What more could I hope for at Xterra World Championships than my Mum, Dad and brother flying in from Australia? This year we rented a 3 bedroom condo at Napili Bay and it was perfect. Brett and I flew on Wednesday before the race and the flights came off without a hitch, shock, horror. Our luggage even beat us off the plane!
It was getting darker earlier at home, so Brett and I had been doing some night riding. We think everyone should own some Gemini Lights, they make riding at night pretty awesome. But with the darkness comes cooler temperatures. So going to Maui is hot for us. Elevation helps, but we have perfect, cool fall weather to ride in. Not the best for preparing for Maui.
Friday I went for a 40 min run and was surprised after warming up that running a 7:00min mile was comfortable. I was loving the oxygen. Now it was somewhat flat but I was stilled pretty jazzed. I did a few pick ups in speed and left it at that.
There is always a little pressure before a race despite being even the most confident competitor, it wouldn’t be racing. I am over putting myself through the anxiety of putting too much pressure on myself to the extent that I don’t enjoy myself anymore. I feel like I experienced that last year and a little this year, and it is horrible. I was feeling relaxed and happy that my family was here to support me. I am lucky to have a husband that supports my crazy passion. I am blessed to be able to have the privilege to compete with such a elite field of athletes and to be healthy and have the ability to do such a sport. I need to remind myself of these simple things every now and then. Now was one of them. Time to enjoy my hard work!
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We all know that training is a cycle. We progressively overload the body so it has to make certain adaptations to overcome the same stress the next time you expose yourself to the same conditions. This is how we become stronger. Recovery is key to allow these adaptations to soak it. It all makes complete sense, but the emotional part of this process can be tough.
You can’t feel great every training session, let alone every day. There are great days, good days, so-so days and then flat out crap days. Unfortunately this can play with your emotions and confidence.
A day of training does not define you, nor does a race, but your attitude does.
I have difficulty maintaining balance and perspective at times (anyone who know me, knows this is an understatement). I have to remind myself that I am pursuing performance excellence, not perfection. I have to remind myself that there is no such thing as perfection, otherwise I set a trap for myself.
There are doubts that creep in when you are have a less than stellar day and these are the days we begin to question… “Am I good enough?”
I know that I am not alone. I am slowly realizing that these days are the most important. These are the days that play with our self esteem.
If I can keep my spirits up and keep fueling my passion to follow my heart in spite of the fear of failure, I’ve won half the battle. For me the physical part of training is easy, it’s the mind management that is the heaviest task.
The tough part for me is believing that I am “Good Enough”. What does that even mean, right?
I struggle with this general theme in many areas of my life. I am not sure where it came from, but it is both what makes me question myself, but also makes me tenatious.
For instance, over the past few months I have been struggling with “Believing” that I can run fast. I am currently doing my mile repeats at 6:35. This is the fastest I have ever run. Instead of being happy, I was scared that I couldn’t repeat the performance again. I kept thinking it was a fluke! Everytime Steve (my coach) gave me a track workout, the anxiety would arrive 2 days in advance and I would be worried I would fail. What is failure anyway? Even after running 6:35′s several times, there was still this thought that each time was an exception and I wouldn’t be able to replicate it again, WTF!
By the time it sinks in I am able to run 6:35′s I will be running 6:30-6:25 right? Does anyone else do this to themself?
Anyway I just thought I would share because I am working on my head right now. Enjoy the following poem, it’s scary true.
The Man Who Thinks He Can
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t!
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch that you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind!
If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself
Before you can win the prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the strongest or fastest man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can!
- Walter D. Wintle
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Race report coming soon – but thought we would share these. Didn’t get any of Brett out with his Gemini Lights. He loves those things! I had to stay in to “prepare”.
Take a Spin with Brett and Tam
Calling the Donelsons’ workouts “exercise classes” is like calling Dom Perignon a “beverage.” These cycling-focused sessions command a cultlike following, thanks to the extraordinary charisma and expertise this pair exudes. Ever since the Athletic Club at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa (athleticclubwestin.com) opened five years ago, Brett and Tam have taught their wildly popular CycleFit classes; the addition of the Westin’s cycling studio (completed a year and a half ago) expanded their repertoire to include Computraining (in which participants pedal their own bikes and sometimes train outdoors). Bubbly and outgoing, Tam freely shares know-how developed through extensive race experience (she currently competes on international circuits), while Brett listens intently to students and gives the impression that their fitness concerns are his top priority. Even folks who aren’t gunning for a century or a gran fondo find the classes utterly worthwhile, because as the saying goes, “In Vail, you have to train hard to be average.”
Scoring: One point per class session; five points for donating to The Cycle Effect(thecycleeffect.org), a nonprofit Brett Donelson founded to help local girls develop confidence and self-esteem through cycling
The Go Pro Summer Mountain Games draws a pretty stacked field to say the least. There is some pretty serious cash on the line for the winners and the calibre of talent is inspiring let alone intimidating. Living in and racing in the Vail Valley is one thing but toeing the line with world cup racers and Olympic medalists is another!
I almost psyched myself out of racing the night before, coming up with reasons not to show up… a natural disaster would have been nice! Instead I made a list of all the things I was good at, all the reasons I deserved to be at the start line. I listed all the improvements I’ve made from last year. My new Giant Anthem Bike came up ALOT!
Quite often like you, I am sure, I oversee the positive and neglect to give myself credit for all the hard work I have put into my sport and are quick to put myself down, something I am constantly working on. After running out of paper and making myself feel a hell of a lot better, I went to bed feeling really positive.
The start of the race was umm… fast and it stayed that way! The lead group established themselves fairly quickly. It was interesting to see my power meter read an avg. of 270 something for the first 5-6 mins and I wasn’t even with the leaders holy cow! These chick’s were laying down some serious power.
In summary, I raced my own race and it was solid. I was consistent and rode the downhills somewhat clean. I did crashed twice, which was silly and both crashes only involved me. One was me overtaking, a miscommunication, and the other was my impatience behind a slower downhill rider and my not giving them enough space (totally my fault and I could predicted it was going to happen – DOH!). In any case I wasn’t too bummed, no mechanicals resulted, just a little blood and chiropractic adjustments. I was actually thrilled, albeit frustrated, that I was the one waiting on someone on the downhill. Damn, I guess I did get faster.
There are always those moments in the race when you question yourself “I am not sure I can keep this pace up”, “the girls behind me are going to catch me” but I decided, I was only going to look ahead and not behind. I wanted to race like I could catch people, instead of fending off the girls behind! It was a great mental approach and really shifted things for me. It’s funny, you then realise that everyone is suffering just the same.
To completely “geek out” I was stoked to see I averaged 230 watts for the race 1:52:32. But then I started to fall into the trap of hmm… now only if I was 5-10lbs lighter… arghh I hate it when I go down this road. I had to real myself in and remind myself of how great a race I had and my strength is my strength, period.
Lessons learnt from this race:
Vail was on FIRE this weekend for the Summer Mountain Games, wow what a cool event.
We had been pre-riding in practice and the girls were excited yet terrified at the same time. Exactly how I felt about my race!
Our girls absolutely rocked it during practice and the Mountain Games Bike course is not exactly your beginner course. There are some technical descents and tight switchbacks, tree roots and rocks that ALWAYS seam 10 times bigger than they really are especially to a beginner.
Not all of the team could make it to the race, so Rita, Kennedy & Abigale had the honor of representing.
Kennedy and Abi are new to MTB’ing this season and have the most incredible attitudes. My jaw drops during each practice at how tenacious all of our girls are. For instance when you want to clear a new feature or technical part of a trail, how many times will you fall before giving up?
Bearing in mind in depends on how hard the first fall was, right?… I feel like there is an infinite number of attempts the girls are willing to try. I often take a step back and think about how many times I have skipped over something for the fear of failure.
On Saturday, after their warm up before the race Rita, Kennedy & Abi said they were going to “stick together”. This is Rita’s 3rd summer riding bikes and she is incredible on the decents, she is always right on my wheel! I was so stoked that they all agreed to look out for each other and look at this race as a fun adventure instead of where my mind goes, which frankly is a little anxiety about competition and performance. Once again I learn from the girls!
All their coaches, friends and family were there to support and hoot and holler for them. A big thanks to Justin and Christy for helping us get the girls to the start line prepared and making the day a success. Super Pete thanks for smoothing out Kennedy’s bike, you’re awesome! The girls finished slightly dusty but smiling and possibly more proud of themselves than their coaches and fans were. Every trail for them now will be cake. Love you girls, way to rock it this weekend!
Who knew that Scott made running shoes? Not many here in the Vail Valley knew and we have quite the trail running community. The only store around here that you can buy them at is The Kind Bikes and Skis in Edwards at Riverwalk. So get in there. Their spring and summer hours are 10am till 6pm every day.
I had the pleasure of testing them out for a couple of weeks on some local trails in Eagle and Edwards:
I love colorful shoes, they make me happy, you will be surprised on the attention they draw, they are a bold and cool looking shoe. They have long laces but they can be tucked into the elastic lace bungy sewn into the tongue, a really clever idea. I will replace mine with elastic laces for Xterra racing to speed up transitions.
What I like most about these shoes was that straight out of the box my first run felt good. I was trying to be really critical. I was thinking maybe I am no good at reviewing shoes and then I realized that it was because there were no cons. The shoe fit well and I like them.
I like the weight of the shoe the most. The aero foam is 25% lighter than in the past and it has reduced the weight but increased the durability, so it retains it’s spring longer – bonus! I find a certain amount of cushioning is nice, with longer runs, too much cush takes the ‘feel’ out of the trail and not enough is hard on your legs.
I have to say i was putting off running in these for a fair weather day but ‘mud season’ has beem going on forever and I didn’t want to wait. The reason was I didn’t want to get them ‘dirty’. Ridiculous, huh?
The sole has a fiberglass protective forefoot plate that you can see if you look carefully on the bottom of the shoe.
I found no spots that it rubbed so it obviously fits my foot well. I also love that this shoe has drainage! If you run though water crossing there are holes in the front and back of the shoes for the water to escape. The liner or sole insert has little holes in it that the water drains though to assist with the this — genius! No more soggy, pruney feet.
This is definitely my favorite trail running shoe for training and racing. I am stoked to find something that fits the bill for protection and that only weighs 8.5oz.
Spring is here and it is time to buy new shoes and get out on the trails. Everyone loves buying new running shoes, so drop into THE KIND in Riverwalk and try them on. There is a good chance you’ll love em.
Saturday April 13
Race start was 10:30am and the forecast was HOT with a Saudi Arabian Wind!
This year was a totally different race than other years in the past. Some say they thought it was harder than Maui! I think the heat caught a lot of us by surprise.
Last year was raining and freezing, this year was crazy hot and windy. I was definitely aware I was in the desert, the heat was oppressive and you couldn’t tell how much you were sweating because the hot wind was so dry. The wind was blowing you off course at times and out of your line on the higher peaks and open flats, it seemed like there was no where to hide. It was a tough race to stay hydrated.
The water was 57 degrees and pretty comfortable with a wetsuit. It was much warmer than last year, no frozen hands and cramped calves. it was hard to believe that the temp was the same as last year, it seemed worlds apart! I was trying to stay closer to the girls in the line up because drafting is just plain and simple faster than trying to fluff around on my own. I did alright for the first 1/3 of the race and then I was lonely. I felt really good (like everyone I am sure) swimming the first leg and heading across the lake but coming back was choppier. We were also swimming against the current a little. I have been working on an early high elbow on my catch and this was what I was trying to focus on. The chop wasn’t horrible but there was a chance of getting a mouth full of water if you weren’t careful.
I felt pretty calm and happy about my swim but I can never tell if I went hard enough, which means if I am questioning it, i didn’t! I was a little too perfect with my stroke and technique…good thing it was a training race live and learn.
In comparison to the fastest times posted last year to this times were a little slower this year by about 45 seconds. So if I swam a 28:27 last year, it would workout out that I was almost 2 mins faster. I am not sure I completely trust my theory.
Our superstar of the group Croucher swam a 19:58!
“Smooth is fast”
I was stoked when we pre-rode that I was able to ride a section I have not ridden in the past. Kyle Walker ripped through it like it was cake and it baffled me as I have always looked as this rocky platform I call “marshmallow rock” as a bit of a Rubix Cube. I called him back so I could follow his line and bingo! It was that easy. I had to get photographic evidence as the hubby would surely not believe this one. Christy and I were pretty jazzed about this and I think the husbands were still skeptical we knew what we were doing when we called them later that night to tell them we rode it. Brett & I had spent quite a bit of time trying to figure this one out in years past. This year the exit was filled in and smoothed out so it was more rideable. I have to say full suspension has been a lovely luxury especially when my ride is at 22lbs! Needless to say we came back the next day and I dug my front wheel in the wrong line and sailed straight over the handlebars. Croucher had front row tix to this one, my back wheel was a few feet above my head, I escaped unscathed, we nailed it the second time!
Race day I was pushing things but I didn’t kill myself on the bike. I was sensible and calm through the sand and loose marble gravel, baby head rocks.
I felt like it was a consistent effort and that I rode really smooth especially around the lake’s edge. I was able to stay off the breaks and carry my momentum and not power pedal out of the turns. I was happy with that, it is an improvement. You gotta pay just as much respect to power as you do technique in mountain biking, and I am still very much a baby in the MTB world.
I only went though a single 24oz bottle of infinite and a half a bottle of water in 1 hr 40 mins which was not enough. I was concerned about the run and the heat at this point as I pedaled into a head wind. I want to work on increasing my threshold to capitalize on my climbing and keep getting out and working on my cornering… here we go short track!
Heading out on the run the heat was relentless. I started the run at about 12:40pm. There was no shade on the course and it was arid. I cannot say enough about the volunteers this year: they were on it, thanks guys. Approaching every aid station they were always prepared with cups in their hands and calling out to ask what you needed, they were so well stocked with both water and gatorade and they were instrumental in a sufferably hot run. I grabbed 3 cups at all 4 aid stations.
Mile 1 was an 8:30 min mile pace, I didn’t see the rest, but not crushing myself on the bike, played to my favor on the run. There were a couple of tough climbs at mile 2.5 and 3.5 which reduced many to walking and the second sucked me in for a bit as I couldn’t find much of a solid footing. Thanks coach for the hill repeats these climbs weren’t that horrible.
To my surprise I passed a few pro girls in the run. I felt strong. As I continued up the riverbed I saw Josiah and he said “Hey Tam, GO” when I saw Conrad a minute or 2 later I was pumped for him and knew he was headed to the finish line for the win! Nice job Josa.
I passed Chris Jeffrey near the top of the first climb, mile 3 and then Brandi on the second bigger climb mile 3.7. Since when is running my draw card, I was kind of surprised. I tend to race well in the heat… I must be Australian.
I guess saving a little gas for the run is not a bad idea after all. Knowing that I walked though the aid stations to make sure I got the fluids in me and that I never felt like I was going to blow a gasket on the run, I am please with this effort. It’s a solid start that is showing me glimpses of my run potential that I think I am starting to tap into.
This week was the most fun trip I have had at a race outside of Maui (hard to top that). A huge shout out to my mates that I travelled with. Jamie Gunion, Christy Geyer, Steve Croucher and I loaded 4 bikes onto Christy’s car (well Pete did actually, thanks Pete) and drove to Vegas on Wednesday morning. We have had so many laughs on the way and we all got along seamlessly. Croucher was surrounded by some pretty crazy women and he survived.
We all sang along to “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian after the race as a treat for Jamie’s Birthday that was on Wednesday April 10 and had a ball on Saturday night. Great show if you haven’t seen it.
I am psyched if these guys will travel with me again, they made it so relaxed fun, perfect for abating race nerves.
I am proud to say Vail was heavily represented by:
Christy Geyer. 2nd in age
Amelia Van Dyke. 2nd in age
Steve Croucher. 3rd in age
The Middaugh family had a spectacular weekend with Josiah winning the Championship race. The boys and Ingrid ran the 5K Sunday where Porter and Sullivan took 1st and 2nd in the kids 5K and Ingrid a 2nd also.
In the car on the way home we are sunburnt, tired, sore and happy. I am looking forward to seeing my boys, Brett & Zeke, who partied it up in Fruita for 3 days this weekend with Pete & Ellie. We are not so thrilled to be driving back to 3 feet of snow…
but it will give the sunburn a chance to calm down. What a great trip with insanely cool people, a trip I will remember, thanks Jamie, Christy & Steve-o for helping me keep it real.
The season of racing is about to begin. The first Xterra race for me is this Saturday, April 13, Xterra West Championships in Lake Las Vegas.
This year so far has been a little different. I had a much later start to structured training. Soon after I started I spent 3-4 with the flu weeks doing nothing. I freaked out that the year was already over. This led me to my new attitude. Last year I put a little too much pressure on myself and sucked the fun out of what I call my passion. Right now I can’t tell you how relaxed and calm I feel, even though I know I am not in tip top form for this race. I also have an incredible new bike sponsor Liv/giant. I am riding Giant’s Anthem X Advanced 29er 0. It’s their carbon full suspension bike and Quarq hooked me up with a power meter which is super cool to train with.
Wholly cow, I am in loooove with my new bike. From my first ride I could believe how light it was and the full suspension is making me crazy comfortable on the downhills. I am having so much fun training and riding with my new coach and I have been swimming with the guys at SwimLabs in Denver. Michael Mann and his underwater film analysis using Dartfish is the quickest most effective swim feedback I have ever experienced.
My coach Steve Pye has been training me for 2 months now and I feel like a new athlete this year. My bike handling skills have improved and I understand how to turn my bike (surprise), I do things without necessarily knowing what I am doing, which can make it tricky to break it down when something goes wrong. I have only been riding 4 years. I also have a much better understanding of my running mechanics and the physics of it.
Steve has had the pleasure of seeing me down in the dumps already, as I resigned myself to pulling out of racing Vegas Xterra after being sidelined for 3 weeks of zero training from the flu… Drove me and everyone around me nuts!
So going into this race with a view of it as a training race takes a tone of pressure off me and keeps me more relaxed. I have just started using my Quarq power meter and will be stoked to be able to collect race data. Everyone says racing with a power meter is a game changer…let’s see!
So tomorrow is a chance to see where my swimming is and how I feel about my bike fitness. My FTP is lower than this time last year 230 as opposed to 245 but my riding is much more efficient. Steve has been throwing many more tempo runs than I am used to and I am interested to see how it will play out.
Sleep well see you after the race.