~John F. Kennedy

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Astana World Cup

I love to read. A lot. There’s just something about being transported into another time or another place and experience life through someone else’s eyes. Not that I don’t enjoy life through my own eyes, I do, but I can’t meet a gun-toting outlaw or ride dragons through the clouds. See what I mean? So to compensate for not being born with magical powers, I am doing the best I can to raise the excitement level in my own story. I recently started the most current chapter with a bang. Thirty-one glorious hours of travel to, literally, the other side of the world. I was slated to participate in my first Track World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan for USA Cycling. This was my first time up to bat in the big leagues; I had better come prepared. Following an already tough racing block with US Nationals and the Pan-Am Games I was beginning to get tired, but the excitement was starting to bubble through me as athletes started filtering in from all corners of the globe. These were riders whom I had always looked to as role models and athletic goals, and here I was, about to line up right next to them.

Warming up on the rollers

The track was beautiful. The team was motivated, and I had several good days of openers before racing started. The first day arrived and all morning I did my best to just focus and stay calm for our team sprint in the afternoon session. I also made sure to fill up on Mix 1 before I left the hotel in order to fuel me for the races, seeing as I was having an adverse reaction to the food. It all worked out in the end, as Mix 1 is the most amazing pre and post race food around. I got to the track, put in a good warm up and was ready to go. Coming off of riding a national record in Mexico I was hoping for another fast time, unfortunately we rode an average time of 35.9 seconds, which was good enough for 15th place. My next race was the 200 meter qualifier for the match sprints, I carefully chose my gear, wound it up just like every other time in training, and concentrated on keeping the power flowing through my legs and into the pedals. My time was 12.0 seconds, slotting me into 31st place after the 40+ girls finished. It was a new sea-level PR for me, but not as fast as I hoped I would go. Not bad for my first race on the senior international level. But I wanted more. It has been said that you have to lose before you learn how to win, and that fire was instantly lit.

200 meter qualifier

Overall, my racing in Astana was disappointing, but you have to start somewhere and just concentrate on working your way up the ranks. I took all of the lessons that I learned from my first World Cup and have them saved, ready to use on a day that I might need some extra motivation when I want to throw up after a motorchase team sprint, or all of my muscles are screaming after setting a new max in the weight room. Then I will be able to look back, and know exactly where I have to move forward and be able to push through that last effort despite all of the pain.

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