The more I think about 43 miles, the smaller the number sounds. After I did a 7 mile bike race, a 5k running race sounded tiny. Today, I was a lot less scared of the endurance aspect and I had faith that, at my own pace, I could finish.
I nearly didn’t get to the starting line in time. I was up a the mess hall filling my goo container with goo. They played the national anthem. I love the national anthem. It allows me to humble myself and think about how lucky I am to be where I am. Pride is a wonderful thing to have and uphold. When I hear the national anthem I am motivated to make the day, the event, or the moment something to be proud of. Whitney Huston was the singer that brought me to my zen place.
AND WE’RE OFF!
The entire first half of the race, I was waiting for the uphill to be over, but not out of exhaustion, just because I knew when I was done the HUGE up hill, it was ALL downhill. One of the speakers mentioned that if you’re not ‘in it to win it’ then stop and enjoy the scenery today. Fact: On my team of 5, I am the slowest. I am racing myself and challenging my body. At one point during a gravel road 5 mile uphill (I’ll get to the mossy dark forest of black magic in a minute) a clearing to the right opened up to a gorgeous view of a valley with rolling hills behind. I thought, this is AMAZING! I am so lucky to soak it in. I knew that no matter the outcome of the day, I was blessed to be given this opportunity to ride.
Having said that, I was recently dislodged from what might have been the wicked witches summer layer. It was a single track 1.5 mile uphill climb. Not one person was riding! The trail had barely enough space for your bike, so pushing it was dangerous as you were stuck between the falling off the side of the earth and you were combating mossy loose and freshly wet rocks to avoid imminent death. My extremely optimistic point of view stated because I came from seeing the dark side.
As I reached the top of the climb I hit one of the most fun and rocky sections of trail I have ever ridden. It was challenging, wide, rocky, mossy, and FAST! There was a lot of standing above the saddle, and just trusting that your bike wouldn’t crash, and then getting back up when it did. It was, as my friend Jim would say, ‘miles of smiles’. I loved every second of it. Coming off of that, I hit a creek and was verbally reminding myself ‘let it roll just keep rolling’ as I tried to climb out of the woods onto the gravel road. I stopped dead in the middle and a couple just ahead of me laughed and said ‘well it was a good try!’ I went back and for the with them for the rest of the day.
I was coming up on mile 28, and check point two. I was feeling like the boss, and moving along and nothing in the world was going bad. I felt a little crampy, so as I rode away from the check point. I turned around and went back to get a banana, and continued.
Crampy is not a world used lightly. Not 3 miles later my entire legs cramped up so bad that I fell off the bike and couldn’t get my leg to straighten for 3 mins. No exaggeration. I talked to my legs, rubbed my muscles, promised my feet a foot rub if only they would calm down enough to bend. Eventually I punched out the cramps, and slowly made my bike move. I was slow as a molasses stick from there though. If one muscle cramped while my leg was straight, an opposing muscle cramped when it was bent. If my legs felt good, my toes cramped. At one point I couldn’t clip back into my shoes because my foot was at a completely perpendicular position playing freeze tag with my calf muscles.
This was EXACTLY my concern coming into the race. NO SALT = NO MUSCLE MOVEMENT. NONE.
I pushed it through making more promises to my legs and more punching and rubbing. Finally, I turned the corner to finish, and I felt like THE BOSS. All of the other riders did not waited for the boss to come in though. I guess they were all showering.
Dom was there! Cheering and whooping with Nate Cross, a team mate who is just absolutely amazing to be around. He is high spirited and a real team rallier! I came into these two guys and was so proud. It took me (officially) 5 hrs and 20 minutes and 35 seconds to finish. I was so proud and astonished. Now I know what tomorrow will bring…ish
Tomorrows’ course is HILL CITY CENTRAL. Maybe even HILL COUNTRY right by HILLS VILLE USA. I’m nervous about cramping up big time, but I got some ELETE formula that is high in salt content from an ELETE rep and trans rider Sarah. She told me lots of CF athletes use it! I am so relieved to have it, and am praying it will work. I am also going to carry table salt with me and take handfuls of that!
It’s currently 10:30 and my roommates have retired and my vest just powered down, so off I am to bed. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow!!! Fun fun fun!!1