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
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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
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.
It is just over 5 weeks since Xterra Worlds, but it seems longer than that. I can’t tell you how much time I have on my hands when I am not training. Riding your bike for a few hours can really eat into your day especially when you then feel like taking a nap. I am sleeping like a baby and feel so happy (most of the time) and rested. People have mentioned I look rested also. Does that mean I looked like crap before?
It is an interesting concept for an athlete who has been on a structure training program for 10 months to then go AWOL for a month or so. There have been off season’s where I have felt completely lost without a structure of workouts from my coach but this time I am really enjoying the time off. Of course there is always a little post season depression, it is inevitable after such a peaking of training and mental focus. I am coping much better this year knowing that this period would be visiting me sometime in Novemeber.
The last 5 weeks for me have involved a lot of reflection on my season. What did I do well. What would I do differently. What are my goals for next year. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. In the heat of moment it is difficult to be objective. I have now come to terms with the fact that I was overtrained for the last 6 weeks of the season.
The definition of overtraining is:
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.
If sufficient rest is not available, then complete regeneration cannot occur. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists, then the individual’s performance will eventually plateau and decline. Mild over training may require several days of rest or reduced activity to fully restore an athlete’s fitness. If prompt attention is not given to the developing state and an athlete continues to train and accumulate fatigue, the condition may come to persist for weeks
I want to add that this is not my coaches doing. It is my job as an athlete to communicate with my coach how I am feeling and I did not do this. I did not want to admit that I needed more recovery and I thought that I was weak by admitting that I was tired. I thought I should be tougher than that. There is no way that your coach can plan for you if you are not being honest with them let alone yourself. This is the biggest lesson i learnt this year, admitting I needed a break was tougher than carrying on being fatigued. I was doing myself and my coach injustice.
I can now see that I was constantly complaining of being fatigued and tired. I had lost motivation and was going throughout the motions, like training was a job. The fun got sucked out of things. I was irritable and overly emotional. I had lost my competitive drive and my performance was decreasing. I think it would be unreasonable to think that i could have believed that i was overtrained at the time. I am stubborn. Brett has made me pretty aware of these indicators over the past few weeks also. God love him for putting up with me for the months prior to Maui. He must have needed to vacation more than I did.
I am swimming because I want to, and I get out when I feel like it. Lifting weights and playing around on TRX is a fun challenge and I have mastered standing on a Swiss ball.
I am stoked I have found a balance again and life is good. I am wary to jump into training to quickly so I am taking December off also. I am still doing about 12/13 hours a week of exercise just not solely swimming biking and running. The break has been so good for the sole and has reminded me of why I started racing in the first place: it’s so darn fun.
See you out there palyin’
The only memories I have from racing in Kapalua were positive. Regardless, I was nervous. This was the last race of the season.
My family from Australia came over to watch and spend time with Brett and I. And there was a crew from Vail that were racing and supporting. It was so much fun knowing so many people out here.
The swim was rougher than last year but I wasn’t super concerned. I lined up close to Josiah on the far right, not anticipating swimming with him of course, but to follow his bubbles for a few seconds! We/ everyone got caught in the current last year and ended up waay to far left, so I was following the boss.
1. Pro men & women
2. All age group men
3. All age group women
I wanted to burn a few matches early to get past as many people as possible. The first few miles of the bike course have enough room to pass in places but I was finding that when I was coming up on people, it was where it was narrow or a little sketchy. Unfortunately I found myself having to settle and pass when I could. I was getting this heavy feeling in my legs and just felt flat. It was really hard to get any power from my legs. I honestly have never really had this feeling to this extent in a race before. I have maybe felt a little flat but this was no snap. They weren’t hurting and it was’t that lactic burn, it was weird.
I knew I was not on pace when a few girls I am on par with, blew by me in a matter of seconds, they were out of sight in 30. I tried to dig a little deeper. I rode as hard as I could manage that day. I was frustrated. I needed to put in the hardest effort possible or I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye after the race. If it wasn’t fast enough then I could live with that. I couldn’t live with giving up.
See you on snowshoes in a month!
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There is 1 week till worlds & thank god, the volume of training is dropping. It was either me or the training.
Wednesday’s track session was chilly & windy. It was 10 x 90 sec intervals.
4 x 400m on the track with a 200m jog/ walk between for recovery, followed by 4 x 90 sec hill repeats. Then it was back to the track for another 2 x 400′s.
I ticked one goal off the bathroom mirror this season. It was to be able to run my 400m track repeats at 1 min 25 seconds or under. Wednesday at the track was not quite a scorcher of a run but 1:27 for every single 400 was more than consistent.
I am beginning to believe that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I know I am not alone here. We all doubt ourselves & our capabilities. Which reminds me of Michael Jordan’s quote “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them”.
I am psyched to watch the Colorado High School MTB State Championships tomorrow. Heidi Livran & Rita Gutierrez are going to crush it. Go girls. Best of luck to all the Vail Composite Team. They are an amazing group of kids, watch out for them on any podium. Here they are training at Berry Creek last Tuesday.
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Let me start by saying this year has been humbling! We all have pretty high expectations of ourselves and sadly we cannot be perfect all the time. Life would be soo boring, wouldn’t it?
Last year I had a stellar season, the magic seemed to happen every race. I was the First Overall Amateur at Beaver Creek, Nationals, and Worlds. So this year as my first year Pro, I was the little fish in the big pond and definitely had to deal with a mental shift. Be careful what you wish for!
Christy & Jen have been so incredibly supportive this year. They tell me I am fast when I feel slow and help me keep my chin up, and vice versa, you girls rock thanks for listening. Brett knows that he is my rock, nuff said!
I set up T2 first which was at the base of Snowbasin Ski Resort and then head downhill to the swim start at Pineview Lake. As always this time of year is chilly in the morning, I had gloves a puffy and beanie to ward the cold.
This year we were staying in a 4 bedroom condo in Lakeside. Ron & Lois are incredible (Brett’s parents) and Stan and Carol (Brett’s Uncle & Aunt) were invaluable the days leading into the race, they kept me fed and relaxed and spoilt in terms of not doing much around the house and cooking meals centered around what I usually eat pre-race, lots of veggies, fish & sweet potato. Team Donelson had a petty long day in the sun watching and cheering and I can’t thank them enough, I love you guys. Supporting can be harder than racing.
Swim + T1= 32:42
The start of the bike is always cold in Wheeler Canyon. I saw the 3 mile marker and was surprised, I had better start drinking. I had planned on getting one bottle of infinite down by mile 7. I ended up only half way through by mile 7. During this time I ended up following a strong female age group rider. I thought about passing but it was a good pace for the first climb and I settled in. In hindsight I should have passed for the downhill section between Wheeler Canyon and Sardine Peak, as it was slower than I wanted but I didn’t. I was sitting in 9th here.
I had a good downhill and came into T2 with Carina Wasle. I think I had one of my fastest transitions ever as I started the run 30 seconds in front of her.
Bike + T2 = 1:43:58
Run = 54:28
I am walking away from Nationals satisfied but motivated and hungry to work on things for Worlds. Honestly I think most of it is in my head, so stay tuned to see how things roll.
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