I drove to Ashland last Friday and made it in time for the packet pickup and to eat the pasta feed. I really had no desire for it. Later on my car mate and I headed over to a place down town and I ate my pre race meal of salmon and rice. Much better.
I woke Saturday morning for the race feeling ill. I had been taking so many different drugs (up to 5 different prescriptions a day) that my stomach and over all systems were just whacked out. I wanted to toss it all in the grass before the race so my system was clean but it never happened.
I skated to the start line ready to go and get it over with. Totally curious as to what my body would offer. I had not put on skates since Plano which was 2 weeks prior. I had biked once for a 26 miles on Thursday and felt only so-so. Gun went off and so did we. All the fitness and rec skaters started together no matter if you were skating the full or half. I was feeling just fine doing the first round of hills. My legs and back were ok. My 2 former teammates and I headed the pack with a lone male skater fighting the winds all alone up ahead. He was one strong skater for sure. After a couple of miles we turned to the left and continued our climb. This was the spot where I start to hurt each year. Where most skaters start to hurt. Unlike the steep hills that you just got doing this was a long slow climb. Also unlike the others there is no down hill break (not 'rollers') and so for a girl with no hill training and not on skates for 2 weeks my body yelled uncle and shut down. My hip flexors cramped up and my wonderful heart was being told to shut down. Damn near did. I had hit my max, past it, and then held it for over a minute but my lack of high quality training spanked me and I went from holding near the front of the pack to practically a walk. The line started to pass. I looked for a spot to jump back in. I found one but could not hold if for more than 30 yards or so. I fell out again with a few more people passing me. Two guys told me to hold on but they just drifted away. Jim, knowing my conditions told me to just do what I can. Good thing to say actually. It helped. After about 20 seconds of giving my body a recovery (still climbing though) two more men passed me and the last told me to hop a wheel. So I did. I whipped myself up to their line and held on for all I could. Finally we hit the gentle downhill and my heart rate was able to lower to the point I no longer feared my head exploding.
I felt a thousand times better and we took off. Another left hand turn a flat straight away to start cursing on. The guys and I rotated and when I was ready I took off. Pulling to the best I could, we could still see the main pack about 100 yards ahead of us but ask any skater and they will tell you a 100 yards in a race sometimes mind as well be a light year. Keeping our rotations going we chatted a bit and talked about the upcoming hill. THE HILL. With about 8.5-9 miles now behind us we were stuck out in the middle with us passing only a few stragglers here and there. Just before the hill the guys behind me told me they were going to hang back. I was ready for the hill but a tad nervous wondering if my equilibrium was messed up at all due to my 2 week hibernation and drug fest. I went down ok with the exception of a few speed wobbles. Not cool. I had stayed standing for a while to keep my speed lower and even stood up near the bottom of the hill. I just would rather
stay rolling than body surfing down the hill and was in no jeopardy of being caught by anyone. I felt my position and weight was correct on my skates so I attribute the wobbles to frame position and being on 84's for the first time in such speeds.
I made it down the hill in one piece and white cursing down A third guy who had caught up with me down the hill later told me his GPS clocked us doing 37.5 down the hill. So my claims in the past years to say we would hit 40-45 down that hill were correct. (remember this time I slowed myself down) I took off after the hard right hand turn at the bottom of the hill and was all alone for about 3/4th a mile. "My men" were working to catch back up. When they caught me I was pooped from fighting the crosswind and let them do some of the work for me. Another left hand turn and we now had a long straight stretch of tailwind. The speed picked up but I wanted more. I passed the line and took the lead going 90%. We were hauling. The guy behind me never really got in my draft. Always about a yard or 2 off. No more speed was needed since anymore of it and I would not promise to stay stable. Wheels were barely holding on. Road was so smooth... it was perfect skating.
We hit the cone for a 180 turn around and I let the guys take over into the headwind. Here a quick pace and high turn over would have been ideal but everyone slowed down and tried to lead for too long. Any chance of catching the lead fit/rec pack was now gone. Retracing our path we made a right hand turn into a heavy crosswind and I was constantly leading. From first to second I would rotate over and over trying to keep us moving. A TALL guy who had tried to verbally get the group to keep up the pace and rotate quickly pulled up behind me and then lead when I rotated back. He told me when it was time he would take off and I should follow. I had lead my share and deserved a pull to the finish. I was spoiled. No way something like that would happen in the Pro cat. So I decided to take the gift given to me. With about 3/4 of a mile to go I told him I was ready and we took off loosing the rest of the pack. About 150 yards before the finish I had plenty reserves and debated sprinting around the truck that gave me such a recovery. "We aren't the same age. We aren't even same sex." I cut to the right passed him with about 50 yards to go. He didn't seem to mind. :-)
In the end my time was 45:35 and some seconds to add. Not great but far from the super *&%$ job I was expecting. I won my age group but did not make the top 3 which was my end goal. Deb and Jodi and a lady named Lori who I remember from Eau Clarie last year just were able to deal with those hills better than I could. They skated a strong race.
This upcoming Saturday is a 10k in the twin cities of Minnesota and then a bike/skate criterion in Eau Claire July 6th. It will be my first bike race of the year. Oh please no bike road rash!!!
Wish I was skating