Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Provincials 2015, lucky to be in the results at all!

It's been a bit of a roller coaster of a year; I spent the first part just trying to find my form competing against those who had been down south training all winter, missed some bottle feeds on hot days, then there was the three weeks in bed with sciatic nerve problems, a big trip to Quebec for some big races in which I floundered after the back thing, then a flat tire in the last Ontario Cup! Needless to say, I felt like I would never really get to show the strength that I had built and rebuilt this year. In my last couple of weeks of training I've felt unstoppable -  sprinting my bike up to 64km/h, training huge hours at high power outputs day after day, sleeping early and eating right. I came into provincials thinking that it would take something pretty bad to keep me outside of the top 10.

Lots of nights spent rolling into town late after big rides
I loved the course, except for when I got stung the day before by a wasp! It turns out that I'm quite allergic to wasps now - and I got stung by a yellow jacket riding the course the day before. This time of year they're out of whack, I swear. The rotten fruit falling off trees is fermenting, and they're getting drunk on the juices - and wasps are just mean drunks. That's the only logical explanation for 7 stings in the last 2 weeks right?

does anyone know how to get rid of swelling? Benadryl doesn't work for me

The closest that I'll ever get to looking like Popeye, it's still swelling two days later

Apart from that my day was pretty great, and I got to stay on course in a farm house with a bunch great friends and a great dinner. What could go wrong tomorrow, right?

I got a good warmup before the race, even though I got stung again on the chest (seriously, why do bugs hate me?), I stayed focussed and the race start went according to plan, and I was probably 7th or 8th place going into the first piece of singletrack, and I came through the first lap just outside of the top 10. I  wasn't too fluid through the trails, I was pretty stop and go and guys were catching up to me in the trails that I'd usually use to distance myself from those behind me.

Check out my arm here, all of that fluid stuck in my swollen forearm makes me like Popeye!
Thanks Mary Lynch for the photo and the support over the weekend
Going into the second lap I was still riding strong, but by mid way through the lap I was starting to cramp up in my legs. For some reason my quads were seizing and calves felt like there were being charlie-horsed. No problem, this is why I pack space food, right? I slurped back a CLIF electrolyte gel, and avoided standing and pedaling until it kicked in (usually about 15 minutes, so 2/3 of a lap). By the time I got to the same spot the next lap I was still sitting and spinning my pedals fairly easily though the trails and up the hills. I had chugged all of my drink mix (a special potion of caffeine, electrolyte powder and sometimes beta-alanine), and I was still seizing up - so I slugged back another gel and kept putting in the effort - staying seated and spinning up the hills.

Staying seated through some pretty rocky business, thanks Marta Kocemba for taking the photos! 
It's been great to have you at the last few races.

By about my fourth lap (out of five), I had some flow mojo going in the trails and was getting down the big hill quickly enough to drop some guys. I came to the feed zone at the start of the fifth lap with high hopes of "picking off the zombies", and catching the guys who were really slowing down in their last lap until something happened that made me panic a bit.

Thanks Mary Lynch for getting a photo that shows my late race determination (or desperation). 
As I came into the feed zone for my final lap (fighting persistent and increasingly painful cramps), there was a mixup, and my feeder wasn't there. I went into my last lap with nothing to drink, on a pretty humid day.

All sweaty but still somehow smiling on my fourth lap.
Thanks Hannah Clarke for taking these pictures all season long!

As I came through a steep uphill near the start/finish there were spectators everywhere and I saw Simon (the rock in our team always helping us and keeping us together at the race), I yelled for some water, which turned out to be a pretty bad idea.

The drink that had a lot of repercussions after the race (thanks Marta again)
I survived my final lap without getting passed (or doing any passing unfortunately), and rode into 14th place (my best result at an Ontario cup, and this was provincials). I sat on the ground because my legs were not in the mood to hold me up anymore and was passed some more water which drank and cooled off my swollen arm a bit.

Funny finish line face, confused about what just happened and how I just finished the race I think
(Marta Kocemba photo)

Just happy to cool off my arm a bit. (Marta Kocemba photo)

As I was sitting down nursing my wounds I was approached by the commissaire.

"Did you take some water outside of the feed zone?"

He explained to me that I was disqualified for doing so, and that as an elite racer "I didn't know" or "I wasn't thinking" is not a good enough excuse. I told him that I just wanted to finish the race, and that I was cramping, but at my level of cycling there are rules and we have to stick to them. I tried to find the penalties for breaking these rules when I got home but I couldn't..

Great. DQ'd. It's not allowed for me to receive help outside of the designated feed/tech zone. I went to the commissaires about 15 minutes later to appeal to them, and they informed me that they were wrong. Because it is a provincial championship, it falls under the regulations of any pro championship race, and I would actually be fined $200. For taking a drink less than one minute after I passed through the feed zone. After a bit more talking, they decided to drop my fine to just a warning - for that I really thanked them. But now there is a black mark on my international cycling record that says I like to accept help in the wrong spots I guess. Could be worse, right?

Apparently all of the cramping wasn't a big surprise at all either, with all of my body fluid stuck in my arm there's less to move around to my muscles. I thought that it was pretty weird to cramp like that over nothing, and I'm happy to know that there may be a reason that was outside of my control that caused it. Stupid drunk wasps.

I've still got a couple of chances to keep it together for a great result! The Ontario Marathon Championships and Canadian Marathon Championships are this weekend and the next in Kingston and Horseshoe Valley, respectively. Then it's University Cup races and the Redbull Race the Place race coming up. Still training hard, eating right, stretching, and strengthening with as much motivation as ever!

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