Ride, Stretch, Eat, Yoga, Live

This basically sums up life right now: ride, stretch, eat, yoga, live. My days are spent with these four actions as my motivators and my mainstays. Not such a bad way to get through the day. I admit that “live” is a rather broad term. I use this to sum up all the parts of my day that make up the “stuff” of life – things like reading, lounging, hanging out with Marc, chilling with friends and simply just being.

The riding part is pretty simple. Check my program and get down to business. Of course it would be much more pleasant if I was able to ride outside. This time last year I was happily pedaling up, down and around the streets south of Barrhaven. Not so right now, nope stuck in the basement on the trainer and rollers. In a way, considering that I’m technically still in a recovery phase (though I don’t want to admit this), it is probably best that I’m riding in a stationary mode.

Stretching always start with earnest. I have a foam roller and a few favorite stretches to work out the kinks in my hamstrings, psoas, glutes and quads. But the problem for me is it is easy to build the foam rolling and stretching into my routine when I’m riding in the basement  – the foam roller is there and the cushioned flooring makes it a pleasant place to stretch. I know that as soon as I get outside this rolling and stretching routine will fall by the wayside. So my goal for this year is to continue my rolling/stretching routine. Maybe I’ll have to leave the foam roller and yoga mat in the garage and do a little bit of outdoor rolling and stretching.

I think I need to change things, eating really is the easiest part. Who doesn’t like to eat? I love to eat and I love to try out new recipes and foods. I’ve learned over the years the importance of food as fuel and also remembering to enjoy food and the pleasure of eating. I think for some athletes, the pleasure of food disappears when there is a focus on performance and often some obsession with weight-management. Now, I’m quite focused on my weight management but I’ve also learned what I like and what works for me. If I have a craving – I give in. This is because 90% of the time I’m eating a clean and natural diet. Throw in the complications of ulcerative colitis with learning to eat for performance and happiness and eating can be a bit complicated. Luckily I’ve found my groove with the food and everyday I look forward to the tasty eats in my kitchen.

Ah yoga – I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy yoga. I particularly enjoy hot power yoga. There is nothing quite like feeling your body lengthen and relax in a hot room. The heat is so soothing for my muscles and more importantly I’m sometimes lucky to have my mind go quiet and I can simply just be. I’ve recently started taking yin yoga – this is done in a neutral temperature room and the focus is on holding seated and on-the-ground poses for three to five minutes. It is so super useful for athletes who often end up with muscle imbalances and chronically tight areas – such as the hip flexors or hamstrings.

Now for the really fun stuff: live. I’m super lucky to live a rich life. I have a lot going on and I always seem to have a full plate of options in front of me. There are always more books and magazines to read. Lots of time to relax and hang out with Marc and my friends. I really feel like I can choose any road presented to me and I’ll end up happy and content. I can’t remember the last time I was bored. It seems like my “to do” and “to get around to” lists are always growing and interesting.

Ride. Stretch. Eat. Yoga. Live.

The best part is not knowing what is around the corner…

Recovery

Got some excellent news yesterday from my Belgian gastro doctor: my recent blood sample shows no signs of inflammation. This means that I’m on my way to full recovery from this recent ulcerative colitis flare. The other piece of good news is that my body is responding well to the Imuran. Definitely the news I’ve been waiting to hear!

I had four days of excellent riding in a row and ended up taking a much needed rest day yesterday. It is so easy to forget during my recovery process that I don’t have nearly the same fitness, strength or reserves that I had in the past. It is amazing to me how much I’ve lost in such a short time.

I think what did me in yesterday was the three hour ride on Tuesday. In retrospect, this was probably a much too ambitious ride to do considering that four weeks ago I was in the hospital hooked up to an intravenous line and eating only chicken broth and dry toast… But it is this ambition that has got me where I am…

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of my recovery process for me has been my mental state. If you’re a regular reader of this web site, you’ll be familiar with my mental battles. All too frequently I would battle my “crazy brain” and lack self-confidence. Well, I’m proud to say that mentally, I’m feeling 100 per cent. It would be easy to get frustrated about my current lack of fitness and strength – but I know this will come back. How I’m riding and recovery right now will not be permanent. If anything this rotten 2010-2011 season has reinforced my mental resolve and strength – I know I didn’t ride and race like I can – so I’m super stoked to get out there and really race the way I know I can.

This period of recovery has also emphasized to me how important it is to get back to the basics.  Basics of cyclo-cross like: smooth transitions and pedaling and focus and aggression on the bike. You might find the word “aggression” a strange on my website. But it is going to be a keyword for my 2011-2012 season. Last night over dinner, Marc pointed out that I’m not aggressive on my bike during cyclo-cross races – instead of fighting for positions at the start, I slip into a complacent mode of being “at the back” – the opposite of how I used to approach my cyclo-cross racing. This we determined is because “I got used to being in the back”. Well this is changing for the new season. I don’t want to be at the back nor am I going to be at the back.

One of the best parts of my recovery process has been the freedom to let my legs and mind wander. While out on the bike I can ride as hard and for as long as I want. My mind is free to simply relax and enjoy the moment. I’m not focusing on wattage numbers, cadence, the next interval, etc. If I am thinking it is typically about the drills and skills I need to focus on when I get home to make me a better racer.

Would I prefer to be in St. Wendel, Germany right now getting ready to race in the World Cyclo-Cross Championships on Sunday? Yes! This was my season goal after all. But everything happens for a reason and I can’t dwell on what didn’t happen. I know that really this season was out of my control. My body took over and I simply couldn’t race my bike.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in this recovery phase. I think the next phase will be the re-building stage where with expert guidance from coach Steve Weller, I’ll start getting my fitness and strength back. In a twisted sort of way, I’m looking forward to riding the trainer in my basement in Ottawa – this will be a sure sign that I’m on my way to a bigger and better 2011-2012 season.

Blauberg Forest

Ah, today I hit up the Blauberg Forest. Can’t believe I’ve lived here for four cyclo-cross seasons and this is the first time I’ve hit up the Blauberg Forest. Yesterday Marc rode the green route in the Blauberg Forest so I thought I’d check it out today.

Literally three minutes from my place I hooked up with a green triangle marker posted on cement post and followed these markers for around 26 kilometers. The “green route” is a mix of heavy muddy fire roads, singletrack in the woods, some pavement, and some serious mud bog riding. A perfect ride to do on a cyclo-cross bike.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of my fitness or technical skills. I haven’t done a cyclo-cross ride since my last race which was the Koksijde World Cup. Well, lets just say I was a bit rusty at first but as things got rolling I got into the off-road groove. I did my first lap in around an hour and then decided to do a second lap of the green route. I completed this second lap in 40 minutes or so – so a definite improvement on the first lap. I didn’t kill myself – just tried to keep things steady.

This ride reinforced my main issue on the cyclo-cross and road bikes: when there is resistance (i.e. mud, a steep incline, hill) I drop my cadence – I switch into the slow pedaling power type of cadence. This does not work for cyclo-cross – it is much easier and faster to get through the mud and sand with a high cadence and smooth pedaling rhythm. I struggle with steep inclines – always seeming to stall out just at the top of the incline – again where the resistance is the greatest. As for climbing on the road – lets just say that 55 rpm is not the best cadence out there….

This ride also highlighted another area I need to work on: turning my front wheel. It seems that I always want to “carve” corners rather than turning my wheel sharply or even continuing to complete the “turn”. Oh and another thing I noticed is that I really need to get comfortable at cornering with speed.

So, I consider this to have been a great training ride. I got to play in the woods, trees, and mud – the sun was shining and I was smiling as well! To top it off, I’ve got some great learning points that I can take away from this ride and store in my brain.

I think that what I really need to think about at all times is “keep the pedals turning”. This is easy to do on the road when I have my SRM showing my cadence but when I’m on my ‘cross bike training or racing, I don’t have this. The only solution is to make this a natural part of my riding style. I’m not sure of the best way of teaching myself this skill – the only thing I can think of is to simply “drill” this into myself – I think the best way to do this is to simply get out and ride sand, mud and steep inclines purely focusing on keeping my cadence high and smooth. Guess this means you’ll see me out riding in muddy fields this spring in Ottawa….

If you’re curious about my route today, check out this PDF of the riding routes in the Blauberg Forest:

Blauberg Forest Mountain Bike Routes

Reflections on a Cyclo-Cross Season

For a cyclo-cross racer, this is kind of an odd time to be writing about my cyclo-cross season. But as you know, my season was cut short in December… I’ve had some time to think about this 2010-2011 cyclo-cross season and I thought I’d let you in on these thoughts….

In a nutshell, this was a very disappointing cyclo-cross season. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted or planned. The goals I set weren’t achieved. And quite frankly I didn’t race the way I can or wanted. This was not for want of trying. In fact sometimes I wonder if I “tried” to hard. I wonder what my season would have been like if when I first got sick again last May, I’d backed off on the training and let my body heal. But hindsight is 20/20. I felt good on the bike and everything was pointing towards the training benefits paying off into the cyclo-cross race season. But this didn’t happen. I fought my body each and every time I got on the bike to race this year. Is this an excuse for why my season didn’t live up to my expectations? I’m not sure – it is what it is.

I worked hard in the off-season on my technical skills. But still I have much more room to improve in this area. In fact more than my struggles with the ulcerative colitis this season, I wonder if my technical skills held me back more than my health struggles? I pushed myself technically this spring/summer/fall, but I still believe I can push myself more. There are skills that I simply need to “get”. Being smooth in my transitions. Really understanding gearing and how it applies to different terrain: sand, mud, steep climbs, off-cambers, etc. Technically I’ve come along way, but this season has shown me that I still have further to go. By making improvements technically, I think I can really improve my cyclo-cross racing.

Really there are no results to write about here. After a few weeks into the season it became pretty clear that the results I had attained last season were going to be pretty darn hard to achieve. Instead I had to look at each races as an opportunity to test myself technically and to simply just focus on getting around for 40 minutes. Not really what goes through the mind of an elite cyclo-cross racer on the start line. But it is what it is. I did have some races that I was happy/content with – my ride at Niel was decent for my first muddy slog of a Belgian race, I had a blast at Aspere Gavere and was stoked to be able to ride the crazy descent, Hasselt was fun as usual, and I really felt like I had a decent ride at Koksijde. Sand is still very challenging for me, but I felt like I rode better at Koksijde this year than I did last. Actually, even the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Nationals were okay for me – I was 16th – not the result I wanted or expected… But through it all, I didn’t quit, I stayed positive and just focused on leaving it out there. It just so happens that this year it was 16th (rather than 7th the previous two seasons…). If anything this cyclo-cross season has taught me more than ever to focus on performance rather than outcome. It would have been so easy to quit and crack if I had been only looking at my name on the results sheet.

Mentally, this has been my strongest season ever. There was a point at the start of the season when I didn’t know about the ridiculous anemia and the effects the ulcerative colitis was having on my ability to perform that I did worry that my “head had fallen off”. I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t race the way I believed I should be. Immediately I started to worry that I just didn’t want it badly enough. But deep down, I knew this wasn’t the case. Honestly it was a relief to find out I was fighting my body and not my brain. I’ve come a long way mentally in this bike racing game. It hasn’t been easy. But I think I’ve found my groove. I’m confident. I believe in myself. And I’ve learned to ignore the idiots out there – yes, in our little Ottawa cyclo-cross community there are people who were (and probably still are) talking “trash” behind my back and to others about how “Vicki sucks”. Well, I let this get to me for a bit but then I realized that I just simply don’t care about those idiots. I don’t have time to let them get in my brain. I suppose the hardest part with this has been wondering why people bother saying “crap” about others – what is the point in being outright mean to another person? Sometimes I’m tempted to say something face-to-face to these people – but what is the point – idiots just don’t get it. So thanks to my strengthened mental resolve and confidence, I was able to come out of this negative aspect of the season on top. I’m a good bike racer. I’m a strong bike racer. Those who know me, know this. As for the others – I just don’t care.

So where does this leave me for 2011-2012 cyclo-cross season? Well, I’m eager to start training again. But I’m not rushing things. I have to get healthy before I can do this. I have been out on my bike for the last three days and the riding has been slow but enjoyable. I find the riding now is not “effortless” like it was. But I know the strength and form will come back. I’ve got some goals set for the upcoming cyclo-cross season and I’m hoping to get out to do some road racing this summer as well. I’ll be out on all three bikes this spring and summer: mountain, road and cyclo-cross – plugging away and enjoying every minute of it.

One aspect to this cyclo-cross season that can’t be overlooked is of course my sponsors. I’m a very lucky bike racers. I’ve got amazing sponsors who support me for who I am and what I represent. They are not hung up on my results or podiums – they’re about getting the brand out there with a positive image. For this I’m very fortunate. It was very hard for me to contact my sponsors in December and let them know about the end of my cyclo-cross season. I have such a solid connection with all of my sponsors that I really felt like I was letting them down. The response I received from each and everyone of them was overwhelming. In a nutshell: get better don’t worry about the racing. Yep, pretty darn lucky. So a big thanks to:

And many many thanks to the sponsor behind all of these fine companies: Marc. Marc has once again made this cyclo-cross season a reality. His faith and belief in me really keeps me going. It would have been easy to pack it in this season and change my plans and goals. But Marc wouldn’t let me do this. He was there to keep me steady and to remind me of what is important to me. Right now, I’m getting so much satisfaction from seeing Marc race so well. He is having an awesome cyclo-cross season and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Hopefully his success and experience will trickle down to me.

So there you have it. My thoughts and ruminations on my 2010-2011 cyclo-cross season. It wasn’t what I expected or planned. But it happened and I made the best of it. Do I wish my season was still happening and that I was getting ready to racing in St. Wendel, Germany – damn straight I do! In the end I was 5 UCI point short of making the qualification standards. Pretty darn good, all things considered. This time next year, I plan to be writing a blog post about my thoughts on the upcoming World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Koksijde, Belgium – my thoughts on what I want out of the race. That’s right – I’m going to be there on that start line on January 29, 2012.

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

Saturday was all about bikes. Cyclo-cross bikes. Track bikes. A very good day indeed.

I tagged along with Marc to Affligem to cheer him on during his cyclo-cross race. I had a great time (rain and wind aside). I hadn’t watched Marc race since Drongen in late November. On top of the bonus of getting to watch Marc race, I had a great time hanging out with Luc before, during and after the race. After the race we chilled out in the cafe and I got to catch up with a bunch of our cyclo-cross friends. Definitely a good way to spend the first part of the day. Marc had a good ride and finished in fourth place.

We zipped back to Blauberg, quick unpack of the car, change into dry clothes and then we were off again. The four of us (Marc, Karl, Alex and I) went to Rotterdam last night to catch a night of track racing. The Six Days of Rotterdam is a very cool and special track racing event. I don’t know much about track racing but it is a pretty fun night out and the atmosphere at the Ahoy! arena is pretty special. The track racing night really is a spectacle. The riders are all introduced with a great deal of fanfare and special song. Through-out the night the announcer keeps things lively and gets the crowd excited. To top it off the music played is over the top – ranging from 80s techno to current day hits, the music really keeps people smiling and cheering. Clearly the crowd favorites last night was the team of Schep and Bos. These guys were pretty darn fast. As was the sprint World Champion Bauge. The speeds that these guys ripped around the track was amazing. As was the size of their legs!

I think we all had a fun time. We had awesome seats – two rows up from the track so we could really feel the speed of the racers as they flew by. Around the arena there were many displays of different bikes, manufacturers, and books. The Right To Play organization was there as well – Marc gifted me a very cool Right to Play zip-up jacket. Right to Play is a special organization and is doing excellent work in the developing world to foster a healthy and safe environment for children.

The track racing went on until after midnight but we were all a bit weary and only managed to stay until just after 11. All in all, a good night was had. To top it off it was Alex’s birthday so when we got back here at about 12:30 we all had a bit of super tasty birthday cake before hitting the sack. Have to say there is nothing quite like the chocolate cake from the Blauberg bakery…

As for today? Well, it is a beautiful day. So riding is in order. Jos and Ed are coming by and we’re setting out on an easy paced ride. Marc and Karl have got specific work-outs to do – so we’ll let the speed demons do their own thing! Then this afternoon it is all about the Belgian National Cyclo-Cross Championships. Truth be told, I’m more interested in the women’s race and how my friends will make out than the men’s race… I think one of the most interesting championship races happening today will be the Dutch Women’s National Cyclo-Cross Championships – it will be interesting to see who comes out on top: Vos, Van De Brand or Van Passen.

 

Today I Rode My Bike

Yes, that’s right. Today,  I rode my bike. It felt good. One week ago on New Year’s Eve I left the hospital after a one week stay due to my ulcerative colitis. If you had told me that one week later I’d have the energy and desire to ride my bike, I would have laughed out loud. What a difference a week makes. Granted I’m still quite sick. But I have more energy. I’m getting more sleep (about five hours a night now). I’m able to eat more foods – just added in vegetables, fruit and oatmeal today! So all in all, things are progressing along really well.

I still have to visit my doctor every week so he can monitor my health and ensure the medicine is doing its job. But this is nothing compared to being trapped in a hospital….

So my ride…. Well, this morning Alex, Marc and I hopped in the trusty Peugeout and zipped off to Boom (suburb of Antwerp) to hit up Decathlon, Saturn and Ikea. We had a good browse around – I picked up some awesome thermal tights. As we drove home, the roads were drying up and I proclaimed that if it wasn’t raining in Blauberg, I was going to go for a ride. I think there were a few raised eyebrows, but Marc and Alex know best not to argue…

Within 15 minutes of getting back to Blauberg, I was kitted up and ready to ride. I was way overdressed but the thinking amongst the guys (Karl, Alex, and Marc) was that I should overdress and most of all go very very slowly. This time I listened…. I pulled on my new thermal tights. Put on my brand new winter weight cycling gloves. And wrapped my feet in my brand new shoe covers. Top this off with my Belgian team jacket, super red hat, Oakleys, and Giro Atmos helmet and I was off. Oh boy, that bike felt so good underneath me.

I simply pedaled super easy down the main road to Averbode. I took my time. I think I was grinning the entire time! No music or iPod – just me, the bike and the fresh air. Can’t really complain about riding in 8 celsius on January 7! I stuck to my 30 minutes – it felt good. I do admit that I was a bit tired – my legs felt a bit empty by the time I got back here. Best part was talking about my ride with the guys.

I won’t be riding on Saturday since we have an action-packed day – Marc is racing (really stoked to be going to watch and cheer him on) and then we’re zipping back to Blauberg and hitting the road to Rotterdam. We’re all heading to Rotterdam to take in the track racing at the Six Days of Rotterdam track racing festival. We’ve got plans for dinner in Rotterdam somewhere, track racing and just generally a good time.

I plan to go out again on Sunday. Probably another simple easy ride – I might push it to 45 minutes or an hour. But above all else, I’ll be sure to take it easy. Simply just enjoying be on the bike is good enough for me right now. I’ve also started doing yoga again. It feels good to get my body stretching and bending again.

I’m along way from being healthy. I’m along way from doing real training. For now I’m just trying to get my body moving again and give it the feelings it so very much craves. So far 2011 is only one week old, but boy oh boy do I have great feelings about this year.

Kalmthout World Cup

Up early today, lots of snow on the ground and the drive to Kalmthout is going to be slow. No problems, this is why I always pack my race bag the night before. Okay into the car with Marc and we’re off. We made it with plenty of time  and now I can get settled into my pre-race routine. Marc is off to check out the course and to cheer on Karl.

My race is at 1:30 so I’ve got lots of time to get ready, pin on my numbers and eat my pre-race meal. Just the way I like it – lots of time to relax and get in my groove before the race. I put some music on and let the course run through my brain. I see the start and the first entrance onto the course. It is going to be icy and it is going to be slippery. Fine with me, I’m pretty comfortable in these conditions. I’m running the file treads today and I’ve got the pressure set just right so I’ll get some good traction and still be able to roll over the bumps and lumps in the snow and ice. Really there is only one line today. Keep your wheels in this line, head up and remember to keep pedaling and everything will be fine. Super icy corners – I’ll likely dismount and quickly run them. Up and over the stairs as quick as I can. Sprint into the fly-over and let the bike flow on the way down. Keep pedaling. Eyes up.

Time is starting to tick by. I like to eat two hours before my race so it is time to dig out my plastic container with my homemade ride pudding. This is white rice cooked in water and then I add sliced banana, a blob of natural peanut butter and rice milk to give it the pudding texture. Carbs. Protein. Comfort. Perfect pre-race meal. Marc is back and is busy with my bikes. Luc and Ignance are here now as well – everyone is starting to get a bit excited. I’ve got my skinsuit pinned up and my race clothing is ready to go. Cold one today so I’ve decided to go with leg warmers and my Sealskinz socks and gloves.

Alright, what is the time? 12:00. Okay, time to get some warm-up clothes on and hop on the trainer. I like to ride for 45 minutes to an hour to get loose and ready for the race. It helps me stay relaxed and actually takes my mind off the race a bit. I ride, chat with people as they come by and just enjoy the moments. My warm-up routine is roughly 20 minutes or so of easy riding followed by 4:30 minutes of tempo with a 30 second all out effort, recover for 5 minutes and repeat the effort – I follow this with more easy spinning.

Ah, good warm-up. Legs feel really good. They ticked over really nicely and I was able to really open up the legs. Just the sensations I want before a race. Okay the race starts in 40 minutes or so. Off the bike for a quick pee. Back on the bike for more spinning. 1:00 – time to pull on my race clothes and then back on the trainer for a few more minutes. Wow, it is 1:15 already – time to get over to the start. Quickly change my shoes and socks – I always like to start with dry shoes and socks. Quick hug and kiss from Marc and I’m off.

I love riding up and down the start/finish straight of the race course. It is relaxed yet tense at the same time. A collision of all ranges of emotions happens in this very short space. Some of the other racers are visibly nervous. Others are super relaxed and are joking. The fans are starting to come out and crowd along the course barriers. I see Luc and Johnny – they’ve got their cameras ready and are already cheering for me. I pedal along up and down, chatting with my friends and really just wishing the race would start.

The whistle blows and we’re all in the start area waiting for our call-up. I’m in the fourth row today. Ah well, no big deal. Everyone is pushing trying to move up a bit – trying to get an edge on the start. The gun goes off. We’re off. Okay, sprint, settle in, catch a wheel. Ya – nice start. Here comes the corner, pay attention to drifting wheels and listen for squealing brakes. Crash, no problems you saw it coming and got around it. Onto the snow and ice. That’s it. Settle. Settle. Relax your shoulders. Just pedal now. You know what to do. Look up. Easy on the brake. Here comes that icy corner that Karl told you about, off your bike and around you go, back on the bike sprint up to speed. Settle in. Breathe. Calm. By the pits – there’s Marc and Ignance – they’re cheering and pointing at the good line. Get ready for the fly-over. Sprint. Sprint. Keep pedaling up and over and pedal on the way down. Good job. Okay back into some slippery stuff. Don’t lean the bike too much. Relax. Pedal. Good job. Ah the bike is sliding, stick out that foot and catch the bike. Nice! I hear Luc cheering for me. By the pits a second time. “Nice ride” “Good job” Onto the pavement and time to go around again. It is a fast one today. Five more laps to go. I can do it. I’m loving the course and having a great day on the bike. Keep going. Pedal. Focus. The bell lap! Yes, the bell lap. I’ve done it. Good job Vicki. Just keep it going now. By the pits – Marc is so pumped up. “Awesome ride” Okay, just stay calm and upright now. Onto the pavement, there is the finish line. Give it one more big hard effort. Ah, I did it. There’s Denise with my warm-up clothes. Luc is there taking some pictures. I’m ecstatic. Excellent race today. What a feeling.

I roll back to the car. Put on some more warm clothes and onto the trainer. I like to spin out my legs for 20 minutes or so after each race. Helps me keep them fresh for the next day and it gives me time to think about the race. Today I can’t stop smiling. I just had such a great ride. Everything seemed to come together today. What a feeling. I love this sport. Marc and Ignance are back from the pits – Marc is stoked. We talk about the race as he and Ignance clean my bikes. Okay, time to get changed and eat some food. Ah, what a day. Couldn’t have asked for more.

Car is packed and before I know it we’re back in Blauberg. Great day. Karl and I vote for Sultan’s for supper. We monopolize the supper time conversation by talking about our races and what we loved about the course and how it felt out there. Marc, Alex and Denise try but they can’t get  word in. Great day. Can’t wait for the next race. Thanks for the cheering and support.

(Of course this is a fictional account of today’s World Cup race in Kalmthout, Belgium. I wasn’t able to race today due to my illness. But this is how I imagined the day and I’m pretty sure how it would have turned out. Nothing quite like the emotions of race day.)