Monday, July 16, 2012
When I stepped out of the house at 7:00 am, I could not believe how hot it already felt. I usually do not mind the heat, but when compounded with direct sun and extreme humidity, I felt like I was cooking inside. As soon as Art and I arrived at the Bulldog Rump race, we set up the ez-up tent next to our van to assure a shady spot for the remainder of the day, and it would be a long day. We were lucky enough to get a parking spot on the edge of the field and catch a few light breezes that made the humidity seem just bearable.
I saw off my Cat 3 teammate, registered, got my leg marked and returned to the tent. Looking out over the field that was filled with wild flowers, dragonflies and butterflies buzzed around. I was amazed with the butterflies, as they flittered around with care-free direction, getting caught with the wind and then redirecting themselves and visiting the nectar flowers along their journey. Call me crazy, but the motion and seeming playfulness of the butterfly reminded me of mountain biking.
As I prepared for my race, the vision of the butterfly's flight was embedded in my head. Perhaps the heat was getting to me, but I did not have my race head on, and I seriously wondered how well my race would go, when I was dreaming of butterflies. I finally let go of the butterfly vision and started my warm up. You may wonder, how much does one need to warm up in such heat, but it is my heart that needs to prepare to adjust to the intensity of a race, not a bring my legs up to speed thing.
Gun goes off, and I immediately find myself trapped in the back and unable to get through. I get a tad flustered, but eventually a gap opens and I am on my way chasing down the lead group ahead. I reach the lead group just as I hit the bottom of the opening climb ...not good. I hang on, but I was near my max by the top and allow a gap in front. Good thing, as a girl in front faltered causing a few behind to fall down. I am off the bike in a hurry and hoofing it to the top. Then there were more traffic issues that threw me into surges, ending in stomach cramps once again.
I slowed down and gave up a spot, but by the time I got half way through the technical twisty single track, I had rested enough to settle my stomach issues and was still in the hunt. I had about a quarter mile with tons of traffic, both men and women. I did not want to be too pushy, but I was beginning to feel like my wings were being restricted. Then I finally asserted myself and managed to squeeze by a series of riders. Finally free, I opened my wings and went.
It actually felt more efficient to ride slightly faster once I had cleared myself from the clog ups on 3/4 of the first lap. The rhythms and momentum on the course were a blast, and I think the butterfly visions helped me in that area. Half way into the last lap. it began to rain, which felt so good. My dusty legs turned black, and the rocks got slippery enough to slow me down some, but the cooling effect of the rain was welcomed. Feeling quite as ease with the rain, the finish line appeared quickly and smoothly and I felt quite satisfied. It certainly was good finish to a not so certain race start. Found out later that I had the fastest Cat 1 time, so I guess I am still hanging in there at 54.