Sunday, January 26, 2014

South Florida/Coconut Cup Series # 5, Markham Park - Sunrise, Florida

Markham Park

3rd Place, Women Pro/Expert

It was tough day on the trails. Since winter left Florida just like that in a blink of an eye, suddenly it got quite warm. Drought that did continue for quite a while however left trails very soft, loose and sketchy.

Fast train of Pro/Expert guys

Up and Over

Racing in Florida is no joke.

Riders here are super driven by all different means. We all train hard and strive for perfection.

We love this sport so much that we push our limits each time we get out on the trails.

This is our passion and second job after our day job. For some lucky souls it is actual a way to make a living…

If you have a bad day and not feeling you are on your game you are done, you are being consumed like a little bug and squished right before it. It’s brutal, but so life like. 

This energy can fuel you or burn you, all depends how strong you are and how far you are willing to go.

Eying the turn

I’m learning that even though we are limited creatures, life itself has no limits, only our own mind creates boundaries and determines when it’s enough.

I have my moments, I can be so fueled that the energy and desire gets so strong than there is no stopping me, but also like a burning star I can have my less than desirable days or even weeks.

I think this is where I am right now. I raced already since September and it’s a long time to go back to back weekend after weekend to the starting line. I was focused, I was hungry but now I’m mellowing down…

For the past few races I’m finding out I’m pushing less, I am not trying so hard, not taking risks, I just want the series to be over with. But at the same time I know the moment racing will end I will miss it!

Finishing the Gun Range trail

How weird is this setup?

Also what is already occupying my mind greatly is the upcoming start of triathlon season. It is just a few weeks away. I keep worrying how many things I still have to do and didn’t have time to get to. All this racing takes me away from the training and puts me in this state where nothing goes good anymore.

Everything I do keeps slowing down and it plays tricks on my mind. Am I burning out? Is it mental, physical am I doing something wrong?

I’m stressing and not caring at the same time. I stress I’m going backwards but when I race I don’t care to try harder or maybe I am afraid because I don’t want to overdo it.

My racing today felt like a mediocre training ride. Maybe it’s sad but at the same time I might be just fine when you look at the bigger picture. My knee (pretty much like myself) on the end of each biking season got the KT tape wrap since it couldn’t take the constant racing anymore. So every pedal stroke today on the trail did hurt and especially on the final lap and on the climbs. Thankfully we didn’t have as many of them today.

Is he catching me?

The course was set up weirdly again, like soft and mushy and narrow version of Amelia trails. Not my first choice. I didn’t like the lap when I practiced it the first time around; by the second lap I was fine with it but not in love. This park is so much better than that.

On the normal days it has so much flow, great packed and challenging terrain, awesome climbs and fast descents. Today it felt just flat, loose and uninspiring. All the great parts were taken out and new and very soft bypasses had been created and run through instead. Also the park is heading in the unknown direction. All the rocks, logs and parts that make this park so unique and important for technical riding and training purposes, sadly those things recently are being removed, trails widened and smoothed out. It makes it very uninspiring, unmemorable and not fun, those sections are becoming just another Amelia. We really do not need that and I hope strongly that someone will put a stop to it and keep the park as it meant to be, safe but honest and rough as it should be.

But during the race I dealt with it as it was and didn’t let it bother me in any way.

Absorbing the mound

After the start at the open gate we took off on a wide gravel path and biked full speed into the first trail.

Maybe a little too fast
This is where the trail system stayed true to what it should be until things started to get too smooth.

Shortly after we wondered to the soft bypasses… Even though I wasn’t biking super-fast I made a ton of mistakes on the first lap. If it was just me, the course, or pressure from passing riders I’m not sure.

I know I tried to accommodate as best as I could people that had to go by, sometimes a whole group of fast male riders, but later on I found some of them on the side of the trail or crashing or experiencing some kind of mechanical problem. It made me feel like it was a waste of my lap time to slow down and let them go by for really no gain. But I did what had to be done and was very cooperative and sometimes maybe too much, sacrificing my own results in order to don’t hinder someone else’s times. It hurts but I want to do things right. However there was this one rider on the Gun Range trail which didn’t click with me in a good way, he simply whistled and later on demanded to go by where there was really no space for such a move. First of all I don’t react to people whistling at me since I believe this is disrespectful and especially when approaching a woman. Secondly yelling and demanding a pass right away is not cool, since I’m not going to jump off my bike, stop my race and stand in the bushes while the path is only a foot wide and the racer is not really that much faster than me. And when finally doing a U turn on the trail I told him to go by, but he was far back and not ready and I had to wait there on the turn for him to finally go by. Now I regret for letting him get away with it so easily. If he is so good he should be able to pass me on his own. But that was only one incident in the whole race that left me with bad feeling.

Around the berm

Everyone else was super cooperative and respectful as it should be. I am so nice out there, and often possibly to nice and I get punished for it.

The lap was so short and fast, only 6 miles with 30 min lap times that went by so quickly. Second lap was better for me, more composed, less people on the trails and less mistakes. I didn’t feel I was pushing hard however. On the final lap I talked myself into putting a little more effort when my body was the most tired and I wanted it to be my fastest lap. But the lap time turned to be identical to my first lap, but this time I rode way smoother and did everything right. I enjoyed riding some of the sections like the Area 51 ramp or the Big Gulp drop and the following long wooden ramp. Some sections were really fun and I tried to make the best out of it. I think I enjoyed most the final lap besides my knee bothering me then the most. I still wanted to have a great ride and feel that I did some good work out there. But when I finished I wasn’t really that overwhelmingly tired and thus went for a small jog. After that we had the presentation and shortly after we were heading home and then straight to work. Yep, it was another extreme day that doesn’t have an end on the horizon.

Teammate passing for the win in his category

But so many amazing people showed up at the race site today. There were friends with families, spouses, kids that were racing also. Our good friend Wally who was sick for the past few weeks and couldn’t race showed and was a great cheering support. Dave who was racing hard crashed on one of the sections and was left with nice bruises and cuts all over his knee but still finished in a good spirit. Melissa had her birthday today and could have stayed home with her husband Kenny and daughter Stephanie, but they all showed up and raced and did well…:)

I think this is why I enjoy it so much. I love being surrounded by focused, hardworking and passionate and just plain good people. I’m very driven myself too so it fits. I need to have goals, I go from one task to the next one and it doesn’t make a difference what it might be. It must just feel right at the time. It’s this never ending quest that makes my life worthwhile.
Expert Ladies Podium: Jen, Kathy and Myself "B"

I am wired this way; I can’t kick back and just do nothing. Well I can sit down and relax and enjoy the peace and quiet and often when I do have some time I fully do just that, but when I’m doing so I plan in my head my next move. It can be the next picture I want to take of my hummingbird, the next flower I want to plant to support my native wildlife oriented garden, next project to make things around me more perfect and more beautiful, the next big trip, or what my next race might be. All of it it’s important and nothing would make sense without this constant list of to-do’s.

I was always since I can remember this little girl with a big ponytail, big bag full of gear thrown over my shoulder and head full of big dreams. But also I always had amazing support first coming from my parents and especially from my dad, who also has an amazing athletic background and was believing in me and looking after my carrier back in Poland as if it was his own. Now my husband took over the baton and is being a ridiculous support as would my father be and you really can’t find husbands like this just about anywhere. So I guess I’m very lucky on that note. What I would change however is to make my husband less cranky and instead redirect this energy to learning how to cook! ;-)

Consequences of riding hard in Markham

But seriously what I can wish for every good person out there is to make your own Big List of Big Dreams and just keep working on it. I believe everyone has something special about them, everyone has some hidden talent and purpose; everyone should be allowed to follow their dreams and give them a chance to see the day…

Monster Thank You to my Husband Pax for the incredible pictures today!!!
Of course my life is easier, my bike is faster my body is stronger and my dreams are possible because of all my amazing Sponsors:
Bike Tech Miami, Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT tape and New for 2014 - Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, Huub and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!

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