I am trying to play catch up on my blog, and distract myself from working on my thesis all at the same time. I think I am doing a pretty good job of that so far.
Two weekends ago I went and raced the Beezley Burn mountian bike race in Ephrata, WA. I decided to race in the big girls field (also known as the Open field...aka as the "pro" field) which meant 4 laps on an 8 mile course (32 miles in case you suck at math). I am no pro mountain biker but since you can self seed I wanted a challenge. I have also decided that for the rest of the mountain biking season and as long as I can self seed I will be racing in this category. I want to better my racing skills, and my fitness, and the only way to do this is by being challanged. When I finish a race I want to know that I put my all into that race and when I cross the finish line I want my body to hurt from head to toe (is that weird)? I experienced just that by the end of this race.
There were only 3 women in my category and by the top of the small climb at the begining of the race I never saw those 2 women again. I should also state that means I only saw their back side for a brief moment in time. Was it some what humiliating? Yes. Was I working as hard as I could? Yes. Were my climbing skills pretty close to theirs? Yes. Could I twist, turn, and flow through the trails like those ladies? NO. So was I racing in the right category? I had to ask myself at the start of every lap why was I racing 4 laps? The mantra that got me to the end of that race was "if you want to be faster Courtenay, you MUST race against faster ladies, you MUST be challenged, and you MUST race in no-mans land".
After the first lap I quickly realized I needed a full suspension mountain bike. I was then questioning how my butt and hoo ha were going to survive racing on those rocks and bumps for 24 more miles. By the final lap it hurt so bad to pedal hard I had to sit and spin in my little ring and try to stand where I could to avoid any bumps to the butt and hoo ha. It hurt and I was lonely. Since there were only 3 women doing 4 laps and the other two women were far ahead of me I was alone. Oh and the pro men lapped me as I was finishing my 3rd lap/starting my 4th lap. I was literally the only one in site. As I was finishing up the lap and on the decent I started singing "She'll be coming 'round the mountain", then I started singing it louder and louder (I was lonely) then I screamed "YEW HAW" and looked up to see 2 men starring at me. I was embarressed to say the least.
When I came across the finish line my body hurt from head to toe, toe to head. I know I finished last, I didn't even have any clue how far back I was from the other two ladies, but I had a good time. The course was so much fun, so flowy, too bumpy. When I finished I couldn't get off my bike, I had to pedal around the block a couple of times to cool down and find my center. I was off in another world when I finished, but it felt so good, and I felt so accomplished to race my mountain bike for 32 miles. Even though my legs, butt, hoo haa, arms, shoulders, hands, and back hurt I felt good. It feels good to be challenged and it feels good to be in so much pain. The way I finished that race is the way every race should be finished. I can only think of 2 other times that I have been in that much physical pain after a race....
1) After collegiate road nats
2) After soloing the Bellingham Traverse
For the rest of my athletic career those two races will always stick out in my mind because they are feats I never thought imaginable.
Every time I challenge myself to my limits I know I will become stronger and stronger. Everytime my legs burn with lactic acid and want to give way from underneath me, I know it I will benefit in the future.
I finished the 4 laps in 3 hours and 12 minutes (my goal was 3 hours and 30 minutes), which put me 17 minutes back from 2nd place, and 19 minutes back from first place. Yes...my ass was handed to me. It can only get better from here.