So here we are, exactly one week after the big 24 hour race and I am standing at the start line of another race. I have no motivation today. I spent the entire ride down to the venue asleep in the passenger seat of the Taco. I did my volunteer work prior to the race covered in 3 layers and a blanket…I just can’t get warm. I look at my competitors, they know I’m tired and all I can think about is there is a hell of a lot of climbing on this course. One plus….not a lick of wind for once. The whistle blows…
Ok, let’s rewind the week… Peripheral edema for the first day and a half finally resolves, I find a surprising amount of energy the first day after and on the second, the fatigue hits me. I just want to sleep. The shortness of breath lasts for several days. I do my “conversation” rides…45-60min bike path excursions, then I lay down and I eat. And when I say eat, I mean anything and everything I can get my hands on. I’ve been just starving and can’t get enough. My stomach is a bottomless pit. I go to work the 3rd day and can by no means call these next two days restful and I am still looking for extra food in addition to the small refrigerator that I take with me. I decide that on Friday before I must again race, I better see what my legs will say while climbing a hill and head out on a short but steep mountain bike ride. Spinning the legs in too easy a gear, things do not appear as wasted as I was anticipating. Until later in the afternoon and that inkling of soreness sets into those same legs..uh-oh…
So here we are, back at the start. There are just 3 of us competing today, but they are fresh. I am just gonna have to do the best I can. At the whistle, Kata is off like a bat outta hell. Shit. I pull up and just try to hang on her wheel. Then Jaime comes up and passes and I feel I can move up and sit on hers and I do. I can definitely feel my body, my breathing is slightly short and the legs are heavy as the trail starts pointing upwards. Then I find myself too close to Jaime’s rear end and why I think its a good idea to get out front on the first lap in a dog-tired state I may never know; but I am just riding without thinking about the body’s protests and I do pull out front. She stays right with me. I don’t know if she’s holding back; but I feel a little like I’m riding just hard enough to keep my position and in all honesty, I don’t know how much harder I really could have pushed at this point. I pull ahead a little on the technical, off-camber descents and Jaime reels me back in on the climbs today. We finish out the first lap like this and I roll thru barely a few seconds ahead of her. And into the 2nd lap it starts out the same. She is right there, sitting barely a bike’s length off and sometimes right on my rear tire. I haven’t seen Kata since the beginning. Then, on one of the hills, Jaime passes me. I’m tired, but I think I can stay with her so I try. We hit the sketchy descent and I no longer have to try to stay with her, but wish I was out front again.
I think I could drop down this section faster, but there is no opportunity to pass and when we come back to double tracks uphill, I do not have the power to get around, just enough to stay with her. This is good, I think I am not working at max effort. We roll thru the lap zone together. Two more to go. And this is where the race begins. Altho I am getting more exhausted on each climb, this 3rd lap is where I feel the best. My mind is zoned on the trail and what’s coming next. Only one more time to have to climb this. Only one more time to bounce down these rocks. I don’t know how or why…this is where (as I find out later) I put a minute and a half on Jaime. I just can’t believe it! And I am sure that any minute she will ride up on me and blow me away, so I keep pushing. I roll thru the lap zone again, this time alone. I know I hear my name being yelled out and cheers raised, but my mind can’t process them. The trail is getting lonely out there, only me to push myself, only the occasional cat 2 or 3 female or marathoner left out there to give me a chase and then be alone again. This is the last time I have to do any of this here. Just pedal the bike. Go fast on the fast parts and push thru the fatigue on the hard parts. I am now talking to myself and my legs out loud. “Come on, girl!” “Pedal!” “Push on it!” They protest, but eventually give in and do as they’re told. I finally come to the last push up, a steep and loose left-handed switchback and I know I’m home free. I usually try not to look back for my competition, but I have been this entire last lap and I have seen no one in quite a while. I miss this last obstacle to the finish and have to put a foot down, that’s ok…you’re done, girlfriend. And I push the final jeep road into the finish…in first place. Holy all that is great and mighty…I am stunned at the outcome. Somewhere around 2 minutes later, Jaime rolls in and 6 more minutes after that Kata (I find out she did have a mechanical at some point during the race). One of those ladies really should have beat me today..I don’t know where I found the mental strength to overcome my physical exhaustion, but I did. I believe my improvement in racing is, at least in part, directly related to this newfound growth to my mental capacity to keep pushing forward, to not give up. I also believe that a bettered race nutrition, thanks to GU, has had a huge impact on that mental and physical capability. And, I’m having fun! I’m having a lot of fun! What better thing to have in life than to be able to live your dream, even if only for a little while!
Team OVB did such an awesome job at the race today! I am so proud of our little team from the OV! We ended up with 3 first place podiums, a second place finish and one sliding right into fourth at the last second! It was a super day on the bike for the entire team! There is some serious talent coming out of Oro Valley.
Be sure to check out the awesome article in cyclingnews.com located to the upper left…and their sweet photo gallery!
Up next…a rest week! Yay! And then into March: MBAA #4, Bonelli and Fontana (a whole new ballgame, girls).