Malone Coaching

2014 Winter Challenge Race Report from Coach Katie

I will start by saying that the Winter Challenge has always been one of my favorite races. It gives me a reason every winter to get on my mountain bike and go play in the woods instead of sitting on a trainer in the garage. This winter with the brutal cold we had it would have been easy to turn to the garage, but instead I organized a group to train for the WC which led to many “epic” rides in below freezing temperatures. We had group paddles every weekend starting in January. The only weekend we missed paddling was because the lake was frozen solid. I enjoyed my paddling more than ever and actually pushed myself in training while in years past I was lucky to even get a few paddles in. This year training with the group made it more fun, we all were taken out of our comfort zone at some point, but mainly the accountability of training with a group changed my training and eliminated any excuses. I really hate excuses, but I continually found myself coming back to the “but I just had a baby” excuse. It was time to let that one go. When we reached race day after all the baby was five and a half months old and it was time to see where I was fitness wise. Mentally I really had to get a grip because going into a race knowing that physically I was no where close to where I normally am made me focus on racing smart.


The morning of the race I was very excited to see everyone from years past as well as the 10-man Malone Coaching team whom I had convinced to race. We started the run and for at least the first ½ mile I was following Jan Garrett and Laura Haupfear. Since I know very well what they are both capable of running I knew I just needed to let them go and run my own pace. My goal was to run hard enough to make it hurt but not so hard as to dig myself into a hole. By mile 3 I found myself looking at my Garmin and wondering how I could possibly feel so bad already. After dusting those thoughts out of my mind and turning the Garmin so that I couldn’t even see it, I came back to focusing on things I was in control of at that very moment. I steadied my breathing, I leaned forward, I shortened my stride and then once on the home-stretch dirt road I was actually able to turn over the legs for a strong finish.


I admit I have never been so excited about kayaking as I was this year. That lasted at least 2 min! The brutal wind made me thankful for all the extra paddling practice, especially the times when it had been really windy. I was able to focus on my technique and passed Laura at the start of the kayak and Jan a little later into the first lap. By lap 2 I was very happy to see Lisa Williams pass me. Especially since she was doing a relay! Lisa is a beautiful paddler so I always like to try to stay close to her for a little bit for the draft but also to work on my stroke. After she left me I set my target on my husband who had gained enough on me on the run that I didn’t catch him until the middle of the 3rdlap. We were able to exit the kayak together and despite almost falling down getting out of the kayak I made it to the bike transition with him and we took off on the bike together.


Once on the bike I reminded myself that trying to stay with my husband, Brad, on the bike would indeed be fun, but probably would be something I would regret after a few miles. I let him slip away. I was also concerned about Laura giving me a surprise attack on the mountain bike so I needed to put time between us but play it safe at the same time. The trails on the WC course were a lot easier than most of the ones we had trained on but the sand and the mud made them plenty challenging. Thank goodness for the great trail markings on the course that forced me to pay attention to every turn. Riding the course and seeing the amount of trees that had to be cleared after the storm just stunned me. Forget about worrying about my mountain bike skills, I just kept thinking about how they pulled this race off! Before that thought could even be completed I found myself back on the main road to the farm finishing yet another WC. The added bonus of being the first woman over the line was great but in reality the best prize is the fact that my fitness is coming back!

Thanks to the Williams family and all the other volunteers who make this race one to come back to year after year!

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