Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Last Race Report... For Now!l

A pre-cross season playground... the season started in earnest with a DH play trip to Winter Park, CO!
Time to put the mental memory of the last regular season cross race to the keyboard. I'll get to a complete season wrap up in the next post, but for now I'll mostly stick to the final regular season series race I was able to do. With a pleasant surprise of finishing 4th in SS and 3rd in my Master's class last year at nationals, I started the season this year with a lofty goal of winning a national championship. So with that said, this post comes bittersweet as it will be my last report for cross this season and we all know nationals have yet to occur this upcoming week. But... as bittersweet as it is, the growth I've had as a person, the challenges I've faced, overcome, and the people I have faced them with... just can't be put down as a "goal" on paper. But I shall get to that some other time. For now... this is the last race report this season. Thanks for reading.

Focusing on drifting through the sand pit at the last OVCX race (for me) in Ohio.
Photo: Kent "The Kamikaze" Baumgartd
The John Bryan OVCX race came after the day of the Indiana State Championships  I wrote about in the previous post. As you recall, it was a wonderful mud drudging affair, and I put my all into it. After the ICX race in Indy and wrapping up the series title end events I drove a couple hours to my teammates house in Lebanon OH, unpacked, ate, and cleaned the muddy bikes. Bill and Teri had housed me so many times this season, I almost felt like their  home was a cyclocross vacation home to me. Being on the road 4-5 hours (one-way) from my own home, away from my family every weekend this season would have gotten very old, very quick had I spent it in a hotel. Sure, I could have spent plenty of time on the phone to my loved ones to get the social interaction necessary to keep one sane, but that just isn't the same as having people you love right in front of you, sit down to eat with people in a HOUSE at a table and share a good belly laugh with or discuss the day's races. To say I have been grateful for each and every one (including Leslie and Don Walker) who has hosted me, would be a understatement! 

Flying the Don Walker Cyles Racing Orange and Black made for  a nice bright contrast on the gloomy day.
Photo: Kent "The Kamikaze" Baumgartd

After a good night's sleep at the Meek's I woke up and realized the day would be a struggle for me. My legs were pretty sore and stiff from the thick mud race, and more interesting was that the ovarian tumor on my left side I had been dealing with was none-to-happy with me. On the bright side, it was a dark, dreary proper cx weather looking day and I welcomed that true cx atmosphere. After getting to the venue, I was stoked to see a layout and it seemed that it was perfect for me. I looked forward to getting on my bike and getting my warm-up going. Once again, I have to give a major shout out to the Shamrock cycles crew for allowing me to make camp under their banner on a rainy day as our head honcho, Don, had fell victim to one of the many sicknesses that had been going around the area. 

And then... I started warming up. As my heart rate rose, so did my pain, nausea, and general feeling of badness. Really? No, no, no... not today! I went through a well done warm-up and hoped that once the adrenaline of the race got going, I would be able push the bad feelings to the back of my mind. One could hope! But it didn't happen.

Girls just wanna have fun! The start of the Elite Women's OVCX John Bryan is underway!
Photo: Kent "The Kamikaze" Baumgartd
I got a pretty good start with my 5th position call-up. I gave the first 1/2 of the lap all I could and did pretty well, and after that I just started going backwards despite feeling like I was maxed out on my effort. I was giving it my all, it's just that my all was braced by a large amount of trying to deal with nausea and pain on top of managing the bike. Poop! One of the awesome ob/gyn docs, Dr Don Durecki, had told me earlier in the month that ovarian pain was like "being kicked in the nuts" for a women... yep, now I have the privilege to know what that feels like! Haha. 
Being that the course was pretty slick, it was an interesting feeling to try and brace and protect my abdomen while handling a slippery bike underneath me. My bike, my body, and my mind were all in completely separate places. I just tried to push it all back to the corner of my mind somewhere where I wouldn't take note of all that was going on and just spent the race imagining I was swimming underwater in the ocean... a nice mental exercise for me. It got me through it and I finally finished the race. 

I guess I've earned my newly given nickname of "Coal Train"  from Don Walker this year. Toughing it out to the finish.
Photo: Kent "The Kamikaze" Baumgartd
I managed to finished 12th and 4th in elite master's. Off the podium.
There would be no podium at nationals for me if I went. I knew this now. I was going backward in my performances. I was sad about it. I understood what was going on and it was out of my control at this point. It's hard to not be in control of something. I packed up and hustled the 4 hrs back home. I was scheduled to be on anesthesia OB call by 7pm and I didn't have time to be upset. I hit the ground running once I was at work. I finished the night around midnight and was thankful to have such a positive end to a let down of a day. I enjoy my profession and it is a rewarding feeling to help a family bring a new life into this world. Plus, I just tried to remind myself for all the things I got to do that day because in reality... I knew very soon my world was going to slow down A LOT. I knew I would be the one going under the knife soon. Again.

Turns out, it was much sooner than I had thought. That weekend had just progressed to a even worse situation. Three days later I could barely stand up and the nausea became vomiting. I was admitted to the hospital for a torsed ovary and the day after that I was indeed correct, I had surgery of my own. My ovarian tumor had a torsion and had hemorrhaged and was starting to leak out. I pretty much knew this was happening on and off since Lexington.
I wouldn't know if the highly suspicious tumor was cancer until I woke up, wouldn't' know how my myasthenia would manage, or if I would find myself with another pulmonary embolism (unlikely, but I was still afraid of it). 
All of that was out of my hands now. I prayed with my parents, had a good cry with them, then we all regrouped to face it... whatever it would be, we would face it and deal with it. I drifted off to sleep and imagined I was swimming again but this time I was in a school of people I love and that one distant figure that joins me now and again that I can't quite make out who he is... no joke. He's my guardian angel. 
And with that...
I knew before I even was all the way under that this would go good. 
It did. No cancer. No post-op vent. No need to remove my only remaining valuable ovary. NO feared blood clot. 
 Thank you God!

This may be my last race report.
But just for now! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rounding it out...

What a great group of ladies to compete with and a honor to win the ICX Elite Series Overall Title
photo: planet adventure

So I'm a tad behind on my blog updates... I've had some stuff going on preventing me from keeping up to date... but more on that later and in another post. However, I have plenty of time now to catch up on the last few races I've done in the final drive of the regional and statewide series I've been taking part in to round out the season. Going in to the last few races of the both series I knew things pretty much would stay as they were in my overall standing (1st and 3rd) but I really wanted to give a good push to keep the race efforts high for nationals in January. Plus, the ICX series finale doubled as the Indiana State Championships so I was fired up to try as hard as I could to take a podium spot.

Leading the train into The Wall the first lap in Zionsville, I managed that first climb pretty well actually!
photo: Planet Adventure) 
The finale venue for the ICX doesn't really suite my strong points as a racer, but it actually turned out to  fair me pretty well the way the promoter had set it up this year, not to mention that the surrounding area is very horse rich and a nice backdrop to warm up to on a gloomy day. I had a bit of a poor start but quickly found myself at the front of the race and soon passed into the lead shortly into the first lap. I seemed to hold that position for half the race and I was doing a good job of handling the muddy, slick conditions really well. I took this as a small victory since I knew that these conditions would be very similar to the Nationals weather in Wisconsin soon enough. 

Always, always something to improve on in sports! My technique is good, it's just the engine behind it that needs work! This hill proved the death of my lead.
Photo: Kent Baumgardt)
I was powering along, until that darn hilly run-up got the best of me! I slowly lost enough time on it to allow the 2nd place rider to catch, then pass me, and she slowly gained more and more time in this area until it was beyond a point where I could re coupe the time I had lost. 

Although hard, very hard... it still remains fun because it's such a challenge! Love, love this stuff and great photo by Kent! He probably got as muddy as us racers getting these shots!)
I was able to hold on to 2nd place easily and in the end, I was disappointed to not be able to capture that elusive elite state cx title, but given how life plays out sometimes... my best isn't always the best. Major thanks to the Shamrock Cycles Crew for being my stand in "Handmade Builder Team" support this day as I was out of the Don Walker  area this particular day. Their cheers (or heckles) and pit help was much appreciated and proves only more that handmade in 'merica takes care of their own! So get to the show and meet some of these great people!

Oh yeah... I DID however, seal the deal on the Indiana Cyclocross Cup Series Overall Championship and I was stoked about this. The ICX cup, although smaller in  rider numbers than the neighboring OVCX, hosted a very competitive group of elite women this year and I was very happy to walk away winning this series for a second year in a row. Major kudos to Plant Adventure for holding great cyclocross events this season! I truly enjoyed the not-so-stuffy atmosphere this series still possesses and I'm thankful these races are around.

The week prior to that was the famous (in my books at least) Brookside OVCX race in Indy. I'm not really sure why I love Brookside so much... it's scarcely has any features that play into my strengths, but there is something about the setting and features that make it a great place to have a cx race in the winter. I was not feeling in the best of health (which is when I started to realize the harsh reality my season was doomed to be over before I had wanted it to be) before making the short 2.5 hr drive down, nor did I feel well at all during my warm-up. I was in a "I'm in so much pain I'm now going to go throw up" sort of way. As if cx isn't already hard enough to push down the thought of vomit and pain to the back of your mind... I now had this health issue to try and manage during the race too. Oh well, I didn't come all that way to not give it my best go of it! As I always say; "I shaved my legs, I paid my money." 

Am I wearing non-cycling branded socks? Oh my...   maybe that's why I felt a little strange at Brookside!
Photo: K Baumgardt

I put  my head to it and did the best I could, which I was surprised landed me in 10th overall and 3rd in Master's. Okay. That's pretty good, but I'm a competitor and I always hunger for more. Always. It was a super good field, but I hope to be super good again too.

I am doing my best to be thankful for what I CAN accomplish this year, and getting 10th in a super competitive field of rock stars isn't so bad for what I'm working with. I know I've said it before on the blog, but let me say it again, not as an excuse (because I don't roll that way) but just as a brake check to myself and many others out there: I don't race my bike for a living, nor do most gals or guys I race with every weekend. It's pretty silly to bank all your self worth and the safety of others on a bike race. People have other aspects of their lives and we simply can't control everything that goes on in it week in and week out. I know we are all competitive, I just always hope to see everyone having FUN and not getting to overboard on placings (me included). Heaven knows mi vida loca! 
With that though, I have to say, we have some really rocking fast gals in this region and I'm stoked for the depth of talent I get to race against in the area! New England, west coast.... midwest brings it to the house too! 

Hey look! Two ladies racing their bikes very fast that were once thought to not live through near death experiences...  keeping Alison Delgado at bay for the moment, but really proud of her "comeback" and not at all upset when she passed me. Persevere!
Photo: Kent B.

I for one, will be pretty excited to see how everyone fairs in the near future and places at nationals and world's! Master's AND Elite U23 (go Josh)! 

So with that, I only have one more race to report on; the next to last ovcx series race in Dayton, OH. It's always a empty time of year as the snow starts to fly, the temperatures here up north hover near the teens, and people turn their minds towards a wonderful holiday of Christmas. As I said, I have some time on my hands so I'll wait till later to post another blog update on that race. I seem to get a little of that wonderful anxious nervous excitement I feel at the start of a cross race by updating the blog... so I will try and drag it out a little longer to fill the void of actually not being able to race.

Making the podium at Brookside with some great ladies: Gerry and Kim. Good job ladies.
Photo: Bill Meek

Merry Christmas to all my cycling friends and family. As always, I look forward to spending time with my family for THE reason for the season! God has blessed me to be on this earth with them one more day and for that I am forever grateful! Everything else is a bonus!

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.