Sunday, June 28, 2009

Extra Small Never Looked So Good!

Our pintsize Vanderkitten celebrated her 47th birthday last weekend with her feline friends by her side. What started off as just yet another fun night to get together with friends ended up with us cats making sure that Kelly Cat's birthday didn't slip by with races that same weekend. Food, drink and talk were flowing for hours. There was talk of a water volleyball game but all of that went by the wayside when Kelly Cat decided to model her new VK Tri Top. This multi-talented athlete not only has a great future as a triathlete and golfer, but as a model and stand up comic as well. Kelly lights up a room when she enters and makes everyone feel young when she's around. Her energy is abundant and we are all so glad to have her as a part of our team. Our Kelly Kat is definitely not 47 years old, but 47 years young!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah

Before I get to explaining this title, on behalf of all of us in the VKVB Cycling Club, our wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Maria & Brenna! We hope you both heal up very soon & are back on your bikes in short order! Take care!

Not easy to segue but here goes...

El Cap's on fuego & she’s serving up some smokin’ course records! Yep, our Cook came through once again yesterday setting another record at the Virginia State Championship Time Trial (with an official time of 59:03)!! The fact that she’s breaking so many records is impressive unto itself but to recognize that these records were all set by her last year brings another level of “hot damn” to this accomplishment. WAY TO GO, CHEETAH!! We’re all very proud of you! By setting these PR’s & CR’s, you’re also setting an example of what can be achieved by women in cycling!

I can attest that it was a windy one out there yesterday – seemed as though it was coming from every direction at some point on the course. As has been noted though, it’s an added element that everyone has to endure so at least the playing field is fair….fairly hard, that is, unless it’s a tail wind! A thanks to all who helped to successfully put the race on - most especially whoever marked up the bridge, which undoubtedly saved alot of racers from bike and/or body damage. This was my first time at this event & I look forward to doing it again next year (of course, that’s a lot easier to say now that it’s done). I was happy with my time & got a win in the Cat 4 category.

The day before, Rob and I headed up to Richmond for the Cat 4 State Championship Crit. It wasn’t easy getting up at the crack to make the trip but once I stepped out into the oven (promise, last time I'll do the Dinah reference) from the a/c of the truck, I was all too happy to have the race starting at 8:55 a.m. Turned out to be the most challenging & exciting crits I’ve done so far this year. Right off the bat, one girl broke away & no one gave chase (myself included). In the handful of prior crits I’ve been in, that move would have prompted me to go after her but I thought that there may be some other strategy at play. As we lapped the course a few times with no attempts by her teammates to break & no time being made up between the pack of us and her, I realized quickly that I had erred in my judgment. From then on, I knew if there was any shot at getting closer, I would have to pick up the pace. Slowly (much more slowly than preferred), the time gap being shouted out got smaller but it was still about a 40+ second split. Then, her teammate unfortunately wrecked around the 180 turn. This changed the course of action though by allowing a couple of other girls and me to separate from the pack (as she had been doing a standout job of keeping us all together). We managed to make the break which then led to us trying to catch up. With 5 laps or so to go, there was potential but it wasn’t an easy task by any means. She was obviously a strong rider who knew what she needed to do. I felt like I had worked hard to narrow her lead so I tried to keep pushing & stay focused. At some point along the way, I ended up on my own. Finally, with 2 laps remaining I caught up to her. We traded places until the last lap and then once we rounded that 180 turn for the downhill straightaway to the uphill finish, the final push was on. In the end, I managed to cross the line about a wheel’s length ahead of her & I was all but spent!

Once again, I'm stoked to have been a part of another good weekend of racing. It seems to me that we may not have the quantity that most of us would like out there giving it a go, but based on everyone whom I've met, there's no question about the quality of racers on and off the course!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Won Down, Won To Go Weekend

Happy to report that our fearless leader, Cheetah, took 1st at both the Amphib Crit & PLT #1 Time Trial this weekend!! 

Crit Report:  With puddles of rain & showers off and on during our race, we were both rethinking our decision not to wear glasses for this one.  In fact, Left Eye Laura rode the last several laps with 50% vision as her right contact lens took a trip around her eye thanks to getting washed out regularly throughout the race.  That probably would have done in other racers but El Cap's not one to let anything get the best of her.  At some point prior to that, after leading out most of the laps, she and 3 other gals got a decent gap from the rest of us.  The break stuck but shortly thereafter a rider started to bridge up to them & that's when I realized (a little slower than I'd like to admit) that I better get up there as well.  With us added on, we now had a six pack for the rest of the race.  We never managed to get a unified pace line going but we held what we had until the last straightaway sprint to the finish.  There was some distance to cover & Cheetah jammed out a nice lead from the rest of us setting up a classic ending. I managed to get 3rd overall, 1st in Cat 4. 

The cheering squad was comprised of our official officiator, Donna, who did a smashing job for our team, Podium Cat who was capturing it all on camera like only she can do & do so well & our Manderkittens Bob & Rob.

PLT #1 Report:  With fog lifting & humidity sticking around, it was time to see how fast we could stop that clock.  Big showing for our team today with racers & supporters combined.  On board for the "fun" were Laura, BJ, Barb, Maggie, Vanda, Joie, Summer, Susan & me.  Ronna was planning to race but was under the weather - she, along with Mitten Kitten & Smitten Kitten gave us all a boost with their cheers (quite a feat for Ronna since she lost her voice earlier in the week)! The Manderkittens, always unwavering in their support as well, did us proud!  

The start was a tease with a tailwind to get us all going at a nice clip right off the bat...of course, we knew what that meant for the finish - you gotta pay to play!  It's all relative, however, and today was no exception.  That is to say, the wind wasn't too bad & the humidity was manageable.  The course was in good shape except for one area that still had some standing water but that didn't interfere with the race.    With a course record at the PLT #3 last year, El Cap had one primary thing on her mind...besting her own time.  So in the illustrious words of Ron Popeil, she had a "Set it and forget it" record: 52:56, old record: 53:07.  Podium Cat had a mix up on her start time that had it not happened would have put her in 1st by a sizable spread for Women 40+ - she took it in stride like the accomplished competitor that she is though.  I snagged 2nd overall, 1st in Cat 4 with a better time than my last one in '07.  Summer (aka El Gato), in her first time trial, did a stellar job with a time around 1:03.  When asked what she thought after the finish, she said she loved it with a look that spoke volumes.  Glad to have another Cat 4 in our crew who's sure to make her mark with each coming race!  Unfortunately in trying to get this blog posted quickly, I'm not exactly sure about the times made by the rest of our ladies but I think everyone was generally happy with her results - as we all would agree, getting out there & doing it is a reward in itself!  One thing I do know without a doubt is that VKVB came together once again & had a great time enjoying each other's company as well as all of the those who participated along with us!  

CONGRATULATIONS to all with an extra BIG UPS & MAD PROPS to Cheetah who exemplified how fitting her name is by smokin' the competition this weekend!

Thankful for another memorable weekend of racing!  Thankful to be a part of such a great group of gals!!  

Ali Cat

(Hopefully we can update with a group pic here soon)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

VK Represents at Breezy Point Tri (1000M Swim, 20K bike, 5K run)

Ok...where to begin with Breezy Point? So much to tell, but I will start with I was "tri-ing" at Breezy Point to say the least. I must agree with Claudia in that I was kicking myself for signing up again this year, I just plain old wasn't feeling it. To make matters worse, I was not very healthy that week and knew it would effect my performance...yet I kept "tri-ing". Of course I had nothing ready and had to rush to get everything into my SUV an hour before leaving, such a bad kittie. As usual had to keep going to the litter box as my nerves kicked in. Weather was ideal at 73 degrees and mostly overcast skies. Oh what a great breeze too...hmmm, not such a good breeze later during the bike, duhhh! I was so excited to see all the other kitties almost immediately Kelly Kat was walking her bike as I drove by and then I had the pleasure of racking my bike next to both Donna and Claudia. After sharing my asthma inhaler (no names) LOL, it was time to figure out how to get all this kitty in a rubber suit that could fit a 12 year old. Since all us kittens were over 40, we got to enter the water together, yeah time to get my a** kicked by all my teammates whom happen to be great swimmers. Although everyone had great times, gotta give kudos to Claudia who was a beast in the swim. I didn't think cat's could swim like that...hiss. Kelly Kat had a great swim as well and was out like a cheetah. Donna was next and I was not far behind. At this point I was delirious from the swim. Not sure if it was all the kicks to the head by all those feral cats in pink caps or my usual swim panic mode. Nonetheless, I was astounded, yet extremely happy for all my teammates when I never saw them again on the bike. That meant they were all rocking the bike, because I never caught any of them. However, since Donna and I were closer in the swim we did play a little cat & mouse on the bike portion. I give all the kitties a high five on their great bike times, because that headwind was relentless for 3/4 of the bike portion and the potholes were not our friends. Although some of us had better bike times, gotta give Kelly Kat Kudos for a very impressive and highly improved bike. Vanderkitten has pushed her to a new level!!! Saw Donna again racking our bikes to move to the dreaded 5K run...uggghh! At this point I knew it was all down hill for me. Claudia, Kelly and then Donna tearing up the divot hole ridden course in that order. Unfortunately, for me this was my worse event by far. I had nothing left at this point and just plain old had an off day, yet I kept "tri-ing" and finished nonetheless. Big Shout out to Donna for placing second in her age group in her very first tri with a total time of 1:47:37!!! High Five to Claudia for a great overall race and only being 42 seconds away from placing with a time of 1:29:25 a new PR!!! Big ups to Kelly Kat for a phenomenally improved bike and a new PR (by 8 whole minutes) with a time of 1:42:37!!! Honorable mention to Peyton our future Vanderkitten and Kelly Kats kitten for barely missing 3rd place in her AG with a time of 1:33:46!!! As for me, no PR this year, but was humbled into knowing what I have to do to not be in that position again. My time was 1:58:36 because I kept tri-ing!!!

Vanda aka "Zipp Cat"

Friday, June 5, 2009

Time to Tri - Breezy Point

True to its name, the Breezy Point Triathlon proved to be a breezy day; nonetheless, sunny and a beautiful day to race. Leading up to the weekend I was feeling very nonchalant about the race and almost just bagged it and didn’t compete. I just wasn’t into doing it. I find myself in this conundrum often. I sign up for these events and then I kick myself the whole time prior to the event; the after effect is a totally different emotion, more on that later. As well, a good friend of mine blew me off and didn’t wish me luck on the race so I was feeling a bit dejected.

I started preparations the night before, loaded up my car and made sure to eat a decent dinner not too carb loaded but reasonably balanced. Fell asleep early on the couch and forgot to finish a few things that I tossed and turned about all night and kept waking up reminding myself to do in the morning. Amazingly I didn’t forget.

Upon arriving at the race I saw Kelly cat and her crew walking in. I parked at quite possibly the furthest spot away that I could not realizing parking was abundant still at this point so I had a nice long walk to transition. I had pictured in my head how I should logically set up my transition area and was able to find ample room to do so near my fellow kitty Vanda.

The start was rapidly approaching and we were being gently (note the sarcasm there) directed towards the swim platform so I moseyed on over there with the rest of the pink caps and rambled on with different people along the way. I was at least happy that my cap was pink. Upon looking at my HR monitor I noticed my HR already at 92?!?! Surely I wasn’t excited about this. Finally it came time to get in the water; ugh. I followed Manderkitten Ryan’s advice and went right to the front and wound up chit chatting with Karen (Ryan and Julie’s friend) and also my pharmacist. Small world. The gun went off and we started swimming. I felt like everyone else with pink was ahead of me – what in the world, this is my best event!?! So I thought ok well just settle in and get in your groove, which I did. I didn’t really pay attention after that to anyone else, just tried to spot the buoys and keep swimming. Did my fair share of kicking other people and getting kicked and clawed throughout the beginning as well as swallowing that lovely Naval Base water – YUK, and then before I knew it I was rounding the last buoy back towards the ramp and didn’t see too many other pinks in front of me. Turns out I was 4th out of the water among my AG! WOW! Great advice – thanks Ryan!

One event down two to go is what I told myself. Trying to keep Cali cats advice in my head that “THIS IS FUN” also kept me from not cursing left and right at the wind. I’m having fun, I’m having fun I chanted – now I just need my ruby red bike shoes to transport me to the finish line! I heard a friend cheer for me as I moved through transition and was reasonably pleased with my T1. Moving on to the bike, and as promised the first few miles into the wind were tough but I just hunkered down into aero position and kept pedaling using my knowledge of downshifting from my friend Erika to keep my cadence up and not poop out my legs. The bike was relatively smooth and I was please with my overall 18.5 pace. Which I absolutely attribute to being a Vanderkitten and making me stronger!

Off the bike and onto the run; my least favorite of the three. I truly hadn’t done much running since Shamrock and was feeling very heavy legged. Decided walking through both water stops was just going to work best and tried to not keep reminding myself how far I had left. Did I mention that I’ve not liked running lately? I got mad when the second girl wearing a 300 number passed me so I sped up at the end. I knew I was doing pretty well because I had not seen too many 300 people pass me and I had passed a ton of people from heats before me on both the bike and run. Coming down the tarmac towards the finish I could see my little girl and hear her screaming GO MOMMY! Sweet – awesome inspiration, despite the wind desperately trying to push me backwards! I finished as strong as I could and then when I finally remembered to stop my watch at the end of the running shoot it read somewhere around 1:29. I thought no way! Turns out it was my fastest 5K ever – funny how that works sometimes.

Low and behold, I met all the goals I set for myself (despite not wanting to really do the race I did set goals) and then the enthusiasm and adrenaline kicked in. I was pumped at my time. I was frustrated that I didn’t push myself harder having come so close to placing; needless to say it was a mix of emotions I haven’t felt before. What I learned is that I have to try to find that enthusiasm before the race and maybe it might improve my overall performance just that much more. As well, next time I will warm up on just the bike as I did not warm up at all…bad kitty.

I am really proud of all the other Vanderkittens who represented our club so well that day, and once again humbled to part of such an Ass Kicking group of women!

Kick Ass until next time Ladies!