Sunday, December 9, 2007

Season Finale Success

Yesterday's race was a real learning experience for me. I'm pretty sure I had never ridden on snow before and honestly, when I was riding my practice lap, I almost talked myself into not racing at all. I'm really glad I decided to race, though, because in my opinion, it was my best race all season.

Deciding which race performances are better or worse is a little subjective. After all, the races are all at different venues, with different courses, so it's not like I can determine whether my time from one race to another is faster. I can't really use where I place as an indicator either, since a lot of the people are different and even the size of the group fluctuates pretty wildly.

For example, yesterday I came in 10th out of 11th, beating only a 7-year-old. At Manhattan Park I was 19 of 23, which is technically better, but I feel like I rode better and faster this time. I also felt like I pushed myself harder than I have in any other race.

I could consider it depressing that I pushed myself harder and still came in at the back of the pack, but I feel encouraged by it instead. You see, something happened (or more accurately, didn't happen) in this race for the first time. I finished the race without being lapped! For some reason, not being lapped felt even better than lapping someone else did two races ago. I think one of the reasons I felt so good about it was that my fiance, who was watching and taking pictures, told me that the leader was inching up on me and was ready to lap me. Instead of resigning myself to the inevitable like I normally would do, I kicked it up a notch and stayed ahead of the leader. I crossed the finished line to start my last lap just before he did to finish. It was a moral victory for me more than anything else.

I also feel good about the way I made myself race when I was so discouraged during my practice lap. I was so nervous about the snow because it felt so different. I felt a little out of control in the beginning. Once I got out there and began racing, I was a little cautious at first, but started to get used to it and got braver. I think getting over some of my mental hurdles is going to be my toughest challenge with racing.

Overall, it was a great day. It was sad that it was the last race of the season, but I am determined to train hard, improve and come back stronger next season. These are some of the positives I took away (some small, others not so small):
  • I didn't get lapped!
  • I didn't crash.
  • I pushed myself harder than I thought I could.
  • I didn't quit.
  • I had a blast.
  • I won a t-shirt.

There are more pictures from the race on flickr.

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