If there is one thing I’ve learned after many years of racing and learning from the athletes I work with on mental preparation, it is that there are things you can control, and many you cannot when it comes to competition. If you focus on the “uncontrollables”, stay fixated on them and waste emotions on them, you will definitely be using up valuable energy needed to perform on race day! Be ready for anything and whatever will be will be! I like Will Gadd’s philosophy (a rock star rock climber from Canmore); he believes in the “positive power of negative thinking”. In other words, think of everything that could possibly go wrong and be ready for that!
In my first year of racing Xterra, and at my first East Championship race in Richmond, VA eight years ago, while my bike arrived, my luggage got lost and never made it to me before the race. In the two days I had before the race I was madly running around to find rotors, run shoes, a helmet and other race gear, as well as trying to learn the tricky, twisty, “hard to remember what comes next” technical course and feeling pretty nervous about it and the open water swim in the river with a current. The night before the race I had no appetite, barely ate dinner, and went to bed with a horrible headache. Not surprisingly, the next day I felt super flat in the race and had nothing left in the tank, especially by the time I hit the run!
On my first day back in Richmond this year on Friday the rain poured down like cats and dogs all day thanks to Tropical Storm Andrea from the south. Pre-riding was out as the course trails in the James River Park System were closed. Plan B ended being lots of chilling, going to the coffee shop, a short run, and a quick swim in an outdoor pool at the country club with the other Canadian girls in town (thanks to Mel for this rainy fun swim date!). On Saturday, the rain FINALLY let up before noon, and (gasp!) the sun started to come out! Brandi and Chantell had arrived and had not yet seen the course, so Katie and I took them on a ride of part of the drenched run course, and scouted out some of the mountain bike trails. There were draining incredibly fast so we were excited that at least the full mountain bike course should be open for the race if the rain held off and it got to dry out for the rest of the day and night.
Meanwhile, the James River where we were to swim, had risen over 8 feet higher from the rain! It was ugly mud brown and flowing fast. Surely the swim would be cancelled and it officially was by Saturday evening (the only other time it had been cancelled in Richmond was back in 2003). The swim course at this race is already shorter to begin with, and most of our times are roughly 6 minutes faster than the regular full distance swim. With the swim replaced by a 1.6 mile run, the long and technical mountain bike course favored the strong riders more than ever! I knew the run start would give me a small advantage but hardly any over the strongest riders so it wasn’t going to make it any easier! I was either indifferent to the decision or just in my learned Zen, go with the flow, What-ever mindset, ha!
Our Pro race began at 8:00am. I ran in 2nd for the women, 30″ behind Leslie, and once out on the road over the river, Brandi and Mel had passed me before the first section of single track. I kept them in sight as long as I could but a few too many bobbles and unforced errors – to borrow from Tennis – yes I was in full control of my bike but many stupid mistakes over many obstacles added to precious seconds and contact lost over time. Soon Shonny was on me too. She rides as smooth as she talks with her Texan drawl and went by me and onwards to the front of the race with a lead over Leslie going into T2.
Next to creep up on me was my other Luna teammate, Suzie, on the second lap of two. I kept her in sight all the way into transition and managed to bridge back up within a mile into the run. Then it was on and up the Mayan ruins, which makes the legs cramp big time and feel like crap for a few hundred metres. With about 1km to go, I was getting some cold shivers in the crazy humidity and I got another split that I was 25 seconds from 4th place. Unfortunately I was still 20 seconds too far by the finish and had to settle for 5th, but happy to be back on the podium!
A big thanks to Chris cubed this weekend: our team mechanic Chris for the wonderful race support, Suzie’s bf Chris for the great help and feeds, and Shonny’s gf Kris for all the great laughs! Our mechanic Chris even jumped in the race, and rode the course blind and rocked it! Thanks also to our local Luna Chix Richmond team Audrey Kane for the homestay! It’s only uphill from here and I’m happy about it as far as Xterra goes!
Next up: A local one, Chinook Half, June 15