Now that Nationals are over I have the time and mind space to look back. I have to say that I was the most nervous I have been all season for this race, rightfully so. I arrived at the race on Thursday night, in my opinion one day too early. All it did was give me more time to focus on the course and how nervous I was. No distraction from family.
I arrived to the course on Friday to find it beautiful and sunny, very unexpected for Madison in January. I had imagined having to wear every bit of clothing I owned and sticking toe warmers in my shoes. I was so grateful for, in my opinion perfect cross weather, cool and muddy. The course changed hourly and daily. There would be a harder freeze the night before our race which would be to my advantage. I wanted frozen ruts with a thin-film of thawing mud to create the sketchiest conditions possible. The course had a lot of elevation gain so the more technical the better.
I hadn’t raced since my State Championships three weeks earlier so I had no idea what my race formwas like. Christmas break with the kids off school and lots of snow proved hard to stay motivated as I just wanted to relax into the holidays. I kept telling myself, “this is your time don’t let it pass without putting everything you have into it”. I don’t want to have any regrets about what I should have done. With this being said I also give myself a break knowing all I have to juggle and only ask myself to try my hardest and this will have to be good enough.
Sunday, race day, had finally arrived and the morning was cooler than any of the others had been. YES! The ground would stay frozen longer and this is what I was hoping for. The course was not my favorite but I felt it was fair. I lined up on the front row and I could feel the tension steaming off all of us. The line up took longer than usual as there were around 75 of us, a great field of talented women. I wiggled on the line trying to stay warm and maybe shaking off some of the nerves. I couldn’t wait to stop thinking and just start racing.
The whistle blew and we were off. Not a perfect start for me as I missed my peddle several times but managed to be in second behind Katie Compton after the first big right-hander. Compton was gone. Meredith and I would battle in the beginning only to watch her fall in one of the technical sections ahead of me. I passed her and never saw her again. By this time it was me and my team-mate Katie Antonneau. We switched positions for half of the race and with two laps to go she put the power down on the big climb and left me dangling behind. Bye Katie… Not far behind was Teal Stetson-Lee and I seemed to be loosing steam. Teal passed me and I told myself to be calm and ride my own race. In a moment of reflection, I watched the girls in front of me and thought to myself, that is the future of the sport and was proud. I kept Teal in sight always making sure to push a little extra in the sections I knew I could. The last lap came and I knew I had a chance and wanted third badly. I rode the first half of the course and planned the attack in my head along the way. I wanted to catch her before the last technical section in the infield and ride away smoothly. I did exactly that, it had worked perfectly and I was on my way to third putting second after second into the red bombshell, Teal. Crossing the line I was happy with third and happy to see my team-mate Katie be the one ahead of me. She had earned every bit of the second place finish. The primary emotion going through me was relief, it was over and I had done my best and finished well. The nerves were finally gone.
I have to say I had a lot of encouragement along the way from our tight-knit cross community in Boulder, my sponsors and family. This is what makes success so sweet, is sharing it with people you care about. My heart is full, and I want to thank each and every one of you for that.
Now I am on to the last World Cup of the season and hopefully World Championships to represent the USA (the official selection will be announced this Thursday). A dream come true! xoN