So... what happened this weekend? I went to bed Friday thinking I was a little off. My nutrition wasn't as good as I thought it needed to be and I felt somewhat lethargic. The hubby and I were both racing Saturday... 1 1/2 hours apart... so I took advantage of that extra hour of sleep before heading out to watch him race.
The River Falls course in Marietta, SC represents the first race I had ever finished in my first year of cycling last year. After signing up for the entire Spring Training Series in 2009 I was side-lined by a serious upper-respiratory infection. This time I came into the final weekend with 4 2010 finishes under my belt.
The loop is under 6 miles and starts with a fast downhill to a quick right hand turn. The next bit has a short incline followed by some flat sections and another downhill (notice the downhill trend?). A sharp turn awaits you at River Falls Road where you've got more flat to rolling sections. Last is another sharp turn onto Gap Creek Rd... and this is where all the descending bites you in the rear... a one mile climb awaits!
The climb isn't that steep, it isn't that long... but when you've got to do it three times in a race... it spreads out the field! The 1km sign shows up at the steepest section and one you see the 200m sign it's an all out downhill sprint to the finish.
After his finish we got lined up and expected the officials to keep all the women together. However on this day there was such a big group of Pro, 1, 2, 3s, that they separated us and dropped the Cat 4 laps from 5 down to 3... Hmm... You mean I only have to climb that hill 3 times instead of 5? OKAY!
We started off at a pretty steady clip. The girls who sat in 2nd & 3rd in the omnium were controlling the race. They tried to get off the front a few times but not many people wanted to get out front and pull them. As we reached the climb on the first lap... I got dropped... At the top of it I was with Jenn Young and she and I worked together to bridge back to the group about a mile or so up the road.
We hung in until the end of the second lap when we got dropped again on the climb. This time we were dropped pretty quickly and had to work really hard to bridge back to the lead group... We passed a couple of other girls who had been dropped on the climb and pulled them back with us. As we caught the rear of the field... I reached out my hand to high five Jenn. Even though we're not teammates... we were in this together & needed each other to stay in the race!
We only had a couple miles this time to catch our breathe and hold on before the last climb. The pace was excruciatingly slow before we hit the climb. And that's when people started to pound it out. I found the wheel of a strong rider and thought of the Paris Mtn Repeats Trainer class I did earlier in the week with coach. 1 - 2 - 3- 4... 1 - 2 - 3 - 4... Over and over again was pounding in my head. There was some girls ahead of me... but I was passing some as well. I heard Steve Sperry yelling for my former teammate Elizabeth Brady to sprint... I realized I need to be sprinting too! I shifted into my big chain ring, hit the drops and got my rear out of the saddle to sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish line feeling great and gave a little first pump...
Now... I'm incredibly competitive and annoyingly anal retentive. Meaning I knew exactly who was ahead of me in the omnium and who was very close to catching me. Before this race I was sitting in 6th place, 3 points behind 5th & 6 points ahead of 7th. My goal was to get enough points to overtake 5th place or be close. My sprint at the end put me in 6th place for the race. The ladies sitting in 4th place and 7th place in the omnium switched spots and I was now only 1 point out of 5th & 2 points out of 4th!
Great work by Jenn Young to grab another top 10 finish... and Robin & Jeni to finish this crazy beautiful course.