Nationals.July 30, 2012
One race, one day, one chance.
It may not be the Olympics, but it is the National Championships and a race and title that will be recognized for the next 365 days and be remembered forever.
The last time I found myself toeing the line at a National Cross Country Championships was back in 2010 and as I stood there under the start/finish banner as the National Anthem was being sung, I was trying to tell myself that it was just another race, but the butterflies were fluttering and I was nervous.
For those of you who are not familiar with this past years Pro National Cross-Country course, let me bring you quickly up to speed. All you really need to know is that it basically went like this: straight up, straight down, repeat five times. When I say straight up, there is no exaggeration, it literally went straight up. If you looked at the profile, it would be in the shape five cones standing next to each other. Needless to say, it was a day that you did not want to leave your climbing legs at home.
Getting off of the line fast is definitely not yet a strength of mine and something that I am trying to work on and I knew that it was going to be pretty key to get up there as fast as possible. Even with the climb being on a fire road, it was important to put myself in a position up front because even with all the opportunity of passing, it was so steep that making up time was very deceiving.
On the first lap my positioning was not terrible, although it could have been better, but I could feel immediately that my legs were not so happy. I tried shutting the mind of and managed to make a few passes and by the top of the climb, I was in fourth. It was a tricky trail to make any ground on, but on the way down the single track I made a pass to put myself in third.
As we headed out on lap two, I was expecting the legs to wake up a little, but it was almost the complete opposite....they seemed to be falling asleep and my performance was going backwards. On that lap alone, I dropped back to 6th place. I was not a happy camper and my mind was going crazy. I realized that this was obviously not my day, but I knew that I had to make myself dig deep, pull myself together and move myself back up as quickly as possible. The mind is such a powerful thing and I was having to shut out the negative and push till I could not push anymore and make the most of my situation.
When I came through the finish line on that final lap and the race that I had been anticipating was now behind me, I was 4th place and it may not have been the position that I was wanting, but it was my first National Cross-Country Championship podium finish in my career.
With any race, it is important to appreciate where you finished and relish in your accomplishment and then reflect. I think with any athlete, we are always wanting to do better and wished that we had done better. But just as with anything else in life we learn and we have to take that with us to learn and improve the next time.
For me, I began the reflection process and as unfortunate as it is, I was finding myself in regret and wishing I could have gone back to change the past that was only a week before.
As some of you know, the week prior, 20 miles up the road from the National venue was the second to the last stop of the Ultra Endurance Series and even though Sho-Air and my coach was telling me to sit it out or if I did race it, to go into it as a training race, I raced it and a week later I definitely paid for it. There is no way of predicting the result of any decisions that we may have made, but I just wished on this day, my climbing legs had been present.
But, we learn from every decision we make, wether positive or negative and this is what makes us stronger. As I mentioned, I don’t know what the result would have been if I had made a different decision the week before, but I do know that I will not be racing a 50-miler the week prior to next years National Championships!!
The good news though, is that I did get on that podium and next year I will be standing higher!
Thank you so much to Sho-Air for making the trip in Idaho so fun and I am so glad that you made it out there to watch us Scott!
Next stop is Leadville and I am so excited to be back on my bike for some long, epic rides!