Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dino Win, Coffee, and finally 'cross!

I finally added a Dino race win to my tally this year. I had mixed feelings on this since I was super happy for a win, but bagged it with a smaller field to compete against.  Regardless, I am taking it with a smile since it was the venue I felt I had a chance to really do well at this year. France park is on my favorite list for racing in Indiana. It wouldn't be a place I would go visit to get some epic riding in, but the venue for racing is super fun. It is great for taking the RV and it has a rock quarry to laze around in all weekend. That last part is super important since the race is usually very hot and this year was no exception. My sister and I had a great weekend camping and swimming before the race even started. I had a "fair" racing day and drilled it the first lap. After getting my lead time from Beth after that, I decided to back down off the pace. The worse part about France is the "must run" section and by the 2nd lap this was a "must walk" section for me. My gimpy foot was not so happy with me and this race reminded me that I still need surgery on my foot again. Aside from that, I pedaled on and finished over 9 minutes ahead of 2nd place. I felt like my helmet was melting by the end, it was a really caliente! It didn't take me long to find the bathing suit and head to the quarry! Kudos to all the other gals racing that day, it was a tough race with the heat. It was a nice weekend and I was once again thankful to be close to home. 

In other racing news since my last post, I did the local Downtown crit. This was also a super hot day and since road crits are used as training aids for me for cross, I decided to do 2 races. It was fun to have family and friends around and I accomplished what I wanted for the weekend: ride as hard as I could, basically doing a personal TT and race in a pack (men 3/4) at higher speed to get used to riding bar to bar. I finished 5th or 6th in the open women class and was pleased with that. It is hard to explain racing to some people, that some races are not meant to be won, some are just stepping stones. This was a very small stepping stone for me to climb some mountains (and hopefully podiums) later in the year. It is great to do well at local races, but these are hardly my goal events for the year as I race on a national level. 
In other Indiana racing news, there was a huge road event in Marion last weekend, as a NRC event came to town. It killed me to not race this, but I was in the middle of a taper for cross season, and technically, I really don't even race road. However, I did go for crowd support and enjoyed watching the event. I was a little floored that their wasn't more representation from local road teams for such a well put on race. However, my riding partner, Anne Young (Hammer Head) had a great placing with 4th in the 3/4 race and local Matt Light (Alderfer Bergan) showed some of his hidden talents by nabbing the win in the 2/3 race. 
Congrats to both! 
(<- Anne and I watching Robbie V  "announce" at the NRC)

In other big news: for the last 2 years I have been off caffeine. I know that sounds crazy to some, but caffeine is a drug regardless of what people say. Since I don't do anything half-ass, I decided that it would be best to eliminate all things bad from my diet. So, for 2 years I have only drank coffee on a race day, but I am back on the wagon! I really like coffee and am trying to talk myself back into it being okay. For now, I'm all jacked up on coffee splurging, but only using it when the time is right, not just because I need to "wake up" or if it is there. I drink it for the tradition. Kinda like Catholics with wine, and cycling and coffee is tradition.

Finally, cyclocross is here! I have two weeks in of cx training. Week 1 was a huge reminder of how hard it was to ride around in the grass and then run up hills! This was complicated by the fact that my equipment was not right and my fit on the bike was way off. I can't ever stress enough how important it is to not only have the right size bike, but also have it professionally fitted. 2 great places to do this is at Revolution Bike and Bean in Bloomington or Summit City Bicycles in Fort Wayne. It is the best money you will ever spend. Trust me. Anyway, week 2 was much better. My legs were starting to come out of the funk they were in and dismounts were much smoother! I finally found my groove and didn't want to stop practicing at all. I just don't know how anyone couldn't love cross, obviously I'm a little crazy about it. 

This weekend I am heading on a great outing with my anesthesia group to Chicago before the weekend racing schedule picks up again. It has been nice to have a couple weekends at home, but I can't wait to see what cross season has in store, it is just around the corner!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What about "some must watch..."

I have been asked a couple times what my blog title has to do with cycling. The answer is: it does and it doesn't have anything to do with it. It really is a reference to my career as a nurse anesthetist. The next question I get is: "what is that, you mean you assist the anesthesiologist?" No. Not even close. I practice independently from any supervision and I do the exact same thing a MD does everyday. Simply, Md's trained in medical school before their residency and nurses trained in nursing school before our residency in anesthesia. People think we are nurse practitioner type practitioner's and that is not even close either. I like to tell people that 72% of anesthesia in this country is done by crna's (certified registered nurse anesthetists) and anesthesia was started by crna's long before Md's did it. Those are the facts, but people assume we are doctors and get a little confused. I don't "pretend" to be a doctor, I am upfront with my title and very proud that I have a nurse's holistic upbringing. Frankly, it would take pages of this blog to explain what it is I do, so I won't. Matter of fact, most medical professionals don't know what we do with the exception of operating room staff, surgeons, and ob staff. Yep, everybody else really doesn't know, including the patient. And that is okay with me, I always chuckle to myself when the patient tells the surgeon to "not let them die" during surgery. The fact is, when the pt IS dying in surgery the surgeon looks up to anesthesia to not let the pt die. I'm not looking for glory here, just trying to explain. If I wanted glory I would have chosen another profession, I like to help behind the scenes. Just like glory isn't found in cycling. I seldom talk about my job here, but truthfully, it is a huge part of who I am, and I love it even when I hate it. 
That said, what does this have to do with anything? Well, I was reading a article in a cycling magazine the other day while I was sitting around in my call room at work, about how cycling can improve your job performance. I think this is true for many reasons, but then I thought about how my life in anesthesia makes me a better cyclist. There are many downfalls to it not helping. Long hours, high stress, standing, out of work responsibilities, being call in the middle of the night, and did I mention getting up in the middle of the night? It can make squeezing in training, travel and racing very hard. But it also can help my cycling in many ways. 
(A long day doing anesthesia for brain surgery awaits in training at Northwestern '05, its 545 am, do I look awake? --photo)
Let me regress:
When I first decided to go into anesthesia I was an RN working in the ER. I remember that when I told my good friend (the ER M
D) what I was going to do, he shook his head with a grim look. He looked at me and said, "Are you sure you want to do that? Why don't you just become an ER doctor? The problem with anesthesia is that your mistakes go to the grave." I thought he was joking, an ER doctor surly has more risk than anesthesia. I know now, that he was right. I haven't made any mistakes that cost a person their life, but I know now that not being on top of my game during every moment could. Even if I have been working 20 hours straight. I have seen many people die for many different reasons and I NEVER 
want to be that reason. In anesthesia, when things go bad, it goes very bad and very quickly. I think about that during every case, every day. I go over every situation that could happen for every type of surgery and person, again and again and how I will handle it. Bad things have happened and I handle it coolly and calmly because I'm ready, I have trained for it. Let me also say that for the vast majority of daily surgery we make it very safe (don't want to scare anyone).

Once again, how does this matter to cycling? First off, nothing could happen in cycling that is the end of the world. If I have a bad race or get a mechanical, the world won't end. Trust me, their is a feeling much worse than losing a race. Racing is a game in life, not life itself.

Secondly, all that practice of visualization at work goes directly to cycling. I visualize every thing before I race. Everything, and how I will handle it if it goes good or bad. I know this helps me personally attain what I am shooting for. If I know the coarse, I sear the images in my mind and go over and over how I will take a section or line. I even imagine what it will feel like to stand on top of the podium.
(Party time in Chi town: getting my Master's with fellow residents ->)
Also, I learn to keep my cool. When the entire OR is looking at me when shit hits the fan, it's not the time to start freaking out. Plus, there is no time to freak out, things need done. In cycling, things will almost always not go as planned. It won't do any good to freak out when you are heading cliff side out of control. You need to stay calm and get it back on the trail. When you get passed, you have to focus on how to get the position back. Cycling and anesthesia is the time to focus and be calm in a chaotic atmosphere.
Plus, anesthesia helps me be aware of everything around me. I may look like I sit in a black chair all day, but my senses are in overdrive. I hear everything and smell everything and see everything. I could tell you everything about the pt (heart rate, rhythm, how fast I have the ventilator going, oxygen level, etc) just by hearing alone. Sometimes, I could tell you what is going on "in the surgical field" just by smell. Cycling is like a cocaine addict on a high. Every sense is on edge, just like anesthesia. I can tell you when someone is gonna try and make a jump on me by hearing them downshift, or I can smell changes in my sweat that is more acidic than usual letting me know to back off a minute (gross I know). Not to mention the fact that I have a complete understanding of the body, how it responds to stress (cycling), how it handles byproducts of physical damage, and how this relates to how I feel at that moment.
Lastly, both are about control. I can control every aspect of a person under anesthesia (I'm talking as a professional, so no smart ideas here). If I want the heart rate high, I can do that. If I want to render the muscles unable to move, I can do that. I am in control and the same goes for cycling. We train and eat and sleep to see direct results in our bodies and bicycling skills. Having control of what our body is doing is very empowering.
( Below: Racing Brown County DRT to a 1st place this year, doin what I know and love!)
So many things that anesthesia does, I have to wander, which passion helps the other the most. I guess they both are a great compliment, and I love both of them equally. I get a rush every time I step on the bike, even after all these years. Sticking a needle in someones back, or having a smooth intubation, or easing a persons anesthesia fear does it for me too. Both take many hours of dedication, but the payoff is so sweet, and that is my life as I know it. On the eve of my 33rd birthday I realize I know 2 things very well: cycling and anesthesia. That's why my blog title considers both.

However, I have to say though, as much as I love cycling, the payoff of a person's life will always be sweeter! I'm truly blessed to be the person that watches, while others sleep!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On a Roll

While I don't feel like I have broken any major records this year personally,  I do have to reflect a little at my season thus far and find some pleasure in what I have accomplished. In the last few weeks I have won 4 of the last 4 races I have entered and placed 2nd in the state crit 3/4 champs before that. Honestly, I was bummed to not place better in the crit race because I felt great that day and made some stupid road mistakes. In my thirst to always have to win, I sometimes lose sight of what I have done. In a season that started off with major surgery, not knowing if I would even be competitive on the bike, I have to look back now and find a huge sense of accomplishment at overcoming that injury and the complications from it. Sometimes I think we forget about what all we all have to overcome and take some things for granted or get a little down on ourselves when we aren't winning. I'm not saying I won't continue to work to get better than where I am now, but I've come a long way in the matter of 7 months and I am proud of that personally. Its great to be able to make a long list on paper of wins and race results, but the real point is to be able to grow personally as  a rider and enjoy your own results and accomplishments within yourself. At the end of the season, there are few people who view that paper list, and it basically comes down to you who cares about what you have done.  If that growth leads to the paper list that is even more icing on the cake! This season I started my winter base training at 50 watts of power. I can now hold 250 watts pretty easily. It doesn't take being a drt super coach to figure out that that is a huge change. That alone for me makes me pleased with where I am right now and helps put things in perspective about the struggles I have come through. I know cyclist get so critical of themselves so often and sometimes it bums me out to see people do that. Its hard to compare yourself to the people you race, but not so hard to compare yourself to you! Don't forget that. If you don't like how you are riding, then change it, because you can control that.

Right now I am transitioning into the mack daddy of all of cycling: cyclocross. I have recently done some crit races to get into the short, intense mode of cross, by hitting the Pancake crit, state champs, and am set to do the Downtown Warsaw crit this weekend. I will continue the mtb riding and racing for skills and endurance, winning the last 2 drt races and hope to add to that by winning France Dino. This coarse suits my flat, power style so I will give it all I can. Looks like Coach Don G has me getting a little "rest" in the schedule for this month by increasing my time on the bike with "easier" rides and has me laying off the intensity a little. The super sweet part is 'cross practice starts Aug 19th! I will be semi-leading a group at the Bike Depot in Fort Wayne on Wed evenings. Tim Hall has a dedicated  cx coarse with sand pit and all just waiting to  be used by us cx crazies. It's a great opportunity.  Everyone is welcome and should join us experienced or beginner. 

That's where the season is and will roll on until the end of cyclocross racing on Bend, OR in December. I have done many races and am blessed to get to do many more. I just hope my roll of winning continues. Regardless, I am happy where I am right now, but working everyday to add to my personal sense of accomplishment. Ride on and roll on!