I woke up the morning of the race to a steady rain. At least this time the tornadoes did not follow me. I have yet to race this year on a dry course. The rain stopped at 8 am; the race started at 9 am. The start was a 50 yard race to our bikes ... why run? There was a mile of doubletrack through the field to help spread us out before we hit the singletrack. Everyone was trying to stay off the dirt and into the grass as it was superslick and the mud would pack on your wheels until they would no longer spin. There were several pile-ups on this section. Once we hit the singletrack, there was no escaping the sticky mud. After the first 1 1/2 miles, everyone had a 35 pound bike! I think I probably walked, ran, carried, and dragged my bike for about 5 miles of the 11 mile course. I never heard so many curse words echoing through the woods. Derailleurs were ripped off left and right.
I passed Rebecca Tomawicki midway through the first lap. She was struggling with the mud, then flatted. And she had race the SSUSA the day before. I told her later that she should have asked to have the two laps she raced on Friday added to her total for the 12 hour. She is one strong SS'er! I passed Rebecca Rusch on the first lap as well. She was struggling more than me with the conditions.
Upon entering the pit area after the first lap, I dropped my mud-laden Epic and jumped on Stumpy. At this point I was the closest I would ever be to Pua ... 6 minutes down! And I was 1 minute ahead of Rebecca Rusch ... but that did not last long. The second lap was still a little messy ... I only had to dismount and knock the mud off twice. Rebecca Rusch is like a diesel engine. She passed me about halfway into the second lap and I never saw her again. Although the mud did not pack on my bike like it had the first lap, the conditions were still treacherous as it was very slippery. I expended alot of energy just keeping the rubber side down. No crashes, but quite a few close calls.
By lap 4 the trail was dry and good traction. I think the first lap took a lot out of me as I seemed to struggle the rest of the day. I definitely did not have Happy Snappy Legs. On one lap, I had a case of bloated belly (not sure what that was about). On lap 5, my pit crew accidentally filled my Camelbak with water rather than Rapidade. As I had only sucked down 2 Gu's before going out on lap 5, I knew that I would be in trouble soon. Actually lap 5 was my fastest, but my tank hit empty on the beginning of lap 6. It took about 1 hour into lap 6 for the 4 Gu's I sucked down at the beginning of lap 6 to kick in.
But I must say that my pit crew did an awesome job. The water incident was my fault as I did not have the bottles labelled properly. Charlie kept my bikes working, Dad let me know where I stood from lap to lap, and Stefanie and Pam kept up with my nutrition and taking photos. And Carly kept my morale up with her beautiful smile and lots of "I love you's."
Although I finished with one less lap than Pua and Rebecca, I technically did not get passed by them as I quit earlier than they. I had secured 3rd, so I did not want to totally wreck my body or do something stupid by trying to finish 1 more lap before the 9 pm cut-off.
Pua and Rebecca are great athletes and it was an honor to be on the podium with the best. They are both easy to talk to and have such positive attitudes. Hats off to Clay, Grant, and Kevin for an awesome event, both on and off the singletrack. I hope to come back in '09.