Monday, May 4, 2009

Last Collegiate Race Weekend of the Season

Well, last weekend of collegiate cycling is over. Some good, some bad, all fun!

Now I’m driving home with my mom, dad and Robbie, my loyal fanbase that are willing to drive ridiculous distances, sleep in tiny hotel rooms, and cheer their heads off for me while I race. Who could ask for more?

Anyway, the weekend started super early Saturday- we made it to Moshannon Lake pretty fast, with plenty of time to warmup. I gave Chris his new changing skirt, which he loved. (Pictures asap!) Moshannon Park is gorgeous. Lakes, hills, cabins, and amazing scenery. I want to spend a few days out there this summer just training like crazy- it’s perfect for tri training! (Maybe I can convince some of the team to come with me…)

It was warmer than expected, so I got to wear shorts and my short sleeved jersey. We had a 21 mile loop with over 1800 feet of climbing- yikes! Still, I was really excited, and a little disappointed that we wouldn’t be doing 2 loops like the C men and A women were. What a gyp!
The race was insane- huge winding downhill that shot me off the back of the pack with only one or two girls behind me. Still, once the downhill was over, I pushed as hard as I could to get back to the pack, and by the time we hit the first big hill, I had caught back on. We got up the hill and girls started dropping off the back. By the time we hit the big 5 mile hill, the pack was totally shattered. After a couple miles, I thought I was way off the back, so when I caught 2 girls, I asked how many people were in front of us. So when she said 8 or 9, I was totally shocked. I passed her and the girl with her and headed up the hill, trying not to look too far up the road and focus on my breathing. It paid off, and finally the hill was over and I was descending back to the start/finish. Hit the finish line to cheering from the awesome Rutgers team there and from my own crew. I wasn’t even feeling tired, and kinda wished I had another lap to catch more people.
Turned out the girls weren’t totally right- I ended up in 11th out of 39- good, but not as good as I wanted- I wanted top ten!

But in all I was pretty pleased with the result, especially when mom looked at me and said, “well, I didn’t think you’d be done this fast!” Yeesh.

Then, off to find a hotel, eat some Panera, and get ready for the banquet that night. Well, BBQ banquet anyway. As usual, there was minimal vegetarian food available, but we made do. The highlight of the night was when our esteemed conference director Joe Kopena was presenting 3 volunteers with an award for all of their services, and then added that he wanted to acknowledge a fourth volunteer, and asked his girlfriend to marry him, receiving a 5 minute ovation form all of us in the crowd. I admit, I teared up a bit. It was the sweetest thing ever!

Then, back to the hotel and a Sunchips snack before bed. Sunday was the crit, and the weather was looking dismal and I wasn’t really excited for a short course with a lot of corners. I made the mistake of starting way too far back, which I could have corrected but a) the girl next to me had her chain drop at the starting line and almost crashed me out, and b) the girl right in front of me took the first corner slow, forcing me to as well, and lost the pack. I tried to catch back on, but the first lap of crits always sucks for me. I was on the hill and Will was screaming “it’s now or never!” but I didn’t push hard enough to catch on- looking back, I should have pushed harder, because even by the end I was feeling pretty good. I passed basically anyone ahead of me that wasn’t with the pack, and I was with four girls (ahem, pulling the whole 3 laps I was with them) then passed them. It had been about 20 min and since the course was short, they pulled a lot of people. We were the closest to the chase group, but we finally heard that we were on our last lap (or at east I was pretty sure that’s what he said). I was panicking that the girls would be rested from me pulling most of the time, but I just pushed it as hard as I could, left them by the first corner, and didn’t look back. A UVM girl was near me, but on the hill, I pushed past her and had a good amount of space between us by the time I hit the final sprint. I did another cooldown lap because honestly, I hadn’t heard the bell and wasn’t totally positive we were done, and I figured it was better to do the extra lap than to stop if we weren’t done. I was super pissed about letting the pack get away early because of poor handling on a couple of girls part’s and my own lack of confidence and not just sprinting to catch back on right away.

The guys were all pretty proud of my sprint to the finish though, so I felt a bit better. I ended up cooling down on the trainer and doing a quick 7 loops around the 1 kilometer course: perfect for cheering on Eric as he raced with Men’s C’s. My legs felt pretty decent the whole time and it was fun running that circle. Made friends with some of the marshalls, so when I was on my "bell lap," one of them started using the bell on his bike to cheer me on!

After that, we headed out as it started to rain a bit harder. Now, we’re finally back home so Robbie and I can commence with boring couple stuff: laundry and grocery shopping.
And less than a month til we move into our own place! Yay!

Next weekend, racing for Team Somerset at Readington and Bear Mountain. I’m excited to see how it measures up to racing collegiate.

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