Have you ever felt at the end of a race you could have pushed harder? Have you been disappointed because at the end you knew you could have done more? I know for me the answer is YES to all these questions. This year has been a new experience for me. Racing Crits, circuits, and road races has been a learn as you go thing. I think in the beginning I was just going for it and got dropped many times. As my journey continued, I started sitting back a little more and trying to be smarter but in the process I was losing my confidence and the urge to leave it all out there.
Lucky for me, I have the BEST coach....Julie Young!! She encouraged me to keep being a player in my races. She had seen my strength on the bike and reminded me that I am STRONG. She filled me with the confidence that I was letting go within myself. She was right! I had nothing to lose!
It was before this weekend of racing that I switched my thinking. Instead of looking at all these ladies and saying how strong they are and how fast they are I tell myself that I am as fast as them. I tell myself that I am as strong as them. When I am suffering and feel like my legs cannot take anymore I remind myself that they are suffering too. I have learned to not defeat myself but build the confidence within myself. I believe that half of the battle is in our own minds.
It was Saturday and the start of the women 3 and 4 crit race. There was a big turn out of ladies. I was navigating the waters solo and was a little nervous before the start. My teammate Sara had texted and was wishing me luck. I was telling her there were a lot of ladies and I was nervous. She reminded me that I only had to worry about the top 10 because that is where I would be. I LOVED THAT! She was right!
Back to changing my thinking. We were lining up at the start and I was nestled in on the front line. My goal was to leave it all out there and go for the win. It was a good race with a quick pace. Right off the start there was a break away. It happened so fast that only 2 got off the front. I started to panic for a moment in the feeling of I needed to be up there but the group settled into a rhythm and before long caught them. There was a windy section of the course that took me a few laps to figure out exactly where I wanted to be. That is the advantage of a crit...you have a few laps in the beginning to take in all of the sections and find the best placement. I definitely was aware of where I wanted to be on the last few corners for the finish. Having learned from experience at being in the wrong place at the end. I pushed myself for this race and kept up towards the front most of the time. It came to the last few corners and I put myself where I wanted to be so I could pound out that final power sprint to the finish! I ended up in 3rd place and had my FIRST podium finish. I was very happy with my accomplishment and excited for tomorrows race to do even better!
Sunday morning came quick and the start of the women's 3 and 4 circuit race. Another large group of gals. Today I was not as nervous. I was ready to race. I got to go to the start line first being a top 3 from yesterdays race which was great! The race was off and man oh man this was going to be FUN! The pace was SUPER fast. There were many break aways throughout the race which made it exciting. I realized the only place to be through some of the turns was towards the front. There was a lot of braking and even a few screams at times. My goal is to pedal through the turns and that was only happening in the front. There was so much going on in this race that you had to stay alert and constantly be moving and sprinting and staying strong on your line. Don’t back off an inch or someone will try and move in on your wheel. At one point I was sandwiched between 2 riders and bumped elbows with a gal. Not much you can do put stay focused, keep pedaling, and not let it throw you. We were heading into the last lap and the pace always picks up. It is that moment that the pain must leave your mind and you push outside your normal race pace zone. It is that moment when I remind myself that I am strong and I have more in the tank. There is always a little bit more in there. I heard someone say lets go Trixie and that was all I needed. I picked up my pace even more and maneuvered my way into the last corner and sprinted the last stretch. I landed 2nd place for the circuit race!
To my surprise I ended up in 1st place for the omnium. This was an exciting day and my first time on that top pier of the podium for cycling. It was my day to shine and to confirm all of the hard work I have been putting into my training. It also reinforced that at every race I need to give it all I can and never doubt my ability.
For if I do not try, I will never know how far I can go. I am looking forward to my next race so I can continue to build into the cyclist I have set out to be.
I want to thank Julie for giving me the building blocks which has made me a better cyclist. It takes hard work and dedication to continue plugging away at all of the training but for me it is worth every minute! THANKS COACH :)