A week and a half ago, Benjamin and I viewed the upcoming race calendar while he's in town. Our options included: a time trial in Denver, a mountain bike race in Pueblo, or couch surfing at the casa. Since we were surfing at said time of our conversation - and since he mentioned how long it has been since he raced and that Pueblo might be "fun" - I paid it forward and signed the both of us up for a 44 mile half marathon race.
He thought I was joking until he received the confirmation email in his inbox. Game on.
Break out those race wheels baby, it's time to do some suffering.
Saturday morning we woke at 5am to eat some food, pack the car and drive the hour south to the state park. We arrived with plenty of time to check in, get our calves marked and pick up our t-shirts. I did a little more warm up then Ben, and while riding up a hill a runner passing by asked if there was a century going on. (As evidenced from our number plates placed on the front of our bikes. Ha!)
Not knowing what to expect as far as performance goes, I signed up for the women's age category 30-39. They ended up grouping all of the women together, including the pros and started us directly behind the Clydesdale men. Guess what happened? We caught them going into the start of the single track. And then we proceeded to pass all of them. But passing there is sketchy - one wrong tire track will see you puncturing on a cactus or ankle deep in sandy dirt. Passing requires a massive power output for 5-15 seconds, depending on what you were pedaling through. But it was either pass or be passed. So be it.
All in all, I think I passed around 40 or so guys from various categories. And those little surges of high power outputs definitely took a toll. By the second lap of our 22 mile loop, I was cooked. Features I easily rolled over the first lap became major challenges and I found myself walking the bike on more than one occasion.
The only similarity between road and mountain is pushing your physical and mental limits. The technical skills are totally different. But your body still screams at you to stop torturing it. By the end I was pretty delirious and those internal conversations started to become vocalized.
"Come on muscles. I promise you'll get to rest when this is over. PUSH PUSH PUSH."
I think I was just as surprised as this dude I passed uphill when I uttered that out loud. Maybe he thought I was talking to him?
"Water awaits you at the end."
Somehow those little mantras did the trick - as I pulled across the finish line with not a drop of water left in my camel back and only 4 minutes behind Benjamin. He started 2 minutes ahead of me, so yes, he won our competition. He was covered in dirt and salt from head to toe and "woohoo'd" as I crossed the finish line. Mr. "I'd get up but I'm one giant cramp." He rocked it.
We found out later that I actually won my age category and would have placed 5th in the Pro category. Sweetness.
But the sweetest thing? I have sweet ass arm tan lines now from missing some sunscreen on my right arm. Branded in Pueblo. BAM!