Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Race Season in Full Swing...

Another successful weekend, but less successful on the blogging front, sorry! It may be a rest week, but it's Spring Break. Which for me is more hectic- we've been booted out of our apartment thanks to a bug infestation, and we spent the last couple days cleaning and we have to wash all of our clothes. Super fun. So we're carpetbagging between the parent's houses and trying to get it all worked out before school starts up next week. Between that and work, it's been a tough week. Thankfully, it's also been a rest week, which was sorely needed- and I wouldn't have had time to train anyway, so it works out perfectly!

Anyway, the interesting stuff: it was a great weekend, despite hurricane conditions, ridiculous wind and rain and freezing cold weather.

Grant's Tomb Criterium: 1st B (5th A/B woman)
Steven's Circuit Race: 2nd B (6th A/B woman)

Race season is going better than I could have possibly hoped. And I know it's cheesy to quote other blogs, especially about you, but frankly, I'm not used to reading about myself, so here we go.

From Ian Sullivan (one of the ECCC directors) blog, we have this on his "Quick Thoughts on Leading Teams" post under "Outside Wonders":
Rutgers: With Molly Hurford nailing it in the Bs (soon to be As if I was a betting man) and a decent contingent of men racers, they are certainly a force. If they bring out a few more key players and up their game. They could definitely finish the season in the top 10.

And from Joe Kopena, the ECCC Director's blog, there was this:
Watching from the sidelines, it definitely seems that the Women's B racers are out for overall wins and placings, and if they have to take them from the Women's A racers then so much the better. One of these days one of those B women is going to make the perfect move, have a great day, and totally take a race from the Women's As. I'm going to put my early money on Molly from Rutgers for that distinction.

Freaking awesome. I'm afraid I've become totally intolerable to my teammates and Robbie though. I'm so stoked about how the season is going and I think it comes off as obnoxious when really I'm just insanely shocked and excited. So, sorry to anyone reading this that's finding me annoying. I honestly had no idea that this season was going to go well, and I'm constantly in shock that it has started off this great. Hopefully I can keep it up!

The races this weekend were crazy. Grant's Tomb was some of the worst conditions I've ever ridden in- I legit thought I was about to be blown over most of the time. I missed the 3 woman breakaway, and no one in the pack had the legs for a breakaway except me after that. I kept trying, getting off the front, and realizing I was half a lap ahead of the group but totally alone. Maybe I should have gone solo, since I ended up pulling so much anyway, but the results would have ultimately been the same, so it all worked out. After the race, I got lots of hugs and stuff from a bunch of the other women racers. What awesome ladies we have in the conference- I even met a fellow ex-Irish stepdancer!

I was completely freezing and I couldn't eat for 30 minutes because my teeth were chattering too much. I raced in just a skinsuit and used embrocation on my legs to keep them warm, and I think I was probably better off than the multiple layer girls who were soaked and weighed down.

Steven's Circuit Race had slightly better weather, though we got there with very little time to spare because of a ton of roads closed from flooding. Still, we made it so I had time to register, hear from one of the directors of the ECCC that "don't worry, you'll get the breakaway one of these days" and get on the trainer to get a bit of a warmup.

Kathryn was right on the money though- the race started and here I'll add in part of the ECCC News Network's race report:

With one lap completed, the peloton was comprised of every single rapid racer, A and B riders alike. Buckley was still at the top for the second lap, this time accompanied by teammate Laura Ralston and Elle Anderson of Dartmouth College. These three worked together to pull away from the rest of the field, which instantaneously split into two additional groups. Only two distinct groups emerged the third time around the course, with Molly Hurford representing Rutgers as a B rider among a group dominated by A riders. (Hurford won Rutgers’ Criterium for the Women’s B category the previous weekend, and finished third for Rutgers’ Road Race in the Women’s B category.) The second group encompassed a majority of the B riders, with the exception of several Women A riders.

The field remained split in two for the duration of the race, with a few riders straying. Hurford, Anderson, Buckley, and McLoon refused to slack off in the first group, refusing to allow any riders from the second group to even mildly consider catching up.

Ha! I caught the breakway! The A women work like crazy in the breakaway though, using crazy race tactics and strategy that was totally beyond me. I stayed in the pack, led way more than I should have, started the sprint too early at the end, let them ride my wheel 100 feet to the finish line, and then got outsprinted by all of them. Yeah, I need to learn how to race my bike one of these days. I did get some compliments from the major A women though, and one of them was really grateful for one moment when 3 of the 6 of us broke away and I caught us back on when the other girl couldn't. So I feel like I'm on the map to some extent. I filed for my A upgrade, though I'm lacking a few points, and hopefully I get it before this weekend. If not, I'll just be trying to get it this weekend and with any luck I'll be able to get it for the week after, but I'm a bit antsy and I really want it. I'm landing in the top 6 in every race, so it stands to reason that I should be able to race As. Though as Joe did point out, it would be pretty awesome if a B woman won a race overall, and it would be even cooler if that woman was me!

Philly Phlyer is this weekend and I'm really excited to see some 'cross friends- and the weather should be mid60s and sunny! Heck yeah to running between/after races in short shorts!!

In other news, happy birthday to Robbie! He's finally 20, and even if we can't celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a bar, as long as I'm with him I know we'll have a great time. He puts up with a lot from me, and I love the poor guy beyond reason. Pictures of his birthday present will be coming shortly- I hope he likes it, though I'm sure most of you will feel sorry for him when you see what it is!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best. Day. Ever.

Holy Crap:

"The sprint finish also highlighted some of the tremendous strength and speed of some of the Women’s B racers. The Forth spot overall was snatched up by a hard charging B Racer from Rutgers, Molly Hurford. Her appreciation of the win noticeable and audible as she pumped the air with her fist and shouted. As she was able to beat about three-quarters of the Women’s A field, one would have to assume that she will be a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses."

Yes!!! (Noticeable and audible, love it!!)

Also, mentioned in VeloNews:

And, my article got picked up by Triathlete and is somehow making its way all over the internet:
Running Tops for Women—Science, Fit, and “Feel”
What Finding the Perfect Sports Bra Can Do For You

So yeah. Today was a good day!

Grade for the Weekend: "Exceeds Expectations"

Please note the super attractive face that I'm making as I outsprint the A rider at the finish for the crit.

Excuse me for a second while I brag a teensy bit.
B Women's TT: 3rd
B Women's Crit: 1st
A/B Women's Crit: 4th overall
B Women's Circuit Race: 3rd
A/B Women's Circuit: 8th overall

*to explain: the women's A and B fields were combined this year, so we race as a pack. It's generally expected that the A's will finish before the B's, so to be 4th or 8th overall is huge. Hopefully I'll be in the A's pretty soon.

In addition to doing really well, I got to help the team and garner a huge amount of points for us. Between me and the other amazing racers- including a ton of A men- we did really well this weekend. It was a huge shock to start the crit on Saturday and do that well.

As everyone knows, I've been super nervous about the races. I was sick, not feeling up to snuff, and generally nervous as hell. The time trial- 3 miles- went off smoothly, though I wasn't quite as fast as I had wanted to be. Still, it was enough to put me in third, only 5 seconds off the winner. I would have been in the top 5 A women had I been racing A's. I found that out seconds before the crit started, so it was a good way to get going and motivated!

Another major motivator: about an hour before the crit, DON showed up from Baltimore! I don't think I've ever been happier to see someone- I relied on his pre-race pep talks last year, and this year I was so bummed I wouldn't get one. Luckily, he got there right in time.

The crit started and I was literally shaking- so much that the girl next to me pointed it out. I naturally started in the back, as per usual. And got yelled at by everyone on the team, and my dad. So when we started, I jumped up and tried to move up. As we hit the first corner, I realized something: my heart wasn't racing, and I hadn't even noticed that we hit the corner! In fact, I didn't so much as touch my brakes. Very exciting stuff. Suddenly, I realized that I was moving up in the pack, in a very big way. And feeling great. When we hit the second lap, I realized that I was in the top three- out of A and B riders. Whoa.

I passed Cristian, who was marshalling, and he just yelled, "Whatttttttt???" then, "Go Molly!" It was awesome having someone in every turn cheering, and my dad and the A guys warming up were going crazy at the finish line that I was passing every lap. Finally, with one to go and 2 A women off the front of the pack, we were on the road right before the turn to the finish, when 2 other A women jumped. I was leading at the time, so I jumped with them. We hit the corner, and started sprinting like crazy for the finish. I passed the one girl (see the picture above) and then it hit me. I won my first race!

I've won triathlons before, but with them, you never know you won until after results are posted. And besides, you don't get to decide what your "winning stance" is. I found out that mine is a huge grin, one arm in the air, slighlty dazed and confused. I rode my cool down lap very hazily (apparently) telling everyone "oh my god, I won!" After the race, I rolled back to my family, grinned at my dad, who prior to the race I had told "oh god, I just hope I can stay in the pack." He just smirked at me, and says, "smartass."

Later, George said I was grinning like crazy the whole race, and he was right. Because it didn't hurt, I felt great the whole time! I should have jumped with the two A women, but I wasn't sure I could keep up. Oh well, next time... I'm finally thinking about race strategy, not just survival.

I texted Blake about it that night and he called to congratulate me. Apparently, coming in 4th with the A's is a pretty huge accomplishment, and to be honest, it kinda came out of nowhere.

Then, onto Sunday, the circuit race on the 2.4 mile course on Livingston Campus. I was crazy nervous, more so than on Saturday. Having set such a high bar for myself, I was terrified that it was just a fluke.

But, the race started, I positioned myself out in the front, and started another great race. To quickly summarize, I missed a 4 person breakaway by only a few feet and never managed to bridge up, but I pulled off in a 5 person breakaway of my own with some riders who I really have come to like a lot. We had a great few laps, almost catching the lead group, but not quite. Between the 2 A's and 3 B's in our group, we duked it out at the end, and I ended up the 3rd B woman in the race.

Rockin' the pace line in the breakaway

After my race, I had to run the 2.5 miles around the course, so I could get a small brick/cooldown in, and so I could cheer on my A boys! It was a great way to cool off after a long race, and definitely earned me some weird looks. Our team coach told me as soon as I finished racing, "go put on a jacket" I said, "hold my bike, I gotta run." He just laughed.

In all, it was a great weekend. But as my coach reminds me, this is just the small fish in the grand scheme of my race season- the important race is still months away! It's pretty great to get to race again, even if it is only "training" races. I'm having a great time, though the down side (kidding!) is that there's no taper or rest before each race- which is every weekend now through May. I kinda love that though.

So, a thank you to my team, who I most definitely want to stand with, throw down with, and completely and totally love. Mark did amazing racing B's, his leg seems to be in awesome shape and he did great. Matt and Charlie blew me away with their first foray into A racing, Will, Pat, LJ, and Greg all did great in the A's, as we knew they would, and everyone had a fantastic weekend. Charlie did a wonderful job organizing the race, and it was definitely worth the efforts we all put in, between getting race ready in terms of logistics, course setup, promotion, training, and everything in between.

"As for the rewards... For those and what they might be, you only had to watch the ECCC's awesome women for a little bit today and see how much happier almost all of them seemed to be. Sometimes you have a good race." -Joe Kopena, ECCC director

And I leave you all with this final view of the race:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Race Day #1

Just a quick update-

Time Trial: 3rd Women's B


Crit: 1st Women's B, 4th Woman in the A/B combined field.

And it felt fantastic. My teammates made fun of me because I was grinning like crazy the entire race.

So stoked for tomorrow!!

More details to come...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Feet don't fail me now!

Tomorrow is race day. In about 9 hours, I'll be setting up the course and getting ready to (attempt to) kick ass on a 3 mile time trial and then a sketchy crit.

Feet (and legs) don't fail me now!!

In less good news, I think the spider bite I have on my arm is making sick. Like, really sick. At first I didn't notice the quarter sized swollen spot on my arm til it got really red. And I guess I should have noticed the two tiny holes in it that don't seem to be healing. But it started to go away... at the same time I started feeling really crappy. So I'm a bit nervous. Nothing like racing while potentially infected with some sort of spider serum. Let's just hope my spider senses are helpful in a race?

Seriously, it sucks to have started this week so positive about the race and now be totally bummed because I feel so out of it. We'll see how everything turns out...

Now, tea and bed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 Days Til Race Day, ARGHHHHHH!!!

Whooo boy.

My arms are sore as hell, my hamstrings hurt, I've done two weight sets in two days- serious legit ones with new Olympic style lifts thrown in- and I've finally seen the race courses. Holy crap.

Luckily, Mark sent us an email with a link from Adam Meyerson's blog (the Rutgers team sort of kind of may possibly stalk him a teensy weensy bit). It's a letter to his team but it might as well be Mark's email to our team, honestly. It's about how being punk rock and being cyclists sort of are similar, and the lifestyle. But more importantly it's about being part of a team, and this was my favorite part:
"Do you love racing your bike? Is this team the gang you want to be a part of, to throw down with, to stand side by side with?"
(Read the rest...)

The answer is a emphatic "HELL YEAH!"

Just thinking back to cyclocross season, to the weekend in Rhode Island, to all the friends we made, and to the friends on the team that I've become so very close to in the past couple months, it's making me stop worrying about being fast, staying ahead of the pack, getting great results and being nervous as all hell about the upcoming season. Rather, I'm thinking about how much fun it's going to be, being with my best friends every weekend.

Of course, it's not without it's down sides. Robbie is essentially becoming a bike widower for a couple months, since between work and school it's not exactly possible for him to come out to races most weekends. But I'll make it up to him!

Speaking of my best friends though, last night I swam, then lifted with Matt, and then we made a huge tofu veggie stir fry for us and Charlie, followed by chocolate peanut butter vegan milkshakes. Sooooo yummy. And of course, we talked nonstop about the upcoming races. Thank god Matt and I decided to go out riding on Monday instead of lifting (45 degrees, perfect running in shorts kind of weather, yesss), so I could preview the courses. A little on the pothole-y side, yikes. But at least I know what I'm getting into. The guys make me nervous though- I hang out with mainly the A men on the team, so they spend race week doing things like gluing tubulars and other various bike maintenance things I've never heard of. And when I talk to them I feel like I'm somehow missing doing a ton of things that I should be doing.


Luckily they assure me that I'm in ok shape for it, though Matt may lend me a race tire since my rear wheel is pretty much shot. Hopefully it works out.

So, wish me luck, and hopefully by Sunday at the latest I will have an excellent set of race results and pictures to share with everyone. Saturday is a 3 mile individual time trial, then a 50 min crit, then Sunday is the hour long circuit race. And of course, coach isn't pulling any punches, I still have to do 4 hours total riding on Saturday and and hour run after the race on Sunday. Yikes!

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous though, so I have high hopes. Bring on the hurt!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Indoor and Outdoor Training Days.

It was a very indoor kind of week/weekend...
We were snowbound Thursday and Friday, and Saturday was crapfest '10 outside. I went out for an hour and a half run, and finished, but my stomach was not on board with it, my legs were feeling lazy, and I was just plain not enjoying myself.

However, I did get a lot done after the run. Went to the thrift shop, got great new sneakers at Marshalls, picked up my awesome new Lazer helmet at Effingers, and ate lunch at Chipotle with one of my best friends, AJ.

Then, home for a ride on the trainer:
I know, I look soooo happy. However, it got better when my sister put on Bye Bye Birdie and singalongs commenced:
(I just like the great view of my tattoos!)

Then, Sunday with a 4 hour ride on the schedule. Inside. Whoo!
Lucky for me, the family was around to keep me entertained. My dog wanted to share my oatmeal cookie (ok, so it's not a Powerbar, whatever.) I was nice enough to share.

Then, with 30 min to go, Dad and I decided to head over to the school parking lot across the road for some cornering, u-turn, and sprint practice. So we brought over cones and he basically yelled "go faster" and "stop braking" alternately for 35 minutes. It went pretty well though- I went into u-turns and stayed at 9-10mph, and was up to 22 mph pretty quickly afterwards. And I kept it up for basically the whole practice session.

While heading home, I annoyed/impressed Dad by riding around him in tiny circles.

In other news, we changed around the apartment. Apparently I was taking over our closet, so I fixed my old dresser and brought it to New Brunswick to replace the desk we rarely used.

It had no handles, so I added these all by myself! (So proud...)

And here's one just for fun, after finally finishing a ride and cleaning up!

6 days until the Rutgers Road Race. Thank god it's nice out today, hopefully I can check out the courses finally!!