With the Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team announcement coming out last week, excitement rushes through my body as I think of this upcoming season. With support from the Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team, I am confident this will be an amazing year, and I am beyond grateful. Part of me can hardly believe that I, with the help of many, have worked my way up from the very bottom. My first 3 years racing fully self-supported will never allow me to take for granted the support and help of my team and sponsors, which makes me that much more hungry to continue to embrace the work…I love the work. I am so excited to represent Stan’s NoTubes for another year, as well as Pivot Cycles.
Chloe Woodruff has been an encouragement to me dating back to my first days of racing with an infant. She has continued to be genuine, humble, and real. I’m stoked to be her teammate!
The Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot Team is also sponsored by Shimano (drivetrain, brakes, pedals); Maxxis (tires); Castelli (custom clothing); Clif Bar (nutrition); Fox (suspension); PRO (components); Pearl Izumi (shoes, gloves); Kask (helmets); Feedback Sports (trainers); and Cassette Creative (design, marketing).
One month plus 3 days ago today, I was racing my first Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra; still an experience that feels surreal. My first experience being outside of North America, in conjunction with racing outside of North America was incredible; but what seems equally as incredible is the events leading up to the World Champs.
My race season really came together this year, after 4 years filled with tons of work and perseverance, I started to really reap the benefits. It was amazing, being able to put races together with strategy and tactics; I’d replay my coaches words in my head as I played out races the way that we had together visualized.
Once the Worlds Team selection had been announced, which I had been waiting for with anticipation, I knew this opportunity was one that I could not possibly turn down due to monetary costs. It had been a goal that I had set for myself back in February, and I had to see it through. My coach assisted me in setting up a couple fundraising campaigns, and the support that I received through those efforts has humbled me, has challenged me to be more generous, and completely brings tears to my eyes! I am incredibly blessed and so grateful!
I spent the week in Andorra soaking in the experience, I was the obvious rookie. I was racing with the best in the world, in Europe, representing my country, my team, and my home state of Montana! It was an honor being part of Team USA, and I value the relationships that I garnered with my fellow teammates. As the week unfolded, the rain continued to change the track. Within a few days the course changed from dry and fast, to wet and muddy, to sticky, thick muck. Race day came and the sun shined amidst cool temps. I was number plate 55 out of about 60 racers. I lined up on the back row out of six rows. My plan was to be patient and move forward consistently and tactfully. As the race began, the damage the rain had done to the course quickly became obvious. It was a complete mess. Slower became faster; cornering was slow, climbs became impossible to maintain traction, and the tiniest mistake in bike handling was completely unforgiving. Everyone was off their bikes a lot, running, scrambling, slipping, sliding…. I just kept moving. I’d gain a spot, make a mistake and loose two. Then someone in front of me would make a mistake, and I would gain a spot or two. I continued to slowly move forward. The lap times slowed down so much, that winner Pauline Fernando-Prevot’s finishing time was 1 hr 53 min. By the time I finished in 31st, I had been racing for 2 hr 8 min, about 30 minutes longer than most cross country races.
What an incredible race though! My equipment worked flawlessly. In the muddy conditions my Cannondale FSi was the ticket, with my Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals, and Kenda Karma tires. The support from USA Cycling allowed me to really focus on my race.
I left everything on the course that day, as I try my best to do on every race day. I had a solid race, 31st for my first world champs is nothing to be disappointed about, and I’m pleased with that result. Deep inside I know I have the ability to do better, and so I continue to stay challenged and hungry, to continue improving and learning and garnering the experience that I need to bridge my way farther up the field. Time and patience is required, but as I approach new bends in the trail, it is my job to explore where they will take me, and continue to trust that God will bless my efforts.
I am so thankful to the village who has continued to make racing my bike possible. My husband, Nelson, is so supportive and proud of me. He, grandparents, and a handful of friends have helped with our daughter Layla for my training and racing. My coach, Dustin; my team, the Stans NoTubes Elite Women; countless local businesses in my community, such as the Sportsmen Ski Haus, Able Body Shop, Access Fitness, the Great Northern Brewing Co., Whitefish Mountain Resort, and so many friends and family have all contributed in so many ways. I am eternally grateful!
This morning wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last failed attempt for training that becomes out of my control. As I sit here still in my bike shorts, writing out what happened seems to take away some of the frustration as I try to keep the right perspective.
6am Christmas morning, I drag myself out of my cozy bed and pull on my bike shorts and enough clothes to keep me comfortable in my 47 degree garage. I force down a rice cake with almond butter and a banana, fill a water bottle, pull on my boots, and head to the garage for a 6:30-8am ride on the trainer. Layla normally sleeps till 8, and I can still make Christmas breakfast before hubby Nelson catches a few powder turns up on the Big Mountain. No sooner do I start to warm up, and start working out the achy kinks from my already sore muscles, that I get a text from Nelson, who I might add is going into night shift Christmas night, saying that Layla had woke and was crying. My hart sank…. she must have heard me.
After a quick text back, the next thing that I knew, my phone fell from the shelf face-down onto the concrete floor. I stop, yep….. shattered. Well, since I was already off my trainer and distracted, I decided that I had better go check on Layla too. A diaper change and bottle later, she is back in bed and quietly falling back asleep. Now should I go back to my trainer for 30 minutes, or just throw in the towel and make coffee. I decided to make coffee.
My first natural response, is frustration as I question why I even try sometimes. But it is Christmas after all, and I don’t want my training to mentally ruin my day. This is just one day that my effort didn’t return a good workout. I still have the opportunity to go pull Layla around the golf course on skate skis later, so I’ll just have to make it count then.
Broken phone and feeling groggy from an early alarm, I still have so much to be thankful for. Today I am so thankful to celebrate the birth of my Savior with loved ones. Because of this, I know that my dad resides in Heaven, and as much as he is missed this Christmas, I will get to spend eternity with him.
So, with that I wish you the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years!
While skinning a lap up Whitefish Mountain Resort recently with good friends Katie French and Megan Couser, a man skiing down stopped and asked us if we were training for something. The first thing that popped into my head was “Yes! The Whitefish Whiteout.” Never before had I done a ski mountaineering race, but with my new backcountry gear, I was inspired to try it. Before I could reply to the man, Katie answered “Life.” There couldn’t have been a better answer!
Although races are fun and motivation for training, in the end results don’t matter; it is the big picture that counts! Staying active and healthy and happy and passing that on to your kids is, I believe, one of the best gifts you can give them. Being in the outdoors and enjoying the beautiful earth that the Lord created for us is something not to be taken for granted.
Another good friend, Maria, who is normal in the sense she doesn’t have to compete at every sport, asked me why I decided to try ski racing. I knew it certainly wasn’t to win, so why would I sign up to race a sport as a newbie? There are many benefits in competition that do train for life!
The people are amazing and inspiring! The Whitefish Whiteout brought all levels of racers. Especially inspiring to me, and hitting close to home was Danni Coffman, 33 weeks prego, and out participating in the fun! She raced the ascent category and straight up killed it! So impressed and happy to see this beautiful pregnant lady staying active. Another inspiring lady was Marg Fedyna, 49 years old and owning it with the win of the women’s AT class, as well as beating some very strong men! Sheli Thomas is another one of my heros. This race was also Sheli’s first ski race at 50 something! She stuck with it and completed the race! Sheli continues to challenge herself with crazier races all the time. It was just a great time to meet some new gals, and catch up with old friends.
Another reason that I decided to try ski racing was the challenge, of learning to race a different sport, and cross training with motivation. It is true that results don’t matter, but in the end I’m competitive at heart, and I at least wanted to keep some of the other gals working for it. :) But with that said, I was truly able to enjoy the event without being nervous or pressured with expectations. I got a great 2 hour race effort out of the deal and it was a blast!
Whether racing an event just for the accomplishment of finishing, or trying to qualify for a more prestigious event, or wining a world cup; there is self-reward in pushing yourself to levels that would not otherwise be attained without the pressure of a race. Racing teaches a person a lot about themselves. I encourage that all you ladies try some sort of race. Set attainable goals, put yourself out there, get fit, and have fun! Just remember that in the end you are training for life!
Although a subject that comes across slightly awkward at times, but is real and amazing is that of breastfeeding. After being in my position, any awkwardness is lost to the wind and it just becomes a way of life.
During my race season, I was looking for some insight on how other mom athletes were able to nurse and train HARD. I never came across anything that was much help, so I am writing this post for the athlete/active mommy who is nursing, and I hope it is somewhat helpful. Every women needs to remember that every person is different, and this is just my personal experience. I realize that breastfeeding is not easy or possible for some mothers.
Any women’s body is working overtime while nursing, much less adding the training/race schedule of an elite athlete; or any athlete. First off, nutrition and sleep became of utmost importance!! I am continually working on listening to what my body is telling me, and responding appropriately. I have to eat well; meaning enough and nutritious food. Due to breastfeeding, I am not super strict about my calorie intake right now; I eat when I’m hungry and practice moderation. I eat more healthy fats and protein than I would if I weren’t nursing. I feel like the added protein not only aids in muscle repair and recovery, but also breast milk has to have a good amount of protein and fat in it right? So I figured that I need to replace some of what I was loosing through my milk with extra fats and proteins, vitamin and calcium rich foods, and lots of water (over a gallon a day)!! Looking back I feel like I could have benefited during my race season from taking my prenatal vitamins more consistently. I didn’t quite reach my ideal race weight this year by just a few pounds, but I wasn’t racing under ideal circumstances in many ways; and don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing!
Although, I feel that I can always do better when it comes to getting to bed early enough, I strive for an 8 hour minimum, and many nights I can sleep for 9 or 10 hours. Having a schedule for Layla is necessary, and although it has slightly changed over the past 7 months she almost always sleeps a ten hour stretch at night, a luxury that not all moms get to enjoy. Because it is while we sleep that our bodies repair damaged muscle and recover for the next day’s training, getting the rest that our bodies need to do there job is mandatory!
How does lactic in my milk affect Layla? Post workout feedings often caused more spit up, but other than that, it didn’t hurt her at all. She never turned up her nose at sour milk, but I’ve heard this isn’t true for all babies. In that case, pump and dump!!
How does nursing affect my performance while training and racing? Well, I have no way of knowing for sure. I had some issues with lactic acid burn and build-up more than I remembered in other years. Was this from nursing or was I training harder? I felt like I was burning through my glycogen stores quickly (within an hour) and the rest of my ride or race I was fighting burning muscles. I started to fuel more during my rides, and as the season went on, the burning subsided; and I was able to train harder for longer. I also never had a perfect race this year, where I felt unstoppable! Again, no way of knowing for sure if this is related to nursing or not. I guess I’ll find out next year.
I never had problems keeping my milk supply, but I have friends who dry up with the slightest bit of exercise. My production lessens while riding, but it comes right back. When Layla was almost 6 months old, I was able to race an almost 80 miler (The Park City Point 2 Point) taking me almost 8.5 hours (longer than I had hoped for, but that is a subject for a future post), and my production was back to normal by the following day.
Dedication is required for an on-the-go mom. I’d nurse before I left on a ride, and when I got home. At races I’d warm up, nurse, do a couple more openers, then head to the start line. I rarely got to spin out and cool down after because I had to nurse again. I have to add that Nelson has been amazing support in helping me make everything possible. He often attends my races with Layla, or watches her while I ride. Luckily I was able to pump in addition to nursing so that I had a backup milk supply for when I was out on long rides or working. Layla has taken a bottle since she was 3 weeks of age, which was awesome and freeing.
Even though breastfeeding added extra stress on my body, it has so many benefits. First, it is the best thing nutritiously for baby and it is the most affordable option. Nursing allows for a very special bonding time with your baby and it is very calming to them. Finally, it is usually very convenient; although, there has been the occasional 6-plus hour training ride where I have stashed my manual pump in my back pocket……it is what it is….
If this leaves any readers with questions or comments, please contact me!! It would be my pleasure to help any way I’m able to and have you succeed and reach your goals!
Mountain bike race season is over for another season! I feel mixed emotions, but I believe that like every sport, it is the off season that gives me the fire and the drive to be better than the year before. I’m taking this time to rest, meditate on last season, set goals for next season, and enjoy my family, and unstructured riding (much of which I am hauling Layla behind me in her Chariot); as well as runs, and even a little cross skills training. In my three short years of racing mountain bikes, this was the hardest of them, for obvious reasons.
Looking back, I’m not sure how it was made possible; pregnancy, child birth, breast-feeding, training, working, and racing. I found out that it was possible to work out and ride my bike through an entire pregnancy..
Although it was not comfortable or easy it kept me sane, knowing that the pro XC national tour had already started and here I was about to give birth. I had so much fitness to make up, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to catch up. Once Layla was born on March 8, 2013, I spent the next couple weeks recouping. I had definitely underestimated the healing process! Two and a half weeks postpartum, I managed to sit on a bike seat (which was way earlier than is recommended), and I started to ride outside.
I increased my ride’s time and intensity slowly, testing out how my body would handle the physical stress. I started my structured training 3 weeks after childbirth. It consisted of long rides for base building, core strengthening, and plyos. My coach Dustin Phillips and I had put together a tentative race schedule during the winter, but we both felt like this season was more of a “let’s try and see what happens” season. I didn’t know if my body would be able to support breast feeding, which was important to me to do for my baby; and training and racing. I had had multiple people tell me that they would recommend taking the 2013 race season off, but I wanted to at least try. I decided that if it wasn’t working then I wasn’t going to force it, and I would have to reevaluate at that time. As I continued training 12-16 hrs a week , my body continued adapting to the stress and take form again as the pregnancy weight disappeared. With the added stress due to breastfeeding, I had to be ultra aware of the extra needs of my body. Eating well, sleeping enough, and staying hydrated all became ingrained in my program. I am fortunate that Layla has always been a great sleeper, and I never had a sleepless night. I thanked the Lord daily for giving me a strong body, because I know that what I was doing was not normal! I also stayed injury free this season, which eliminated any additional set-backs.
How I was able to get away every single day to train is beyond me, except that the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” became very real. My well planned schedule dictated when I would get my workout in each day. It depended on who was watching Layla and what time they were available, as well as working around my work schedule (Although I should mention that I took off a full 3 months off from work) . I was up before the sun on many occasions to train while my baby and my husband enjoyed sleeping in. In addition to my very supportive husband and Layla’s grandmothers, I also had a handful of good friends who helped me out so I could ride. Somehow, I didn’t miss a single workout. I wanted badly to be faster than the previous year, so my own motivation and guidance from Dustin kept me on track. He is dedicated to me and my success, so following through with my workouts was not an option, I just did them….rain or shine, and with all my heart! I also know that having mountain biking was a healthy outlet to get away by myself, which I do believe helped in avoiding any room for any sort of post-partum blues, which is so common.
I learned in a very personal way this season that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and the Lord’s grace and blessings!! A few season highlights include my first two national podiums; 3rd at Marathon Mountain Bike Championships, and a 3rd place finish at XC Nationals in Super D; as well as a 7th place finish at Missoula Pro XCT and 8th place at XC nationals in Cross Country. Going forward, my blog is going to key in on how I make life happen as a mom and elite athlete. I will share in detail, how I feel breastfeeding affected my performance, how I stay fit in the off season, favorite fit recipes, how I incorporate Layla as a part of many of my workouts, and much more!
Layla was born on March 8, 2013. She was 7lb 3 oz, 19 inches long
She was born with a collapsed lunge, which caused her a 2 day stay in the Nicu. Fortunately, her lung healed itself with just oxygen, and I was able to hold her and nurse her while she was there.
Nelson was amazing support through the labor and delivery; and he is an awesome father!
Layla is my mom’s first grandchild, and so she will be very spoiled I’m sure!
3 of Layla’s Uncles…..they will always have her back!
I had such an easy pregnancy that I assumed I would also have a very easy labor and delivery. I had done everything possible to be prepared…stayed in good shape, didn’t gain too much weight, ate right; but there is nothing that could have prepared me for the labor. I was induced at 4 days overdue due to dangerously low fluid levels. Although my midwives tried to put me into labor using the most holistic approach possible, my body didn’t respond to anything but pitocin. Pitocin contractions are extremely difficult to withstand, but after 8 hours of hard labor, I delivered a beautiful baby girl without having any pain killers. This was by far the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, but the most rewarding! I don’t think I could have gotten through it without drugs if I hadn’t kept myself in good shape!
Layla is a month old, and she is strong and growing so fast it’s unreal! We have spent most of this last month just getting accointed.
Although I did get a second degree tear, it healed fairly quickly. I was able to start some light weight workouts, and short walks after 1 week. Each week I felt stronger, and by the middle of the 2nd week postpartum, I was able to climb back onto my bike saddle, and I’ve ridden almost every day since thanks to Nelson’s flexibility to watch his little girl while I’m out.
My next post will be about my recovery, training, and how balancing life with a newborn is going……