Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two races, same day, completely different...

MASS race #4 at Sewell. Fun course right - so might as well do it twice! Besides most my riding is only on race day anyway..

Race #1 - Beginner. I've come to the conclusion that our youngest dog must be powering my starts. He's a spaz with speed but can't stay focused on much for long. Again, this race starts and I took off. Apparently this is my trend and now a humor point with me and my fellow racers. It's just the way I go out and it's sadly (or a good thing?) not from me really trying to go out fast/hard. I knew from the start that this race would be against a racer that has won of every race she's entered this year. She's strong, originally a roadie, getting into mountain biking now.
I only keep the lead for about 2 miles then she (the one I expected) comes past and kindly tells me to grab her wheel. I just chuckled since 1. that's the roadie in her and 2. hell, I would grab you're wheel if I could. I keep her in sight for another half mile or so and then she's gone. Second place I am. But we have two laps of a 5 mile loop and now I'm just pushing hard trying to keep 2nd place. I know she's back there in third. I can see and hear her as we're doing the switchbacks.

Near the end of the first lap I take way to much speed into a switchback over roots and go down hard. (Heard a guy grasp his breath and scream 'you okay'? The 'you okay' part, fine, but the grasping - hell that scared me more than the crash!). My left calf cramped into a solid knot as I went down, tried to stretch it then grabbed my bike hoping the spinning will loosen the calf, eventually it does. My bruising and abrasions today would make you think I did much worse. Shocking the different colors your skin can actually turn.

Anyway, I finish my first lap still in second place. But by this point 3rd is only about 20 seconds behind me.

As we go into the second lap it only takes until the first little climb in the singletrack for her to pass me. Since I didn't actually make the little climb and she does. By this point my pushing during the first lap is catching up with me, fatigue and the heat are starting to get to me, and I just didn't have the power inside me to keep a pace anymore. Embarrassing is dying right in front of two of my friends warming up for their elite race that have helped and motivate me.

So I mentally digress from a race mind set. I'm pretty certain I have a comfortable lead to hold onto 3rd, which I did. I start letting my heart rate drop well below the 185 it had been and take it easier. I was almost 5 minutes slower in lap two. Finished in 3rd out of six. Can't complain, Can't cheer...

My overwhelming feel of that race was fast, dry and hot. I was really f'ing hot...

But don't fret, the day would change.

Expert/Elite went out between beginner and sport. That gave me a moment to really decide if I wanted to do a second race. And to unfortunately help one of my friends (one of the same that I died in front of during my race) to recover from a crash and into the ambulance. Thankfully only a broken hand, recoverable, but still sucks.

So at this point I'm still questioning my sanity to go out again but I've thought it so I'm doing it. Besides, everyone says rain was coming and that to me was a good thing... so I thought. I do love getting wet, riding in mud and it would cool off..

So I grab my medal for my 3rd place finish in beginner and register for Sport. And hell, since I'm already carrying that Athena weight with me for no good, I might as well register for it...

Race #2 - Now I line up and with only three of us I have no intent of a strong start. Our youngest dog can take a big break. We all line up and I see my hubby go in the trails ahead of me... He's second. Good start. I relax.

We get the go and I enter the trails second, good I've paced myself. I keep 1st in view for a while and decide no reason, start taking it easier. I am a little tired and quickly third was no where in sight behind me. Right after they give our class the go, the skies open! They had us vote at the start of our race 2 or 3 laps... 2 won and I was pleased. Just do the same as I did earlier, no biggy. As it turns out, everyone was ultimately changed to 2 laps... Saying the skies opened is an understatement. Lightning and thunder met with this downpour. And thankfully I didn't know until after, lightning struck right near hubby and he smelled the woods burning... I had questioned the sanity of us all racing in this hail/thunderstorm projected but wet racing is fun so I wasn't about to complain.

When I enter lap two I could complain but wouldn't. Hubby had just passed me finishing his second and final lap as I finished my first lap and managed to get out of him that he finished first. Freakin awesome!

I ride on... I had never thought of Sewell as a place to get really muddy, but it did. On my second lap I couldn't keep speed anywhere. Multiple run-off's from my bike as the mud sucked it away from me, multiple times riding with a barely coasting speed so my wheels would stay below me... Knowing the conditions, I expected the 3rd place racer in my class had DNF'd... she had. That meant I was the last person on the course. Can't get more embarrassing than that. Especially when I couldn't seem to do anything about it. I couldn't get more speed, I wasn't spent, the course just wouldn't allow any speed.

I thought about calling it quits, knowing everyone was waiting for me to finish. But I didn't want a DNF just because... So I became selfish and just slowly rode on.. I finished... Everyone kindly applauding as I came to the finish... (thank god, she's finally done!) Both laps in my sport race were slower than my beginner race laps but I had felt good, just slower.... I was covered with mud to receive my 2nd place medal.. (in case you can't tell, I'm not wearing long tights or tall socks in this picture, that's mud...)

So yesterday brought me a third in beginner and a second in sport..

Now to next week... and the class to race. Continue in beginner or move up to sport. My problem is that the extra miles in sport would be good for me (though I might occasionally regret it) but I just don't know if I'm ready to state that weight I carry is here to stay or that I should be using it for the class I race...

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