The bottom line from this race – plans often don’t work, but sometimes the result is amazing! Before the race we had an outline of how we should approach the race keeping in mind that the temperature was very high. Basically we were not supposed to get too excited too soon so we wouldn’t die in the heat.
Well, I think it took 2.5 laps before our impatience got the best of us – Marley attacked and got away solo. Everyone knows Marley is most dangerous when she is on her own, so the peloton was motivated to chase her down. After a couple of laps chasing Marley, girls got close to her. I followed the chasing wheels, and when they were close I counter attacked and got away. Soon enough Heather Van Sickle joined me, and we dug deep and worked together to stay away.
After several laps Heather Lipana had bridged up to us and motivated by her work, Shannon from Red Peloton was there too. Thank goodness for those two, the heat was certainly getting to us and it was very nice to have more riders to share the work with. Back in the field, Claire was riding consistently at third wheel to keep the group in control while Marley went on to solo in fifth place between us and the group.
The four of us in the break worked together until we had to start to think of the finish. Given the composition of our break (3 Folsom/Cervelo, 1 Red Peloton), and a safe advantage over the field, I knew my best move would be to attack and have Shannon chase me so the Heathers could sprint. Shannon chased me down when I tried this with 3 laps to go, and 2 laps to go, but finally at 1 lap to go I got away to the finish. Sure enough, the Heathers sprinted for 2nd and 3rd..
The final result was Folsom/Cervelo in 1,2,3,5, and 10th place, way better than we could have planned!
After a couple great road races with the team it was time for another triathlon. This time, I headed to Auburn, CA for a challenging half distance course with lots of climbing on the bike route and a trail run. In the weeks leading up to this one I may have looked at the training plan and thought…ohhhh….that looks pretty hard?!?! But then it’s over with and it wasn’t that hard and race day arrives.
After my first half distance event, I needed to establish some additional guidelines to help keep me focused. Rule #1, no talking during the swim. Rule #2, eat real food on the bike. Rule #3, run faster then you think is even possible and see what happens.
Rule #1 seems pretty obvious, but anyways I needed to make this one a priority. I made sure to contain all my random conversations with strangers in wetsuits to the pre-race warm up and was ready to just swim when we started. I made my way from buoy to buoy and was indeed faster then the first attempt, so I will call the swim a success.
Rule #2 may seem obvious as well. However, it’s really not that much fun to stuff your face while you are on a bike in areo extensions. The course started us off with a good climb out of the swim venue at Rattlesnake bar. I took the opportunity to eat and settle in before getting out along the HWY80 frontage roads. After about an hour, it was time for a snack! And I was feeling pretty good having passed a fair amount of people. I made my way around the “Bear River Loop” and then returned along the same frontage roads. Had another snack, passed some more people, and as I closed in on the last ten miles decide I should just another bar. I mean, why not….wasn’t gonna eat it on the run and it was in my pocket.
Rule #3 may not always apply but because it was a trail run it wasn’t going to be as easy to get in a good rhythm. The run course was absolutely beautiful and included some good hills, single track, fire roads, paved roads, and the canal trail. At the first aid station the volunteers were so excited to see another girl and tell me I was in second place. So, then I was pretty excited too! There was plenty of men running between us, as I saw her a couple times on the out and back sections of the course. I just ran as fast as possible on the flat and smooth trails and kept it going on the rocky single track and steep hills. I started to pass a lot of guys and I finally could see a woman in front of me. I worked my way up to her in the final mile and passed her, but could still hear her keeping the pace behind me. A sprint for the finish is not something I wanted to do, so on the final little hill, I went as hard as possible and kept it up until I finished.
She came in soon after me. And we both high-fived each other on a good race. One of the more enjoyable moments in these events is the amount of encouragement people give each other out on the road. This race was full of those, and I have learned that returning the encouragement is equally important.
It was a great day and incredibly fun to win an overall. All the support and kindness of my friends, family, teammates, and sponsors make stuff like this possible and I can’t thank everyone enough. Jakroo makes the most comfortable clothing to swim/bike/and run in for a triathlon. Folsom Bike and Endurance360 for keeping me happy with. UC Davis Sports Medicine and Judd Van Sickle for an amazingly fast and comfortable TT bike position. And of course, major thanks to my coach Jesse Moore.
We are extremely honored to have our own Marley Smith race in the Amateur category for the Time Trial stage in Folsom for the Amgen Tour of California. Her official time was 29:32.88 for a 12.5 mile course, averaging 25.4 miles per hour, which is fast enough to compete with the pros! She placed fifth out of the 21 amateurs. Great job!
Today Marley Smith, Claire Morgan, Susannah Breen and Heather Van Sickle were all super excited to race the Berkeley Hills Road Race today. The weather was sunny and mid-fifties with a nine mph wind. It was absolutely gorgeous! We had about twenty woman racers joining us that included the Metromint woman, Velo Sports, Pinnacle, Mikes Bikes and Red Racing. Each team had between 2-4 racers.
The race started off calm into a head cross wind section. Once we took the right hand turn into the cross tailwind section it was game on. A couple attacks were initiated by the main teams and by our team. Marley attacked on the first couple rollers and as soon as she was caught Susannah countered up one of the steeper rollers. Claire was very attentive to the moves and followed the attacks. Heather followed Joanna Dahl’s attacked and was joined by her team-mate, Leah Thomas, two Velo Sports riders, and two Pinnacle riders. We ended up dropping one Velo Sport and one Pinnacle rider on the Papa Bear climb. The quickly built a 4 minute lead, despite Heather not fully committing as she was outnumbered by the two mintys.
The break worked well together for about forty miles until we hit the last lap into the tailwind section. The metro mint ladies took advantage of the fact that they had two in the break and the tailwind. Joanna attacked but was brought back by the Velo Sports racer. Leah countered Joanna. Heather went with Leah’s move and made a gamble to work with her. Heather and Leah were out front for about ten minutes but both Velo and Pinnacle worked together to bring us back. As soon as we were, Joanna made a unbelievably fierce counter and left us all in the dust. The four remaining break-mates looked at each-other to see who was willing to try and bring Joanna back. The Velo Sport girl made many attempts but was unsuccessful. On the first bear both Leah and Velo Sport attacked and left Heather and the Pinnacle rider behind. On the second bear Heather attacked the Pinnacle rider and got away with third place Leah still in sight. On the final climb, Papa Bear, Heather closed the gap on third place to only seconds between them but ran out of climb. Joanna won solo, Velo Sport 2nd, Leah 3rd, Heather 4th, Pinnacle 5th.
Marley and Susannah worked on the last lap to drop everyone except eight riders. The two of them came into the final climb with the eight riders but Marley attacked at the base and was followed by a Velo Sport rider, Ginger. The two climbed together until Marley kicked it into her second gear and dropped Ginger. Marley finished the day in 6th. Susannah was only about a minute behind Marley and they were followed by Claire.
It was great to have not only a successful team race but also an aggressive road race. All the teams represented well and raced their bikes classy.
When my old Davis teammate and close friend Breezer Hill drove me to the airport for my flight out to Nationals, I confessed that I was worried about the small things that can unpredictably ruin a race — flat tires, crashes, equipment failures. She replied with some sound wisdom, telling me that although those possibilities exist, I was still coming into the race with the potential to win. Sure, Breezer said, everything has to come together to have a perfect race. But you can’t have a perfect race unless you’ve completed the months of training beforehand. Luckily, I had three almost perfect races at Collegiate Nationals in Richmond this past weekend.
Friday featured an 18 mile time trial that first took riders out and back along brick streets lined with beautiful old row houses. After some technical turns, we then headed over the James River on a bridge that was extremely windy. A short punchy climb followed by a tricky descent back onto the other side of the bridge brought us back across the river to more turns, a fast downhill, and a kicker of a hill up to the finish. The end of the race actually came after 700 meters of false flat following the top of the climb. We started the race with a team of four: myself, Sara Enders, Sarah Beard, and Folsom Bike’s Diane Moug. While all of us had raced team time trials together this spring, we’d been struggling to find that perfect balance where each teammember pulls just according to her own abilities. Thankfully, that balance came together on Friday. We had Sarah Beard sit on the back for the first part of the race while Diane, Sara E, and I all rotated through. I was careful to moderate my efforts at the front, as I often pull too hard at the beginning of TTT. When we started our return trip across the bridge, Sarah Beard came through to take a strong pull and launch us across the bridge. From that point on, it was just me, Diane, and Sara E. Both those girls are significantly stronger time trialists than I am, so every time I got to the front I thought, “Don’t screw this up,” while I pulled as hard as I could. We had the smoothest possible race and landed in second place, only 20 seconds behind Marion University’s team.
Saturday’s crtierium took place on city streets in Richmond and was my dream course. A narrow start / finish straight followed by several quick and technical turns, and then a swooping descent which launched riders onto a fatty hill. What more could I ask for?!? Not to mention the fact that for this race, I was lucky enough to have my parents and close friends from undergrad make the trip to watch me race. All I had to do for this race was to keep calm, stay out of trouble, and not think too much. Luckily, outstanding teamwork from Sara Enders made this possibile. Despite having crashed in the early laps of the race, and despite this being her first nationals criterium, Sara just knew what to do. Almost everytime I was in the wind, Sara came to the front and protected me. When prime laps were called, I was careful to sit on Marian University’s train, but I didn’t sprint for any of the primes, instead choosing to conserve energy for the final sprint. With one lap to go, Sara was first wheel, I sat second right on her through the turns, and in the middle of the hill on the backside of the course, Marian launched their leadout. Having anticipated this, I jumped right on Allie Dragoo’s wheel and sat there for the corner at the top of the climb. I knew that before the final turn, stuff would get crazy. And sure enough it did. I sat up to sprint into the final corner, went around it at a terrifying speed and then sprinted with everything I had for 300 meters to the finish line. I was ecstatic to only be beaten by Coryn Rivera from Marian.
The last race of the weekend was a technical road race on Sunday run on a 9.5 mile circuit featuring two cobbled sections: one short and fast descent, and then a couple miles later a short cobbled climb with switch backs. The last kilometer of the race was identical to the team time trial’s finish: a punchy climb followed by a 700 meter false flast drag to the line. The first 6 miles of the circuit were uneventful, with all the fun stuff packed into the end. Given the technicalities of the race and its short distance (we only did 49 miles), I rode it like a crit. I never left the top five of of the peloton. Going into the cobbled descent each time, Stanford’s Eileen Mazzochette would put on the gas and thankfully string out the peloton. Marian also punched it down that descent, so instead of being terrified each time we went down it, I instead got to enjoy how fun the ride was. Positioning on the flat straight was easier than I’d anticipated — collegiate women are definitely less aggressive than the pro fields I’d ridden in at San Dimas or Sea Otter. Each time we entered the climb, I was third wheel and climbed to the top with Coryn and Allie from Marian. On the second to last time up the hill, a group of us finally got good separation from the pack: it was me, Coryn, Allie, Midwestern State’s Jessica Prinner, Cornell’s Lenore Pipes, and Diane. Sadly, Diane got dropped up the second kicker climb up to the start/finish where things started to heat up. As we rode that false flat hearing the bell for one lap to go, I was toasted and just followed wheels. Allie attacked and I just couldn’t jump to her. Shortly thereafter, Coryn decided she’d had enough of staying with us slow ladies, so she also jumped out to join Allie up the road. It was pretty pathetic that neither me nor Jessica nor Lenore had any energy to respond to this one-two punch, but we quickly started working together so that we could assure our 3rd, 4th, and 5th places on the podium. We never went all out in this last lap, since it was pretty obvious that we weren’t going to catch Marian and that the pack was not going to catch us. We just had to maintain a steady tempo to keep a safe distance from any chasers. As we neared the final climbs, we eased up on the gas, starting to conserve for the final sprint. I’m sad to say that I was much too cocky going into that sprint. After having bested both Jessica and Lenore in the previous day’s crit, I thought that I could sit at the front (going easy, of course) and still win. That wasn’t the case, and when Jessica jumped with a little over 200 meters to go, I couldn’t catch her. I did manage to hold off Lenore for 4th place. While I felt stupid after botching that last sprint, I can’t complain about the race overall. This entire weekend has been a dream come true, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to accomplish goals that — to be honest — I set for myself 7 years ago when I was still an undergraduate.