Friday, May 20, 2016

Jamie's Diet Food: "Paleo" Granola

It's been much harder to keep my weight down this year, since I'm not doing nearly as much volume as last year. I also want to try to stay lighter this year, because that's what cyclists do. I've been more successful than I anticipated on hilly races at staying up with the climbers, but I think it will be that much easier if I weigh less.

As a result, I've been leaning back towards a paleo eating style. I don't really subscribe to the theoretical side of paleo (although I used to, and you can read some of it in my archives) . . . I know more about human physiology now, and the paleo/primal movement strikes me as one more movement that's more about the tribe than about the science. There are some good principles, but it seems mostly like a chance for people who need to feel special to tell everyone else how special they are. I feel the same way about vegans. Go ahead and start penning your hate mail, now. Diatribe over.

Anyway, I may not be part of the great primal evangelical movement anymore, but I still like a lot of the ideas behind it. Eat as many whole, natural foods as you can; focus on lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits; have some nuts and seeds, minimize grains; enjoy things in moderation; and remember that diet is only a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Since it's hard to do lots of endurance training when you eat lower quantities of carbohydrates, I've also been doing some nutrient timing. On Tuesday, when I had some hard Trainer Road intervals on the docket, I had some pasta with my lunch and a sandwich for dinner. On Wednesday, when all I scheduled was yoga and an endurance ride, I stayed away from the grains in favor of extra veggies and some fish. I eat some calorie-dense foods, but I cluster them around my hard workouts.

For breakfast, I've been having nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit on yogurt. Then I found this paleo granola recipe on Pinterest. I just finished making a small batch to make sure that I like it. And I mostly enjoy it. It feels a little heavy, probably from all the nuts and seeds. I don't like it as much as real granola. Maybe it needs more salt, or more vanilla. Here's my version, if you want to try it:

Jamie's Paleo Granola

2 cups almonds (chopped or slivered or whatever)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut
2 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp almond meal
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger

3 tbsp coconut oil
4 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 275*. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Combine dry ingredients in a big bowl. Warm liquid ingredients in a saucepan on the stove (don't put honey in the microwave). Combine and toss. Spread mixture on baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Race Report: Meadow Farm Criterium (Women Cat 4)

Improvised podium in the wind and the rain
When I first started refereeing rugby, I began with 15s. That's the traditional form of rugby, in which team plays 15 people per side. As a referee, that means keeping track of 30 people, staying out of their way, positioning so that you can see the ball, and making sure that everyone is obeying the laws of the game. The pros have the aid of assistant referees on each side line and a television match official who can examine some plays that a referee might miss, not to mention players who know the laws well. In the low-grade games they allow beginner referees to officiate, you get none of that. Needless to say, it's a difficult job. And you get yelled at if you don't do it well (I didn't do it very well, especially at the beginning).

After a few months of refereeing 15s, I refereed at a 7s tournament. In 7s, each team fields 7 per side. That means there are fewer than half the number of people in a 15s game. The matches are faster and more expansive, with fewer pile-ups and better lines of sight for the officials. It's way easier to referee 7s than 15s. I wish I would have started with that; it would have allowed me the space to learn how to manage the game better, and that experience could have carried over to my 15s game.

That's how this weekend's race felt. The field was only 7 women deep on a flat course with open, flowing turns. It reminded me of racing in Kansas, where the women's fields were smaller, except now I have more skills and strength on the bike (because I'm not simultaneously training for swim and run). The small field size allowed us to hone our tactics, and the turns were technical enough to allow practice without being too risky. And the race was only 30 minutes. As I tell my cycling classes, you can survive just about anything for 30 minutes.

I had one teammate with me, and she and I decided that we would put the hurt on the rest of the field. The plan was for her to take the pace out hard (which she does really well) and try to keep a break to the end while I sat in. If she came back before the end, I would counterattack and try to stay away for the rest of the race.

Robin sprinted from the start and got a gap with one other cyclist (a junior from the Mermaid Winery team). One of the women was off the back from the start, leaving four of us to work together. The other woman from Mermaid must have had trouble clipping in, because it took her a lap or two to get up to us. I was sitting on wheels and not working. The group I was in wasn't able to work very well together, probably because I wasn't taking any pulls. One cyclist, who looked pretty young, didn't understand why I wouldn't pull; the other woman (Marie, from US Military Cycling) was trying to explain that I was just doing my job, and they would have to work around me, but they weren't able to trade pulls very well. At one point, the younger girl pulled through too hard and dropped Marie. I pulled Marie back to her wheel because I'm nice and it was more fun with the three of them together.

The other Mermaid woman (Giselle) managed to bridge up to Robin's group, but the younger Mermaid girl (Samantha) dropped off the pace and came back. With her in the group, they were able to get more of a rhythm going, and I took a few turns on the front. We had picked up one of the juniors (they started 30" ahead of us, another thing that made this race fun), and he ended up in our rotation . . . sort of. With about 4 laps to go, I ended up on the junior's wheel, and no one came around me. So I slowed waaaaay down; everyone else had realized that Robin and Giselle weren't coming back in the last 3 or 4 laps, or whatever we had left at that point. With those two safely off the front and everyone else sitting in on my wheel, I figured I would take a chance at going off the front myself for a third place, rather than leaving it to a final sprint.

The course was dumbbell shaped, with a big loop on one end and a big box on the other, connected by a divided straightaway. On the first half of the big loop with two laps to go, the young girl who didn't have much experience with tactics tried to take a flyer off the front. We all covered it, no problem, and I ended up sitting second or third wheel (don't remember for sure) coming into the right turn onto the straightaway. I went wide on that turn and kicked hard on the straightaway. Carried the speed into the next right, then a flowing left. After that, straight into the wind for about 100 m, then another left. I had a gap of at least 50 m by the first time I looked back, with my heart rate seriously in the red (I saw the number 186 when I looked down). I kept grinding, trying to keep the heart rate right around 180, especially through the tailwind section on the second half of the box. Hit the finish line and got the bell for the last lap.

As I took the right-hand turn into the loop, our team tent got caught in the wind and blew almost directly into my path. It didn't quite hit me, but the wind was getting mean and nasty. Looking at the weather data from yesterday, looks like the strongest gusts were over 40 MPH. But I know wind pretty well, and it felt more like 50 MPH to me. I was worried that the other girls, sheltered in their little group, would be able to catch me in all that wind. But every time I looked back, they were nowhere to be seen. I was also worried that the officials were going to stop the race early, because the weather was starting to look really bad. But they let it run to the finish, and I came across the line all on my own to take third place.

Robin got second. I think she had done so much work at the beginning that Giselle was able to ride her straight off her wheel. Still, Veloworks-Spokes, Etc., women went 2-3!

I am really pleased with my performance yesterday. Tactically, it's the best race I've ever done. I did exactly my job in the group, saved my legs, and timed my attack perfectly to get away and stay away. And I won $25 from my team and got to stand on the podium (sort of)!

The question now is if I can take some of the lessons learned in this 7s match (there were literally 7 of us) and apply it my next 15s match, probably Ride Sally Ride in three weeks.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Week Off

No race report for me this week. I'm home sick. I had everything all packed and ready to go last night, in the hope that I would wake up feeling better this morning. But no such luck.

One of my teammates got third place in the women's 4 field this morning, though! Way to go, Kim!
Cat 4 Women's podium at Poolesville Road Race
I've missed a full week of training with this stupid cold. I hope to be back to normal next week, so I can resume my training. I signed up for Trainer Road on Monday, but I haven't been able to do any of the workouts so far!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Race Report: All-American Road Race (Women 1/2/3/4)

My teammate, Sean, got a cool picture of us lined up at the start


This race went much better for me than last week's. Course was 4 loops with a few rollers and one long-ish stair-step climb after the first turn (Mt. Nebo). I lined up early to get a good spot, after last week's debacle getting pinned in the back of a slow combined field. Positioned nicely and had no trouble hanging on through a strong first few miles. First time up the hill was no big deal; I held my position well. A break tried to go up the road, but was brought back before the end of the first lap. Second lap, I found myself almost on the front, right behind a Sweet Spot/Cutaway rider who did a ton of work throughout the second lap. Pace stayed fairly low on the hill through the second round. More women pulled around us to take over pace-setting on the front.

A break went from the left side at the crest of Mt. Nebo on the third lap. I was blocked inside and couldn't go with the group. I was already riding the edge pretty hard from the hill, and almost got blown off the back from that move. I chased back on, though, and managed to work myself back to middle of the pack as the main bunch was bringing back the chase group. NCVC riders made up about half of the field. They were well-equipped to block for their riders up the road. It took multiple women bridging up to the break for them to work to bring it back. I sat in the group throughout the move, still recovering from chasing back on.

Last lap slowed down quite a bit, and I found myself near the back of the bunch with the slow-pokes and opportunists. With narrow, rough ("rustic") roads, a centerline rule, and 40 women, it was difficult to move up. I stayed on the inside line and sniped places where I could: gained a few places by following another rider up the gutter at a point where the road branched to the right; gained another few places on a left-hand bend; gained another place or two by riding up the gutter. At one point, I got pushed off the road and into the mud, but handled it with no problem. Coming around the last turn, I was positioned on the inside line 3 or 4 wheels back.

After the last turn, the road was closed and the centerline rule no longer applied. The attack went on the outside, and I was blocked in. I missed that move, which I think turned out to be the crucial one. I had to break a lot of wind to try to get on the back of that group of (maybe?) 12 girls. I found a wheel to follow, but I'd done too much work to get on it, and by that point I was blown. I sat down and hammered to the finish, but I didn't get a sprint in. Looking back, I should have pushed harder. C'est la vie. Next time.

Ended up 6th place, just off the podium and out of the money. But I felt really good about how I hung with the group, and my ability to position myself late in the race. There were some squirrely wheels in the group today (one girl, a junior, leaned into me twice and ran another woman into me another time), but I don't think I was one of them this time. I felt confident in my handling, stayed relaxed, and held my line (for the most part). After last week's performance, this week feels like redemption!

My teammate, Cinnamon, had a great result, too. This is her second race of the season, and she finished 7th, just behind me. She hasn't had as much practice with really tight groups like that, and she handled it really well.

Lessons learned . . . I want to get better at positioning and holding a good position in a tight pack. I'm not sure how to do that. Comfort level and experience are key, I'm sure. I think the more I race, the better I will become. In the meantime, I will take any advice I can get on that point!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Race Report: Tour of Page County

Why am I always making that face when I ride my bike?
Here's another race where I'm not very excited to write a report. The weekend as a whole was so tiring, I don't want to re-live it. But I will re-live it. For you. My adoring fans.

Twilight Street Sprints
I went to the Shenandoah Twilight Sprints on Friday night. It wasn't a scored part of the stage race, but it sounded fun and I'd never done anything like that before. It gave me a chance to meet and talk with several of my fellow competitors, which made the whole weekend that much more enjoyable. I only did two sprints (won the first, lost the second, lessons learned about proper gearing for the start) and spent the rest of the time hanging out with the other women. Attending earned me a call-up and a front-row starting place for the road race the next day, though.

Hooray for Luray Road Race
Our race started cool and muggy with lots of cloud cover, no wind, and a sprinkle of rain in the air. All races were run with combined women's fields. I'm pretty sure we had a full complement of 60 women racing, about half of whom were cat 4. The race was very slow--basically 45 miles of zone 2 riding with a few hard efforts out of corners sprinkled in. I had no problem staying with the pack, although several women dropped off the pace. I think our main pack had 20-30 women, but I can't be sure.

Someone told me to hold my line, but not in an unhelpful way. I think the way I learned to ride in a pack is wrong, but no one has pointed it out to me up until this point. I've always worried that I'm one of the "new wheels" in the cat 4 field that we all dread, but now I know that I have been. Something to work on. One of my teammates also told me to work on it. It wasn't mean or nasty either time (and there are women in the field who are mean and nasty about it); it was genuinely helpful. So . . . something to work on.

Focusing so hard on holding my line, combined with the brake-y nature of the race, was mentally taxing. I woke up the next day with sore forearms from braking so much. By the time we came to the last 1k, all I felt was relief. I stayed in the pack and didn't try to sprint. I was worried that I would lack the stability to control a hard effort, at that point. Finished 14 out of 32 cat 4 women, not sure in the overall race. I was just happy to have stayed with the pack through the punchy rollers on the backside of the course.

Luray Caverns Time Trial
After my performance in the road race, I was looking forward to the mental break of grinding out my own race, suffering on my own terms, and taking my own line through all the corners. I got a great warm-up in on the trainer. Rolled to the line and got a strong start. A mile in, I was already within sight of my 30-second gap girl, and was closing time. Then the road started to feel unusually bumpy. Looked down. Flat tire. Pulled over at the next corner marshal. Waited for the moto official to come by. He said he'd make sure that I got a time so that I could start the criterium in the afternoon, and to go ahead and start riding back. I rode for a little ways, but the downhills were too fast on a flat tire, and I didn't want to damage my expensive racing tires (or my rims, for that matter). So I got off my bike and walked the last mile in. It wasn't so bad; lots of the women who were coming back on their TTs asked if I was okay, and everyone was very sympathetic. The officials gave me a time of 37:00, which may have been my actual chip time, come to think of it. That was about 10 minutes off the slowest cat 4 TT of the day, so I was definitely out of contention for the GC. I was just grateful to get to race the criterium in the afternoon.

Downtown Luray Criterium
The women's open field had been so overwhelming on Saturday that I was sort of dreading the criterium. It was a technical course with one steep, sustained climb of 30-45 seconds and 8 ninety-degree turns. I really didn't want to have to fight for corners with 30 other women, and I didn't want to have to ride my brakes down every hill and into every corner. I lined up in the second row, but let a few women in front of me. Plan was to hang in the back and see how things looked after a few laps.

I missed my pedal on my first attempt to clip in. Once I got clipped in, the girl in front of me was still struggling to find her pedals. And there went my race, right there. By the time I got on top of my pedals, the lead group was two corners away.

I figured it was an opportunity to make up for the time trial I missed earlier in the day. Started looking up the road to find someone to work with. Caught several women and a few little groups, but no one going fast enough that I wanted to work with them. Took the first 6-7 laps really easy on the hill (on the advice of one of my teammates) and spun up it in a small gear. I was picking up momentum on the backside and got the hang of the corners quickly. I had teammates on the hill cheering me on and telling me I was making up 5-10 seconds per lap on the main group. On lap 7 or 8, I started hammering the hill instead of soft pedaling. It didn't feel too bad. I felt like I could sustain that effort for another 20 minutes.

A lap or two after I started pounding the hill, I saw a group of maybe 8 women ahead of me. I was closing time on them. I was going to catch them. They were coming back to me on the hill. With one more lap, I would be in the shelter of that pack, and could catch my breath while I decided what to do next.

The group of 8 crested the hill and passed the finish line. The officials whistled me over and my race was done. The end.

The officiating at this race was really poor. Women that I had passed a few laps before were allowed to continue on racing for 2 more laps after I was pulled. The results were all kinds of messed up, with women who had been blown off the back of the pack even farther than I had been placed above me and another teammate who was pulled. The officials' lap counting was really screwed up. I should not have been pulled. I was frustrated. My teammates were frustrated for me. But oh well. That's bike racing.

In summary, it was not a great weekend of racing. It was a pretty good weekend, everything else considered, but I'm disappointed with my performance. It was a good learning experience. Lessons learned:

  • The way I've been riding in a pack is a little off, and I need to practice holding my line in tight quarters
  • Relax and shut up, even if the group is shaky. Control what you can control, which is your line and your stress level. Mostly just relax. Shake out the shoulders, loosen up your hold on the brakes, and relax
  • Keep your head up (already knew this, but can't say this one enough)
  • Stay near the front of the pack if you don't want to be accordioned all over the place (already knew this one, too, but can't say it enough)
  • Leave a bigger buffer for braking on a wet road with wet brakes
  • I'm stronger than I think on hills
  • Double- and triple-check your gear before the race (I did pump up my tires right before my TT)
  • Criteriums are probably going to be my strength
  • Good starts are critical for success in crits
  • Don't give up, even if you think you're out of the running.
And probably some other lessons that aren't occurring to me right now.

I'm at this point in cycling, and I have this experience in everything I do, where I have surpassed the quick, easy learning curve. The easy gains have been made, and subsequent gains come only with effort and experience. I'm speaking specifically of skills and tactics, here, not so much in fitness. I can still make big gains in my fitness. But the skills, technique, tactics, and savvy to race really well come only by racing and failing and screwing up and getting back in the next weekend to race again. Playing musical instruments, teaching yoga, kinesiology, visual art, and rugby all came really naturally to me at first. And then, pretty suddenly, they didn't. Because there's only so much you can learn by reading books and watching videos and listening to friends share their experiences. At some point, the only way you get really good at something (even if you're naturally talented at it) is with time and experience and hours of practice.

The best part about the weekend was spending it with my team. We rented a house together and stayed there for the whole weekend. Two teammates came and served as our soigneurs, cooking for us and cleaning up after us. It was very pro. I'm still new to Veloworks-Spokes, Etc. This weekend gave me a chance to get to know everyone a little better, especially after all the racing was done and we could relax. My teammate, Kim, got top ten results in the road race and the time trial; another teammate, Robin, got a top ten in the crit; a third teammate, Kaitlyn, took fifth in the GC for the 1/2/3 women; and Clay, our brilliant chef for the weekend, took fourth in the open time trial. So a good time was had by all, and many a lesson learned.

Also, Kim and I hit a black bear on the way home. In a car, not on a bike. Bear and car were both fine. "Hit the bear" may be our new team slogan, though.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Race Report: Farmersville Road Race (Women 3/4)

Brownstown, Pennsylvania, is a two-and-a-half hour drive from me. I headed up the morning of with three teammates, two cat 5s and my fellow 4, Tina. We got a late start, so we were running around like headless chickens trying to get numbers and pin them and get dressed and go to the bathroom (sorry if I flashed anyone during that bit). Ran out of time for a warm-up, so came to the staging area cold. The start was delayed by 15 minutes. That, combined with long lines at check-in, did not bode well for the organizational component of the race.

Rolled out neutral for about 200 yards, then it was 50 women on narrow country roads with center-line rule in effect. I was able to weave to the front just a few miles into the first 6.6-mile lap. Lost Tina off of my wheel, though. I need to work on getting through traffic with a teammate tagged on to my wheel.

The pace stayed moderate for most of the first few laps. I stayed near or even on the front and was able to stay with every little attack that went. Nothing split the group, though, and we still had most of the field going into the third lap. There was a group of U17 boys who were sitting on the front of our field and keeping everything slow, which was annoying. When we complained, one of them (douchebag in training) said, "I don't see you up here pulling!" But then when women tried to get on the front and pull, they ended up accelerating and planting themselves back on the front anyway.

The boys attacked and got a gap about halfway through the third lap. Someone behind me said, "There's a girl in that group!" There wasn't, by the way. But we tracked them down anyway. I sat second wheel as another woman took a strong pull. I told her to take a break and dragged the U17s the rest of the way back. The bunch came together again as we came up on the last little hill (all the hills on this course were little) of the lap, and I could sense an attack coming. I shifted back into my small chainring, and heard my chain drop. Someone to my left said, "Uh oh!" Fortunately, I was on the far right side of the pack, and was able to pull safely off the road without taking anyone else down. I got off and looked at my chain and knew that my race was over.

I wish I would have had my phone so I could have taken a picture of my chain. It simultaneously fell off the outside and inside of the chainring, and somehow wrapped twice around the axle. It took me a good 10 minutes to sort it out. And at that point, my race was over. At least I good still get a good workout.

So I hopped back on the course and started time trialing, just trying to keep my heartrate at or above threshold. I started sweeping up the stragglers. Course marshaling was not very good. I turned the wrong way twice while the course marshals stood there staring at me. At one corner, I actually shouted at the course marshals to ask which way and they still pointed me in the wrong direction. I also passed a tractor. So that was fun.

I finished the last lap and a half solo, passing about 10 people along the way. I was happy that I got to finish the race, and wasn't pulled off the course. But when the women's results were finally posted, I was placed 38 out of 39. I knew that there were names ahead of mine that I had passed. And the cat 5 men were all in by the time I finished, but never passed me. I couldn't figure out what had happened, until I got home and uploaded my Strava data. Turns out I took a wrong turn and did an extra half lap. Again, the course marshaling wasn't great. Course marking was also not adequate. I know it's my own fault for not knowing the course better, but c'mon. We're out here at our limit. It's hard to remember directions when you're trying to keep pedaling without puking.

I enjoyed the race course and didn't have any problem with the race while I was doing it, but now that I look back, it wasn't very well run. Hopefully the race directors gained some valuable experience, and the course will be better next year.

I was also really frustrated that I was taken out by a mechanical problem. I felt strong and I was in a good position near the front of the race. I felt in control. I felt like I could compete. But it doesn't matter, because I dropped my chain. And it's easy to say that I could have had a good result (or at least helped Tina to a better result) when I didn't have to stay with the group for the last 10 miles. Sigh. Maybe this weekend.

But my training is working, apparently! I am definitely stronger. And my handling is better, and my tactics are . . . well, they're coming along. And I did get a very good training ride on Saturday. And I did get to pick my line through all the corners. And I got some bonus training from the wrong turn. And I didn't crash or (more importantly) take out a bunch of people when I couldn't pedal. So . . . Yay?

Meh. I'm going to go work on my bike. Maybe change the chain. This weekend, Tour of Page County!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Race Report: 23rd Annual Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic (Cat 4 women)

Sigh . . .

I've been putting off this race report because I'm not very happy with how I did. It took me a while to get over my frustration about the race, how it went down, and how I performed. I finally got over myself, though, once I stopped my navel-gazing long enough to realize that nothing was that bad: I didn't crash, I didn't cause anyone else to crash (I don't think), I got some experience racing in big, sketchy fields . . . It wasn't all terrible.

I got to the race site in plenty of time to warm-up, riding the course in reverse. There were 5 of us in the Cat 4 field. Our team captain is a Cat 2, racing in the field just before ours. We all warmed up together. I kept going too hard in the warm-up, dropping everyone else. My legs felt really good (maybe a little bit too good).

The Cat 1/2/3 field staged directly in front of us; they departed a minute ahead of us. Our plan was to take the pace off fast, try to establish a breakaway, and lead out our A rider if the field stayed together. I don't remember much about the early laps; the field stayed bunchy, everyone seemed a little jumpy, and there were a few really sketchy wheels. We couldn't get a break off the front, but the pace in the pack wasn't difficult at all. The field got especially slow on the one tiny little hill. My job was to sit in the back and protect our A rider, though, which went okay for the first lap or two. I remember trying to move the two of us up in the field over and over, but everyone wanted to be near the front, and we kept ending up near the back again.

It wasn't far into the race--maybe second lap?--when we got within sight of the Cat 1/2/3s. Our Cat 2 Captain told us later that the moto officials told them that the Cat 4s were only 10-15 seconds back from them. Then the pace picked up with a few attacks. But it only took another lap or two for the Cat 4 fields to completely overtake them.

Standard rules for races like this are a little like triathlon rules in that you can't work with the riders from the other field. The officials went over that rule in detail before the race started. We also had a centerline rule in effect, which meant we could be instantly disqualified for riding on the wrong side of the center yellow line. We started to overtake the Cat 1/2/3 field just as the road narrowed a little. I think our whole group was unsure of what to do. We knew that we needed to get past the field as quickly as possible, but we also couldn't go past them on the left because of the centerline rule. Adding to the confusion, all of our numbers started with 5; the 1/2/3s had numbers 500-520, the cat 4s had numbers higher in the 500s. That made it really difficult to tell the fields apart. Apparently, the moto officials made some effort to separate us ("Sort yourselves out, ladies!"), but it was too late. The fields were together, and they stayed together for the rest of the race.

From that point on, our team plan was out the window. I tried to hold our A rider on my wheel, and tried to find one of my other teammates to lead the two of us out in the last 2 laps. About the time I found my teammate, who was in the center near the front of the pack, the rider on my left bumped in to me and I leaned into my teammate. I don't know how the heck we stayed up, but we didn't crash. From there, I tried to get us to the outside of the pack, but lost my two teammates in the process. I was in good position all on my own.

I accelerated out of the last hard right turn (which was a shit-show, pardon my language, for the entire race, with inexperienced riders cutting the turn and causing chaos with a complete inability to hold their lines) and passed a bunch of riders on the left. I was in the gutter on the left side, on the front with no one to work for. Things slowed down a little coming up the last hill. Team captain was on my wheel, noticed me slowing and told me to pedal. I thought it was my A rider telling me to start the lead-out, so I hammered for a hundred yards, blew myself up, watched the whole field pass me, and ended up 28 out of 33 finishers. I felt like a big pile of dog doodoo. By the time I came across the finish line, I was totally recovered. I didn't feel tired at all. I still had a full tank of gas. I had wasted a great position going into the finish. In short, I sucked.

I spent the rest of the day cranky and stewing. Same thing for Monday morning. I was stuck in a spiral of "I suck"-ness, and I couldn't get out of it.

Then our Cat 4 captain sent out her race report, and I remembered that she got third place! Here I was, feeling so sorry for myself, completely discounting the fact that she had pulled a really great result out of a really bad situation. Instead of navel-gazing and feeling sorry for myself, I should be celebrating our team accomplishment!

Part of what was so frustrating about the whole race was trying to figure out what I could have done better. What were lessons that I could take from this race where I did such a poor job, both for my team and for myself? Here's what I've come up:

  1. Don't take yourself so seriously, Jamie. You're a cat 4 amateur racer. This isn't your job, it isn't life or death. Sometimes things don't go well at races, just like you occasionally get a bad official in a rugby match (I have also been that bad official). You can't make the official better, or interpret the laws the way you do. Maybe it loses you a match, even, but you still can't control it! So relax and enjoy the ride, because it's really not that big a deal.
  2. The other side of the team coin: you want to do a good job for your team, but you can also rely on your team to do a good job for you. Sometimes you knock the ball on at the base of a ruck, and the team doesn't (or shouldn't) berate you for making a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes! Instead, the team gets ready to scrum down to support you after the mistake. You give the best that you can for your team, but some days your best sucks, and the team doesn't immediately kick you off; instead, you get to participate in their success!
  3. I'm not sure how to phrase this last one. I'm still working it out in my head. Something along the lines of drifting to the back with my team and regrouping; being willing to chuck out the pre-race plan and figure out a new plan on the fly; and keeping my mouth shut and taking the lead from my teammates. Our Cat 4 captain came from near the back of the field to take third place, while I blew up from the front of the field to take last place. There's a pretty obvious lesson for me in all of that.
So that was Carl Dolan for me. Crappy factors outside of my control, exacerbated by me taking myself too seriously and trying to hold on to a race plan that was (or should have been) obviously out the window. This weekend is another chance to do better. Farmersville Road Race, here I come!