Resolutions, What?

I used to make long lists of resolutions and self improvements (ENTJ, much?), not just at New Years but at my birthday in August or any other life-milestone occasion. The last few years have been so transitional and formative that these lists and time spent in contemplation was good for me. Did I accomplish the things I listed? Some. Am I still working on items that have been on my self-improvement lists for years? Sure! But this January was the first year that I don’t feel driven to create a long list of resolutions, items to focus on or goals to reach. That’s not to say that I don’t have any, but that the ones I have are continuations of ones set long ago. For example, this spring I’ll finish my master’s degree. I’ve been working on that since the thought that I might want to continue my education first crept into my mind while at Mars Hill. Out of that will come another set of educational and professional goals to focus on. Cycling is also continuously pushing and changing my goals. Every 6 months is a transition between disciplines bring around a new set of seasonal goals and check ups on long term ones. So why rush to make a list merely for the sake of a new year when the things I want and need to accomplish will work themselves out in perfect time. Maybe there will be a time when change isn’t constant and the new year will provide the opportunity to readjust and focus on new things. But I don’t feel like that will really ever be the case. Because honestly, if I’m not always climbing then there’s a reason for the stillness.

2014 Goal: Control

Ah, the new year. A time when you can’t help but reflect and make some sort of commitment to the betterment of self!

2013 has seen my final (at least for now) collegiate cycling seasons with Cyclocross Nationals and BMX Nationals as highlights. It’s also brought my first season of racing cyclocross on my own. I knew that not being on a team would present its own challenges, I’ve been lucky to have the guidance of a coach for my entire time cycling. I also didn’t want to waste the season: my fitness, skills, time, and money are too valuable to have a mediocre season. I didn’t want to lose fitness, and personally need the external motivation and accountability that a coach and training plan provide. Balancing school and work with cycling is nothing new, but I wanted the time I spent training and racing to really matter.  Learning from my almost non-existent summer mountain bike season, I knew things would have to change for cross season.

Lucky, I was able to get my former collegiate coach, Hugh, to be my coach for this season! Hugh limits the number of private clients he takes on so he can focus on their development in additional to coaching the Mars Hill Cycling team. I can’t say enough how having a training plan and coach helped me. Sure, there were days I slacked off, and workouts that were missed. But then there were days that I got over myself and did it anyway. And then there were the days that I was super excited about my training sessions and made it count even more!

Looking back at my cross races from this season, I made a few mistakes. I got upset and raced stupid. I lost focus and made technical errors. My barriers were terrible at the beginning of the season, I’ve never wrecked trying to dismount so many times! I even had my first major racing wreck (at the Mars Hill race nonetheless)! But when  I worked all those things out, and let each race be a lesson, I had good races! I felt like I was racing were I should be, I was smart, and I wasn’t disappointed with my result. It excites me to think about where I’ll be next year with more riding, more training, more racing knowledge under my belt.

So all in all, I’m pleased with my season. For the next year I’m going to keep building, keep learning, and keep improving. I know it’s a long, steady road. As much as I wish it was quick and easy, it’s not. My genetics, time, and priorities aren’t going to lead to pro-cyclocrosser Laura. But they’ll take me far enough.

I used to make all sorts of goals and resolutions for the new year. But my birthday, start of the school year, and work anniversaries provide much better opportunities for goal setting. So I’ve learned to choose a word for the year. Last year my word was “achieve.” I lived up to it, achieving long time goals, and succeeding in my first year of full-time employment in my field.   This year I’m choosing “control” as my word. Oh no, a type-A personality choosing to focus on control?! Yes, control. With more control on my time, food consumption, work tasks, school tasks, cycling time, social interactions and personal balance I know I can rise even farther up, and hopefully develop some good habits along the way!

So here’s to 2014, you’re looking bright!

June Thoughts

It’s June and I’m already thinking cross season! While the weather is good for outside riding now, long term will see me back inside on the CompuTrainers at Spin-Tech Training to get the most effective training in for racing. I should be focusing on mountain biking and getting as much racing experience in cross country as I can. But when I think about riding, my mind just flows along to cyclocross. I can’t help it. I love it so much! And then of course, there’s the wanting the things that you can’t have right now. I guarantee you, in the cold winter days of cross I’m dreaming of sunny warm mountain bike rides!

It’s been just over a month since I graduated. It was astonishing how much excitement and support other people had for me! I’m truly grateful to everyone who has encouraged me, dealt with my weird schedule, believed in me and inspired me! So after all that excitement was over, I was left feeling a little lost. Graduation day was THE day I’ve been working towards for over 5 years. Suddenly, it came and then was gone! When something has been such a driving force for so long, it’s weird not to have it there anymore. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans and goals. It was more of a re-adjustment, a reveling in my achievement and then moving on! It’s still so weird that I don’t have assignments looming, or have to balance my work tasks with school tasks. All of that will return soon enough however. In mid-August I start my graduate studies in the North Carolina State University online master’s program for recreation. I’m really excited, nervous of course, but mostly just eager to start the next step in my professional education.

We kicked off the first short track race of the series two weeks ago with 60 racers, kids-cat 1. It was awesome seeing something that I’ve wanted and worked for come to life! The next race will be this Wednesday, and I’m excited for the all the ways that I can grow and improve the series. It really wouldn’t have been as easy without the help of Sycamore Cycles, Donnie in particular. If you’re in Hendersonville, make sure to stop by their shop.

Sunday I’m heading down to the Tiger Rag cross country race in Clemson. I’m excited to see what it’s like to get back into cross country racing. It’s been about 9 months since nationals at this point…that’s a long time! My expectations aren’t that high, my goal is to go race, have a good time and see where I end up! I wish there were more cross country races in the WNC. Here we’re inundated with mega races, endurance races, stage races. Most cross country races take place far far away from Asheville. Maybe that’ll have to be the next race series I start!

The rest of my summer looks pretty much the same…racing here and there. I think I’m going to try more road racing with the French Broad Classic…not sure if that’s a good idea or not! Way to jump into it! But hey, that’s what summer without school is for: riding as much as possible!

 

Class of 2013!

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So, this happened. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Sports Management, minor in Business from Mars Hill College on May 11, 2013.

Five years of classes, commuting, balancing school, work, and life, experiencing new things, finding new passions, having old passions affirmed and stoked up, meeting people, gaining new friends…the list could go on and on! But it has all added up to a blinged out piece of paper that makes me smile every time I look at it

It’s quite surreal that I’ve finally done it and gotten my bachelor of science in recreation! It’s also surreal how attached and how ingrained being at Mars Hill became in just two years. I’m really going to miss being there, interacting with the amazing faculty, traveling with the cycling team and making friends. My experiences are more diverse and my understanding of the world has increased so much in the past two years. Not to mention the knowledge gained in my field of study and the ideas and philosophies that have been passed on to me.

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It was also a special day since my sister graduated from Mars Hill College too! It’s because of her that I even started to consider MHC, and then the rest is history!

A few thanks and shout outs:

  • To Kyle for being patient when my assignments took the place of us time, taking care of the house, encouraging me to ride and train even when I didn’t feel like it, putting up with traveling for cycling, and giving me back rubs when I’m stressed
  • To my family for being supportive and proud and never being dismissive of my choices
  • To my sister Becky who first mentioned Mars Hill College
  • To Hugh Moran for welcoming a newbie with open arms to the cycling team and hence starting something incredible in my life
  • To Dr. Andersen for understanding my Type A personality, my needs as a non-tradition traditional commuter working student, and for sharing his experiences and thoughts about recreation
  • To the cycling team kids for just being who you are and never making me feel inferior despite my lack of experience (also, for some of the funniest moments of my life!)
  • To Tim, my boss and inspiration, who has supported me while letting me find my own way to achieve my goals, as well as being so flexible with my work schedule
  • To my friends who have been understanding of my social absence due to cycling and schooling
  • To the faculty of Mars Hill College who have instructed me, praised me, and supported my as a part of the cycling team,  especially to the Registrar’s Office for keeping my records and transcripts error free!

There really aren’t enough words to express the impact Mars Hill has had on me. All I know is that I was were I was supposed to be for the last two years, and that they were amazing!

Here’s to 2013, looking back at what I’ve achieved and looking forward to the next adventure!

2012 Goals

I love new years, birthdays, changing of the seasons, marked transitions like graduations and such. For me, all of those events serve as a refocus and evaluation of what I’m doing, what I want to do, who I am, my qualities, failures, flaws, and inspirations. And if 2011 serves as any indicator, 2012 is going to be amazing!

My biggest goals for 2012 definitely revolve around cycling for the most part. After all the fun and accomplishment I’ve had this fall, I’m charging on to bigger things (better fitness, skills, results) in 2012.

Academically, I’m motivated and excited about what 2012 will bring and of course am aiming to maintain my 4.0 gpa (oh yeah baby!).

Personally, I want to keep growing, learning to love and give, work hard, do my best and continue to nurture the qualities and values that matter to me.

So that’s it in a nut shell. If you’re curious about the specifics, keep reading. But if not, I’ll get over it.

  • Race 1-2 Charlotte Winter Short Track Races
  • Race 1-2 Charlotte Summer Short Track Races (as part of training for fall mtb season)
  • Top 10 finishes in cross county and short track in fall collegiate mtb season, as well as at Nationals
  • Do dual slalom, 4X, and downhill gravity events at collegiate level
  • 4.0 GPA Spring and Fall Semesters
  • Attempt five 5k’s (only as supplement to cycling training, spring/summer)
  • Top 10 finishes in collegiate cyclocross
  • Race 2-3 NCCX series races (includes NCGP), with top 15 finishes
  • Make something every week (bake, cook, whatevs)
  • Take multi-vit on the daily!
  • Simplify

Cyclocross

It’s official. No, it’s now legitimate. I am in love with cyclocross.

Every since the first time I witnessed that excitement that is ‘cross, I’ve been in awe, amazed, reverent, inspired, and a little jealous. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to do that?”I thought to myself, but quickly dismissed the thought. No, it’s way too amazing, hardcore and challenging. Still, my love has grown through working events, the people and the culture that surrounds and exemplifies cyclocross. My dream of doing ‘cross got a little closer as I got older and more dedicated to doing the things that interest me. And then, something amazing happened. I got to join the cycling team at Mars Hill, have an external motivation, got some fitness and skills….and finally, got to race cyclocross.

It was amazing! It was everything I thought it would be and more. I felt like I was grinning almost all of the race. There were moments of course, but that’s part of the ride. There aren’t words really, but it does feel like a huge affirmation. This is something that I’ve felt I would love, and I do!

So, now to get through the rest of mountain bike season (conference this weekend, nationals at the end of the month in New Mexico!), and see what I can do with cyclocross!

Special thanks to Frank at Spin-Tech for the loaner bike! It was a dream come true to ride cross! And WNC people, go check them out for awesome training and more!

Train baby, train

It’s one thing to train on your own. It’s completely another to have external guidance and assistance. After a summer of doing my thing (which has made a huge difference in my endurance, strength, and technical skills on the bike, but not as much as it should have), it’s been great refocusing under the guidance of my coach at Mars Hill. In the two weeks since school has started, I feel so much stronger, faster and more confidant! Still scared outta my mind for my first race, but so excited as well!

The first week of classes also brought power-testing at Spin-Tech Training in Asheville, a cycling coaching and training facility who is also one of the Mars Hill team sponsors! It was a good experience (aside from dying), and definitely inspired me to get those numbers way up! Let’s just say that there’s a lot of room for improvement! 🙂

But, the awesome guys there have graciously provided me with a six-week CompuTrainer session! They are super friendly and helpful! Everyone should check them out!

Today was my second workout. It hurt a lot more than the first, but I know that is a super good thing. I can’t wait to see the improvement in my power numbers at the end of the six-weeks. The past few weeks are reminding me why I love working out, I love feeling the fitness that follows! It’s so easy to forget that endorphin-fueled rush, but I keep going back to it again and again!

And….Georgia Tech race this weekend. First race ever.