Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Is F'ing Hard!

The post title was the quote of the day on Sunday at the Putney, VT race. It was uttered [gasped?] by my teammate Michele as she rode past the start/finish to go into her second lap in her first ever MTB race. As hard as Michele thought it was, she had an awesome result, finishing second in her field!

I first raced Putney as a beginner, something like a zillion years ago. I remembered some climbing, and no real technical sections on the course. Well, according to Colin, "some climbing" equated to 800 feet per lap! So yes, Michele, it WAS f'ing hard!

This was my first MTB race as an Expert, and all I can say is WOW! Those girls are FAST! I was pretty nervous going into the race, but had set my expectations accordingly (aka, I was going to be ok if I finished last ;-)). Friends and teammates alike all counseled that I would be fine, which I knew I would be - it wasn't going to be a matter of finishing, just how far back I was when I did!

It was nice to go out and pre-ride the course with Cris, and to line up with her on the start. That, however, was the last I saw of her until the race was finished. I did manage to keep the lead women in sight for about 3/4 of the first lap of the race, but once we hit the "big climb", I didn't see them again. Now, I was on my own, and knew going into my second lap, that they were 2.5 minutes ahead. Soon after, I started getting lapped by the semi-pro men, but kept plugging along, moving out of the way so as not to interfere with their race.

I have discovered that I need a lot of self-talk in these races. Things like, "You only have to ride up this hill 3 more times!" "Only one more time up, and you are done" "No one is watching - I could walk this section" (btw - I rode it) and "I know it hurts, but only for a minute - suck it up!". Somehow, this helps me get through a race - almost like I am negotiating with myself!

The third lap brought a few welcome raindrops (it was pretty dusty), and some pretty loud thunder claps. As I approached the feed zone, I asked Mike for a new bottle, and he told me I was done - they had cut our race short due to the weather. I was both happy (no more times up the hill!), and sad (I definitely had another lap in me) to be finished. And, I achieved both my starting and mid-race goals - I didn't finish last, and I didn't get lapped by my field, despite finishing 14 minutes behind Cris, who won our race ;-).

So, I'm embracing the move to Expert, but this is a WHOLE NOTHER level of effort...

Mike's race was a little more eventful than mine. He started out well, riding close again to Johnny B for the first lap and a half, with a gap on the rest of their field. Sadly, in attempting to pass another racer, he picked up a stick and his rear derailleur disintegrated. Now most people would have packed it in at that point. Mike, however, in a quest for the series lead (he is only a few points behind the leader of the Root 66 series), decided to RUN and COAST for the remaining lap and a half of his race, finishing! He didn't gain any points, sadly, but I am really amazed and proud of his grit and determination.

Thanks to Michele for the photos of myself and Cris on the line, and Mike (before he started running).

1 comment:

claudia said...

Cathy, good for you talking yourself through those races! I do much the same, only in less f'king hard context.

That MKR is a diehard. Wow!