My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Out of Practice.
I woke up last Sunday morning at 5:45 am- it was race day!
We had everything packed and ready to go- except for my green juice. That must be made fresh. I am convinced these drinks are making my joints and body feel better, so I did not want to miss my morning fix the day of the big race. I even took some for my post race recovery.
G loaded the car and we were off to Stewart. The sun was shining in a perfect blue sky and it was a chilly 40 degrees. This was going to make for great racing conditions.
I felt almost out of sorts to be arriving at the race and actually being there as a racer and not just as a spectator. It has been awhile.
People I saw would say- “It is great to see you. Are you racing? How are you feeling?”
I really didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling but my simple answer was – “I feel great- thanks!”
This was a little lie, but who really needed to know the truth or would understand what I meant. My hips had started to feel sore the day before. I had even debated whether or not to take my Tamoxifen the night before in the hopes it would not hurt my performance. Of course I took it, because I have to. There is really no real pattern to why some days I have bad side effects from this drug and other days I do not. My oncologist thinks it is more of a result of one of the other chemo's I took while in treatment-She seems to blame it all on Taxol. My hand was better but my wrist was feeling a bit achy and that damn cording in my left arm decided to tighten up a few days before and no amount of stretching was really getting it to open up.
But all things considered, I did feel good.
I lined up on the start line next to a friend of mine. We have raced together in the past and in my absence from the racing scene, she has just gotten stronger and faster. She was going to give me a run for my money.
I was not even as nervous to race as I thought I would be. I am not sure why. We were the last group of racers to go off and we headed down the long fire road before entering the first single track. I was not quite out in front but was cruising along at a fairly steady pace. Passed a few riders in the double track and I felt okay. I kept trying to remind myself to stay within my limits as the race was long.
It was about mile 8 or 9 that my legs just decided they didn’t want to play anymore.
Then the self doubt started.
I went out too hard in the beginning; Maybe I didn’t warm up enough; I should have spent more time on the road bike; Ugh, these girls are just stronger than me; Stupid cancer treatments jacked me up for good.
Maybe I am just out of race practice!
I kept trying to turn my pedals over, but it felt like I had lead in my legs and my hips were not rotating property. Remember, it is a single speed race, and I only had one gear to work with. There was not much room on this course to spin out your legs- most of the time I was just pushing as hard as I could.
At some point after the 12th mile, I gave up the chance of a top 3 finish and started thinking about a top 5 finish- it was still in reach.
When I started to walk sections that I could have ridden when my legs were fresher/stronger, I knew I had to forget about what place I was going to finish and just try to finish the race. It was hard.
A lot of thoughts went through my mind as I attempted to pedal my single speed through the woods. I did not have a computer on my bike to tell me how long I had pedaled or how much longer I had to go. This was probably a good thing ,because at one point I wanted to quit.
I tried to ignore the ‘noise’ in my head when I would get passed by another racer.
I kept trying not to give up on myself.
It was hard not to think about how far cancer has taken me out of the game and although I am back racing, I am a long way from really being “back” to where I was. That is one of the hardest things for me to cope with.
Do I even like racing anymore?
It must have been at about mile 24 (only 4 miles to go) when I finally found a bit of peace within myself about my race performance being less than stellar. I should just be proud of myself for getting back out there. While I was desperate to get to the finish, I just kicked back and enjoyed the beautiful trails for my first race back.
I was a bit surprised that I actually finished 6th place and that I was not the last woman to cross the finish line. There was actually 7 other women behind me and even a lot more men.
This was not my best performance. While I am not going to beat myself up over this, I will be forcing myself back on the road bike religiously until the Darkhorse 40 and Hampshire 100 in August. It will be here before I know it and it sort of scares me a bit after Sunday.
It is early season and my first race back. I could just be battling treatment side-effects forever or maybe I am just out of racing practice. I am hopeful that I just need more practice.