Hurt in the Dirt

Hurt in the Dirt

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's been how long?!

Wow, I'm a little embarrassed by my 2 month hiatus from blogging. It was kind cool to hear that a few (an I reiterate a "few") people were actually missing my updates. So how do I explain the happenings of the last 2 months? Life has been incredible, busy, mind-numbing, and humbling all at once since June. First off, I graduated from PA school! A huge accomplishment that literally has been life-changing in many ways. Not only did I graduate with a master's degree, but I passed the national certification exam affectionately known in the PA world as the PANCE. In fact, I still get that guilty feeling every so often when I'm doing something enjoyable and not studying. For the last 27 months I've known nothing besides classrooms, hospitals, clinics, studying, and trying to ride my bike amidst it all. Looking back at life pre-PA school and comparing it to life today, I can honestly say the view now has completely different scenery. I feel like I have had some amazing life-experiences that have made me...well me, but none have built character and changed perspectives like PA school. Maybe it took place at a time in my life when I was in need of a proverbial smack across the head or maybe I was finally at a maturity level in which I was able to fully grasp the lessons hidden in such an experience. Regardless of the reasoning, I came out of PA school with a new career path, a whole new respect for the person Brandon is, and a refreshing outlook on how I hope to spend the rest of my life.

Graduation Day with a few of my very good PA friends.

As I mentioned before, I have been riding my bike some too! I did a few more local Utah races in July including the Dutch Hollow and Snowbasin Intermountain Cup races taking second place in each of those.  I also participated in the mountain bike National Championships in Sun Valley, ID. It's still such a nerve-racking experience showing up to the "big races". Every time I line up with high-caliber racers like Georgia Gould and Katie Compton I wonder "What in the hell was I thinking when I decided to race Pro?". Those women are insane athletes being paid to ride their bikes and here I am stuck in a whirlwind life of medicine and cycling and trying to be good at both! Yet, I continue to sign-up race after race! Sun Valley was hot and very steep! We climbed a loose fire road that literally went straight up the ski hill then snaked down the other side followed by 2 man-made rock gardens. Five laps of that in the afternoon heat is enough to make a person insane! For the past two years Brandon and I have spent our anniversary at Nationals. The first time he asked for a stars and stripes jersey for a gift and I was actually able to succeed at producing that gift (I guess I have to admit that last year I was racing Category 1... not pro!) This year, he knew better than to ask for a repeat! Instead he got a Camelbak :)

Around the Sun Valley Plaza for another lap at Nationals.

A trip through the maze of Sun Valley's man-made rock garden.
A true test of timing your pedal strokes and bike handling.

Before I knew it July had passed me by and I was in the last week of clinical rotations...yes, I'm proud to report I survived pediatrics. I know some of you had your doubts! August meant graduation and studying for my certification exam. Instead of racing on the weekends, we opted for a couple of camping trips to take a deep breath.

But, once I had taken the exam and didn't have to study for 6 hours a day it was back to racing. I decided to once again race the tortuous off-road duathalon in Ogden called Hurt in the Dirt. Tricia and I raced it as a team last year with her doing the running legs and me the biking legs. We were soooo amazingly fast that we won the team event. This year I figured we would participate again and defend our title. Tricia bailed on me because of some little triathlon called Ironman...apparently its sort of a big deal? I was left with the choice of finding a NEW partner in crime or going solo. I was pretty sure finding a partner as crass and stubborn as TD was nearly impossible so I decided solo was the way to go! How hard could 8 miles of running and 20 miles of mountain biking be anyway? Oh boy! I quickly learned that a race in 100 degree heat that includes running is REALLY hard! I only prepared enough calories/water for about a 2 hour race in 80 degree heat and instead got a 3 hour death march in 100 degrees. I've never in my entire life had such bad muscle and stomach cramps! However, I did not succumb to the pain, not only did I finish...but I won the women's race! And in the meantime I cured myself of ever wanting to race another running event...ever!!

One of the bike legs at Hurt in the Dirt. Notice my exposed tan line in those tiny Tri-shorts.
I caught so much grief for that!

Yesterday I decided to do an "easier" race. One that didn't involve running! This one was also in Ogden called the Mt. Ogden 100K. For those of you who don't get the metric system, that's about 62 miles. This was held at Snowbasin and had about 10,000 feet of vertical climbing. All of this adds up to being about 6 hours and 45 minutes on a bike. Well, that is if you flat on mile 35 and have a near mental breakdown about mile 55. But still, it was the mental and physical feat that fuels, in some very odd way, the reason I love mountain biking. There is something about the science of focusing on every rock, when to brake, how hard to pedal, fueling your body correctly, and where your competition is at all times. To me its basically like a form of meditation from the time you arrive at the venue until the second you cross the finish line. At the end of my very long meditation session I ended up in second place behind Amanda Carey, an amazing ultra endurance rider from Victor, ID. An amazing day that included friends, lots of singletrack, and a huge cardboard check from Snowbasin for $500 with my name on it! Its ALWAYS a good day when you get paid to ride your bike!

First trip up East Fork at the Mt. Ogden 100K. 

So that's it! Mountain Bike Season 2011 complete! Today cyclocross season begins. Time to dust off the skin suit and skinny tires and practice jumping on and off my bike. My cross schedule is still TBD but hoping to use a successful summer to catapult me into the fall season. Thanks for reading!