Thursday, May 29, 2014

{bike} Love. and those who lack.

Love, not hate. Cyclists look after each other. We point out obstacles, we lead out team members, we lend a tube/co2/flat help. The hate we are confronted with stems mostly from road-raged drivers who needed that extra second we've just took from their lives, while they've waited until it was safe to pass. Or don't wait for that safe moment and nearly run us off the road. We've all been there. Some of us yell back, throw the fist in the air, or use certain fingers to display our fear and anger we just experienced. Some brush it off and ride on. Some cyclists hang it up and don't come back because they aren't confident in their own skills, nor the skills of the drivers around them. Some aren't so lucky and end up injured or sadly, killed. But I digress.

Then some of us experience hate from the inside. Which is the worst hate of all. We as cyclists need to ride together, cheer each other on, and lend a bit of Tegaderm when times are literally rough. Leave those hateful words behind. 

Today I had my first real hate. And I can't help but say it hurt. Finding yourself on top of the podium tends to bring jealousy into the mix. Jealous insecurity? Maybe others have felt this towards me before, but when it was put into the world in writing, it kinda stings. I have a loving husband. I work at a bike shop. I'm passionate about swimming and cycling. My family is awesome. Life is pretty simple in the Wills' household. Not perfect. But that's life. And if you are jealous of mine, then make it for yourself. I'd suggest starting with love.

This is not to say I haven't felt jealously towards others. I know of the hard work and dedication, drive and motivation, put forth to achieve a goal. I've been jealous of fitness, I know hard work has been put towards. Of job titles, which were earned. Of perfect relationships. Of hotter bikes. Of my husband's metabolism. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, social media tends to bring out the best and worst in people. It's either painting pretty life pictures on Instagram or smashing businesses on Yelp. What you don't often see is the hard work, heartache, arguments, job application failures, relationship issues, screaming children, and all that other crap we hide behind the doors of our homes. What you don't get is that face to face interaction. That other crap is what makes life interesting I suppose. What make the highs great. And as for those lows: How brave would you be actually letting a business know they messed up to the owner before blasting the company online? How brave would you be letting me know I'm a sandbagger to my face? If you want success for yourself, you shouldn't wish failures upon others. 

A friend told me today: Successful people don't break others down.

After 6 years here in San Diego, I really feel the Minnesotan in me and sometimes beneath all the sunshine in California there is darkness. The nice isn't so nice. The relationships aren't as strong. Loyalty is something spoken, not practiced. Judgments are made before introductions. {Seriously, I've never met the guy} I guess that's the way it is. 

I'm always looking for new riding partners. Come to Moment. Call me a sandbagger {or a badass cyclist} to my face so we can joke about it, and LET'S RIDE! 

We all need just a little less hate and a whole lotta love. (Words spoken by Mr. Ralph Elliott; a local cycling race announcer and promoter)

Tomorrow is bike to work {makeup} day in San Diego!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Firestone 805 Criterium Weekend

Racecations are the best with Kyle as my sidekick. I won't say they are the most organized or are without drama. But they are time away. Together. And sadly, they race by too fast.

cheap floaty and a pool = relaxation.
teaching my man Kings in the Corner
This past weekend we headed up to Lompac and Buelton, CA for the Firestone Walker 805 criterium weekend. The CA state championship race moved from Brentwood this year and we've had this weekend on our calendar since the announcement. We were packed and ready for our four day weekend by the time I got off work on Wednesday evening. Stayed with one of Kyle's old navy buddies in Ventura and headed up to the race area on Thursday morning. We checked into the campground and took a quick bike ride through Solvang {and hopped over private property fences, hike-a-biking, to complete the loop}. Returned to the campsite for some pool time {really ruffing it} and made hot dogs on the fire for dinner. {s'mores too!}

This weekend was all about the criterium. I toed the line 6 times in 3 days and had no idea how my body would respond to that much intensity in such a short time. Quite frankly, I'm shocked at how well it went and have a lot to say but I'll try and keep it brief. Most importantly though, I am indebted to my teammate Deanna. She worked her ass off for me this weekend and I've never enjoyed the view ahead more than when it comes from the colors of my teammate. Her selfless riding is unmatched in the women's racing scene and I cannot thank her enough for the work getting me in position. She made my job of getting to the line easy. 

Firestone 805 Allan Hancock EVOC Track Crit
Friday was a sleep in morning for us {as much sleeping in you can do in a tent} and we headed to the race site 20 min away rather early. The course was on police training grounds and was quite frankly a bit of a disappointment. There were zero turns and the course was the least technical I've ever seen. It'd be like a crit on Fiesta Island. Boring. Windy {another weekend theme}.

W3/4: Toed the line. Attacks happened, but we all know that they can't really be called attacks. More like surges off the front where everyone knows it's going to happen, so accelerating at a moderate pace makes it easy to bring them back, and makes the attacker more tired. Deanna lined me up for a prize prime and we snagged it easily. Winds started picking up and with one to go she brings me to the front. The main headwind section was a bitch. Being on the inside for the last curve before the sprint was critical and unfortunately not where we ended up. I ended up having to come around her into the wind and easily gave the inside line away {a much better line} and sprinted in for second.

day 1. podium 1 (2nd)
WPro123: We weren't too stoked to race as the wind was picking up and the course was so uninspiring. But we paid and were there for the other races anyway, so why not. Attacks were much punchier, but still were not going to stay away. Deanna brought back a couple of breaks and worked hard in the wind. I tried to stay sheltered and to position myself near the contenders. She again pulled me to the near front and I slid in behind a sprinter who took me to the line for 5th.

kyle, bryan, brendan, and vince. Kyle on a break. and day 1 podium 2 (5th)

Firestone 805 Avenue of Flags Crit
Saturday was the same wind story, but much different on the course front. It was an L shaped 6 corner course with a punchy "hill" - but not a real hill. Half the length of the Barrio Logan hill. Our teammate Kim joined in for the fun.

W3/4: The race started off pretty mellow. Deanna got set up for the primes and I was in conservation mode, so I followed her but didn't sprint around the girl who she gapped on the first bell, and was poorly positioned on the second. Deanna snagged both for herself. Maybe halfway though there was a crash {in the straights after corner 2} that I saw/heard before it actually happened and was able to make it through the carnage. In typical 3/4 fashion, everyone is looking around and slowing, and for the next couple of laps we were going not fast. We get setup for the last lap and Deanna is pulling strong again. Unfortunately our line again took us to the windy side and I couldn't catch the girls who got the earlier jump and ended up 3rd.

day 2, podium 3. (3rd) And the ladies! Deanna, Kim, Christy, and I
This was an omnium weekend, meaning there were points for top 10 places all 3 days and an overall podium. Deanna and I had planned to do all of the 3/4 races but take Saturday afternoon off to rest up for Sunday's big race. After getting points on the first day in the Pro123 race we decided to make it a game day decision on Saturday and register after experiencing the hill. It wasn't that bad, so what the heck.

WPro123: Hardest race I've done. From the gun to the finish. So much windier at 1:15pm than 8:05am. Attacks from the start kept the bunch strung out and left me no where to hide. I rode this course as technically smart as possible. I took all the corners clean and on the right "side" for the wind to be most blocked by the one girl next to me. Still, I'm sprinting up the hill every time, and redlining on the "downhill" section tucking myself as low as possible begging the wind to give some relief {it never came}. Girls are popping off the back at a regular rate as the field is diminishing quickly {36ish starters, 16 pack finishers}. Heck, I'm popping off the back. Twice the motor went in front of me and thankfully the pack pace lulled in the slightest amount and I chased like hell to catch back on. Crash ahead in the corner and Deanna get's caught behind. I see it happen enough in advance and the crasher skids out of the corner enough to allow me to take the inside line and catch a wheel to hammer onto the pack. The pack attacks. Because that's the difference between the races. 3/4 girls look around. Pro girls attack when they hear a crash. It's a chance to break, or at least splinter the field. Every time around the finish I'm begging for the laps to get lower and the clock to race faster. Is it over yet? I am seriously wondering if I'm going to finish. Each lap crawls by and I'm running on fumes. I have burned every match I ever thought possible and am somehow pulling out splinters of efforts to just hang. Hopped onto a good wheel on the last lap and turned for the finish. There was a bit of craziness at the fence {as that was the better line with the wind} and I was forced wide {and into the wind}. Came around a girl and the blast of wind almost made me laugh while in full sprint mode. It did make me feel like I was riding into a wall. Couldn't believe I managed to finish. Seriously. Hardest fought battle for 7th place ever. Deanna actually finished without getting lapped begging all those girls who got popped to work with her. The girl who crashed ended up getting a free lap and I was pissed to see her back in and to see my teammate on the back chasing. Felt vindicated when crasher ended up getting popped again from the main group. {RIDE IN YOUR DROPS!}

Saturday evening ended with Kyle's race {last race every day all weekend} and him winning a $100 bottle of wine in a prime when I shouted at him to do so. Love that man. ;) After the races, we were invited to a dinner party at a local gal's amazing house! The food was awesome and the company was even better. Most of the women's 3/4 field was there and it was great to spend some time with these ladies off the bike.

kyle moving up to win me some wine!

Firestone 805 Avenue of the Flags Crit
Sunday I woke up tired. Like really dead to the world tired. We packed up the car the night before but still had to get the tent and sleeping crap loaded in. I made oatmeal for breakfast and we were off to Lompac for the final day of racing. I was basically sleeping on my trainer, trying to ingest as much caffeine as possible. I even had half a coke at 7:30am. 1 vanilla Gu. 1 motivator. Come on body, work with me. Wake up!! The course was an 8 corner course, but was longer than Barrio or Brentwood, so there was quite a bit of road between the corners. It was also a bit wide for most of the course making it less technical than I'd like to see. And those straights meant the wind would yet again play a role.

W3/4: We again worked on the lead out for the primes. Missed the first one again due to energy conservation {I gave up midway though the sprint}. The second prime was for omnium points for the top 3, and I ended up getting 3 points for 2nd. The rest of the race was a bit fidgety. Searching for safe wheels. Controlling the race. And on the last lap while following Deanna's wheel, I got pushed into the gutter on the one tight corner. She pedaled out and I had to let off the gas to not go down. I watched her ride up the road. I sat in and decided to make a move on the next corner. Deanna was making her move and an unnamed competitor decided to move to the inside and they bumped shoulders and bars and seriously almost went down. I was angry. And was holding my breath through the entire fiasco. I was watching Deanna leadout the wrong team! I gunned it out of the next corner and had to maneuver around quite a few riders. I was on a good wheel, but found out later her chain dropped and she couldn't shift to the big ring! Went into the last corner in a crappy position and sprinted in for 4th in the most disappointing finish of the weekend.

lead out for a prime
WPro123: What a fun race. Yeah I was dangling off the back for a while, but this race was significantly more manageable than the heart attack of a race the previous day. The attacks were strong, as was the freaking wind. I knew there would be the omnium points prime half way through and what do you know, 25 min in and they are singing the bell. I had warned Deanna and she did her best to move us up, but the peloton was a bit jumpy and I had to use my brakes a little more than I like. Was fighting for position all through that lap. 

An attack shortly after left the race split. Joy {the eventual winner} was still in our group so I was concerned, but not alarmed. A coupe corners later and she attacks the chase group and I freak out. This is it. That's the race right in front of me. Deanna drives me to the front and I launch. I put in an effort that I know is more matches than my book has. I have to believe in every pedal stroke. I hit the windy section and tuck so low. My thighs are pumping harder into my chest, mashing the pedals more than ever before. I'm gaining on the break. Dangling. I hit the corner and thankfully the tailwind pushes me to the back of the group. Holy hell I made it. I seriously quoted Top Gun and gave myself a pat on the back {Gutsiest move I've ever seen, Mav} knowing that it could've been the winning break. And Danny Munson of  Cycling Illustrated snapped a rad photo of my move! Instagram. Cycling Illustrated.

Unfortunately a lap later, the chase group got their engines going, the break was unorganized, and the gap was bridged. Dang it! All that work! All those burned matches. 5 laps to go. I'm in recovery mode. The pack is getting squirmy again and I find myself near the back using the brakes all too often. With 1 to go Deanna brings me to mid pack and grabs the pro girl's wheel and heads into corner 4. We are on the outside and we all get pushed wide. And then she brakes. Hard. I'm screaming. The Monster Media girl gets forced on the other side of the fence! I'm at a standstill and manage to get around and sprint down the windy section to catch the field. Crap! {that effort was at a higher max wattage than my sprint}. Made it through the narrow corner, take a breather on the tail wind section but know I need to be moving up, not back. Moved up in the next two turns and hit the last turn on the inside stuck in traffic. Go to sprint and some crazy bumping is happening on the fence that I manage to get around and put on the afterburners for a second sprint attempt which lands me 5th! I was so happy at the finish to actually be there! After the crazy last lap and the bridging efforts, I was just so relieved to cross that line alongside some great competitors. 

Phew 6 races and 7 podiums. With the consistent finishes all weekend I managed to place 3rd in the women's 3/4 Omnium and 4th in the women's  Pro123 Omnium! I couldn't have done this without the help of my amazing teamie. Mad props to her aggressive and selfless riding. So much fun. No bear jersey this year, but I had much more fun racing more and not sandbagging for one race. Testing my legs and fitness and will to ride hard were much more rewarding experiences. I found some new pain thresholds and dug deeper than I thought possible, while still being there in the end. Gaining that experience and muscle memory will only make us stronger racers.  

Day 3. Podium 6. (5th)

Kyle was yet again the last race of the day in a desolate town. I enjoyed my well earned Firestone 805 beer and had fun cheering for him and Greg. It was a late night on the road but so worth it. Definitely on my list for next year, although sadly I'll be solo as Kyle will still be deployed. {more time for team bonding!} 

so much fun. 
I'm really starting to believe the pro123 races aren't that scary and that my ability to hang on and be there at the end is greater than my mind once thought. Good thing I'm switching gears to half Ironman training now. :/ 

Monday, May 12, 2014

up close, yet so distant

May 1 was the 6th anniversary of my first triathlon and I feel so far, but yet so close to that day and this sport. This winter/spring I've removed myself from almost all things triathlon. Scratch that. Removed myself from running {and Kermit}. And now I've done something that'll require me to pick it all back up again:

Yeah, I couldn't resist the pull of the Tahoe battle {albeit half that battle} this fall. Ironman announced the half, on the same day as the full, and yet again the pull to register for an {almost} inaugural race was great; I'll be headed to Tahoe again this fall. 

my favorite photo of the day last fall
Let's just talk about the journey that'll bring me to the start line:

Run - mmm yeah, we'll need to be getting back on this bandwagon again. Yet, I've jumped on so many times before and have basically fallen off the train every time. I want to do things a bit differently. New watch. New shoes. New motivation. New mobility. New body. {I wish} 

Yeah, I realize I can't change who I am, nor the feet and ankles I swam my body into, and because of that, I cannot approach running the way every land athlete does. This water girl needs to give some extra attention starting from the bottom up {just like what I teach all my swimmers - kick, core, then arms} - for me, it's going to start with my toes, arch, heel, achilles, ankle, shin, calf, knee, hamstring, quad, hip flexors, butt, and yeah my head. Strength, mobility, stretching, releasing, supporting. Not to mention, positivity. These actions will get me to the start line ready to race. Because, quite frankly, I'm rather sick of getting to the start line ready to swim and bike and "survive the run" which has been my motto for oh so long. This time I want to STRIVE.

taking care of my poor leggies last year

Bike - Kermit will be paired with Elsa {the power meter} again after this weekend. I've learned a bit on Super Grover this winter and how my body responds to effort levels. Granted, I haven't ran off the bike once, but I've gained some strength and guts that I didn't have on my bike before. Through very non-scientific testing, I've found I can actually back off on the cadence and lower my HR a bit, push a slightly bigger gear and climb faster. I've always been a spin to win kinda rider, so don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about 60rpm here. But backing it a bit below 90, my knee and heart are responding okay to the change. Will be interesting to see how Kermit does. And yes, I'll even incorporate a little {or a lot} of Fiesta Island interval/strength work on the bike. My motor needs some fine tuning. Dirty30 Birthday ride.
Super Grover needs to be hibernated for a while

Swim - this is going okay. I've been swimming once a week at the cove, plus floating through a couple of swim lessons here and there. Once the bike racing slows down, I'll add a couple masters workouts a week. But in all reality, I haven't lost my swim. This summer, I got a team together for the Trans Tahoe swim relay {we still need a boat! anyone? Bueller?} so I'll have to ramp it up here a bit for that. Looking forward to getting up there again and checking out the updated bike course and hoping my lungs fare better this time. Also interested to see what IM will do for the 70.3 swim start. 

In the meantime, I had some bike racing to attend to! Last weekend was the criterium at Barrio Logan {downtown San Diego} and it was awesome to have teammates in both my races! {congrats to Deanna who worked her ass off this spring for her upgrade.} This weekend we headed north of Santa Barbara for the CA State Criterium Championships at the Firestone 805 crit weekend. Had a blast on my weekend away with Kyle. He's ramping up his workups for deployment in November, so we are trying to enjoy the small vacations we have together between his time away. {more on this epic race weekend to follow}

Oh and speaking of new, we just got a new Tempurpedic mattress! I feel like an old married couple, getting excited about such a major purchase, but we are sleep/recovery nerds and cannot believe we've been on something so uncomfortable for this long. It just got delivered a week ago and we spent the last four nights camping; so yeah, we're a bit excited for restful night sleeps ahead! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Barrio Logan Criterium 2014

Overall a great afternoon in the Barrio for this Wills. (Had this in the draft folder for a while). Here's the race report for both my Barrio Logan 2014 criterium races. 

no warmup is complete without a mxm coke
Women's 1-3:
I have a teammate! Congrats to Deanna for upgrading and killing it in her first real 1-3 race. No surprise, I feel like crap for warmup and the heat is draining all ounces of energy I am trying to muster. Luckily we brought a cooler of Coke and APX. A jolt to the system (along with a little ice in the sports bra) and some fuel in my legs. The race started off at a blistering pace and maybe let up no more than 3x in the race. I was on the back, barely dangling, yet in control, for almost the entire race. I worked on taking efficient lines through the corners and paid attention to the gassed riders in front of me, taking note of riders looking like they were about to pop and moving in front of them. I think I tapped the brakes maybe 3x the entire race. Love this. Fast. Not sketchy. 

With 5 to go, Deanna saw a (slight) lull in the pace and rocket shipped us to the front of the field on the hill. Ouch. I sucked her wheel so hard I could taste that rubber. She pulls for over a lap and in the meantime a break forms, of which she pulls me into. I look back and it's clean. JT and Max were in total shock that we were no longer on the back, but sitting 3-4 wheel! The shocked cheering from the sidelines really helps, guys. 4 to go. Yelling at the group trying to organize. How are you people pros? This is ridiculous. Worst riding I saw all day was in this fake brake that wasted all energy. I worked my ass off to keep it.   1.5 to go and we are caught. Good luck recovering from that effort. Found Deanna and gave it all we had but pulled the plug and coasted in. Ouch.

loving her wheel. thanks to her hubby Max for the photos

Lessons: 1) Breaks are fun! I can see why Vince et all do them. However, winning is much more fun. 2) I don't think sitting on the back of the field had a negative effect. Like I said, no brakes used all day and was super efficient choosing lines in and out of corners. The race was so strung out, there was no where to hide {or draft}. 3) Deanna is a beast. Had we gone with 3 to go it would've stuck. Or really, just the last lap. Her sacrifice was ridiculous and is unmatched. As our first real attempt, I have very high hopes and expectations for the future. Machine. Sadly the paper results don't show any of that effort. And I'm totally okay with it!! 4) Allergies can be seen in photos. I've been suffering with the Santa Anna winds and had extreme congestion all week. Check out the Cycling Illustrated shot by Danny Munson {and the nastiness on my ass} {or don't}. 

3/4: I really had no expectations. It was hot. I was tired. Although without a sprint effort, my legs should still have something, right? And Kyle DNF'd, so someone had to win, right? Deanna and I did half the course, cutting through at the center, as a cool down/warmup and toed the line in the front. We exchanged pleasantries {or the unpleasantries of our legs} and vowed to not go for primes until at least 10 min in as we both knew our legs and lungs needed recovery laps. Whistle. 

Not fast but not slow. {As a side note, I won this race in 2011 at a MUCH slower average pace- it could've been a cat 4 only race at that point, but still, this race wasn't slow by any means}. I was glad for the pace and glad I wasn't having to set it at this point. A couple bike shop primes that we didn't even challenge passed by. And then they announced $50 cash. I was on Deanna's wheel, and announced as such and she did her thing. Pulled me past everyone and I stood to "sprint" at maybe 60%, knowing there may be someone on my wheel. There was, she tried to pass, I cranked it a bit harder and shut her down. Booya. 

clearly having too much fun.

People were getting popped and I kept looking back for Molly. Halfway through I saw her, after we had shed a few kin. Phew. 

Next prime was 2 laps after our last - $50 to Aqua al 2; a prime I won in 2011 as well. Deanna said she didn't want it and I was still a bit tired from the last. Was probably sitting 12th at the start of the lap. Easily moved my way up the field through the corners (see lessons learned) and was in position to sprint again after Deanna again pulled me to the front. Went with no challengers. 

Next prime was $50 San Diego restaurant gift card and Deanna did her magic. 

5 laps to go and I'm getting sick of the cornering. Trying to coach the field through them isn't working so I take some hard pulls. To which I get "coached" by a chic, who tells me to take it easy cause I have a sprint and I could win this. No sh*t Sherlock, but I'm trying to be that mentor that I remember from my early days. I love the backside of this course, so I'm taking pulls, but they aren't serious efforts, just the best cornering that I can manage. Sorry if that came off cocky. The hill comes and I'll let up. I am a sprinter for gosh sakes. 

1.4 to go and I've been on Deanna's wheel for a while. Molly is on mine. D makes a massive move on the hill and I know my legs can't handle that effort at this moment, so I tuck in behind some Skyflash ladies. Sitting maybe 7th wheel. Deanna is 3rd wheel. Final lap and I can feel we have this in the bag. I make a move to get on her wheel on the final climb. She pulls me around the second to last corner in a ballsie move and I'm sitting 4th or 5th wheel into the last corner. Sprint mode on. Win. 

Cannot give enough props to my freaking awesome teammate. She ended up 4th in the 3s after all her work. Molly got 5th in the 4s. This control we felt during the race was a pretty awesome experience. 

Lessons {or rather differences between the races}: 1) 3/4 girls don't quite understand how to corner and maintain speed. Going inside to inside is the most frustrating thing to watch. So I didn't. Every time I was on the front I swept WAY wide and cut through the gutter. I really hope the girl behind me was impressed. And learned the proper cornering technique. 2) The "hill" was at a significantly more manageable pace for the second race. The 1-3 race hammered out of that bottom corner and up the hill. I tried to stay smooth and not surge or stand too often to blow the sprinter legs (which I didn't save anyway going for the break). The only time I felt good on that hill in the 1-3 was following Deanna's wheel in our big move. 3) Prime hunting is fun. I owe Deanna a lot of ice cream. 4) Thanks to Jimmy for giving me 3/4 of his Popsicle after my first race. Lifesaver. 

I LOVE this course. The bumpy roads, endless corners, and close proximity to home make this a Moment domination race forever.