Monday, February 23, 2009

The Revised Race Report, with Some Other Junk Thrown in For Good Measure

If this is your second trip by this blog since last night, you will notice that I have pulled my entry from yesterday. The one was cathartic to write, but has caused me more angst than joy since its posting. (If you truly want to read it and come to your own conclusions as to my sanity, I can email it to you off-line. The revised version appears at the end of this entry.)

The first set of tears was after my mom called, voice full of emotion and telling me how she's been really worried about me the last few months and that she was so happy to see that I've gotten a little of my crazy fire back. And also happy that I didn't crash and break my arm again.

The second set came after a rude reminder that someone other than my mother reads this thing. And that taking a risk and honestly admitting my own glaring inadequacies to the world can have unintended consequences.

For the record, I admit that a percentage of that race report could be interpreted as petty and catty and full of bat-shit-craziness ex-girlfriend nonsense. I knew it while I was writing it, but it felt good to be honest, not falsely stoic and rational. Because I didn't feel like that at the time.

As a result, There is a person out there who was likely very hurt by what I wrote, a person that I do not know, have nothing against and have no business hurting. I am truly sorry for that. And I feel like an asshole for ignoring that my vitriol was directed to a flesh and blood person, not some inanimate object without feeling. I believe in karma and will get what I have coming to me. Then she can laugh at my face. And I will have deserved that.

But there is also someone out there who, in all seriousness, can go fuck himself for mocking my grief and my healing process. It was unnecessary and it was cruel. I had really reached a place of peace and forgiveness and felt 100% in the wrong--until that happened.

OK, enough time trying to change what I can and move on from what I can't. Here is the race report. Version 2.


What a difference a week can make. When all of that that has felt for weeks like losing has really been winning. When the clouds finally part and you really that you are exactly where you should be.

It took a bit of convincing from Heidi to get me to show up for the Sublimity Circuit race. The course looked brutal. There were hills (according to her post-race calculation...4100 feet of climbing in 42 miles). My self-confidence was at an all-time low after Palm Springs. I had even had second thoughts about the purchase of the new racing bikes, figuring that a fat sloth didn't really deserve such nice equipment.

I made the final decision to race Friday night over my third (fourth?) bourbon and told only a few friends. I didn't want any advice, tips, anything. If I was going to go out there and fuck this shit up, I could do that all by myself, thank you very much. I did call my mom to tell her that she was my emergency contact and to keep her cell phone with her if she left the house. She rolled her eyes, said something about a bubble suit and wished me luck. Oh, ye of little faith, woman.

I had only three goals when we initially staged for the race: (1) stay upright; (2) finish and (3) don't do anything embarrassing. My main focus was staying efficient. We were going to be climbing a lot and I have a tendency to mash gears going uphill, relying on my power instead of a smooth, steady pedal stroke. That bad habit was going to wear me out quickly and I was determined to avoid it.

But things turned out better than I had expected. I had heard the horror stories about cat 4 women's races...the bitching and moaning and squirrely bike handling. There was none of this at Sublimity, for several reasons. First, the field was small (15ish cat 4s and a handful of masters riders) and our field shattered after the first set of third circle of hell rollers.

Lap 1: I got up front and kept my gears low through the climbing, pushing out of my mind that I was going to have to do this three more times before the end of the race. The last climb on the front side of the course was a steep, short effort and although I was struggling, Heidi assured me that it was all downhill after that. When the smoke cleared at the top, there were three ladies up front and four of us not far behind. And no one else in shouting distance.

The four of us in back quickly organized, caught the front three and all seven of us pushed a steady pace line into the next lap. Wheels were steady, compliments on good pulls were freely given. I was surprisingly comfortable.

Lap 2: Sometime during the second time through the rollers, both Heidi and another gal dropped their chains. The break was down to five. I took longer pulls on the downhills and used the opportunity to slow the pace just slightly, to give myself as much extra rest as I could before the climbing began again. And I was pretty low on fluid and trying to spread out my remaining calories as long as I could.

Lap 3: I popped after the first long climb. At that point the break was at 4 and the more experienced riders were increasing the pace on each roller. I kept telling myself that I just needed to make it 10 more minutes and I could rest again, but my legs were lead and my back and knees were starting to shake each time I stood up to try and hold on for dear life. But it wasn't meant to be. I got back into a comfortable cadence and mentally prepared myself for riding alone for the next 40 minutes.

I acutely felt my gas tank approaching empty as the miles ticked off. I had no water left and no amount of banging my gu flask on my helmet was getting that last bit to the bottom. By the time we hit the finishing straight, I was more tired that I had ever been on a bike. Which is saying a lot after surviving multiple winter hammer fests and Palm Springs.

At that point, one of the gals who had dropped her chain on the last lap caught me. There was only a 1/2 mile left to go. She kept looking over her shoulder to see what I was going to do. Which was, uh, nothing. If she worked that hard to catch back up to me, she could have it. There was a 22% grade looming at the finish and all I wanted was to be at the top of it, in whatever place that might be.

Five minutes later, I was at the top of that hill, as tired as I have ever been in my life after a bike ride. Not caring that I had to get off and push the bike up the last 20 meters of that goddamned 22% grade so I wouldn't tip over. I was cooked, but grinning from ear to ear. I had finished my first road race in fifth place, just a few minutes off the front. Upright.

So for most bike racers, fifth place in a small beginner field would be a big fat "whatever." But it's a big deal to me. I now know that I am stronger, both emotionally and physically, than I ever thought I could be. I have taken three months of blood, sweat and, most of all, tears, and turned myself inside out for the opportunity to have that moment of realization.

I am so thankful that it came quickly, because now I look forward to the opportunity to try again.


B said...

I don't know your name even, but I have read your blog for months, and I enjoy it. Thank you for sharing. I am sorry for the mess that has occured in your life with your ex and for what it is worth, venting about it is beyond normal, and dont let anyone tell you otherwise. I agree with you about the karma, I do. But just remember, THIS IS YOUR BLOG, and you can write what you fucking well please. That is the beauty of it. If someone does not like it, then why on earth are they viewing it anyways? (sorry)


Lindsay said...

Thanks, B. I got a few emails yesterday with the same sentiment as your comment. I guess what it basically came down is that I was a total ass to someone who was in no way responsible for my anger and that wasn't right. Fixed it and have moved the hell on.