I kept telling my coach Alison this morning that I knew I could get on the podium today. She responded with "Knowing you can do it and DOING it are two different things, so go do it!" Nuff said - guess I took it to heart.
I started on the sweet second row since I botched up things pretty good yesterday coming in 13th. But it was that botching that really fueled the fire. Nothing is worse than knowing your fitness is there and not being able to use it. But I was ready to use it today!!
The race started and I was somewhere in the top 10 as we made our way into the singletrack. But unfortunately only 30 seconds in Katarina Nash went down hard in front of me giving me just enough time to escape tragedy #1. All I saw was her and her bike pinwheeling endlessly as we, the field, rushed her. (After the race Wendy Simms told me that there had been a rattlesnake spotted in that exact spot 10 minutes before the start too- Phew!).
Georgia had a gap from the start and there were approximately 10 people in the chase group, myself included. That makes for an interesting scenario because there are very few spots to pass unless you want to pin yourself to a cactus. So therefore you are waiting...just waiting for someone to go to the right or left juuuuuust a little bit on the singletrack so you can attack and move around them. Same goes for all the fast ladies on YOUR wheel too so you have to be careful and guard your territory being very aware of what is happening up front as well as be aware of what kind of line you are taking as not to open up a good hole for someone to pick you off in. It is stressful but the stress takes your mind off the the thundering legs and labored breathing which is a godsend.
There was definitely some shifting around for the first half of the course with attacks on me and by me too. I was feeling good and knew it so I just sat in conserving it all for when I needed it the most. As the course got a little more topsy turvy the Top 10 broke up a bit into smaller groups. Some crashed out and as you rounded a corner past all the cacti there would be someone laying there leaving you to choose what line to pick...hopefully around them and not over them.
At about this point Katarina had come through the whole field and was back in it to win it. She is amazing and was obviously feeling more than good today despite her horrid crash (which required a visit to the hospital in the end). She came around but I was able to get back around with some proper cyclocross action remounting skills at a ledge that sometimes has a rock placed under to help the rider up......and sometimes doesn't. You have to be prepared for either scenario and for me now after a full season of Cyclocross, dismounting and remounting over stuff is faster. I got a gap and caught up towards the front of the chase group somewhere.
Here is where things got weird because once I caught that next group things weren't going fast enough for me??!? I was shocked because I wanted around because the pace was too slow. Wow?! THAT is a cool feeling. Just as I was thinking this, I heard Katarina's voice again on my wheel. She wanted through which was perfect because I wanted out but didn't want to face the headwind alone. So she came around and I got on her wheel and just buried myself for as long as I could to stay there. That was painful but I had to get a gap behind me if possible. I got the gap but to my dismay it closed again on the next next lap. These ladies I tell you....they are strong and wicked fast and don't give up easy! I had put so much into it that some people got around me pretty easy at that point but you can't say I didn't try to fen them off. I did try!
At about this point I started hearing a jingling noise coming from my bike. Ting Ting Ting. Oh great.....what the heck is happening!!!? I look down and see my water bottle cage with a half full bottle in it bouncing all around creating a lovely noise that sounded like I was on a KMart special instead of the sweet Cannondale Taurine that had already given me two podiums the week before.
Having experienced this situation in the past I immediately downed my carbo drink that was in the bottle to lighten the load on the cage. First off I didn't want to ruin the frame which CAN happen when heavy loads are bouncing around ripping the cage bolts out and second, I didn't want to be stuck in 80 degree heat with no water because it happen to fly off because it was flopping so much. So I guzzled. The other option would have been putting the half full water bottle in my jersey pocket but I know how I operate and once that sucker goes in there it is there to stay and only becomes extra stuff to carry around.
Right after I got that mess under control, Kelli attacked me and I couldn't respond. I was already on the rivet. That Emmett!! :) At that point I was left alone on the course to take it in without incident. When I crossed the line I had no idea that I had gotten 5th!! It was a pretty cool feeling especially when my husband and coach were there to see it all unfold. Here is about the nerdiest picture I could find of me and Alison after the race.
But I gotta say that Katarina gets the touch chicka award for sure today. To crash and then come back through the whole field to get second??? Wow, that is impressive because not only does that take a lot of gas to do that; it takes a lot of mental strength too!
Here is the podium shot of all of us wackos that think pain is good living.
After the race it was clean up, pack up and drive up to St. George, UT. This is me trying to get a picture of the sunset but instead my camera focused on the bug carnage on the dang windshield. Gross.....or maybe one might call it.......... art??
We got the Hoover Dam where they are building a gigantico bridge (on left) that looks like it is supposed to take you way above the Hoover Dam when its all said and done instead of ON the Hoover Dam.
Check out the size of this thing compared to the road. Massive!
Got to St. George 6 hours later safe and sound for the night.