I woke up hungry this morning. Not just for food - but hungry for more opportunities to work on my new approach toward racing. As mentioned I had a big break this weekend - and now know all I have to do is continue to work in that zone to realize my full potential.
Yesterday was a long one - 66.25 miles at Vance Creek in Elma, Washington. The forecast was for increasing possibilities of showers in the afternoon - but with a 30% chance we thought we might escape them. I must have forgotten we live in Washington. As soon as we rolled up, registered and got the kit on, the sky opened up - confirming it's going to be a wet one.
With only 11 of us that showed (they had a separate Cat 3 ladies with 16!) there was talk of combining us with the Masters field. Fortunately that didn't pan out and we had our own race. Wines had the biggest contingent - with 4 ladies (Suz, Trish, Syrikit, and Gina), three Avanti (Liz, Linda and I), one Groupie (Dana), Carrie (Kenda Tire), Allison (Bob's Bicycles) and Beth from Byrne. If you've been riding in this field, I bet you can pretty much guess what happened.
But for those who don't - basically Wines dominated the race. They were constantly in the front setting the pace and attacking. The rest of us would combine forces, bring them in and then another attack would go. At least it keeps things interesting.
The course is a circuit loop - with a few rollers leading into the one hill and then a fast descent and winds through slick mud filled farm roads. We did the circuit 5 times - so I looked at it as though it was 5 hill repeats. The first two times up the hill was no big struggle - I was able to easyily stay on. But the third time is when the field completely broke up and suddenly we were down to 5, with Suz off the front of the field. I remember grabbing Gina's wheel and hearing Karen's voice over and over in my head, "stay on that wheel, Jen. Stay on that wheel." And it worked! When we crested the hill and wound our way up and over the rollers - Liz noticed I was there and was stoked! Oh but the battle wasn't over yet.
Those who made the selection - Suz (mrs. off the front), Gina, Trish, Liz, Beth, Dana and I. We started chasing and just as we hit the slick pavement, Suz flatted. Gina stopped and gave Suz her wheel - what an amazing teammate. And Suz quickly caught on to the rest of us. Fourth time up the hill - Suz attacked again - this time staying away. But I was in trouble. I lost the wheel I was on. Suddenly they're pulling away - luckily near the top of the climb. I dug deep, deeper than I have before, and made the connection with them on the farm flats. I swear I felt like I was going to black out at one point - I full on saw the curtain come down in front of my eyes and then blink myself back into reality. But I had made it!
Knowing full well that the final hill was coming and my legs were shredded, I led the ladies up to the bottom of the climb so they could have at it. And they did - with Trish taking 2nd, Dana 3rd, Beth 4th and Liz 5th. Even though it wasn't a win today - I was smiling ear to ear when I crossed that finish line. Today I was a warrior.
I am so tickled about getting off the plateau I was on - I can't tell you how rewarding that race was yesterday. Sure the TT effort the day before may have taxed the legs a little - but I know I reached deep, deep inside to race and was rewarded ten fold with my efforts. I didn't sleep well last night - for I kept waking up thinking about yesterday's accomplishments and how excited I am. Goodbye mediocrity, hello ass kicker!