This race report is a bit belated, but I figure better late then never, right!? Once again I've fallen behind on my blog. But in my own defense I had 1 day off from work in the last 12 days, so it's been a little busy.
So, Saturday was my one day off and I chose to race the 6 hours of Stony Creek. I was scheduled to do a 6 hour endurance ride and the weather forecast was awful. 70% chance of rain and temps in the 50's. I knew that it would be much easier to ride in those conditions during a race. Plus I had raced Stony Creek the last 2 years, and wanted to try for a 3-peat win.
Scott chose not to go because of the weather, but I managed to convince my little sister Toni to come along for the trip. "Racing in the mud is good training for road racing," I told her over and over whenever it started raining on the drive there. Ha!
The 6 hour race didn't start until 2 p.m. but we left early in the morning to leave plenty of time to get food on the way. However, the drive took much longer then planned and we didn't account for the summer road construction that seems never-ending. As a result we couldn't stop for food, and pulled into the parking lot 30 minutes before the race start. To say that I was panicking would be an understatement. I usually try to arrive at races really early so that I have plenty of time to get everything ready without feeling rushed.
We ran to registration, ran to change, and then I threw a hydrapak under a fellow racers tent. That was the extent of my pre-race preparations. I didn't even have time to check the pressure in my tires.
I stood at the start line giving my little sis last minute instructions about the trail. You know, the typical mountain bike things involving wet roots and bridges. Basically all of the mistakes I've made in the past.
And then it was GO TIME!
I had come off of a week and a half of hard training but my legs felt pretty decent at the start. I found myself in the middle of a good group of guys, and we were moving at a pretty good pace. We were all talking, but I think that they were a little more talkative then me :-)
In the first singletrack section I realized that I didn't have that big of a lead. Whenever I hit a switchback I could see the second place women right behind me. I didn't know who she was but she was moving at a really good pace. Egads!
I didn't see her once we hit the first flat doubletrack section, but the group that I was riding with all went straight on singletrack when we should have veered off onto more doubletrack. The course tape was up really high, so it was super easy for us to ride under. We quickly realized our mistake but we all had to slam on brakes and turn around (actually they realized the mistake and it's a good thing as I would have kept going!) The wrong turn maybe cost us 30 seconds, but it was enough time for the chase group (including the 2nd place women) to catch us.
She pulled ahead and I jumped on her wheel. Let me tell you, the pace accelerated pretty quickly from that point. The group that we were riding with started falling back one by one. I still didn't know who she was, but she was super strong and obviously knew the course really well. My legs were not liking the climbs at all, and I lost contact towards the end of the first lap. Instantly the "race demons" started entering my brain. I'm talking about the "am I fast enough? will I ever catch her? Why do my legs feel so crappy?" thoughts.
I caught back up to her pretty quickly, and we spent half of the second lap going a little under XC race pace. I wasn't sure if I could go that pace for 6 hours, but figured there was no better time then the present to find out. Eventually we both reached the top of a climb at the same time with another guy. He and I descended together and she fell back. After that I never saw her again but I swear I could feel her breathing on my neck the entire time.
After the 2nd lap I realized that I never put nutrition (ummmm, hello rookie!) under the tent with my hydrapak. And I couldn't stop to go to our car to get some because I had no clue how far back the 2nd place female was. As I went through the pit area I noticed a guy standing under a tent doing support for his son. As I rolled by I asked him to find me some gels and have them ready for me the next time I rolled through. From that point on he always had food for me whenever I came by. I later found out that his name was Mike Silver and I will be forever grateful! Especially since he had a variety of flavors of the gel waiting every lap :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
I finished the race in 1st place with a time of 6:05 and 73 miles. This was also my 3rd year of being 3rd overall in the guys. One of these years I need to move up a spot:-) We lucked out big time with the weather too. It drizzled off and on, but the course was in really good shape. There were a few muddy sections but nothing too bad. Temps were in the low 50's for most of the day, but I felt great racing in just a jersey and shorts.
I spent a little time afterwards talking to friends about the race. The funny thing is that their faces were all clean so I assumed that mine was too!Not so much!
And to think that some people pay for mud masks at the spa....
We didn't get home until midnight and I was completely exhausted. 5 hours of driving and 6 hours of racing = a long day. The next day it was back to work for me and it's been go, go, go every since. I felt super tired during the first part of the week, but am finally starting to feel better now. I can only hope that I am fully recovered by this weekend. I have my first hundred miler of the season this Sunday and I am crossing every single finger and every single toe that my legs come back!!!