Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Peaceful Valley Invitational

Ellie had her third race of the high school mountain biking league this past Sunday. It was exciting; I was anxious, hopeful and proud of my daughter.
Supporting a teenager is so different from supporting a tween, preteen or kid. Where I used to be able to work together to help her know what to do, now I try to stand back and see where I fit, where I can support. I know that other parents still manage their kids, but I try to be pretty hands off, as much as I can be.

At practice on Wednesday Ellie was doing an tight turn and crashed. The end of her handlebar pushed into her sterum (the space just below your ribs)which resulted in a funky, tattoo like bruise that displayed the design on the end camp. That image was surrounded by a heathered blue. The coach that is also an ER nurse talked to me about how to look for internal damage and bleeding. Her coach who is a lead pharmacist talked to us about pain control. Ellie' torso hurt and breathing was impeded. Being the stubborn girl that she is, she did not want any medication. She wanted to tough it out on her own. Nate told me it could take up to six weeks to completely heal.

On Thursday Ellie found that it hurt more than it had the day before; she could not stand straight without pain. I offered comfort, a hot pad and no judgement. Having never injured myself in that same fashion, I could only guess how bad it was based on what others told me. My stoic girl kept it mostly to herself. Eventually she relented and allowed me to help her, just a bit. We strapped chemical heated pads to her sternum in hopes that it would help her sleep. We heated and reheated a pad that helped bring temporary relief. It seemed to continue to hurt, yet she did not really complain.

Along with her injury, I worried about the weather. Friday was the first snow of the season. Saturday there would be a hard freeze and we were scheduled to camp out. Then we dithered about whether to drive to the race location (about 1.5 hours away) to preride the course and return home. In the end she opted for resting instead of riding. Her coach and I thought it was a good plan.
I was also just a bit anxious about the course. Last year it had been her second race. Even though she pre-rode the course the day before, she took the wrong line when carving through the rock garden and went over her her handlebars, (endo)crumpling on the ground just a inch from a big rock. After a league official checked her out, as well as her bike, he released her and said, "Go slow." As you might imagine, she took off like a rocket. My heart stopped when I witnessed that. I waited with fear in my heart for her to come around again. The mother of one of the varsity riders came by to tell me that she was flying through the course. Ellie was successful, sailing through that very spot and winner her category (freshmen girls that year) by a margin of more than 4 minutes. I tried to bury that image in my head, trusting that she has much more skill and experience this year than last.

With so much stirring in me, it was hard to stand still and keep my anxiety to myself.

Ellie got a call up (getting to pick her place on the starting line) and I took up my post just up the course a pace so that I could see what kind of start she would get. She sped by me in a flurry of girl with determined faces and whirling pedals. People cheered, parents commented on Ellie good form and then we headed off towards the rock garden to wait for the race to come through. In time the varsity and JV girls came by, Ellie with a firm lead in her group. As I waited for Jessica, our freshman girl, to come through, I witnessed another girl crash in nearly the same area. Number 418 hit a water bar and went down, staying completely still. At first I could not believe what had happened, and then it seemed all to real. The girl's older brother rushed to her side, the medic and officials were called and arrived. At first we had the racers dismount and walk past the crash site. Then a clever coach had the specators form a human line to bring the race through the trees on the side. It gave us something to do and allowed the medical folks to work unimpeded. They brought out the foam forms for the girls's neck, then slowly rolled her onto a body board. During that time we could see her move and was relieved to find that she at least had not broken her back. We could see that her eyes were open. When they passed us as they carried her out we could see that she was conscious. It looked like she hit her face, breaking and bloodying her nose. It is also likely that she had a concussion. It is my hope that those are the extent of the girl's injuries. My heart goes out to her and her family.

In the midst of all of that Ellie came speeding through the diversion that we set up. She thought the girl ahead of her was in her category so she put on extra speed, sprinting to a strong finish, winning her the JV category by a long shot. My worries of how injured she was slipped away. Once again, I was amazed at my girl's power of determination and her ability to focus on her goal. I would have been happy to have her race and have fun. It is extra fun when she wins and is happy with her own performance. Her coach says that the fire in her belly is fierce.

Since the forecast was for much colder weather, Ellie was dressed for cold. Some of the other coaches joked that she was Yukon Ellie, ready to race in Alaska. She certainly has a unique fashion sense on the podium.

Our team also received the 2nd place overall best team award for the division 2 teams (teams with 12 or fewer riders). We had been tied for 2nd place with Grand County (the team from Grand Junction) but the tie was decided by a quick "Rock, Paper, Scissors" battle. Our coach Eric won with a quick rock over scissors. We are confident that he could have won in a short race, too.

And the excitement does not stop there. A movie crew was on site for an upcoming movie called "Singletrack." It is the story of a 15 year old girl who moves to a small town in Colorado to live with her uncle after both of her parents have been sent into active duty. Once there, she finds community by joining the local mountain biking team. The production crew has been at each race interviewing kids and coaches alike. Our very own Coach Kathy is advising the woman who is playing the part of the coach. Art, the script writer and producer spent time talking with Ellie about what it is like to be a 15 year old girl on a racing team. He told her that they would put out a casting call and asked if she had any acting experience. They will be setting up a fake race in order to film some of the scenes. Pretty exciting stuff.

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