I needed to get this one on the books as the next is only day's away. It had been 5 years since I had last raced here and forgetting most of the terrain, I chose to easy of a gear when pre-riding. Having been gluten-free for 6 weeks, I felt strong enough to race SS in the women's field. The first half of the course was flat, flowy, and fast. The second half had some short punchy hills and lots of roots. At the end of the ride, I changed out gears and headed to the hotel for the night.
Carly's race was not as near nerve-racking this time, so I was able to save a little adrenalin for mine. 20 ladies lined up at the start, the largest field ever at the StumpJump. It was also the largest field I had ever raced XC in. It was awesome! Of course, I was the only one with one gear, but did not have any second thoughts.
I got a good start and was off the line first, but very quickly ended up towards the back as the start did not suit my gearing. I entered the single track in 11th position. This was a new experience ... being in a train of with some very fast ladies. I bided my time and slowly began working my way up. I thought I might be at a disadvantage on the first half of the course where it was flat. I guess being able to spin a cadence of 120 has its advantages.
Most of my passing took place on the short power climbs. Interesting thing I learned is that those with gears take it too easy on the climbs, gearing down and subsequently slowing down. And it was these same climbs where I accelerated because I HAD to. Hopefully I can remember this the next time I race gears.
Towards the end of the first lap I had caught up to the two leaders. I was sandwiched between them as we finished up the first lap and started off the second. Just before the single track entrance, while Carolyn was feeding, I jumped at the opportunity and passed her. Thinking that she would be on me quickly during the first flat section, I let her know she could pass when she needed to. I looked back once shortly thereafter and saw them some distance away. That was the only time I looked back and did not see them again for the remainder of the race.
I finished the race with consistent laps. At times, I felt like I was not going that fast or pushing myself hard enough. I suppose that when your fitness is at a good level and your body healthy, the effort can feel easy. It doesn't always have to feel like your eye balls are going to explode and you are going to choke on your vomit!
For my 1st place I earned a $200 payout and a free lactate threshold test at the Carmichael Training Center in Asheville, Tn. Now that might be an eyeball exploding/vomit choking experience. But one that I will look forward to!
I was extremely pleased with how this race unfolded. It further emphasized just how bad the gluten had been poisoning my body for the last 1 1/2 years. I hope that this is a new beginning ...