Monday, January 25, 2016

It's time for a different kind of fun!

It's been just over four months since the World Championships in Chicago. I finished 47th in my age group (compared to 14th in London Worlds 2013) and did not compete in the Open Age Group race I registered for. My training and fitness had me placing on the podium, but mentally I couldn't pull that off with the different levels of distractions I was facing that week.
Since then, I have not had one structured training session. My typical off season break is two weeks but I needed much more this time.

I needed time with my friends, I needed to figure out who I was outside of training, working, racing and fundraising. I needed to mountain bike more, a lot more, to go out at night and not have to worry about having to getting up at 4:30am for training. I needed to be "free"!

Well all those needs have been met and I am the happiest I've been in my life!  I have strengthened the relationship and bond with my wonderful, caring and crazy friends.

I have a boyfriend, Eric who competes in triathlons - the long ones! He loves to swim, bike, hike, camp in the winter, cross country ski, trail run, kayak - pretty much everything I love! He lives fours away in Rhode Island so we cram as much as we can over the weekends.

I've explored trail running and have fallen in love with it! The feeling of following a trail, running super fast downhill, skipping on rocks and being in the woods - it's incredible. I did my first 10k trail race, the Randolph Ramble and placed 2nd without structured training and I decided to race it the day before! 

I've also "dropped" into downhill mountain biking! Thanks to Amber, Mark, Pat and Julie for the use of all the gear and the community bike Minxy. I've been a few times and have fallen in love with it. The speed and flow and getting air feels awesome!!

I competed in an 18k running race since the Ramble and it was very different knowing I wasn't fit enough to place and not be competitive, actually brought me to tears.  I called Steve that morning and he calmed me down and said just do your best. That helped! 

I'll still race, I'm too competitive not too! I raced the Baxter Outdoors Winter Triathlon a few weeks ago had a blast and placed 1st!

This weekend I competed in my first Fatbike race (20 miles) after only riding in the snow a handful of times. (It's a whole different ride when you're sliding around unexpectedly in freezing temps). It was so much fun and the Coos Cycling Club put on a phenomenal race. Complete with cheering volunteers at all major intersections with cowbells and fire pits. Exquisite handmade awards, food from Salt Pub and White Mountain Café and sweet raffle prizes. The club did an incredible job prepping and packing the course for weeks and that made for a fast two laps. As the temps warmed to maybe 20º (start temps were below 0) and with over 50 riders on course, over the next two laps it began to deteriorate and made for some deep ruts but that's nature for ya! I had a great race thanks to Julie Ferland for letting me use her bike, Pat Ferland for prepping it for me (he even put hand warmers in the bar mitts!) and thanks to Eric for the support. He helped me plan my clothing and gear, kept my water bottles and gel warm for each lap, comforted me on the 3rd lap when both hamstrings cramped so bad it brought me to tears.

So after being able to "play" for the last few months and having a discussion with Steve, I've decided to take a season long (or more) break from being coached with structured training and racing. It was an emotional talk knowing I won't be working with Steve everyday and landing on the podium at nearly every race, but this is what I need.

In the spare time I have now,  I am coaching the Saco Valley Swim Team at the White Mountain Aquatic Center on Wednesday nights, playing co-ed Hockey on Thursday nights and helping my friend Sinea manage her website, Donna's Dreamers - A non-profit scholarship organization for children who have lost a parent or guardian to cancer.

I'm also turning wood with the legendary Ed Good of One Good Turn. I have several pieces and am raffling one off for the Carl Johnson Memorial Ski-A-Thon along with Ed and 2014 Olympic Biathlete Sean Doherty. Tickets are 3 for $5 

I'm racing the Cape Cod 1/2 marathon in April followed by the Rasputitsa, a 45 mile gravel grinder the following weekend - race footage here.

Eric and I are registered for the Timberman 70.3 in Gilford NH on August 21 and he convinced me to do a full Ironman in Wilmington, North Carolina mid October! A full consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Never thought I'd do one this soon but I'm excited!

Don't get me wrong I was having fun racing at very competitive level, traveling and being super fit but now it's time for a different kind of fun!