First off, thanks to everyone that yelled my name, or yelled out "Fatty" (I was wearing my Fat Cyclist jersey). I loved it and it does help keep you going.
I actually look happy in the picture next picture...I think Mr. Broken-Elbows-Spears was yelling at me to show some teeth or something. He took it near the crest of the worst of the hills on the course. The juniors race at the same time as us. Look the the face of the kid nearest me...he doesn't look like he is too happy does he? I think he is giving me a crusty!
Let me think back on the race for a second or two...
yeah, it was a brutal course. It hurt me. One of the worst beating a course has ever put on me.
The thing is that facially, it didn't seem to be that big of a deal. The rain this week seemed to all dry up within the last 12 hours. Nothing sketchy except for a 3 or 4 inch low branch or root that caused numerous people to come to a complete halt or to fall for some odd reason. Anyway, the course was brutal in other ways. It was very fast in sections, but every one of those sections was choppy and made me feel like I was on an irregular jackhammer. Irregular as in the chop had no rhythm to it, other than the beat of pain.
There were flat to slightly uphill sections that, of course, were choppy. Those are tiring to do at speed. There were three pretty good uphill sections that put the hurting on. One was near the end of course and I have a hard time putting into words my exact feelings with regard to that section. On the second lap I came closer than I ever have to puking while riding. I was ready to blow.
Here is quick lap by lap synopsis:
First lap: I felt good, lots of people passed me on the second half--the uphill half--of the lap, including PFJ. He started near the back and I was about 1/3 of the way back. Basically, I had a good head start on him. When he passed me before I got to the end of the first lap I was very disappointed. I figured it to be another tough lonely day at the office if guys from near the back had already passed me.
Second lap: Felt good at first and then the wheels really started to feel like they were coming off on the steepest of the hills. This is the lap where I felt like breakfast was going to come up. I was dizzy for a short bit too. I didn't look at the sign that showed how many laps to go as I completed this lap and that was probably a good thing. Had I known after 2 laps that there were still 3 to go I would have been disheartened. Each lap was 2 miles long and a 10 mile race in 45 minutes on that course seemed cruel. There was just not enough places to rest on the back half for me.
Third lap: Pretty much a blur to me as I write this so I believe that this was the lap that I started to feel pretty good. Briefly. Sure, it still hurt real bad, but relatively speaking I was doing just fine. Even on the killer hill I did ok. I secretly hoped that whole lap that there would only be one more...but as I neared the finish line to complete that lap I saw that there were still 2 to go.
Forth lap: I was praying to be lapped. "Please let me have a flat tire, a mechanical, or please the the race leader be fast enough to bail be out so I don't have to do another one of these laps...." I think I said this over and over again in my head. And I thought that I could always go slower (I actually passed a couple of guys during this lap that were in my category), I don't have to nearly kill myself out there. I could make it less painful. But for some reason I can't, I just go as hard as I can which is generally to the point just shy of heart attack. As it was, I felt guilty as it was for not being able to push it more. There were several times were I thought that I could have picked up the pace a bit more. I probably couldn't have--I was hurting pretty bad all over, legs were cramping, back was killing, etc. Still, I berated myself for being mentally lazy and not trying to pick the fastest lines and whatnot. Surely, I could spin a little faster or get in a smaller cog on the cassette I would think. These thoughts occurred almost concurrently as the "please, somebody crash into me, please let my chain break, please let my tire get sliced..." thoughts so that I could pull out of the race guilt-free. Weird.
Fifth and Final lap: At the end of the 4th lap I saw that I still had a lap to go. I was dejected that I was still on the lead lap. What a hoser! Dejected because I was fast enough to be on the same lap as the best Master B's! There was a time not long ago when I wasn't fast enough to be on the lead lap in the beginner class. But muddled was my thinking in that pain-filled fog. Once I got my mind around the fact that I was doing another lap like-it-or-not, my attitude improved. I tried to enjoy everything as best I could. I would think, "this is my last time going though this "S" turn, I better pick a good line" or "pedal hard down this hill, bumpy or not, don't worry about trying to save anything else" and even after the last time up that killer hill I still passed a couple of guys. I do well on last laps...it is just those second to last laps that do a number on me mentally.
The preliminary results showed that I finished 90th out of 117 starters. PFJ finished not too far ahead of me despite passing four laps earlier. He was 83rd I think. I bet the bottom 10 or so had mechanical issues, so maybe 105-ish racers finished the race. 90th out of 105... believe it or not, that works for me. Being out of the bottom 10% of the finishers would be a nice improvement. PFJ said before the race that this course didn't play to our strengths...it was not technical, it was hilly, and it was very choppy. This was all true, yet, I feel I had a good race. For the first time this season I didn't have to stop to fix my chain twice or even once--and I felt totally spent and gave pretty much everything I had. Now I just need to continue to lose weight and keep riding during the week and perhaps I can continue to improve.