The day started at 5:40am when I got up and made pancakes and coffee for Jeremy for his 8am race (I'm an awesome wife). He left at 7am, riding down to the course in Bear Creek Lake Park, which is only about 2 miles from our house. The kids were up soon after that, we got ready and headed off to the soccer game by 8:30am. My dad met us there which was nice. They lost. Again. They've lost every game this year. Oh well. They don't seem to mind much as long as their juice and treats after the game. Rushed home, changed clothes, threw my bike on the van (the kids' were already crammed into the back), grabbed a huge duffel bag full of food, my gear, and entertainment options for the kids, and the cooler and we were off to the park by 10:30. I swear it takes longer to drive there than it would to ride, but we had too much stuff and the trailer doesn't fit mountain bikes anyway. (We bought an annual pass to the park this year even though we can ride in for free. We ride the park all the time and they've really done some awesome work repairing all the trails from the floods last year so we wanted to support them a little financially.)
Soon after that it was time for me to start warming up and getting ready to go. I had been so busy I didn't have a whole lot of time to get nervous, so that was kind of nice. It was warm but there had been some cloud cover most of the day. The women 20-mile Appetizer racers started at 1:20, after all the pros, men and women doing the 30-miles, and the pros and men for the 20 miles I heard the kids yelling at me as I passed at the start which was nice. The start loop was fun, most of the women were going about the same pace, I hung back, then passed a couple of ladies who were going slower than I wanted on the flat, but then they passed me again on the little hill that goes back up to the finish line.
The first half lap was nice. I kind of fell back off the main group a lot but I was going my own pace, pushing myself but not trying to hard to keep up. I did pass one older gentleman early on. Hit the first hill, which is one I had not practiced as they changed the course THREE days before the start. It was pretty gradual but long and kind of killed me and it was about this time that the cloud cover moved off and it started to get HOT, like upper 70s. Soon after that I saw the first of the pros from the 30 mile coming up behind me. They hit me right at a very steep little climb of single track and someone started yelling at me to get over, not being very polite. I did stop and let them pass pretty much right away, so he really didn't have to be a dick. But that was just the start. I was pretty much continually passed for the rest of the race. Most every one else was polite. Some people didn't even say anything which was "meh" but I guess it's better than yelling at me. On the ride down the dam there were two rides off the side of the trail, one was a woman working on her bike, the other was a dude who looked hurt, probably a pro (I asked if there were okay and they both said yes). She passed me later and said he "totally took her out" but she wasn't hurt and finished up. I don't think he did.
I didn't stop for aid after the first lap. I had 2 bottles worth of Carbo Rocket 333 (4 scoops lemonade, and 2 scoop raspberry, which is pretty damn tasty) in my hydration pack so I didn't really need anything, but about this time I got a pretty bad headache. The second lap was full of more of the same, basically getting constantly passed by people lapping me from the 30 mile race, including Jeremy's teammate Troy (he was nice and chatted with me for a few seconds). I did pass another guy myself though. The headache got worse. I'll always get a headache if I don't use electrolytes but I had plenty in the Carbo Rocket (and I took a GU 45min before the start). Maybe next time I'll have to take extra. My shoulders, arms and back started to get achy and sore too. Coming down off the dam (I kept spelling that damN, I must swear too much) I was passed by a very small woman. She had to pedal all the way down the hill and I stayed mostly with her without pedaling. So I suppose being big DOES have some advantages in mountain biking. Climbing back up Mount Carbon (the biggest climb of the course) I passed a guy who was stopped and was apparently just out for a ride not in the race (dude, there's signs everywhere). He followed me up, pretty close, which kind of annoyed me. At this time my quads REALLY started to cramp up and hurt. I would have cried but I thought the guy behind me would hear. I made it up the rest of the way, and then headed toward the finish, right as I was coming in, my quad pretty much stopped working and I might have screamed a little but still didn't cry.
I finished. Official time 2:15. 21.5 miles, 1768ft of climbing. Average speed: 9.7 mph, which was so damn close to the 10 mph I had really wanted but didn't think I could do, and way better than the 8.5 mph I had done during practice runs of the course. So I guess I'm happy with it. There was one woman behind me, she was over 60 (Go her!). I don't remember passing her so either she had been behind me the whole time, or had stopped after the first lap and I passed her then. There were also 3 men who finished after me. So I wasn't "last-last". I was last in my age group though. Jeremy was very excited that I finished and also told me how proud of me he was. I was pretty sore and tired most of the day yesterday and last night my quads were twitching in bed.
Jeremy asked me yesterday if I liked it. I'm not sure. I'm glad I did it. The training and the pushing for it has really made me a better mountain biker, which I've wanted for a long time. It's fun to post the pictures and say I did it. The being constantly passed really, really sucked. I would have liked it if I could have just done my own thing, gone my own pace, etc. The looking behind me, the stopping, or the stressing when people passed, the guilt about being in their way, etc, that part I really didn't like. I don't know. Maybe an out-and-back, or one big loop race would be more fun, or maybe I just need to get faster before I do it again. I probably will do the Beti Bike Bash in June just because I like the whole mission of that race (to get more women into MTB racing, and just MTBing in general) even though it is also a lap course. It's shorter though, only 12 miles for the "sport" category so maybe I can go faster, and it'll just be women so the difference between me and the fastest will be a little less (although there are still some very fast women out there). Eh, who knows. I don't regret doing it, but I'm not sure I liked it.