On Wednesday I signed up for the 2018 Nationals. It felt like as good a time as any to reflect on the changes I've gone through this year. I had scrolled back at the photos from the 2017 Nationals race and felt like I was looking at a very different rider to the one writing this blog post.
Lessons Learned 2017
-My training and fitness this year is at a different level from last year. [Not looking to my PMC this week, as I have been off the bike and sick since the State Championships]. Racing and training with CWEC this year has given me a new perspective on how to suffer. I raced less road this year but did more quality racing. I moved from being shelled within 10 minutes in 2016 to making it through the P1/2 races, and for the most part being a active participant in the racing. Not to say that I am even comfortable at that level yet, but I made significant gains in pack riding and confidence level. That fitness has carried into my cyclocross season.
-I embraced the need to go on hard rides. I have spent many years fearing hard rides, even though I always have trained hard, I have always dreaded getting dropped on hard rides. While I still am not the biggest fan of stem drooling, I understand that in order to improve they must be a consistent part of my training routine. This helped me more in the early season and preparing for racing the P1/2 races that would come.
-I learned how to win races consistently when the opportunity presented itself. I built confidence in my abilities. I won almost every local race I entered at the Chicrosscup this year, excluding a 2nd place at the State Championships. I gained the ability to trust my body and skills and know that if I brought my A game that I could win.
-I know my body better than ever. I know when I am ready to crush, and when I'm feeling not so hot. I know I'm not a morning person. I know I need at least 8 hours of sleep to feel recovered each morning. I've made allowances for evening workouts and I have been more consistent due to accepting this fact.
-I need a hard opener for Nationals. Having done many double race weekends this year, I have gone from being a strong Day I rider to a stronger Day II rider.
-I have made significant gains to my consistency in my prerace routine. CWEC made me understand what a stress free race day feels like. After learning the hard way (time and time and time again) I made changes to my organization and aimed to regain that stress free day.
-I have made friends with my foam roller. We weren't even on speaking terms for a couple of years.
- My cyclocross skills have continued to improve. I've exposed myself to tough courses on the US National levels. I have improved my running abilities due to the consistent running requirements at those races. I am also determined to learn how to bunnyhop properly and work on my weaker skills. I included more friends in my skills work outs. I added a 'dick about' practice which has helped me a lot, no pressure to do hot laps but instead learn how your bike feels no matter what you do with it.
I'm using this list as a way to quantify improvements and gains and to help me get in the right mental space in order to be ready for Nationals. I will keep updating and thinking about this list but that's it for now.