A little late on my recap of the 2nd Winter Park XC race of the season but I guess that’s what happens when you work almost 50 hours a week coupled with planning a wedding, training and trying to maintain some semblance of a normal social life. So, back to June 30th for the 18 mile XC loop up in Winter Park. In Colorado it is commonplace for some of the best athletes in the country and world to show up at smaller local events. I truly believe the level of competition turns local races into “mini-Olympics” on a regular basis and has made me a stronger competitor as a result. I rolled up to the start line to see Olympic long team member Chloe Woodruff there among many other fast Colorado girls and thought to myself, “well guess we’ll be racing for second place”. The start is a little over a mile straight up a fire road until we hit the singletrack. I hung about 40 feet behind Chole on the road and was ahead of the rest of the field entering the singletrack. For about the next mile I had in my head that Chole was increasing her gap on me and I needed to focus on keeping my second place spot. On a straight section of the trail I could see Chole and had an internal conversation about how negative my attitude was at the start. I quicky shifted my attitude, telling myself that I could catch up to her. I put in a hard effort and did manage to catch her and felt strong when I caught up to her. Right before the first stream crossing I went for it and took over the lead. We had some bumbling in the creek crossing where Chloe fell into me and we both ended up off our bikes, feet soaking wet. It always amazes me how friendly fiercely competitive women can be. We checked in with one another, apologized, smiled and carried on. I now had some serious fire under me and my mantra for the rest of the race, about 12 miles, was “ride with confidence”. The second I would find my pace slowing I would repeat, “ride with confidence”. Some of the descents on the course were rocky and rough on my hardtail but my mantra kept me flying and riding the downhills with more speed than I ever have. I crossed the finish line in first by over a minute. More important than taking the win was experiencing the confidence that came from embracing my current fitness and fully utilizing my mental skills. My season always gets off to a slow start and it gets exciting when my fitness starts to shine this time of year.
Next up is the Xterra Mountain Championships on Saturday in Beaver Creek…I have a good feeling about this!