I had my own expectations for Sunday but I was careful not to set them too high. My major goal on Sunday was to show up at the start line and race my own race to the finish: mission accomplished!
It felt so great to be at the start line again with all the familiar faces. This particular race, unlike most of the races I have done, did not break off into age groups or separate categories. It was what they call an Open Class. That means I lined up next to everyone from the pro-racers as well as all the strong Cat. 1 racers and intermediate racers. I was not intimidated by the competition as for the most part, they were all just happy to see me there. The encouragement that I have received from the majority of ladies has been overwhelming.
This time at the starting line, something felt different for me. Before my diagnosis, I would line up at the start of a race feeling more pressure on myself to have a good result. That pressure has shifted probably because my definition of a good result has changed. I set out on my race on Sunday not really caring about what place I finished, but instead my focus was on finishing the race feeling strong and enjoying the ride. It was so hard not to give it some extra gas and chase the masses. It took some discipline on my behalf to hold back which also meant I was solo for most of the race. I had never done a race this long and frankly, I had no clue if my body would fail me that day. The night before I had G set up my cycling computer on my bike. I normally only use one for riding out on the road but I needed a way to time my nutrition and gauge my timing so I would be sure to make the time cut offs that the race promoter put into effect for the safety of the racers. The first cut off was 4 hours at the 25 mile mark. I pulled into the 25 mile mark feeling surprising strong and in 3.5 hours. I was pleased. While I lost some time on the second half of the race, I just kept moving forward. As my friend Jocelyn said “Just keep moving forward no matter what the pace”. I must have used that as a constant mantra after mile 35. Around mile 42 I had some extra pep in my pedals and I am still not sure if it was because I caught up to two girls or if it was the motivation to be finished with the race: 7.5 hours is a long time to be on your bike!
I was feeling the fatigue on the climbs toward the end but I still felt I was holding my own in the technical. As I approached mile 46, I knew it was mostly all fire-road. I knew it was coming, but the second time around it seemed to go on forever! I started to get some cramping in my inner thighs and my neuropathy had settled into my right foot. "You are almost there Reba…just keep pedaling"- I told myself. I inhaled some energy blocks and water and asked my legs to hold on for just a couple miles longer. The fire road ended and I was on the paved road toward the finish line. I could see the people all there and I could hear them cheering. I could hear my name and at that moment I could no longer feel the pain in my legs or my foot. I only felt the huge smile across my face and the tears: I cried when I crossed the finish line. I was so proud of myself at that moment. I have overcome so much over the past year that finishing this race meant more to me than I could ever express in words.
|Smiles and tears crossing the finish line.|
It is so good to be back in the ‘scene’ again. Next big race is the Darkhorse 40 on July 31. I may actually race that on my single speed. Until then, I will just keep enjoying the ride.
Thank you for reading and for all your faith in me.