Well, it's been an interesting few days. I'll keep this as brief as possible. The week before the race had some excitement since I ran a red light and crashed my car just prior to leaving for Oregon. The car is not okay (luckily not a total loss and getting fixed) but I wasn't hurt. My parents, James, me and 4 dogs arrived safely on Sunday and I had my first team meeting with "the girls", (as I like to call them since they all seem like little kids to me) and Coach Dotsie. 6 of us racing in all.
We pre rode the prologue course, a short 2 mile out and back with several turns and an uphill...that unfortunately for me, was removed prior to the start of the race and the turn around was placed at the hill.
The night before the prologue we came home to 4 terriers that had gotten into a large box full of many, many dog treats, rawhides, jerky sticks...and more. Unfortunately Poppy had to go to the local Emergency Hospital and stay overnight on IV fluids, and many medications to try and help everything pass through him without needing surgery. I slept a few hours that night, and figured, hey, it's only 2 miles...and we didn't start til 6pm the next day...(I didn't really think that, but that's what I told myself.)
The good news is that I wasn't last at the prologue (but close), with about 40 -50 seconds the gap between the winning and the slowest time. I was like a Fred, or a "Fredette" for this race. I had to tuck my jersey into my shorts for a makeshift skinsuit (Dotsie's idea, not mine...) and I was the only bike out there that wasn't decked out aero...I had some aero bars, but we decided not to use them since the course was so short, with so many turns and I was spending more time out of them than in them. I will use them in the 16 mile TT coming up today. By the way, I thought I was going to cough up blood at the end of that prologue. I have NEVER felt burning in my lungs like that. But the girls all assured me that was normal, and I felt better when I saw almost all the girls coming in coughing, hacking, grimacing in pain and looking like I felt too.
The real torture came yesterday. 74 miles of a road course that has not been in the race for a few years due to fires, road closures, etc. According to Dotsie (and the other team managers), we were "not to worry" because the 18 mile climb up Mackenzie Pass was a "rolling" ascent between 3-5%, 6 to 7% in a few places and was probably going to be "tempo"...WRONG, WRONG, WRONG....Okay, maybe it was tempo but it sure wasn't my tempo. And this is all before the last 8 mile climb with 11% pitches.
The climb started 28 miles into the race and those 28 miles were the scariest 28 miles I've ever ridden. The pack was huge, lots of surging, lots of breaking and a very bad crash on a steep descent that happened just 5 girls in front of me. Luckily I was able to swerve to the left towards the shoulder (looking for something soft, just in case...) and avoid the carnage. But girls went down all over the place just because they braked so hard. I was frantically looking around for 2 team mates I knew were behind me and a few miles down the road they caught up and were pretty white in the face since they just avoided the after math of the main crash.
The first mile or so of the hill was "tempo" and then it was just surge, after surge, after surge...I remembered Dotsie saying to just go with the surge and relax since they would surge and relax and come back...but after about 4 surges I knew I would not last another 5 miles if I tried to stay with the lead group...so I backed off and got into a smaller pack of girls. (Here is what was going on in my head...."What the hell am I doing here? There is no way I am going to be able to do this for another 18 miles, I'm not going to make the time cut"). I had to slap myself around and snap out of it. My pack of 7 girls bridged to another pack of 7 that had been dropped from the lead group. (With women like Mara Abbott, Cath Cheatley, Allison Powers...) Incycles Katie Donovan was up there too, but unfortunately I found out later that she was dropped on the technical descent.
I stayed with this group of girls (hanging on for dear life at the back during the descent) until I bonked at mile 70, with just 3 miles to go. I was passed my a chase group of about 7 women. I finished 53rd, 15 minutes behind the winner. Time cuts were made and luckily our team is still intact. I thought I ate and drank enough, and I may have...I am just not used to this intensity, this pacing...and this level...Dorothy gave the team massages last night and it helped. Today my legs feel like they weigh 5 thousand pounds. This TT is 8 miles up and 8 miles down. I'll be working, but not killing myself since we have another 70 mile road race tomorrow....and the time cuts keep coming! Hope I didn't bore you all and I will keep you posted. Thank you for all your support.
Thought I'd give a quick Cascade Classic update as I wait for the crit to start (and as you all know, crits are my FAVORITE thing....).
So the second time trial was on Thursday. An out and back, 8 miles up a very gradual, ie. big gear hill, and then back down. Like my previous TT, it was not exactly my type of thing..but again, I didn't finish last...just close to it. :)) The winning woman was somewhere around 36 and I was 43 minutes..so there you go.
The second road race and the 3rd stage was another exercise in sheer pain, determination and torture.
The race started with a 4 mile climb and we had a "heads up" from the Colavita team manager...her words were "I'd be warmed up if I were you"...oh great. So, exactly as we thought. The race was a literal sprint from the whistle (what happened to the neutral role out?). The field of 90 plus was shattered in the first 500m and my heart rate was up to 185 and that is where it stayed for the next 20 minutes. I struggled up the hill and as we crested the top was off the back of the main peleton (about 20 girls, and I didn't know this yet, but a 5 woman breakaway had formed and Katie Donovan, from my team was in it). Bea from my team yelled at me to jump on her wheel...and people, I'm telling ya (no offense Mo), but I have stayed on Mo's wheel easier than hers...She sacrificed herself, when she could have bridged and didn't, and waited for me and pulled my ass up to the peleton...about 5 minutes after we caught them the rest of the pack caught us and the pace settled down...for a moment then....
CRASH...for no good reason..One minute my teammate PC was asking me how I was doing and the next minute I was climbing up the back of someone who was climbing up the back of someone else and over 20 of us were tangled up and frantically trying to get up and get going. PC landed on top of me and Bea went down too. Besides a bruised knee I was okay, but by the time my handlbars were straightened and I was able to determine that my badly mangled shifter still worked...the peleton was gone...Bea again, waited for me to get up and settled before taking off. 7 other girls were also trying to fix mechanicals and the nine of us time trialed for about 8 miles before catching up with the peleton. I again, learned what it means to have a team mate work their ass off for you. So by now it is only mile 20 and I have redlined not once, but twice.
I remember thinking "how the hell am I going to go 50 more miles?". Somehow we all managed to make it through feed zones without crashing, and it was 5 of us from Incycle all in the main peleton for awhile until we hit mile 50...this is where the 20 mile climb to the finish started. I lasted til about mile 60 and fell off the back of the peleton. I learned that the 5 woman break was caught with about 10k to go. I limped along okay until about mile 67 where I again, couldn't quite hold the wheels of the chase group I was with (causing me to lose about 12 places and 50 seconds, since they all came in as a pack).
So I think I ended up about 70th on this stage and hanging out at 58th overall right now.
I was just glad to survive yesterday...and gave Bea a big, wet smack on the face for pulling my ass all over the damn road.
The crit is tonight and I'm sure you all know that I am not looking forward to it...but hoping to stay positive, in the front more than in the back and hope that from somewhere my legs will find some strength for tonight and tomorrow cause they are TIRED!!!!
Keep you all posted...
Well, I found one way to make sure you stay safe in a crit...get pulled half way through...actually I got pulled just shy of half way through...but I was off the back by lap 5. I have never "quit" a sporting event and I know this wasn't technically quitting...but when you see that red paddle and hear the announcer saying "these girls are going to get pulled soon"...it sure feels like major crapola...
I never in a million years would have thought this would happen to me...but now that I've been through it...I never in a million years would think that at this level of my fitness I could make it through that crit.
There were maybe 8 or 9, maybe ten other girls that were pulled, but much later than me.
Dotsie came up to me after and told me that she was pulled from every pro 1/2 crit she did for the first 3 years racing pro (not sure I believe her). What did make me laugh, though, was that she said "Did you see all those other girls off the back who got pulled later? Well, they are in big trouble...you're not...You are not pulling a salary and you are not to this level....these girls are pulling a salary and I guarantee you their team meeting is not a happy place to be right now"....That did make me laugh. But then the laughing started my cough that I seemed to have picked up from the prologue and it just keeps getting worse.
Which brings me to today...just walking the dogs up the stairs to our rental house my lungs were burning, my legs were burning. I have bruises in places I didn't know could bruise...muscle pains in places I didn't know I had muscles...and one last, brutal circuit race coming up in about 2 hours.
The forecast is for 94 plus degrees with a chance of lightning and winds...
Oh my frickin god...I have no lungs left, very little left in my legs...and I'm wondering how I will make it through this next stage.
But...I didn't barely squeak by last night to quit today...so ready or not here we go for the last stage and the last day of 6 unbelievably painful...epic...torturous...fun (yes, I did say fun...), days of bike racing.
Thanks for everyone's support...oh, and what I mean by squeaking by last night...is that I had to make 1/3 of the winners distance in order to be able to start today. The winner did 22 laps...I did ten...
Race Report #4
Hi again everyone,
As I type this my left pinkie finger and my right little toe are still numb. My leg muscles feel like those big huge rubber band balls kids make in kindergarten and my lungs are still screaming at me!
I did make it through to be a finisher though...even after the horrendous beating (emotional, physical and also in terms of my overall GC finish time) I took in the crit.
After the stage yesterday, if this is even possible, I have even more respect for the women in this pro 1/2 category.
Here is a description taken from Velo-News of the circuit race yesterday....
"The 17-mile Awbrey Butte circuit was the site of the final stage of the six-day Cascade Cycling Classic. The circuit, on the northwest side of Bend, rolled over undulating terrain until the quarter-mile, 6 percent O.B. Riley climb from Tumalo Creek to the feed zone, nine miles into each lap. A false flat carried riders to the base of the day’s KOM climb on Archie Briggs Road, which began with a punishingly steep right-hand switchback and a 10-plus percent ramp before stair-stepping to the summit and eventually descending over a series of rollers to the start/finish."
From the gun it was a sprint out off the starting line. There were several turns, wheels screeching and bakes grinding as we flew through the first few miles. On the first little climb there was a crash to my right (on an uphill) and the girl next to me got tangled in my bars. I yelled "just keep going, we'll untangle as we go"...and we did. I managed to stay with the peleton (furiously fighting to stay in the top 1/3 of the group..something I've found very hard to do these last few days)...until the "stair steps", which felt like I had hit a frickin brick wall. I watched with dismay as the peleton pulled away and one of my team mates came up beside me and said "stay tough Lisa"...as we fought through those stair steps it was me, two team mates and about 8 other women who were dropped. I had two team mates in the peleton, two with me in the chase group, and one off the back. We struggled for about 4 miles, with the peleton just ahead of us and then we all fell apart. No one wanted to keep the pace line going, everyone was tired and our speed crawled to about an average of 21 miles per hour...yes, that was slow for this week....Another chase group caught us and we were about 20 girls all just kind of half fighting, half screaming at each other (not me, I just drifted to the back when everyone started yelling at each other)...and half kind of cheering each other on...We just couldn't close the gap and struggled our way through 2 more laps.
My teammate Bea looked at me with about ten miles to go and said "Are we heading toward the finish line? We're going towards it, right?" I assured her we were...and that's what we did...just headed toward the finish line. There was a tiny effort with about 1K to go and I made up about 8 places. Finally finishing somewhere around 66th overall in GC, I think. We started out with 105 women and ended the race with 83.
Besides learning a lot about myself, my fitness, my weakness's, my strengths..I also learned something else. I learned that Fast Friday is a great team...being around other teams made me appreciate what I have and I am SO grateful for all the support. I just wish that more of you were women!!! No offense...but it was so awesome to have these great women around me, supporting me and encouraging me and often, saving my ass....And, I know my guest team, Incycle is grateful for having James and my Dad in the feed zones...and I'm grateful to my Mom for babysitting the dogs on the long, hot days when we were out on the road.
What a damn great experience. Next year...Master's Nationals...watch out.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
In a colorful display of determination, true grit and raw, mind blowing speed, Empower Coaching System's Coach Chris Demarchi, won his first individual National Championship last week in Jeffersonville, Indiana at the 2010 USA Cycling Masters National Criterium Championships.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
This year I had the opportunity to compete for the Masters National Championship Title in Louisville Kentucky. Most of my training this season has focused strategically planning for peak performance for the Road Race and Criterium Championship scheduled for the first week of August. My coach, Dotsie Bausch (Empower Coaching Systems), and I carefully planned each race and training day specific to these events. Since I work very long hours this meant most of my training needed to be done at O’dark thirty with a set of lights, or in the garage, staring at my Garmin computer, doing intervals on the trainer. Bottom line, it was all painful no matter how you look at it. But let’s face it, if racing at an elite level was easy, everyone would be doing it.
This year’s Championship race was more special to me than in the past because it was to take place in Louisville, just two hours from my hometown of Cincinnati. It had been over 10 years since I had raced as a senior and since my father, who was my biggest fan, had seen me race. So we decided to make it a family gathering in Louisville with hopes of the fam watching me snatch the Stars and Stripes honors.
Unfortunately in November my father was diagnosed with cancer and underwent numerous operations and died six weeks prior to the event. All the events that took place up until the time of his death in addition to what followed were so extremely painful and draining I cannot even express. My training took a back seat to everything else.
I am so thankful that I am associated with such a fabulous team. I received an enormous amount of support and encouragement not only from my coach, Dotsie, who encouraged me to continue to push forward toward my goal of winning the Masters Championship, but also from my teammates with their kind words and faith in me.
As the Road Race day approached there was record heat being reported. Fortunately by the start of my race the heat wave had been broken….by a thunderstorm. It was pouring rain at the start. Within the first half mile the race saw at least 6 casualties. One of which was moi! I hit the pavement pretty hard, but quickly got up and began to chase. But unfortunately never regained contact with the field. Debbie Milne (Absolute Racing) soloed away from the peleton to win solo.
Next up was the criterium (two days later). This was a beautiful, flat, four corner, course with tight and narrow corners. I couldn’t wait to fly through the corners. I felt like a horse chomping at the bit. Additionally, my relatives, who live in Kentucky, not far from Louisville and have NEVER seen me race, all decided to pile in the family wagon and come cheer me on. I was thrilled to see them.
The race started out fast and furious. Half way through the race I threw down my best card and attacked as hard as I could attempting to get the party started for real. Once I was caught by the field, Milne from Absolute Racing who, just two days prior, rode away from the field, attacked me back and the fight was on to the finish. A group of 15 riders remained together and continued attacking each other before the field sprint. With one to lap go I was on the front, neck and neck with Jane Evely, Team Summa, on the back side. Summa jumped just before the 3rd turn and blasted through turn 4 first. Summa held on to the first position across the line and I was finished 2nd. Anne Grabowski (Flat City Cycling) was 3rd.
This was such a thrilling event and I am so proud to have been a part of it. Even though I didn’t win, it was remarkable to compete such amazing athletes, all who came to Louisville for one thing: To take home the Stars and Stripes. But we all know there can only be one winner. Hats off to Milne and Evely!!
This season would not have been possible for me without the support from this fabulous SC VELO team and sponsors. I thank each and every person who is affiliated with this team and who made it possible.
My expereince with National championships are that they are always a little different. My first ever Master Road Race was no exception. At the elite level I have always seen less team work at these events for numerous reasons and this was even more so at the Master's level. At the elite level many times your teammates are foreigners and are not eligible, so you have less teammates. The other reason is that the event has a title and more significance than winner of the XYZ road race. At the elite level the title is also many times a ticket to the Worlds team and the National team. At the Master's level many of the competators do not have teammates because of the different age groups and I personally only knew one other athlete in my race. Sue McDonough was unbeatable back-in-the-day when her and Karen Bliss won 90% of the National level criteriums in the country. Not a person I thought it would be wise to take to the line. Loisville Kentucky decided it was tired of the heat and decide it was time to rain. The fun course was not so fun in the rain with the fear of carnage at every bend. I am only thankful that it was the road race and not the criteriun taking place on this wet slippery day. The first 2 laps were all about staying safe. I either pulled the field or gave my self plenty of room. On the third lap 3 riders went down and I had to come to complete stop. I chased back on to the 7 leaders knowing the urgency after watching the previous races and the effects of the crashes. Numerous attempts by myself and others to get away were made. This was the fittest group of advanced aged women I had been with and we all wanted a chance at those stars and stripes. I thought about where I wanted to punch it chewy, did just that and it all worked out this time! Show me the jersey!
The criterium 2 days later was a different story with nice, dry weather(my 2nd Master's Crit....I did one as a 30 year old when I was a cat 3...got dropped of course!). The races prior to mine on this fine August 7th day all ended in a field finish. I was licking my chops because my sprint has been working and I think it is due to the lunges, squats and step-up routine I learned from Dotsie at one of her camps a few years ago. It's a great little routine and I throw it in when I am short on time(I am short on time 10 times a day!). I tried to work at the front to de-motivate the group from attacks. It worked great until 4 laps to go when Christine Schryver (Rochester, NY/Genesee Valley Cyclng) launched an attack that caused all us sprinters to hesitate until we realized she was gone like a frieght train. Even when we all decided it was over and started working she was gaining time on us. She so deserved this win and title! With 20 secounds and the dwindling pack exhausted I gave my final effort with one lap to go to claim the silver.
I learned not to take your medal home in your carry-on. TSA didn't know me(Can you believe that? TMZ does!) and wasn't sure if I should be allowed to swing it around with all my bags. I was just too elated to bring home the medal for my team who has been so supportive this year! I thank all the sponsors for believing in us and helping us be able to do what we do. I now have National RR win in both elite and Masters but only a 2nd in both elite and Masters! How ironic is that!