Puerto Rico MTB Cup

“Honor the process.” This has been a common quote from my coach, Chris Mileski, for the last 8 years that we have worked together. When we first started working together that statement made sense. I was very green and constantly learning. We made huge leaps and bounds what felt like weekly in my knowledge and strength. Somewhere in the middle of those years, even though the improvements kept coming, the statement “honor the process” became slightly frustrating. Haven’t I honored it long enough? Now, with wins and years of experience under my belt, I feel like I am once again finding a lot of peace with that sentence “honor the process.” Truthfully, it’s a very comforting statement because we are all always a work in progress and always will be. My strength and weakness have continually shifted and adapted over the years, and the girl who stands on the start line nowadays seems wildly different than the girl who stood on it years ago. That’s part of what’s so exciting though, the knowledge that I will always continue to grow. 

Photo Credit: @fotogandul

The first races of the season seemed like the perfect time to remember this phrase and really work on my process and focus on my process goals. I think as athletes sometimes we get so caught up in what “works” that we forget that something else might work better because of the fear that it won’t. This week I gave myself permission to try new things and learn. 

This week when we lined up for the race I felt a calmness that I haven’t felt in a while. I had pure excitement to race. 

As we pushed off of the line, one of the girls next to me immediately came over into my space forcing me to grab the brakes to avoid an early crash. I entered the single track in 6th, which on a course that is very difficult to pass, was not optimal. I remained calm and burned some matched to sprint around someone every small opportunity that I had. Eventually I made it into 4th right before a major climb and the girl in front of me spotted in the middle of the trail, unable to climb the steep hill. The two girls in front accelerated off and the rest of us were running. After re-mounting I put in a bit dig to claw back up to 2nd place. For the next 1.5 laps I rode in a group fighting for 2-4 positions. We all took turns at the front and launching attacks. I felt weirdly at ease and the pace felt simple. I made the critical error though of not just relaxing into that pace, but instead constantly trying to push it. That along with a mistake here and there left me a painful 10 seconds back toward the end of the race. 

Photo Credit: @fotogandul

The twisty, turny course made it near impossible to see anyone in front of you, but spectators keep yelling “Only 10 seconds” and “They’re not that far ahead!” The whole race I was fully convinced I would catch up. I kept telling myself “Just gain one second every corner” or “One second every climb.” With each turn I was straining my neck in hopes of catching a glimpse of someone entering the next turn but some how I never quite closed the gap. 

I finished the race in 4th and any day on the podium has to be considered a good day so I am happy. What I’m happier about my placement though is how I felt in both my body and my mind out there. I think this early in the season, sensations and what’s going on in your mind is far more important than the numbers on the page. The placements will continue to rise with this approach as I continue to “honor the process” this season. 

Photo Credit: @fotogandul

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