I was going to title this post something about what amazing creatures the mind and body were, but as I sat watching football and munching on chips and dip this one came to me instead.
I'll admit, I haven't been training for endurance. Not even a little bit. I had 3 XC races lined up this fall, and one endurance race. Add to that just plain lack of time and no long rides on the weekends, and I was feeling a lot unprepared for my race this past weekend.
I didn't eat right the weekend before. Tuesday I ate out twice (I haven't done that in awhile, and it usually only happens on race weekends when we are in a hotel), Thursday I ate a really unhealthy lunch, I had cake throughout the week, drank too much last weekend, and generally felt stressed out, out of time, and unprepared.
Thursday night I was up late, up early, and slept poorly. Couldn't get to sleep on Friday night, and laid awake for about 30 minutes before the alarm went off.
So, I was tired, kinda sore, and really nervous about the race. This lasted even after I found out that one of the big name pro women wasn't going to be racing afterall. There was still supposed to be about 6-7 Pro/Expert women racing.
Saturday morning was the normal pre-race routine. We got to the venue pretty early and unloaded the truck. I alternated between sitting with my feet up and trying to set up the pit spot. Hubby finished up working on the bike.
Wound up heading over to the pre-race meeting (no new info or anything, but it helped to have 15 minutes go by before the start), and then I finished getting dressed. We all lined up a bit early, with the really fast people up front going out for parade lap and fastest to the top of the big hill. I wanted none of that, so stuck around about halfway back.
Just after 9 am we were off.
I could go lap by lap through everything, but essentially: I was sore from the get-go; my legs and back alternated hurting; I drank what I could - usually water; had gel; and basically just tried to keep myself moving and motivated. It gets difficult after awhile. And then after another while you start to forget you need motivation and it just becomes routine. Then the pain comes back and you start to wonder why you're doing another lap; or why you did the last one.
I spent the early laps wondering when the competition was going to take a break. She'd ride through the pits, grab a bottle and keep moving. Every lap I wondered when she'd slow down. She didn't slow down.
It took me a few laps to realize I wasn't stopping or slowing down a lot either. But, I sat down. More than one person said she never sat down. That's dedication to your goals.
Hubby said I was in 2nd around lap 2 or 3. I was quite shocked, actually. I figured I was in 4-5. I remained in 2nd for about half of the race.
I didn't think I had a chance at winning. She wasn't slowing down at all. I couldn't go any faster. We were in a deadlock.
Then, for some reason, she took a break and changed clothes. She beat me into the pit area by a few minutes, and was just coming out the bathrooms with fresh clothes when I was heading out. And it was time for the lights since it was about night time. She didn't catch me again.
We realized on lap 8 or so that I'd have to do 10 to win. I didn't want to do 10 laps. I dreaded 10. I resigned myself to 10. It was tough, though.
I learned a few things:
I'm a lot stronger (mentally and physically) than I ever thought I was.
Sometimes even when you don't feel prepared you might just be.
After a crazy effort like yesterday there is something that matters more than fattening food, more than alcohol, and more than the post-race raffle: clean, dry wool socks.
Sidebar funny (?) story:
Hubby didn't want to have to send me out on 10 so he asked a WC marathon pro about how to motivate me. Essentially the response was: Well, either she wants to win or she wants to come in second.