Wednesday, January 24, 2018

USA BMX Silver Dollar Nationals, Las Vegas NV

It is January 24th, 2018 and it’s already been one crazy year. Houston saw snow, not once but twice, followed by 70-degree sunny days. I raced the season opener of the 2018 USABMX national series in Las Vegas with friends (2 seconds and a sixth), and I am slowly but surely determined and on my way to getting my running mileage higher and more consistent. Well then, happy New Year!
Vegas was amazing and a blast! I went with a friend from the track and his two kids, one of whom I am sorority sisters with, and both of whom were a blast to be around. I think I laughed enough for the month of January in that one long weekend!
The funniest part of the trip for me was during our trip to the Bellagio. We checked out the botanical gardens inside the casino (the theme was China’s year of the dog), ate at probably the best buffet ever, and were coming back from checking out the rest of the strip and the water show. We got in a parking garage elevator with 7-ish guys who were cracking up and having a good time. The guy closest to me turns to me with a serious face; he’s dressed in a button down with a sweater vest over that, and a teardrop tattoo under his eye, and asks me, “Guess what?”. “What?” I ask. He very slowly holds up a small flower and tells me he stole it from the botanical gardens, then starts loudly giggling and never stops. In between giggles he yells a few times, “Now THAT’S some gangsta s*@t!”. He was so excited to have that tiny flower, I could hear him cracking up even as we got out, the elevator doors closed and continued its downward trajectory. Maybe you had to be there, but it was just funny.

So much has happened between this time last year and now. It was a year of moving to a new city and working for a company I didn’t believe in. I wanted happiness, and eventually got it in the form of moving back to town and starting a new positon. For most of last year I was running through a lot of sadness and trying to tire myself every night, so I could get some sleep. Learning to run again while being happy is, weirdly enough, an entirely different experience. I would most equate it to the first two years of running, when I never wanted to stop running and everything seemed like a blessing. I feel like that again, like I’m waking up, and though I have a long way to go to get back to where I was, I’m thankful for it.

So I sit here, 22 days of the year officially down, drinking my yummy Budda’s Brew Peach Mint Kombucha (I’m not kidding, this stuff is really good, just don’t shake it up) and watching The Barkley Marathons on Netflix (suggested by a wonderful friend). If you don’t know what the Barkley Marathon is, it is 5-26 mile loops in the woods in Tennessee. Racers enter a lottery to run it, and receive a letter of condolence if they get in, because it’s hard. Less than 20 runners have finished it since its inception. With that being said, the price is right. The race director charges $1.60 to apply and either a shirt, or a license plate, or some other nifty item upon entering. You even get to run through a waterway built under an active prison.

Watching the relationship between the competition evolve in the various stages of the journey was interesting. The point of a race most times is to compete, either against your own past performance, or against others in that moment. Even though a distance running race may consist of over 1,000 participants, you most likely do not know who your direct competition is, your age group, etc. Many other distance runners are very supportive, but running against a time on a programmed watch can feel very much like a solo effort. BMX racing is the complete opposite; it’s closer to a track meet- up to 8 people are on a starting gate with you, and your main goal is to sprint as fast as you can and ultimately be the first to cross the finish line. While people are managing their nerves, we all handle competition very differently. In BMX I have seen everything from the typical hug, handshake or fist bump, to catty comments or knocking into a rider after the race is done (the last two things are rare). Nerves can be a tough thing to deal with, and maintaining mental toughness throughout a competition, whatever the sport may be, plays as much of a major role as training does in the long run.

I am looking forward to running the Hot Chocolate 15k this weekend with a friend. This will be my first race back in about a year, so my goal is to finish strong (a.k.a. not die) and of course have some finish line hot chocolate! I’m also looking forward to hopefully seeing some of my friends at Central Texas BMX if mother nature behaves itself.

Here’s to all the great things in store for us all in the coming year, cheers!