The best laid plans...sometimes they don't always go the way you'd like. But consider this: Do you learn more from your triumphant successes or your depressing defeats? M competed this weekend in a race that didn't go her way. She sent me this report and I LOVED her positive attitude and determination to learn from her mistakes and go for it again.
Pedal Paddle Battle did not finish as I would have liked it to. It started out a great day. I was more than ready to go. I hadn't hydrated probably as much as I needed to, but that came from all the travel. All I can say is altitude is a bear when you aren't prepared for it.
The race started at 6:30 pm, which in itself was off for me. But it was 20 miles that should be cake. I wasn't able to drive the course beforehand so I wasn't familiar with the road, which is what cost me the most. When we started out, there were only 21 people in the race -- all men -- with the exception of me and 2 other girls.
It started out fast on a gradual uphill. I was hanging on the back of the small lead group to try and stay out of the wind because it was blowing pretty hard. Did I mention it was about 93 degrees out as well? Not the greatest of riding conditions. But I just kept telling myself get through the first 10, then it's all pretty much downhill from there.
I held pretty well with the group until shortly after the turn into the backside of the gorge where the 2000 foot climb began. It was way harder than I thought it would be, it seriously felt like I had flat tires! My speed dropped quickly and I slowly let go of my wind block. As they crept away, I knew that this is where it would become an advantage to be adjusted to the altitude, which I, unfortunately, wasn't.
Keeping my head down and digging with all I had, out of gears, breathing hard, and sweating buckets, I finally made it to the first slight downhill. "Yes!" A little rest and easy pedaling briefly! I would take it! My legs were screaming as well as my lungs.
I started down what looked like a short hill, however my speed got the best of me. As I came around a long corner, I was surprised by the next much tighter corner. I knew at this point I was going way too fast to make it. I eased into the brakes but my back wheel started to schimmy. I had to make a quick decision where I was going to crash, and to me the dirt of the bank looked much better than the asphalt.
I let off the brakes, tried to relax and prepared for a fall. I had made the right decision. Dirt is much more forgiving. I got up and dusted off, checked out my bike -- very minor damage. Luckily for me bruises and scrapes heal over time. I was a little shook up but was determined that this was not going to stop me. I decided to walk for just a little bit to try and get my nerves settled as I approached the base of the next and final steep climb.
At this point I was about seven miles into the race. One more mile of hard climbing, I could do this! I got back on my bike and started up. I went about a quarter mile and my legs started to cramp up like never before. It was so painful to try and turn the pedals, but I kept going. I finally reached my breaking point. I couldn't do it. My legs totally seized up. That was it... I fell over on the pavement.
As I lay there on the ground all I could think about was what I should have done differently. "You didn't drink enough, you didn't drink enough." That's all that kept running through my mind. I had been defeated for the first time ever in a race. I wouldn't be finishing today. I lay there on the ground until the SAG truck came up. Embarrassed and sad, I was indeed grateful for them.
I have taken from this a great learning experience and know what I need to work on for next year. There will always be another race and this was just a stepping stone. It was hard to swallow, but if we don't fail once in a while, we can never really appreciate the feeling of success.