today was my second road race. it was significantly tougher than last weekends' race. the piece of advice that my husband gave to me last weekend was - "if you are having fun and enjoying yourself, then you are not working hard enough". the pictures from last weekends race show me grinning from ear to ear. i am sure the finish line photo from todays' race will show the snot flying, and the painful grimace on my face.
the race start was so civilized and lovely. there were eight women. we chatted at the start. we went off into the woods to pee together. there was a lot of nice comraderie. and as we rolled off the line, slowly, still chatting; i thought, this is fun. we just rode in a nice little bunch, and the lovely chatty went on for a while.
and then. woah! wtf? holy shit! what is happening? jesus. they went up that hill like someone shot them all out of a cannon. who started that? okokokokok. i'm off, but i can. get. back. on. ok. i am back on. phew. and then, we are back to chatty. and then it happens again, a huge surge ahead. why always on a hill, people? ok. i can do this. i can get back on. sheee-it. they got way ahead. but a fellow teammate fell off too. (hehe, i have teammates now, how cool is that?). i told her to get on my wheel, and then holy shit - i bridged the gap and brought us back to the group who the hell am i? cannot believe i did that. and now the pace is fast. but i am still here. and holy shit, i look at my speedy calculator thingy, and i am doing 34mph. and this would be my max speed for the day. my next lap in this very same stretch would be 21mph. soon after basking in the 34mph glory, there was a hill, and it was on this hill that i got shelled off the back, never again to make it back to the group - although i tried my damndest & perfected the art of hyperventilating in my attempt to catch them.
and now, i was on my own. even though i was alone & there was zero chance of catching the group, i never let up. i knew there was still one person behind me. (although much too far behind to try to work together and make it easier) so i hauled ass, by myself. someone told me later that i essentially did an 18 mile time trial once i fell off. (i didn't even know what a time trial was. now i do. its like a mile repeat but much much much longer and harder). it was windy (as all hell) at times, it was raining at times, and it was hilly almost all the time. i wondered if crying was acceptable, cause i really wanted to. i knew quitting wasn't an option, even thought i wanted to. puking, though - that was a totally viable option.
it was fast, my legs were burning. i was confused about how much longer i had to go - oxygen deprivation will do that to you. i didn't clear my computer from yesterdays' easy spin and was trying to do the math and figure out how much longer i had. and for a blissful, blissful moment, i thought i was on my last lap & the finish was about 5 miles ahead. as i came up to a corner marshall i yelled out to him and asked if we were done at the church, or if there was one more lap. he says, "ma'am, i don't know what you're doing out here". dude, you and me both. i have no friggin' idea what i am doing out here. all i know is - it sucks. but then i am thinking: he called me ma'am. dude. ma'ams don't race bikes. i am trying so hard to be a badass mofo bike racer girl here. do not call me ma'am. i digress. i come up to the church, and because i can't see the team up ahead, there is the sinking feeling that i am nowhere near done - i see a number one being held up and i hear that bell (signaling the last lap) and i just want someone to shoot me. one. more. lap.
it is on this lap that i learn you can go into a pretty wiggy trance if you look down at the road right smack in front of your wheel and watch as the road whizzes underneath. don't do this. it's just not good for the focus factor. so. i'm riding. i'm riding. as shit ass fast as i can. and now i am back on that flat and i want to try and get it back up to the previous glory of 34mph but my legs had other ideas. 21 was going to be good for them. all of a sudden, a pace car whizzes by. uh-oh. fasten your seatbelt zanne, prepare to get lapped by the big boys. it is just as they pass me that i am at a particularly low moment. and low = slow. this would now be my slowest speed for the day. but i know where i am, and i know there is still someone behind me. i don't have that much further to go. and if my math was correct in my oxygen deprived state, i only had 3 more miles. (my math was not correct - thank god i didn't know that then). i started my marathon mantras. and i picked it up. and as i chanted only two more miles (it was way more), i couldn't help but compare the effort to running a marathon. since that's basically all i know. here's the thing: in a marathon, you pretty much find your happy pace, or whatever damn pace will get you to boston; and you stay there. in a bike race, there's a happy pace, and then - everyone around you starts to do a goddamn mile repeat, no - a 400; up a hill and you have to go do it too, or you are hosed. if i was breathing as hard as i was today in a marathon, i think i'd be dead by mile 5. its a lot of happy pace, rideshitfast, happy pace, rideshitfast. its confusing. and hard to do when hyperventilating.
anyhow. my mantra as i rode towards the finish was 'finish strong, finish strong'. it just about killed me to finish strong. my legs were screaming at me, my back hated me. but i saw my whole brand new team up ahead and everyone was yelling, and everything hurt so much and i am sure there were boogers flying out of my nose as i crossed the finish. but it was so awesome. the first thing my husband said to me was that i was not smiling when i crossed the line. he said "you raced your bike". yes i did. i did not ride it for 32 miles. i raced it.