Sunday, April 10, 2011

Foothills Road Race Race Report

Yesterday we did the Sunny King Crit in Anniston, AL. Our Cat 3/4 crit was at noon, so we had plenty of time to drive today’s course and recover. We weren’t allowed to race in the big girls’ race yesterday, but today we were; the fields for today’s race were Cat P/1/2/3 women leaving at 9:20 and Cat 3/4 women leaving around 10:10. Because I’m a 3, I could choose which race I wanted to do and chose the P/1/2/3 race. I knew it would be tough, especially after we drove the course, but I also knew that riding with better women would push me to be and become better. Plus I was glad to not have ridden with the same sketchy riders from the crit yesterday.

Those first 6 miles = OUCH!

My goal was to do everything I could to stay with the group through the first major climb, from miles 4–6. I thought if I could stay with the group through that climb, I could stay with them for the rest of the race. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. As I knew was going to happen, they pushed the pace up the hill and I got dropped. I wasn’t the only one who got dropped, but I was near the back. As I continued to climb, I was thinking that I’d have 50 more miles of riding, solo, before I finished the race. But I was determined to finish. Todd had reminded us that this weekend was one where we could prove to ourselves that we deserved to be out with women better than us, and that is the mindset I had.

I didn’t start out thinking that. I started out at the line thinking, I’m not sure I belong out here with these women. What am I doing here? That was at 9:05, our original start time. But the P-1-2 men had gotten a late start, so that pushed everyone’s start time back and we were told to return 15 minutes later. By the time we started for real at 9:20, I’d changed to thinking, I might not belong here, but no one else besides my teammates knows what my strengths and weaknesses are. These girls don’t know, and they don’t need to know. I’m going to make them think I belong out here, even if I don’t really. After I got dropped, I thought, Now I really have to prove to myself that I belong out here. I’m not with anyone else, but I’m still going to do this and do it the best that I can.

Much to my surprise, before 10 miles into the race, I saw at least 3 women give up and turn around. They’d evidently had enough (I heard later that they were likely the teams’ sprinters and didn’t have a chance at winning because they weren’t with the group so they didn’t continue) and didn’t want to finish. That was where I started thinking, I do deserve to be out here! I know I have 50 miles to race by myself, and I know what those 50 miles look like. Yet I’m still here, pedaling, doing the best I can. I deserve to be out here! I just kept telling myself that all race and kept going forward.

At 50 miles in, I saw a girl ahead of me. I decided I’d catch her before the finish line and caught her shortly thereafter. She climbed slightly better than I did though, and I lost sight of her. But I knew that with 4 miles to go, the road would flatten and I’d have that amount of time to catch her. As soon as I descended to those 4 miles, I went into TT mode, saw her, pursued her, and finally caught her with 1K to go. We pedaled together until the 100m mark, when I took off to sprint to the line. For some reason, I’m the last finisher on the final results list. I’m not sure the story there, but someone who’d seen the posted results at the venue said there were women who’d finished behind me and others who were listed as DNF or DQ. My time wasn’t super fast, and I know I’ll be tired tomorrow, but I’m proud of how well I did physically on those climbs and mentally throughout the race.

  • 3:17:00, 57.05 miles, 17.4 avg (46.7 max), 161 HR (189 max)
  • I hit a wall around 2:20 in; here are the stats until then: 2:21, 41.7 mi, 17.6 avg, 162 HR
  • Even after I felt like that was the end, I kept going (obviously, since I finished!); here are the stats to the end: 55:11, 15.36 mi, 16.7 mph, 159 HR

According to the results, I finished 23/23. Kat and Parri did much better and finished with the field.

The first 5 or so miles that I stayed with the group were as smooth as I’d expected. There was no moving around aimlessly on the road, no crossing wheels, and very little chatter. It was fabulous. Kat said later that she’d figured it out: The pro women aren’t mean or not nice; they’re just busy. They’re focused on what they’re doing or supposed to do and what others are doing that they might have to react to, so they don’t have much time to be chatty on the road. That says a lot about the caliber of racers they are, and I hope to be one of them some day!

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