Sunday, January 8, 2012
8 years running, 298 racers present, the only race with a women's record-breaking bonus (that I know of), 57 degrees in January ... what more is there to say about starting the 2012 season!
Nervous? Heck yeah, I was. This race was going to gauge my fitness 2 months post surgery. I know my coach knew what was needed to do to get me back on track, but after a less than stellar 20 minute power test a couple weeks ago, I was lacking confidence in myself. With my 43rd birthday looming, had I reached my performance peak? Or with all that transpired last year, maybe the climb back up was going to take just a bit longer.
I was going into this race carrying some fatigue from the previous 2 weeks' training. Knowing this, I was just hoping for a sub 3:45. With an unsettled forecast, I packed just about everything, from shower cap to embrocation to mud fender, hoping that if I prepared for a deluge, it would not happen.
The start was a balmy 52 degrees. Cloudy, but no real threat of rain ... awesome! I was one of the first to go off the line so I had a clear path before me. With my legs achy and barking, I rode conservative at first, hoping they would come around by the time I hit the first single track. They didn't. Granny was my best friend for the first 13 miles.
Once I reached the ridge of Horn Mountain, my legs woke up. Finally I was able to go! Those final miles down to the aid station at Snake Creek Gap parking lot flew by. In the parking lot, I swapped Camelbaks and started the long arduous climb up Mill Creek Mountain. By this time, I was able to happily stand and hammer. Although I was on gears, I rode that climb like I was on my SS.
The miles leading to the last techy single track went by uneventfully. The double track climb up to the last 8 miles was smooth and fast! It is so nice not having to pedal through energy-sapping red mud. The last 8 miles are usually pretty fun for me as I love dancing through the rocks. However, having not ridden much single track in the past two months, my skills were rusty, and it showed. I bumbled most of the way, running more sections than I wanted to, but knowing I would be faster on two feet as opposed to two wheels.
As I popped out onto the pavement for the last downhill stretch, were my eyes playing games with me? Could it be? Finally! In all the years of doing this race, I have never been able to find some big racer dude to pull me down the mountain. Today was my day! I raced up to him, latched on, and sped down the pavement faster than I ever had gone.
I rolled under the Finish banner with a time of 3:34:58. I accomplished both my goals: had fun and a sub 3:45. Good enough for 2nd.
Once again, the NWGA SORBA folks put on a wonderful event. See you back in March. There is a bounty that needs to be collected!