Saturday, June 21, 2008

High Uinta's Road Race - Kamas, UT

Chris and I left this morning for an 80 mile road race that was starting in Kamas, UT - only 20 minutes from our house! On the way up and over the hill to the race start we drove past a bunch of runners that were participating in this. Little did I know that I was going to be feeling the same way this guy did at mile 50 of my own race.

Heat, dehydration, suffering, 5000 feet of climbing, 3 hours and 50 minutes of racing 8o miles - here I come. And, yes, I am PAYING to do this. This is what I call "Fun!" on a Saturday morning.

The race started at 9:25am which is (finally) no longer "crisp" feeling here in Utah. Shorts and short sleeve jerseys were the clothing of choice today. In years past hypothermia has riddled this race as it hits elevations of about 10,700 which can bring cold, wicked and unexpected weather at any given moment.

Check out the snow still at 10,700:

The race started and during the first 24 miles or so the group of 15-20 Pro Women "warmed up" as the road gradually climbed upward toward Bald Mountain. Once the road pitched up into the sky things got interesting as the field whittled down to very few. I won the "Queen of the Mountain" sprint at the top of Bald Mountain (first one to the top) which was great; and really after doing some of the training climbs in CA, Bald Mountain felt downright easy (a good sign for me I hope!!).

After a quick glance of the beautiful scenery at the top, the descent to the flats began.

As we started descending Tiffany Pezzulo (a road, MTB and Cyclocross racer) and I pulled out all the stops going over 53 miles per hour down the mountain together trying to separate ourselves from the rest of the Pro Women. By the time we hit the flats we had done just that having gotten a 2 minute gap - who needs no stinking brakes! That left us together to "Time Trial" it for 40 miles into the wind as we made our way to Evanston, WY. We wanted to get as much of a gap as possible on the field chasing us and went as hard as we could for the next 1 - 1.5 hours to accomplish that.

And it was this TT part of the race that completely unravelled me. Once we hit mile 50 I was in so much pain and agony and had visions of not finishing as I started feeling sick in my stomach. A combo of heat, elevation, dehydration (despite already downing 3 big bottles of sports drink) and hammering into wind will have that effect on one I guess.

So from mile 50 - 80 it was nothing but a suffer fest which is par for the course but this was an extra special suffering today for me. At mile 50 we had a good 1 or 2 minute gap on the field but that wasn't good enough for us know.....why not just sink yourself completely even though you are probably already going to go 1-2 across the finish line? I mean that makes the most sense right? What is wrong with us racers?!!! Ok anyway, so we wanted to increase the gap even more so we kept at it taking pulls and working together just like teammates (which we were back in the good ole days). And to our delight with every 10 miles or so we would increase the gap to the chase group by about a minute.

What made this whole false flat section so horrendous was not ever knowing the mileage we were at. Neither one of us had computers on our bikes and Wyoming....yes we road to freaking Wyoming today...didn't have ANY mile markers up. So every turn that we made within the barren brown landscape was a false summit....or false "turn" shall we say. It sucked!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every time you thought the pain was going to end... nope, more road. That is what an 80 miler with no indication of when and where it ends will do to your soul. Every mile becomes so long and drawn out that you think you probably just did 5 miles when in fact it was just 1.

So here is where road racing is so dang funny to me....Tiffany and I worked together for 40 plus miles to get away but now we have the finish line sprint coming up. So suddenly you are rivals and want to beat the heck out of each other to cross the line first. Gotta love it! So she beat the heck out of me at the line and won the sprint. Good on her!

Tiffany deserves every bit of that win too. She rocks and has SO much power. She has shown me the way as a roadie over the years taking the time to teach me tactics, telling me where to draft, when to draft, what line to ride, what line to stay off of, who to watch, what to follow, when to go - all that stuff that gives you the edge on any given day in road racing.

This is seriously all stuff I don't even think about because I am just simply not used to thinking about it! I mean, to really simplify things....I follow flags on Cross Country course for a living. Oh yeah, then add in the fact that in an XC race there is one pace - go like hell - which also makes things very straight forward. So, no, I am not used to thinking about this stuff and she has gotten me through it all throughout the years with her vast knowledge and experience. I am so happy for her and we will all be expecting huge things from her as she is putting the pieces together. Watch out because here she comes!

Tiffany and Chris on the way back to Kamas.

So yeah, it was a great day but I was having big issues when it was all said and done. After I crossed the line in second, the Port o Jon was the first stop as my system had completely rebelled. Being in there for 10 minutes ready to barf was horrible too. Like sitting in a greenhouse or sauna when you already feel like hell. That wasn't cool (in more ways that one) and I thought I wasn't gonna make it at that point. Food didn't sound good, water didn't sound good, I felt sick and I was sick!! Why do we racers do this to ourselves and know its happening and then keep pushing through? Duh no but then again maybe it has more to do with the "Duh" part. But in a way I think its my body's way of clearing the pipes that haven't seen true race pace effort all but 2 times since I broke my thumb.

Aside from winning the Queen of the Mountain sprint, my own victory today came in the form of conquering my fear. My fear was road racing because - I have to be honest here - that mishap in April really threw me (in more ways than one AGAIN!) and I was scared of it after that. Down right scared of the road and racing in a group. It was meant to be that I got back on the road bike so soon too because I had to race this weekend and this was the ONLY race close by. If I had had it my way I would have done an mtb race this weekend and put the road bike aside to collect dust for a long time. But since this race was so close to my house I thought I just had to do it because if I didn't now, I never would.

I could have run from the fear and gone to ID or CO to race MTB this weekend (which I thought seriously about doing) but I thought that wouldn't be good for me in the long run. I need to nip these feelings in the bud!!! And despite all the voices gnawing at me these last few weeks (saying "what in the heck are you thinking!"), I signed up for the race, went, raced and conquered my fear - which I have no more of now!

Deer Valley NMBS race is next up this coming weekend!!!!


Anonymous said...

And good on you Kathy for getting back on the horse and killing it in the race. It was great to see you smile and give me a big hug before we lined up. You are an amazing cyclist and a wonderful human. I agree that it was quite the sufferfest. I felt good and wanted to see what I could do so I spent a lot (read that too much) time at the front for the first 23 miles. I paid big time. I remember hearing the CAT 1,2,3 Women say don't forget to eat and drink a lot, as they passed us. I thought to myself "too late, you are screwed". It still had a great time and would, of course, do it again.

Have a great rest of the season and I hope to see you before cross season.

Nancy A


Hi Nancy,

Thanks for saying all those great things! Wow! Feel free to leave a comment any ole time if it going to be like that. :)

Nice work out there in the road race too. Sounds like you learned something new that will help you in the future. I still learn something everytime I race believe it or not.