Last Saturday was the XC and the first Mountain States Cup of the season in Nathrop, CO. My start wasn’t until 2:30 PM, so I got the luxury of leaving Saturday morning at a reasonable hour. I have never done this particular race before and I really like to pre-ride the course before I race it. I decided I was going to warm up on the course before my start. One loop was 7 miles, so I figured it shouldn’t take too long. There were some expert men racing at the time, so I just stayed out of the way. I was beginning to get nervous when it seemed like I had been out on the course for awhile and the trail just kept going farther and farther way from the venue. Finally I asked someone how far we were on the loop. When he told me about half way and my watch said 2:20 PM, I started to freak out. I already had to pick up the pace earlier because I realized I should make it back with time to spare, but when I heard this, I had to go at race pace in order to make it back in time. Fortunately we were more like 2/3 of the way through, but I rolled up to the start with 2 minutes to go, disheveled, out of breath, and flustered. I reached down to get a drink of water only to find that I had lost one of my water bottles on the course, and did not drink as much water as I should have during the warm-up. since there was a neutral feed and I still had one bottle, I decided that I would just get another at the feed and would be okay with just one bottle for the first lap. There were some fast girls that showed up, but despite that fact, I had a pretty decent first lap considering how hard I had just gone to make it back in time. I was looking for the feed, and the guy had his BACK turned. I said, “bottle!” he didn’t flinch. “BOTTLE!” He turned around too late after I had already past. I decided not to go back b/c I still had a little water left in my one bottle. 5 minutes later, I reached down to get a sip of water because my mouth was getting really sticky and dry. I wiffed some air with my hand where my bottle should have been. I looked down at my bottle cages in disbelief to see that my SECOND bottle was gone. There are some trees we had to hop/ride over, and a lot of people were losing bottles there. About half way through the second lap, all bets were off. I had gone 15 miles (including my warm up lap) with NO water in the afternoon heat, and still had 6 more miles to go before I could even get any water. Suddenly I started feeling really sick to my stomach and was dry heaving, and trying to hold my stomach with one hand and ride with the other. Then my legs turned into rotten, dried up sponges and at least 5 girls past me. By the time I got to the aid station, I was really angry and pulled over to grab two bottles, and downed as much water as I could. I spent the next 14 miles trying to get my legs and body to work again, but to no avail. I wanted to quit and was so frustrated that I finally felt decent at a race and then got dehydrated. I guess there is something to learn every race!
The next day was the short track. The guys and I went to Chris’ condo in Breckenridge for the night. I took the coldest ice bath I have ever taken. I had a bag of 10lbs of ice, and another 6 lb bag. The water is so cold in Breck that the ice wasn’t even really melting. There was just this huge 7-8 lb block of ice floating in the water with a bunch of smaller ice cubes. I got in and wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle it for my normal 7 minutes, but I managed to do it. I knew the ramifications of my day would be really bad for the next day of racing… which gave me motivation to stay in longer.
We got up early the next day thinking our short track was at 10:30. We got to Nathrop at 9, chami-ed up and ready to warm-up. It seemed like cars were missing. I asked a guy who was a race volunteers what time the pro race was at. He told me 2:30. There was an uproar amongst us because we were so tired and had to get up at 7 AM only to wait around all day in the sun. We went up to the venue where we were even more surprised to find that my race wasnt until FIVE PM and the guys’ weren’t until 5:40. I looked down at my watch which said 9:30 AM. It was mass chaos. The race was very poorly organized and people were really angry to have to wait around all day in the hot sun. Some people, including the guys I came with, decided they didn’t want to wait and were going to go home. I really wanted to race, I was there, I paid the money, and I wanted the points…so I went to every tent and started asking if anyone from Boulder could give me a ride back in the evening. Fortunately this pro guy, Steve, was staying for his short track and could give me a ride. To save time, the officials decided to race the expert women with us. Because my legs had felt so bad the day before and I was sitting in the sun all day, I was terrified that I’d feel horrible, much like the Firestone National short track, and that the expert women would beat me. I didn’t want to feel humiliated and was beginning to regret my decision to stay. During my warm-up, I was having trouble getting my heart rate up and my legs felt like lead, despite trying to spin them out that morning. The race started and I found myself on the wheel of a woman, Dellys Star, who I really respect b/c she is super fast. I tried to stick with her, but she was too fast so I dropped back. I rode in a group with just a few other women for most of the race and tried to conserve my energy and not endo on the bumps from the mountain cross course. They were pretty big! When I saw a lot of people had gotten pulled because we were going to lap them, I was surprised that I was actually in it for the pro podium. The offical said one lap to go, so I attacked hard and turned myself inside out to gap the girls I was riding with. I managed to put a lot of time on them and was coming through the start/finish, amazed that I was going to get 2nd. Much to my horror, the offical said AGAIN, “ONE LAP TO GO!” He had said that the lap before… so my “last” lap really was 2 laps to go. I was really concerned that I was going to get caught because I definitely could not keep the pace I set on what I thought was the last lap. I managed to hold everyone off, but barely. The girl in 3rd finished only 4 seconds behind me. I was ecstatic to get 2nd and get on my first pro podium…and I got some money too! 🙂