The good news is that I did it and I finished :-)
I'm really glad that I went and raced on Saturday, but I will be the first to admit that it was hard to get motivated. My BFF Juli opted to stay in Grand Rapids to compete in a road stage race, and Namrita and Eddie decided to get a few hard training days in since they are racing the Creampuff next weekend.
I hit the snooze button 4 times (sorry Scott!) before finally climbing out of bed at 5:15 a.m. After a quick breakfast I threw my gear into the car and hit the road. Stonycreek is about 2.5 hours away, and I was hoping to get there a little earlier then when I did the 6 hour race.
There was a huge line at registration and by the time I got my number plate it was 9:45. The race started at 10:00! Yikes. Talk about zero time for a warm-up. The course was running in the opposite direction then the 6-hour race and temps were already really hot. I felt like my blood was boiling just standing at the start line.
We had a really strong women's field and before I knew it we were off. I had a good position (right behind first) but decided to take the lead the moment we hit singletrack. I KNEW that I was going too hard for a 50 miler, but I really didn't care. I was doing the race for a hard training effort and I was having a blast racing my bike.
I started to catch some of the expert men and found a good group to ride with. Before I knew it lap 1 was done. Lap 2 was more of the same and I kept my pace pretty high. It was getting really hot though and I was starting to feel it. I do OK in hot weather, but I have to acclimate first. To go from 70 degree weather to temps in the mid-90's was awful!!!
Towards the end of my second lap I passed a group of guys on a downhill and basically thought that I was a rockstar. Mental note: I AM NOT a rockstar. I took a downhill corner WAY too fast on a gravel road and slid sideways with my bike on top of me. To add insult to injury I couldn't unclip from my bike for a few minutes so I was wiggling around like a moron!
After I finally unclipped I hopped on my bike and started pedaling again but it was hard to get back into the race. It had been a long time since I've crashed and I think I felt like I was in shock for a few minutes. On Lap 3 I really started to feel the heat. Once again, it was awful. I wanted to puke and pass out at the same time. This is where I really started to feel the effects from going out so hard. I started the race with 60 ounces in my hydrapak and 35 miles into the race it was completely empty. And then I got caught by the second place female. She and I battled it out at the 6 hour for the first 2 laps and I knew she was super strong. I decided to stay on her wheel and try to regroup. We came through the transition area together and I couldn't find the water bottle that I had set on the side of the course. I watched Lynn get a fresh hand-off from her support person and wanted to ask him for a bottle as well :-)
My 4th and 5th laps were nothing to brag about. I was completely out of water by the end of my 4th lap and had to stop and find my bottle. Looking back I wish I would have had a second hydrapak on the course...I totally underestimated how hot it was going to be. I finally started to feel better towards the end of the 5th lap and then it happened again. Another crash. A giant stick got wedged in my front wheel and stopped it completely. I did an endo going uphill and slammed my shin into my pedal and my arm into a tree. Definitely not my day.
I had to settle for 2nd on the day. I think my finishing time was 3:59, not too shabby for how hot it was...and how much time I spent on the ground.
After the race my friend Erin Vicary (she had a great race and finished 3rd) gave me an ice cold bottle of Gatorade and we rode our bikes over to the lake. We didn't bother taking off our cycling shoes...we just walked in and sat down in our kits. It felt un-freaking-believable.
I think that was the hottest I've ever been during a race but everyone was in the same boat. Afterwards there were a lot of stories going around about epic blow-ups and crashes. The east side of the state hasn't gotten the same amount of rain that we've gotten here, and the course was the loosest I've ever seen it. In fact, I still have some of the course embedded in my skin today.
I left after the podium and was definitely feeling less then human on the drive home. Luckily I was able to meet Namrita and Eddie for a quick iced chai and egg and sausage sandwich from Rochester. After about an hour of sitting in air conditioning I finally felt better. And thanks to Eddie and Nam for sitting at the same table as me. I can't imagine what I must have smelled like after racing 50 miles and then sitting in a muddy lake :-)