Why does the human spirit want to climb a tree, adventure to the highest mountain peak, or dive to the depths of the ocean? Is it so we can discover not just what is beyond the horizon but what lies within the depths of our souls, amid the struggles these adventures demand?
What makes these struggles and triumphs that much sweeter, is to experience them with a best friend. I have been beyond blessed to experience many incredible challenges, adventures, and rainbows with my soul mate over these past 12 years however, this newest journey as a first year, pro athlete in Cross Country Mountain biking, has truly awakened my spirit.
I write this reflection with deep humility and gratitude wanting to share with you the experience of a lifetime; training and competing with elite pro women mountain bikers on the national circuit!
This past trip to Fayetteville Arkansas offered all the tests my heart could ever yearn for! I was blown away at the level of strength, speed, and tenacity these veteran athletes rode with. No doubt, I learned very quickly I was a little tadpole swimming among some big fish!
The first race, short track on Friday was a disaster! Everything was off between feeling dehydrated, experiencing the heaviest day of my menstrual cycle, and racing during the hottest part of the day; my legs felt like I was riding through hot tar and signs of heat stroke were emerging. I was very grateful to complete the track over 4 minutes behind the first-place winner, which is a huge gap for a total of 18 minutes, but nonetheless I finished! Even though I was extremely disappointed with my performance, I was and still am, extremely inspired to work on my sprinting on the bike and activating my fast twitch muscles for future short track races.
The second race, which is a total of 18 miles, was much more conducive to my strengths of technical climbing, descending, and jumps. My husband really stepped up his game in helping me improve my pre-race nutrition with a cool drink of spirulina and a martial arts routine to help get my muscles warmed up for the start line.
Even though I started in the back of the other racers, I was getting stronger and more confident with each lap. Unfortunately, I broke my rear wheel on a 3-foot drop and sadly, this mechanical error took me out of the race. However, I was very encouraged that I felt stronger, more hydrated, and better prepared for this longer distance race.
I only have a little over 1 week to prepare for my next race in Midway Utah, May 7th-8th but in this short time period Sentwali has been key in helping to improve my nutrition, include a special Chinese herbal formula to help increase my VO2 max, and incorporating sprint work on hills. Now that I know what to expect with the intensity of pro racing, I feel confident that this little tadpole will see improvements in being more competitive with the BIG FISH racers this upcoming weekend.
My child like self has always been drawn to athletic competition not only to win but to embrace the discipline required to train with my whole heart. Digging deep in the times of pain and discomfort to discover the strength and determination within is what I have clearly signed up for racing at the pro level this year!
I absolutely revel in being in the same space as these powerful women athletes and I am truly inspired and motivated to improve my training tactics to be able to compete at their phenomenal level of racing.
Thank you from the depths of my heart to everyone that continues to support me to train, compete, and ride my dreams into the rainbow jersey of National and World Cup racing. I intend to honor the Divine , all the incredible gifts of life, and the people supporting me on this journey of a lifetime!