Jun 19, 2010

2 actual deer and 1 hallucinated deer - Elkhorn Stage 1

I came into the Elkhorn Stage Race this year freshly out of bronchitis and asthma with my body operating at about 60% of normal. Good enough to ride, but not good enough to race. I knew that what was supposed to be my "A" race of the year, was going to be a rec ride or two, so I was prepared for less that ideal results.

I had trained for this race. I had trained hard, with a rough training plan and self imposed goals throughout the winter and spring. If I had been well, I would have been really ready for this race.

When I am sick I also focus on how privileged I am, how able bodied I am, how lucky I am to be able to race at all and have money for bikes and entry fees. With this is mind, I honor my body and I don't let myself get too down on myself when I can't do much.

Stage 1 of Elkhorn is 73 miles with some hills, some cows, some farms, some hay, and some really strong riders. They grouped the women all together, which means we started with the pros. Now, on a good day, like 110% day, I can't keep up with the pros, never mind on a 60% day. A couple miles out of the gate and the pack was racing at 24mph and I was thinking "there is no way this is happening for me....just back off". I pushed harder, backed off, pushed harder, backed off, caught on, got dropped, and finally at mile 6 I just decided to race my own race and not chase anymore.

I had Melissa from Corvallis with me, and we worked together to catch Eva from Ironclad. The three of us made a dynamic team, and we talked and laughed for 30 miles. I felt decent until mile 40. Then my body talked back: I felt slightly faint despite excellent nutrition and really weak. I was fantasizing about pulling over and taking a nap, and that is when I knew the toxins in my body were not quite gone. We had the sweep truck behind us, so I knew I could hop in the truck at any point. This is for the most part a blessing since you can quit if you need to, but partially it sucks because then I spent the next 35 miles trying to decide if I should quit or not.

I decided to just ride slower. I let Melissa go at about mile 60, since she was still feeling good, and shortly after that Eva caught back up and her and I laughed and rode slow while the follow truck offered us sour gummy worms and Pepsi. At this point I had seen 2 real deer and 1 hallucinated deer, which I took as a sign to not race all weekend. I never hallucinate although I've heard athletes who push really hard have it happen all the time.

I finished feeling crummy, Eva behind me, and the refs pulled up the finish line as soon as we crossed it. I got a ride back into town in the pick up truck that was towing the porta potties from the finish line and I knew I was pretty much done for the weekend.

The ride itself was beautiful, and I didn't regret coming all the way out here to rec ride stage 1 of a really hard race. I have learned to respect and honor my body, even when it says "I know this is your A race all the way in Baker City, but there is no way in hell you can do this right now."

I listened.