bowl-shaped valley where the racers enter and exit a couple of times to make the race hard.) We raced up the hill full force moving about 3km/hr (2mi/hr). It must have looked comical to see two pro women seemingly racing in slow motion. Unfortunately i saw the humor in it while I was in the act and started laughing, nearly tipping over! The crowds went wild when they noticed that I, too, found the humor in it!
This Sunday is the last event of the season -Oostmalle in Belgium. The course consists of sand, sand, and more sand. Even the pits are in sand. It will be my last opportunity to play on a cyclo-cross bike. After that, it's back on the road bike until next fall.
Thanks for reading!