Thursday, May 04, 2006
Well, I got two in the chest from the place known for it's "Double Barrel" brew. While Ara was busy downing some of the namesake liquid during his 5 turns of the course, I was barely able to hobble around 2.
After my well-fought-for 12th place at Bonelli (in my inaugural run there) I was eager to continue the fight in Santa Barbara. Fate had other plans, though. After saying hi to everyone at the start line including listening to Papo's usual pre-race self-degradation (even though he wipes the trail with us), I joked with his teammate Mick. Mick said he wasn't feeling great and I probably wouldn't see him much after the start (cuz he would be so far behind). I laughingly said that maybe I wouldn't see him cuz I might be so far behind. Ha Ha! It wouldn't be that funny in a few minutes.
The initial run off the line and up the first climb went great. After rubbing tires with and repassing a guy who thought he would cut me off to get around me and then drift two bike lengths off the rest of the pack, I settled right into the middle. Not expending too much energy, but not lagging behind, either. I followed Bert's limey cycloX friend down the first descent even though he went a bit slower than I wanted because I couldn't pass him before we got to it, and I knew he would just pass me again on the next up anyway.
I know I was doing fine, my post-race heart rate check recorded a max of 204 at some point (which is normal BTW), but by the third climb I start slipping. I looked down and was running at 167 (i usually race right around 190) and I was giving all I could. I cruised around the back of the course thinking I would recover and fight back in the second lap. I figured I had drank too much and waterlogged myself or something. When I passed King James' cheering me on at the campgrounds and headed into the vineyards, I popped a Sonic Strawberry Clif Shot hoping the caffein would give me a boost. It didn't seem to make much of a difference but I was still able to middle-ring all the little climbs on the way to the start/finish so I kept on. Ryan (AKA "Little Bert") handed me my water bottle as I started my second lap, and my recovery drink with protein, potassium and sodium totally hit the spot. As I wound my way up the initial climb, though, I felt pretty bad. But there were still other riders around me and I kept going. I even caught and passed Chewy (AKA "Fuzzy") on his 10th (or something?!*) lap.
The guy in front of me on the traverse almost ran headfirst into one of the 2-ton bulls that were roaming the course that day, but luckily he actually frightened the walking steak more than it did him (maybe it was the A-1 in his CamelBak?) and it went stubbling hysterically down the hill at breakneck speed! The rider was visibly shaken, though, and let me pass as he fumbled his way back onto the trail.
At the third climb again, I felt the horribleness setting in again. Single-speeders were chugging by me on all sides now, and lots of 3 and 4-man packs from the older categories, too. I looked at my wrist again and it read 127! That's near comatose for me. I was now on the fast track to Hurtville. I was sweating more than Chris Farley at a bacon convention, and the bottom of my feet were burning like I had sulfur insoles. I turned the suspension up on my fork from 2 to 4 inches, praying it would help, but the lumpy cow-tracked backside of the course was unrelenting. I rode slower and slower. And slower.
The granny ring became my friend as I resolved to just finish the race. "I feel no pain" became my mantra.
It only half worked, but half was enough.
The Pro women started passing me, which is always a morale booster (no really, it is), even when one thought I was in Ara's Marathon race because I was riding so slowly! They are always in a great mood and it's awesome to cheer them on as they fight it out at the end of their race. Another concernedly asked if I was OK. "Yes," I lied and rolled on.
I finished. I lay down on the cool, tall grass under the E-Z up and thanked heaven it was over.
I wish I had some cathartic ending that tied everything all together, but I don't. It was a severely painful race for me. Three others from my category DNF'd, so I'll concede to a DFL. This time.