Archive for the ‘great athletes’ Category

Spending the day packing for Beijing. We’ve got a flight out on Air China at midnight, which gives me the entire day to attend to all the junk I’ve been shoving aside when I’m too tired from training.

I’m also trying to embrace the digital life, which means I’ve got to stop printing stuff like this and keeping it around. So I thought I’d preserve it here:

“Someday, in years to come, you’ll be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow, of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.”

–Phillips Brooks

Admittedly, I had no idea who Phillips Brooks was when I printed it out. I think our sports psych, Wendy Borlabi sent it in one of her emails to keep us on track. Obviously, it spoke to me.

Upon further investigation, Brooks was not only a great scholar and theologian, he wrote “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” (which happens to be one of my favorite Christmas carols). His legacy lives on in educational and service organizations, where the development of kindness, character, service and a love of learning are core values.

The center for volunteer organizations at Harvard University is named after him. I also learned there’s a cool little independent school in Menlo Park, CA called the Phillips Brooks School, which is super hip and embodies the way of living he brought to the world.

Check it out! The Phillips Brooks School.


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Where to begin!?

I’m writing this on my return flight from the Manchester World Cup. My teammate Cristin is two rows in front of me. We started the day with Bobby Lea, Kim Geist and Cari Higgins—also of the US Team—and Megan Hottman, of DFT Treads Cycling.  We left Kim & Bobby in Pennsylvania while Cari & Megan flew on to Denver. Cristin & I are heading back to Los Angeles where we’ll resume training Tuesday at the ADT Center.  

I flew to Los Angeles shortly after Thanksgiving to train with the new US Sprint Coach, Jamie Staff. Staff was hired by USA Cycling in July 2010 with the challenge of building an internationally competitive sprint program. Staff retired from competition last year after a career that began on the BMX track and ended with his winning gold at the Beijing Olympics as the starter for the British Team Sprint team.

At Elite Nationals, I learned Staff had an open door policy for now.  I did well at elite nationals—two gold and two bronze medals—so I took a few weeks to consider whether I wanted to pursue the sport at a higher level. If I learned anything in 2007, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to succeed at the world class level without committed support from an organized program.

We decided we were still game so I emailed Jamie to see if I could join his training group between the holidays.

That was three months ago. What started as a ‘try out’ has become a work in progress!

When I arrived in LA, 2009 elite national champion Cristin Walker was the only female sprint athlete training with Staff. She was doing road work and being groomed for next season. Staff has been straight up since taking the job that he’s got a long term vision and is building a program with the 2016 Olympic Games in mind.

New for London 2012, the Team Sprint is being used to qualify sprinters for the Olympic Games. Prior to myself and Tela Crane from Seattle joining him, Jamie had only one female–Cristin–in camp. When we arrived, he suddenly had enough bodies to field a team.

So we got to work. No promises were made. Jamie’s a high-energy, driven, process-oriented coach. We show up every day, work hard and give him our best. He gives us his best and expects our best. That’s how it goes.

By January, Staff felt we were fast enough to race the World Cup. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he saw this season as a chance to gain international experience, establish a UCI ranking and if all goes well, earn Olympic qualification points. At the very least, he saw it as a chance to get US women back in the game.

It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least! Cristin and I flew to China last month for the Beijing World Cup. It was my first elite international race since December 2007 and Cristin’s first World Cup ever.  Long travel, crazy jet lag, funny food, very little English . . . nothing like diving in head first!

We did well in Beijing: placed 11th with a respectable time of 35.954. We also scored Olympic qualification points our first time out! Last week we rode a 36.054 in Manchester . . . just 1/10 second off our best.

With Beijing, the travel and cultural differences take some getting used to. Manchester is an entirely different beast: sold-out crowds, non-stop loud music and cameras in your face. The stimulus factor is a 10+ and learning to concentrate and focus on your race is a cultivated skill.

We’d grown accustomed to going 2/10ths faster every time we rode together, so we were expecting a faster time in Manchester. Cristin and I also came home from China sick as dogs, though, and lost valuable training time between the two events.

Still, we’re ahead of schedule: Instead of waiting ‘til next World Cup season, we’ve got two World Cups under our belts. And, we’ve set a time we can only improve on and have seen first-hand the best in the world perform.

Plus, we’ve got a UCI ranking and have scored coveted Olympic qualification points. Whoot! I’ll post photos soon and do my best to explain what it takes to qualify for the Olympic Games . . .

For now, I’ll just say this: Every pedal stroke counts!

Until then, cheers!


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And I will. Promise.

But first I want to say congrats to all the track athletes on their performance at Elite Nationals last week. I watched from the cheap seats (the internet) and there was some really exciting action. New events, breakthrough performances and the first ever women’s Madison—very cool. Nice! Watching made me hungry to get back on the boards at the ADT Center.

I also want to wish my buddy Matt, aka the Bald Bomber, good luck at Masters Worlds in Sydney in a few weeks. We had our last training session today before he flies to Sydney, and the guy is F-L-Y-I-N-G. Literally. He gets on a plane tomorrow and he’s leaner, meaner and in the best form of his life. Matt Diefenbach’s his name. Watch for him.

I’m gathering years of training journals and came across some fun things I wanted to share.

From the race program for the 2004 Masters World Championships, the organizers in Manchester asked for our most admired sportsperson (very British of them). My response was:

Sir Roger Bannister: For breaking through pre-conceived ideas about what was possible.

First man to break the 4 minute mile. I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Roger while  working for Runner’s World magazine. My brother and I approached him like a couple groupies. He was a charming man. If I find the picture, I’ll post it.

Fanny Blankers-Koen:  For breaking through what was thought possible for a woman.

World record holder, Olympic gold medalist, European champion, unbelievable athlete. Her list of titles is a mile long. She won 4 Olympic Gold medals in 1948 as a married mother of two! This woman was a Goddess. I don’t think gals were even supposed to run back then, lest we faint. They called her the “Flying Housewife.”

And finally, when my husband and I started dating he used to leave or send me these notes. On April 29, 2004 he sent me one of his ‘cookies’, soon after I committed to winning a Masters World Championship that year:

One of the redeeming things about being an athlete—one of the real services we can perform—is to redefine what’s humanly possible.

We cause people to reconsider their limits, to see that what looks like a wall may really just be an obstacle in the mind.

I have to thank Sir Lance for that one. It’s particularly useful for what I’m doing.

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In case you missed this, it’s from Cycling News . . .

Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo has been selected for the French team to contest the Olympic Games in Beijing, China from August 8 – 24. It will be the seventh Olympic Games for the 49 year-old, who continued to amaze at the weekend when she claimed yet another French road and time trial title.

Women’s cycling appeared for the first time on the Olympic program in 1984, which was also Longo’s first appearance. In 1996 Longo, who has contested every Olympics since the women’s introduction in 1984, won gold in the road race at Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America in 1996.

Longo is the most successful women’s cyclist of all time. During her career she has won 13 world titles, as well as four Olympic Games medals; with silver medals in the 1992 Barcelona, Spain road race and 1996 time trial, a bronze in the Sydney, Australia Olympic Games time trail in 2000 joining her gold from Atlanta.

Longo has also claimed an impressive 10 UCI World Track Championship medals, including four golds. Nine of those medals were for the three kilometre pursuit, with one coming in the points race at the 1989 event in Lyon, France.

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