The theme of the weekend was Luck.
The Weather.com forecast predicted rain (and possibly snow!) for most of the day on Friday. However, watching the radar, the precipitation seemed to dissipate as it reached the Hot Springs area. Matt and I didn’t get there in time to pre-ride, but talking to people milling around, it sounded like a pretty tame 10 mile loop. So, we set up our pit and headed back to town for dinner.
Saturday morning was chilly and gorgeous. I was feeling good while I was getting ready, and managed to squeeze in to a nice spot on the tri-style bike racks that were set up for the Le mans start (thank you Cyclocrunk for helping me to perfectÃ‚ my Le mans strategy!)
Lining up, I couldn’t tell who was entered in the Pro category and who was age group (aside from Rebecca Rusch, who was wearing kit with World Champ stripes). It was my first NRC Endurance race, and everyone looked fit and ready to kill it.
When the race started, it was business time. I got a nice position in the pack- not in the lead group where I’d blow myself up, but also not behind people that’d be bobbling switchbacks and/or granny-gearing the first climb. Within a few miles, I forced myself to settle into a sustainable pace. I didn’t know where I was in relation to my competition other than “behind Rebecca.” It was tempting to go hard, but I kept reminding myself that I had a long day ahead of me.
Laps 1-3 were prettymuch more of the same. I wrecked twice on lap 2- once was one of those mystery “wheel grabs” that belly-flopped me onto the ground, and the other was caused by hitting a slippery patch in a turn on a descent. That one could have been a lot worse, but somehow I managed to keep my wits about me during the fall process and, even though I fell into a ditch, I executed it with an Olympic-10 of a tuck and roll.
Lap 4 started to get hard. My back and arms started to hurt. I slowed down a little, but then a friend of mine along the trail told me that I was holding 2nd place. I gave myself a bit of a tough-love pep talk.
“You’re in 2nd place in your first NRC Endurance Race, and you’re slowing down? HTFU, take some Aspirin at the pit, and GTFO!”
The actual dialogue going on in my head included a lot more foul language, but you get the idea.
At the end of my 5th lap, I had the option of going out for another. I’d have to complete it in under 1hr, 17 min, which would have been tough. My inexperience was showing- I hurt all over, and I’d blown myself up a bit. I didn’t think I could make the lap, so I took a gamble and decided to not do it. Laureen Coffelt was almost 12 minutes behind me- if she made another lap, it’d knock me down to 3rd. While I was changing & having a snack, she rolled through the pit. She had 1 hour, 5 min to complete her lap.
Longest hour/five of my life. She missed it by 37 seconds.
I got lucky this time, but I have a feeling she’s going to have that 37 seconds in her head until the next time we meet up. I’m going to have to work harder between now & then to keep her from dragging/beating that 37 seconds out of me.
Today I feel like someone beat my legs/arms with a hose. I shouldn’t. It was “only” 50 miles/5:12 of riding. I’ve got harder races approaching and potential sponsors to woo. That type of effort should be more like a hard day of training than an effort that kills me for a few days. I should be able to go for the 6th lap and kill it.
Next stop- Rouge Roubaix. Take no prisoners.