I was ready, I could have trained more and eaten less but I think that for every race I do. But I knew this course was a good one for me, not too much climbing, some power, lots of turns and some fun downhills. I felt ready and I felt good. But you have to DO the race to get the results. *grin* I was worried about the start as it is uphill on pavement and I thought all the women were going to go off together. Fortunately, we didn’t, we went off in waves and the hill wasn’t much to worry about as I got up it with the leader. Somehow towards the end of the pavement a couple of Ladies in the races ahead of us got tangled up and went down. It looked like they were all ok and getting up so we made our way through them and hit the double track climb. There was a starting loop and then you came through the start/finish and started lap one. I was sitting 2nd and felt good descending the first section and actually felt super good (for me) climbing the steep punchy climbs of the hardest climb of the race. I was sitting 2nd and could still see 1st (Roxanne Feagan) and was almost done with the punchy climbs when disaster struck, I flipped over my handlebars into a mud bog or maybe it was a big puddle but you get the idea. It’s funny because a couple of days before Doug Long was telling me about this place on the trail where people were going to endo. He described it perfectly but I had no idea, when he talked about it, where it actually was on the 20ish miles of single track. When I landed in it, I actually said: “oh, THIS is where Doug meant!” I got back on my bike and started fighting back. I knew I was going to be bruised and I felt those but nothing else seemed out of whack. I made it through the first lap mostly in 2nd place. I got passed near the end of the lap by one of my competitors and went into the aid area in 3rd. Amy B. told me I was about a minute behind Roxanne which was good news and I headed out for my next lap feeling ok. However, on my first descent, my forearms started to bother me with a bit of pain here and there. That was weird because I don’t usually get cramps there. Then I hit the punchy climbs again and my left quad started cramping, another weird place for me to cramp (I usually cramp in my hamstrings). I pulled it in and spun and used my right leg as much as possible to pedal over those punchy climbs. Here I got passed by another rider in my category so I now was 4th. I know that if I push into a cramp I’ll end up screaming in pain in the woods. Which if you think about it is not only painful but embarrassing. At the time you don’t give a shit though. Once out of the climbs, I pushed through the little rock gardens to get to the flowy descents I love and knew I could make up a bit of time and hopefully catch the Lady that had passed me. Unfortunately, the cramping in my forearms started getting severe in BOTH my arms and even braking and shifting was becoming painful. So there was no fun to be had on my favorite part of the trail and now the mental game of not quitting started. I used Every. Trick. In. The. Book. to avoid quitting this race. “Just enjoy the day” “It’s a BEUUUUUTiful day” “Fuck that I have to pee” “Do I just pee in my shammy” “Not a good idea, because I’ll probably be even more uncomfortable” “Fuck it, I’m pulling over, undressing and peeing even if it costs me 4th place” That went on for 15 minutes until I did eventually strip down and pee. “I feel so much better, I’ll be able to go faster now”. “Just keep pedaling” “This sucks!” “That crash hurt me more than I thought” “Maybe I’m hurting myself more by keeping on riding” “Maybe I should just quit” “Nah, keep on going” “If I lose another place, I’m quitting” 15 minutes later I get past by Karen Holtman from St. Louis, so I’m in 5th place. “Maybe I should just quit because the girl in 6th place would be so excited to get 5th and podium” “Shut up you ARE NOT a quitter” “Seriously! 10K to go?” “That’s 6.2 miles” “It’s going to take me over an hour to do that” “Arms hurt!” “Ok, keep going, you’ll be going downhill and you like that” “Crap, I can’t go downhill fast, every bump hurts my forearms!” “I’m afraid to go fast because what if I can’t brake”. “Just keep going” I’ll save you the rest of my thoughts and the profanity the spewed through my mind and mouth. Basically, I wanted to tell all the volunteers that told me I was doing great to “go to hell!” Instead, I shook my head and said: “not for me”. They were trying to be so supportive but I was having none of it. Finally, I finished and Amy was there and I almost started crying. I had been fighting back tears for 10 miles but realized that if I started crying while riding I couldn’t breathe so that was NOT a good idea. So it was the shittiest race day that I’ve ever had. Probably because I so wanted to have a great day! But as my friend Laura said, “That’s bike racing!” and she’s right! I could’ve and should’ve avoided that 1ft deep puddle of mud but I didn’t (learned that new lesson!). I didn’t do poorly because I didn’t train or I wasn’t ready, I crashed and it sucked. But in a few weeks, I’ll feel proud of myself that I didn’t quit and I’ll use this crappy feeling to fuel my desire to race.

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