“Killer” it was indeed…
The course was located kind of in the middle of nowhere (we literally raced around “Podunk!”), but it was fantastic…lots of rolling–and a few very big–hills and beautiful lake views. Here is a COURSE MAP.
Dave and I did not have a chance to warm up at all before the race and we were absolutely freezing at the start! I knew the temperatures would rise steadily over the course so I opted to dress for the warmer temps…plain white long sleeve jersey and lots of wool, as the team kits have not yet arrived.
More than 700 people rolled out together on the neutral start. I have only done one road race and do not have a lot of experience starting in large packs of people, but I managed to stay calm and controlled. The crazy yo-yoing and close calls with crashes in last year’s larger races have taught me to be on the alert but PATIENT until the race really begins…sure enough there was a nasty crash near the start as the pace quickly picked up on the gravel.
We crossed several road sections but the vast majority of the race was on rough gravel, sand, and very rough doubletrack. I rode my cross bike with a few modifications from the road bike and it was perfect! Dave did a wonderful job of setting it up and I don’t think it’s ever shifted so well.
Without any equipment issues to worry about I just had to focus on myself..I knew that though the women’s field was smaller it was very talented and I just wanted to get used to racing again. I knew what I needed to work on and that included not getting stuck by myself in the wind. I kept the lead lady in sight and found a few good groups of men to work with for the first half of the race. I worked myself into a good pace and felt better from not warming up after a few big climbs opened up my legs.
However, my stomach’s been bothering me over the past few months and it was obvious that I have not figured out a solution as my gut immediately seized up and only got worse as the race went on…I thought I was going to puke the entire time. I forced myself to eat through the pain as bonking was the last thing I wanted to do!
Near the end of the lap we encountered a lot of people who were really pushing the pace. I thought I was struggling and had really slowed down because they seemed so fast. It was only when I turned onto my second lap and NO ONE followed me that I realized they were ramping it up to the finish line. I already felt worked at that point from the arduous course and had more than 30 miles to go!
From there to the finish I saw two people on the course. Period. Thankfully the course was well-marked when it had to be and the county sheriffs were still controlling the major intersections. Hats off to the race promoter for doing such a great job organizing the event! I was feeling worse and worse as my whole body started to ache from the bumpy road and I did my best to keep pushing myself and disconnect my mind from the pain. The nice views certainly helped! For two hours I did not really know where I stood in the race or how far I had to go…
finally I saw signs for the finish and a few miles later, came in second for the ladies! I was very pleased with the result and the fact that I got through such a mentally challenging race..the (equal!) prize money was a nice bonus too:
THANK YOU to my wonderful sponsors and Dave for the support, and KissCross Events for putting on an excellent and challenging race!