It is the race you prepare for all season. A race you hope to peak for and have your best performance of the year. And I did everything right (with help of Coach K, of course). I had great fitness. I went into this race feeling strong. I was climbing amazingly well. But there was only one problem. See this:
Yes, it looks like the same air/sky we have in Portland, but although not visible in the picture, it is much thinner. Nationals for 2009 and 2010 are at upwards of 8000 feet in Granby, CO. For a sea-level dweller, I knew it was going to be a rough one. I almost didn't want to go, but heck, it's nationals. You have to go, don't you? I went, I suffered, I persevered and I came out with a 12th place finish in the XC. I had a good start, but I have learned, do not push too hard or you will suffer more. I kept it reasonable, within my limits and just raced my race. It was a good course, suited me pretty well. Like I said, if it was at 2000 ft., I would have killed it!!! Tim had a rough go too, but we had fun. And isn't that what it is all about???
Short track is always hard. Like Dave McElwaine (pictures above & below are his. www.trailwatch.net) shouted to me on the course, "Butler, it is supposed to hurt". It did. A lot. I rode steady, finally climbing into 10th, only to drop my chain at the bottom of the climb (rookie move) and had to dismount to put it back on, then was passed back by Zeph and Alison and the next lap I got pulled and had to settle for 12th. It was one of those mixed feelings of relief when getting pulled. I hate not finishing, but I was glad to not have to climb that hill again. Georgia lapped riders on course, so at least I technically didn't get lapped. :)Tim raced strong, but got passed and just missed the podium for a 7th place finish. He looked good!
We packed up quickly after the race to head back home. I realized that I took hardly any pictures the whole weekend. Perhaps the lack of oxygen affected my brain in more ways than I realized, so I pulled over at the pass and we did a few self timer photos, just to prove we were there.