Well, it's about time I posted a blog giving a race report of some sort! I finally got back to some race action a few weeks ago and happy and thankful to say so. It had been a long time, and as we all know, I have had some major things to overcome since my last race way back in November of last year at Jinglecross in Iowa City. I really don't even count that as a race since I technically had no business being there since I was still pretty run down from the meningitis at that time... but anyway, it had seemed like forever since I went through the race routine. I almost had to retrain myself on the prep. Haha. Not really, but I was definitely ready to hit some speed the day the race came around.
I decided to have my first race back to test out the foot and fitness near home. I did a local crit in Goshen Indiana just north of me. It was a twilight crit and the first one this area had put on. I have to say, it was one of the best run and attended events I have ever been to in the last 5 years or so. They whole city seemed to be there and they gave a good show and I highly recommend this crit in the future for everyone to check out. My coach Mark and I decided to have me do the men's 1/2/3 race, which would be my first 1/2/3 men's race in my career. I was a little unsure about it at first, because I was completely unsure of where my fitness would be, but once the race day came, I was happy to try it out with the big boys. The last thing I wanted was to get sketched up in some 4/5 race and really test the foot in a way I didn't want to. I had a great time racing. After getting lapped a few times by a competitive field, I stuck right in there with the group and really didn't feel out of place at all. What a blast!
The next morning was a early mtb race at the local Winona trail by nimba. It was a 2 lap TT and since we had a late night of racing, it was more a fatigue test than anything. This would also be my first mtb ride since I went to NC in December, so my goal was to get the mtb legs under me again and see how the foot would handle the more challenging terrain. I had so much fun on dirt again, and realized how much I missed it! I kept a steady pace during the race and didn't really push it as much as I could have. Come to find out, there was another gal I was racing against that I didn't know about, and I should have tried a bit harder as I was bested by a couple minutes in the end. Whoops! Great job to her. I ended up second in the race, but I didn't really care too much since I was so thankful to feel the flow of the trail under me again. I always love the first mtb of the year, it's interesting to see the way winter has morphed and changed the trail, even if it is in tiny ways.
The next race on tap was the Fat and Skinny race weekend in Winona Lake. I wanted to do well with this event being the first of the DINO stop, but I honestly had a low key, no expectation of how I would finish in regards to the other racers. I knew what challenges I had faced in the last few months and I was realistic about racing other girls who have been able to ride and train on a more normal basis. Whatever place I finished, I was a winner for just lining up and finishing. I'm cool with saying that these days. I know I am blessed to be able to simply ride a bike at this point, especially when I honestly feared even being able to walk and carry out daily life events a couple months ago. Racing is a luxury to me at this point!
Race day brought some sweet weather conditions in my book, and the trail turned into a perfect surface by the second lap. I had a good start and dipped into the woods in 3rd place and started to settle in and look for a place to pass the 2nd gal in line. About 3 minutes into the race that said girl slowed a lot on a climb and my 29er wheel kept it's mo and I ran right into her wheel sending me and my bike into the gutter. After getting going again, I had several girls to work around before catching back on to the first place wheel, and after doing that I made a smart decision to fix my jammed shifter that got messed up in the wreck. I took a couple minutes to dismount, grab my tool and work it out before remounting. It cost me time, but with it stuck in my big ring I don't think I would have had the endurance to finish the whole race in that way. In the end, I made up some of the mechanical time, but ran out of dirt losing to first place with her in my sights by around 30 seconds. That's just how it goes in bike racing. I was more than happy, not because I got second, but because I felt good and it was a blast to get some speed on the mtb again after such a long hiatus. It was just icing on the cake to be so close to the win with the circumstances. It was a good sign that I am getting back to good fitness again.
It was also cool to have this race in my local area with local cheers, even though the media was a bit skewed the previous and following days. I am getting used to the annual routine of explaining that situation to all the surgeons, co-workers, and non-cycling people I grew up with throughout the community that don't understand cycling politics. It makes me very sad in some regards, but despite my best efforts, it's just the way it is. Sorry to you all that have to ask or call me for your local news in regards to me during this event. Thanks to all of you who support me and encourage me in positive ways!
(First DINO race with the new Men of Steel teammates. Josh, me, and Dave at the awards afterwards. Great job to all the MoS mtb'ers!).
Next up, is some road racing in Frankenmuth, MI. I love this area and have never done this race, so I hope it's a cool event to attend. We all know road isn't really my "thing" but I have a few road events picked out this season to get some race fitness in and explore all the options cycling has to offer.
Of course that is all a big IF right now with the foot. I had my 3rd steroid injection in the foot the week of Fat and Skinny (ouch!) and with that, I can't get any more for a long while. So far, it has failed to help the TT this time, which isn't hopeful at all. We are going to give it a little more time before deciding on surgery now or later, but it looks like it is going to have to happen in the future. It's day by day right now, and I know I'm in a bit of denial that some miracle will make it all better soon and I could maybe avoid the knife again, but time will tell soon enough. Until then, I'm going to keep on keeping on. Thankfully, riding isn't like walking is with it. If I could only ride my bike at work and everywhere instead of walk!
Otherwise, I have to make over the new kitties my parents adapted recently. Olivia is a Lynx Siamese and Lola is a seal point. They are fun little fluff balls right now at 10 weeks old and are sisters. I admit to stopping by on my training ride a couple times to steal a few kisses here and there. It will be fun to watch them grow and I'm thankful that we found them.
(Olivia and Lola: little wiggle butts.)
"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn."