Thursday, November 30, 2006

2006 MABRA CX Champion

The 2006 MABRA Cyclocross Championships were hosted in Taneytown MD, 26 Nov by Tracey Lea and crew and M-Street racing. Although this was one of the less attended races, the level of competition was still high for a MABRA series race. In an attempt to redeem local bragging rights of a MABRA championship title after missing out on the series title the past two years, Swartz took off from the gun and never looked back - well she did but she was trying to ensure that her lead was only growing with every lap of the muddy course. Newcomers to the local cyclocross scene Marjan Huizing (DC Velo) and Jessica Hill (Trail's End) rounded out the podium. The cyclocross season continues with the last local race, the Capital Cross Classic, to be held Sunday, Dec 3, at Lake Fairfax park in Reston, VA.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Shue survives Ironman 70.3 World Championships!

Thank you EVERYONE for your support and words of encouragement in the race of my lifetime! I was undertained, overworried, and really concerned about my performance, but in the words of the oldest woman who raced last weekend (78 years old and finished strong) my goal was to "show, go, and finish". And I did!

The whole experience began Thursday evening at the opening ceremonies/pre-race dinner. Members of the local JROTC paraded in flags of every country represented, nearly 100 countries. It felt like my own mini olympics! The most athletes were from the US, followed by Brazil, England, and then Mexico I think, coincidently the country in which I qualified to race in the championships! There were racers from each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia (wait, that's me!!!). Then they gave us a preview of the FULL Ironman race completed on 21 Oct in Kona, HI and to be aired on NBC on 9 Dec. Why did I pay nearly $1000 to do this? That would only be the first time I would ask myself that very question . . .

Friday came, and I went to check in my bike. On my quick spin around town ensuring I'd reassembled my bike correctly after disassembling it to fly on the plane, I was flagged down by a group of "goth" looking high-schoolers who asked me "What is your purpose?" as they flew by in their gas-guzzling SUV. I really had no answer for her. A minute later I caught her at a red light, and she again said "no, really, why are you riding bikes all around town?" I explained to her the race in the space that a red light allows. She replied "Oh, so you're training or something?" Not really. . . .but Saturday the question of my purpose came up a few too many times!

After a fantastic pre-race meal, I hit my bed around 8:30, ready for a full night's sleep. I awoke many many times in the night, wondering when 5 am would arrive. When it did, I was so not ready for it. Alas, the alarm went off, I got up and readied myself for the day ahead. The dawn was warm, wet and humid. My bike was doused in dew, and the eastern sky was red with the rising sun--what's that saying "red sky in the morning, Sailor take warning?" Fortunately, the winds were dead, and the sea was the calmest I've ever seen. There was no surf, it was like wading into a pool. Absolutely perfect race conditions all day long prevailed!

I watched and waited as the men's pro, women's pro and 4 age-group men waves hit the beach. Finally, it was time for all 400 women competitors to start our race. Not being an especially fast swimmer, I chose to be in the middle of the pack, near the bouys. Apparently that was a good strategy. I had my "fastest" swim ever, finishing in just over 38 minutes. Mind you, pros finish in 20 minutes or so, so I'm not ever going to win the swim! But I was very happy with that, and ran as fast as I could to the eager volunteers who expertly stripped my wetsuit and I was off to the transition tent.

I quickly reached my bike, grabbed the helmet and was off. I was forewarned that the bike course was fast and flat, and that the greatest error would be to push big gears. So I made a strategic decision to stay in the small chainring the whole time. Big mistake. I had probably the worst bike ride ever. Okay, maybe not the worst, as I passed 3 folks who had far worse rides than I; the first guy had a demolished disk wheel at mile 5 (about $2000 down the drain), and then at mile 20 there was an older man bleeding from his head and the paramedics were checking his neck for injuries, and finally I saw a poor lady laying on the asphalt with her arm bandaged up and she had just given up. No idea how a straight, wide, course could be so dangerous! For the first time in my race career I was being passed on the bike. But I maintained that I was going for the steady pace, ensuring I had legs left for the run. I finally crossed the "bike in" at a deflating 2:57 or so. The men pro's were only miles from the finish line as I transitioned to my running shoes.

The run. What can I say. My legs didn't want to move. Period. I quickly realized that it was going to be 13.1 miles of sheer willpower, because I had wasted my legs with the high cadence I'd forced myself into on the bike in the small gear. For those of you who think that Florida is flat, let me tell you otherwise. The race director managed to find the steepest bridge in the greater Tampa area. And he managed to make us cross it not once, not twice, but FOUR different times. My nephew has a motto, "try harder" and I grabbed hold of that motto and went with "tri harder" as I ran the slowest mile splits of my running career. Ford, the corporate sponsor of the race, had an 11-mile marker text messaging motivational station for the racers. I took the liberty of sending myself a message the day before, so as I crossed mile 11 I saw my signature motto "Suck it up princess!" which made me smile for exactly 10 seconds. Then the pain in my IT bands returned.

But, mind over matter, sheer will over physical pain, and I rounded the final corner, and heard the voice of Ironman, Mike Rielly, call my name as I came down the final gauntlet. I had done it, I finished the 70.3 World Championships and I was a HALF Ironman!

I once again reaffirmed that those people who do the full Ironman are just plain crazy!!!

I stumbled through the finish line with my finisher's medal, shell lei, and rice and beans, only wanting to get to the hotel and shower. Once that mission was accomplished, the adrenaline rush that had been so lacking during the race finally kicked in, and I went out and celebrated with my former San Diego teammates until the sun came up the next morning--yes, 24 hours of Ironman fun! Amazing things our bodies can do when we push to see just what we're capable of!

As for what's next? Right now I'm looking forward to the gluttony of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We'll talk more come New Year's!

  • Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Shue to take on World at Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championship

    Mid-Atlantic Velo Bella-Kona triathlete Nicole Shue will compete in the inagural Ironman 70.3 championship race Saturday November 11th in Clearwater, Fl. Join her fellow Velo Bellas in cheering her on as she completes a 1.2 mile open ocean swim, 56 mile time-trial bike race and 13.1 mile half marathon, totaling 70.3 miles of fun! Watch the race live as it unfolds beginning 7 am this Saturday! The race will also be shown on NBC March 31st, 2007.

    Winfield Top 10 in USGP, Swartz Tears Up MABRA

    Winfield, with her two top-10s this past weekend at the cyclocross USGP in Boulder, CO, is in the top-10 of overall rankings for the prestigous series.

    On the local front, Swartz won the two local MABRA cyclocross races in Leesburg, VA and Sykesville, MD in an attempt to reclaim the MABRA series lead she had won in 2004. Swartz finished second in the MABRA series this year. Check out the recap in Velo News