Thursday, 19 April 2012

Testing the legs

After a few weeks of virtually zero training I decided to have a go at the Xterra MTB only race and 'test' where my body was at and how far I could push things before I started to see double!

I first participated in Xterra as part of a team last year and loved the experience and the amazing atmosphere.  I also knew that a wide range of people tend to compete in this event meaning that even if my body crapped out completely I wouldn't be left out on the track all by myself.

Stunning day in Rotovegas
My start was actually fairly decent but I still managed to get stuck behind a few people on the first bit of single-track.  Onto the first main climb and I was bolting up the hill feeling great and passing people left, right and centre (Actually, mainly just on the right!).  After about 10 minutes of this I started to feel a bit dizzy and realised I should probably back off a bit when I started seeing two of the rider in front of me! 

I reluctantly dropped down to granny and spun my way up the last of the hill.  I knew this would probably happen but it was still a touch disappointing when people started streaming past me.  For once I was actually stronger on the downhills than I was on the climbs.   I had a pretty average run down Billy T but things picked up when I hit Split Endz.  I was feeling great and got into a good rhythm that lasted till the end of the race.  I managed to pick up a lot of people towards the end that  didn't seem to have the endurance. 

I finished 6th in Open women which wasn't  too bad considering and I'm definitely happy that it seems I can push my body a bit before things fall apart.

The highlights of the trip?  Watching all of the Xterra individuals show just how strong they really are.  I have only ever done duathlons as my swimming leaves a lot to be desired but these guys are absolute machines!  Big congrats to everyone who competed (especially Dom who managed the individual race on little to no training!).

Dom half way through the run leg.

Highlight number 2?  Getting to go riding the next day.  My body wasn't up to much and my tiredness made my concentration and technical skills even more average than normal but had a great ride anyway.  Thanks to Dan (my travelling buddy) for showing me how not to navigate roots.

Now it's time to start training again and see how my body handles it.  It looks like time and rest will be the only way to come right but if it works I'm happy to take it easy for a while.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The race that was

After Karapoti was cancelled, due to extreme weather conditions, I was left feeling deflated and like my season had ended on a very sour note.  I kept telling myself things like 'it's for the best, your health probably isn't up to it' and 'Don't worry, it will be better in the long run'.  However, I couldn't help feeling disappointed and was finding it hard to take the time off I know I was in desperate need of without feeling like I'd really earned it. 

Next thing I know, Karapoti is back on!  I was so excited but very nervous as well knowing that my body wasn't coping well with anaerobic activity and that I hadn't been able to train for more than 2 hours in over 2 months.  I also made the call to shift into the elite grade due to lack of entries in expert women.  This was to be my debut in elite and made me even more nervous.

Race day arrived and I was stoked that the organisers were able to pull off a Karapoti style event- a few less riders but still a great atmosphere. On the start line (the middle of a river) an extra competitor showed up- an EEL!  Someone managed to catch it and free it to make sure it didn't get trampled at the start but it certainly added to the normal start-line chaos!

My start was a significant improvement on last years disaster when I face planted in the river.  I made it across slowly but safely and made my way up the gorge being careful to stay out of the anaerobic zone.  Of course, that goal went flying out the window the moment I hit the infamous "warm-up climb".  As soon as I went anaerobic the dizziness and nausea returned leaving me feeling very green and slightly frustrated at having to get off my bike. I have always made a point out of riding the entire way up this hill.  Things got even worse on the descent on the other side.  The dizziness and balance issues meant that I was unable to hold my line and I had to make a quick dismount to avoid disaster.  Riding deadwood, the rock garden and the devil's staircase was fairly uneventful.  Steep hills, large rocks and bogs threatening to swallow me up whole are just all part of the Karapoti fun!

The next big moment for me was Dopers.  Dopers is thoroughly enjoyable for me on a good year- I love the feeling of riding past everyone pushing their bikes.  However, on a bad year I join the masses in slogging up the hill on foot and wondering 'why?'.  This year was strange.  I  was not feeling good, and couldn't ride up all of the pinches.  However, I rode the majority of it.  I had to keep telling myself that, even though the riding hurt, it was still better than walking! 

I eventually made it back to Karapoti Park in 4 hours and 3 minutes. That's about 10 minutes off my best time, but almost 20 minutes faster than last year so considering my health issues I was stoked!  I managed to place 4th in elite (just don't ask how many riders there were!).

Hard day out on the bike!

Now it is time to rest up and get my health sorted.  I really feel like I have earned a break now and can't wait to compete again in some of the more low-key winter events (running and cycling). 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Frustration and answers!

Well to be completely honest my last race was a bit of a flop.  I started feeling a bit run down and sick just before the Christchurch round of nationals.  I was starting to feel a bit better by the Mt Vic race but then after that things went downhill pretty quick.  As well as feeling exhausted every day (sleeping 12+hrs), I was feeling nauseous and dizzy.  Any serious training was a no go but I decided to have a go at the race anyway.

On practice day I knew I was in serious trouble.  I had zero power and strength and felt like I was going backwards on the climb.  However, I hate pulling out of a races, I knew I was fit and I loved the course so I had a go.  Right from the start I was dropped off the back and was happy just to pedal around at my own pace.  I was well off the pace I knew I could do but I finished with consistent lap times and 2nd in my grade leaving me 1st overall for the series. 

Thanks to Dominic Furkert for the pic!

It was time to find some answers!  This time I wasn't going to let the doctors fob me off and tell me to rest and eat well.  I took a full week off training and have had 2 doctors visits.  The doctors thinks I have post-viral fatigue with labyrinthitis- a inner ear disorder leading to dizziness and nausea.  There is no real treatment other than time but I can treat some of the symptoms.  At least I have something to go on now. 

This weekend is Karapoti.  I am already entered and think I will be ok just to pedal around at an average pace.  I am fit enough but don't have any power or speed so it won't be my best time but it's a must do for me each season and the doc thinks it will be ok as long as I don't push too hard (Has he heard of karapoti?)  Looking forward to the 'weather bomb' due to hit and make it even more epic than normal!

After that I'm going to finish my season early and take some time off to get better. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Me, Myself and I

Last weekend was the 3rd round of the National Cross Country Cup at Mt Vic in Wellington.  I always love racing at Mt Vic and enjoy returning to my hometown for a few days.

Unfortunately the turnout was extremely low for this round with very few South Islanders making the trip north.  My grade consisted of me, myself and I!  Luckily I was able to keep motivated by racing a junior girls and the sole masters rider. 

The course was brilliant.  The hills were tough and the descents were very technical.  The PNP club did a fantastic job.  There were several sections of track I have never had the courage to ride before so was very happy I was able to ride the full track without incident on race day.  However, there were a few moments where my life was flashing before my eyes!

Thanks to Pete Marshall for the brilliant photography capturing the true horror in my eyes!!i=1717019707&k=cW9rGsS
It's a shame I didn't have anyone else in my grade.  I  encourage any women reading this to come and give cross country racing a go.

The Palmy crew had some great results with Sasha coming 4th in Elite Women, Gareth 2nd in U17 Men, Zia 1st in U15 Women and great races by Ethan, Cameron, Matt and Andrew (apologies if I have missed anyone).  During the afternoon race I spoke to a marshal who mentioned how good it was to see such a large group of riders from Palmerston North and it was very cool to see all of the Pedal Pushers shirts warming up around the velodrome.  

Thanks again to Pete Marshall

Now I am looking forward to next weekend in Napier.  I love the tracks in Napier and I really hope a few more women turn up!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Summer Racing?

Over the weekend I headed down to Christchurch for the second round of the National Series- a SUMMER racing series!  The practice days were lovely- nice and warm, little wind and a brilliant view of Lyttelton Harbour from the top.   Unfortunately, come race day everything changed and I was quickly regretting not bringing my winter riding gear.  

It was bitterly cold and even after warming up for 20 minutes I was still cold.  I was so glad to have a long-sleeved Pedal Pushers top to race in! I got a terrible start and hit the first technical section near the back of the pack and ended up having to run my bike.  After the first 10 minutes I started to warm up and began making some progress but I was still struggling to change gear with frozen fingers!  I was also making lots of silly mistakes on some of the more technical sections- things I rode without a single problem in practice!  Despite some problems I managed to keep my lap times really consistent, just not quite as fast as I wanted.  All things considered I was happy with my race, I know I was pushing myself pretty hard and was cornering much better than last season.  I was also very happy to get back to the car and put some more layers on!  I finished 2nd in senior women so was happy with that but I still have a long way to go. 

Later in the day the weather heated up and the rain eased off making watching the elite race good fun!  It was a great trip and I’m really looking forward to the next race I’m doing at Mt Vic in  a few weeks time. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Tour De Whaka: Four races, two days and a bucket load of mud!

In my ten years of racing I can honestly say that the Tour de Whaka was the most enjoyable race I have competed in.  Two days of racing split into four races: A hill climb, super D, time-trial and cross country.  The weather forecast was slightly dubious and the organisers made a call to have the three short events on the Saturday followed by the XC on the Sunday- good call as it turned out!  There was a good turnout from the Palmy crew with seven riders!  The field at this event was so strong- pretty much all of the north island nationals racers were there and very few punters so we knew we were up for a couple of days of hard riding.  

Most people were slightly apprehensive about the hill climb but I was looking forward to it!  Just short of 20 minutes of uphill slog- good fun!  The ride of the day here has to go to Sam Bamford who finished well up the field.  The super D was a brilliant, albeit pedally course, with some of the best tracks in Whakarewarewa- Split Endz, Pondy Dh, Pondy New and Rollercoaster.  Everyone loved this race!  The best moment had to be Ben Somerton doing a cartwheel off his bike over the line and the only thing he was worried about was whether his time had counted or not!  Dan Terpstra showed off his awesome skills in this race with a 6th place finish in the U19 grade.  After two hard races everyone’s legs were feeling pretty heavy with a time-trial on Old Chevy still to come.  This was a really tough track to ride fast with the hill climb and super D efforts still fresh in our legs!  At the end of day one  several Palmy riders were sitting well up the field but the times were close so it was all going to come down to the XC race on Sunday.  

During the night we awoke to hear it absolutely bucketing down!  It was so loud that it was hard to sleep and all I was thinking was that it was going to be an entertaining race the next day and that I hoped it wouldn’t be cancelled!  Luckily, the race was on!  25km of muddy goodness.  The puddles were gigantic and hid numerous obstacles!  Being of shorter stature I practically disappeared in one of the puddles- heard the rider behind me having a good laugh before taking a different line.  It was a super fun, fast and flowing course.  By the end of the race we all had a mudpack facial.  Summer racing? Yeah right!  At the end of the day Karl Paterson and Ben Somerton finished 5th and 7th overall in open men- the first non-elite racers which was an awesome effort.  Ethan Jacobs has a stellar ride in the XC to finish 2nd overall in the U16 category while Sam Bamford finished 7th in the extremely competitive U19 grade.   Tom Bamford finished 3rd in the veterans grade and in the open women’s’ grade Sasha, myself and Megan finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.  It was an awesome, well-run event and well worth the trip to Rotorua.  The new Pedal Pushers shirts also made their racing debut and got a few comments on how good they looked!  If this event is run again next year you can be sure I will be on the start line!