The best part about staying in a host house is having the ability to cook. Completely controlling what you are eating, and not having to worry about a thing. I was lucky enough to find a host house where we ended up house sitting a cat, (which is one of the easiest things I have ever done), while the owners went off to the age group triathlon national championships. (A huge congratulations to Kari for qualifying for the world championships, by the way!). Staying in downtown long beach, close to my old stomping grounds, next to the ocean, and less than 20 minutes from the track. Stress-free and care-free. The best racing environments are those where your mind is clear, thoughts are clear, you are prepared, alert, and ready. I can’t say that was my account of nationals, but I can say I overcame it, and pushed through even harder.
Racing began Friday, with the women’s 500m tt. I was in the last heat, paired with last years champion, Maddie Godby. I’d been toying with the idea of using aero bars. I used them in the 500m at the Pan American Championships last February, but after a few test starts, it became clear I shouldn’t. My start was less than impressive, at least to me. I had an “oh crap” moment, as I came out of the gate, feeling my power not as snappy as I would have liked. I put my head down and kept going. When I crossed the line, I looked up at the score board and didn’t see names, but I saw times and a number next to each. I saw the time of 36.4 and about had a heart attack. “Half a second faster than last year!!!”, I said to myself. I was overcome with joy. Then I rolled down the back straight, looking at the board, and realized that time was not next to my name, but I had actually done the time of 36.0, to become the new national champion, and breaking my time from last year by .9 seconds! I couldn’t have been more excited. I didn’t believe it, and still now, I find it hard to as well. It was an amazing feeling to have people come up to me and congratulate me on the hard work and the improvement they have seen over the past year. It makes it worth it to see the joy not only on my face, but the ones around me, who have helped me, and can celebrate with me.
Saturday we had a non-championship event…the flying 200m, which counted towards seating in an exhibition keirin. The time I was shooting for was first 11.64, the next, 11.5. At last year’s nationals I rode a 12.1. Looking back on my ride now, and after chatting with my helpers Kevin, Andy, and Travis, I should have used a different gear, but I worked with what I threw on the bike. It was a little big, my wind up was a little slow, and my jump should have come sooner. I qualified 1st, reclaiming my previous days work, and acknowledging that I did in fact deserve the win. I didn’t hit the time I wanted, but it was an incredible improvement over the past year, but I should have had more.
The keirin saturday night was less than impressive. My mind was in another place, anywhere but that bike race. I did alright in the qualifying round. I did enough work to make it through to the final and shut it down. The final, I barely remember. I didn’t win, I didn’t get on the podium, but I don’t remember actually trying. Comparing it to my Marymoor victory a few weeks ago, that hunger and drive was nowhere to be found in a single morsel of my body. I had great help, great knowledge, and great tactics explained to me and lined up, but there wasn’t a drive to execute them. In the future, all measures will be made to keep that from happening…ever again.
The final day included our second and last championship event: the team sprint. My partner was Maddie Godby. Being the top two in the 500m, and the national record holders in the event, we had big expectations to fill. Our first ride posted a time faster than last years winning team of Maddie and Tela, but not making the man 1 time standard, we once again fell short of our expectations. Our gold final ride started off terrible, and ended about the same. I had a great start off the line, but Maddie unclipped her pedal, forcing a restart. On our second and final go, for the first time in my life, I hung the gate in a terrible way, and missed the time standard by a mile. We became the national champions, earning me my second jersey of the weekend.
It’s been 15 months since we started this journey. USA Cycling gave me the opportunity to move to Colorado Springs, Mark Tyson and the Colorado Springs area has been a great facilitators, and my sponsors have supported me in every way possible. From skin suits to chainrings to recovery to nutrition…we’ve made it happen. Every time I go to a race, I see more and more support, and more and more encouragement and drive from those around me. I want to thank each and every one of you, once again.
Nationals was a small step towards this months festivities. This morning we got back to Colorado Springs, and tomorrow I will fly out to Trexlertown for another race weekend. From there, straight to Brussels, Sittard, Cottbus, Dudenhofen, Bromont, and then finally back to Colorado Springs. Yup.
Time to make some brownies. Thank you for believing.