Sometimes, I think I'm an emotion manager more than a bike racer...Maybe full-time emotion manager & part-time bike racer. Thank god I only have myself to manage...but then again, I'm such a mess sometimes! That said, I've been enjoying trying to use my emotions to help me race/train better this year, rather that trying to ignore them. I've been working hard at trying to channel the proper emotion (calm V.S excitement) when I need it.
That was actually one of the biggest challenge for me this week; to manage my emotions after winning the World Cup in Iowa...I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to show up to Waterloo with the same fire I had in Iowa; not because I didn't want to win as badly - trust me, I did. In fact, maybe it was such a challenge because I was coming off a big high and I so badly wanted to back off the win with another big result.
I really tried to not get too excited after Iowa, and all week we kept doing our training and normal preparation as if nothing had happened. But it was hard to pretend nothing had happened after achieving a dream, so I worked hard on managing my emotions and getting in the right headspace heading into the second round of the World Cup in Waterloo.
A Dirty Affair
Admittedly, I never look at the weather in day-to-day life...I just go on with whatever mother nature throws at us. But in the cross season, I totally obsess over the weather and refresh my 'Weather Network' App at least every hour.
When we woke up on Sunday morning, though, I didn't even have to look at my App. It was very clear that we were in for a WET and muddy day. I wasn't going to complain with that - I enjoy those conditions!
Now, I know that it's not because I won one big race that I am expected to win all of them. So I really focused on getting the best out of myself this weekend, and not too much on the result. Still, I was pretty nervous before this race, but I tried to soak it all in and enjoy the experience of wearing the World Cup leader's skin-suit.
After the first pre-ride of the day in the mud, a smile quickly came to my face and I was excited to race. I love slipping and sliding on my bike. On a muddy day like we had yesterday, the course is constantly changing and there is no perfect way to ride it - it's a continuous puzzle and you have to adapt your riding lap by lap. It's very stimulating, and also very difficult.
The race started and I was instantly not feeling at my best. I tried to stay calm and focused, but I felt a little bit soft. It was brutal and chaotic. In muddy conditions, it's not a question of "if" you'll make a mistake...it's mostly about "how" you will react to your mistakes, and it's about always moving forward. There are many people around you, but you are really fighting yourself and the course, just trying to go as fast as possible. You feel slow and heavy, and no line seem to be ideal, but the brutality of it makes it pretty special. I could see that I was not having the best day, but I really wanted to keep fighting for every single position. I had the World Cup Overall standings in my mind and I knew that when February came, I'd be happy that I fought for each spot.
On the last lap, I wasn't feeling any better, but I seemed to be riding a little better and I caught a few people. I was very close to catch the 4th position, but we were going exactly the same speed, tip-toeing and balancing our way through a muddy off camber in the final moments of the race, and she ended up beating me by 4 seconds.
I finished 5th, and I was happy about the race. I'm happy about how I fought the whole time. Before, on a "not amazing day" I would have had a bad day...but this time, I managed to make the most of this "not amazing day" and ended up having a pretty good day! I lost the leader's jersey to Katerina, who brilliantly won the race yesterday. However, I'm still second in the Overall standings, so we'll bring the battle to Switzerland for the 3rd round of the World Cup in a month.
Mom and Dad even made the trip to watch the race and cheer. They are now real pros with the muddy races and came well equipped! Dad even helped David in the pits and executed a nice bike change :)
We are now on our way back home after the first racing block of the season. Both David and I are super happy about how it went. Not only did we have good results, but we got to test our setup and our equipment and everything was flawless. We also had such a good time with the cyclocross community - we really love the people of cyclocross, we love the sport. We both feel so lucky and happy to be a small part of this community. As we're driving (and by we, I mean David), we are listening to the new Taylor Swift album, and the emotion manager side of me, allowed me to feel all happy and fuzzy in my belly! That's how cyclocross makes me feel - it's fun to soak it in.
Yet, although I'm happy about how it went, I still want more. I think that's my competitive side taking over. I really wanted to win yesterday, but truly, it may be a good thing that I did not win...I'm so fired up to work hard and hungry to get better. I got a small taste of success in this first trip and it tasted quite nice, so I want more.