|Me, Patrick, Chuck, Robin|
Photo credit: Lori Vohsen
I had been trying to decide between the beginner race (2 laps) or the marathon race (ride for 3 hours, most laps wins). I had no illusions of placing in either, but my thinking was that I'm stronger than I am fast (mostly because I'm so timid, not because I'm so strong). The fact that all of my friends were riding in the marathon and I was going to be at the park that whole time no matter what now swayed me a little, but in the end I decided on the beginner race. My thinking was that, in my first race, I'd prefer to quit wanting more than to be stuck out there hating my decision. My "SuperKate" nickname was modified to "Beginner Kate", but I was pretty comfortable with my decision.
The beginner and marathon races started at about the same time with marathoners given about a 2-minute lead. Here you can see most of us gathering before the start. That's me in the yellow at the back. The race started across a field and around a pavilion before turning down a rocky path into the woods and across a little creek. The field start helped to ease the inevitable bottleneck at the creek.
|This shows the turn coming down from the field start to the creek.|
|Ugh. Seriously?? Hurry up!|
Once we got up the hill, we rode through a field for a little before heading into the woods. The course had two large wooded sections that were connected by trails through the field.
|Not me, but a good view of the field trail|
|Clearly, also not me|
I did ride more aggressively than I typically do, and there were definitely some turns that I took wider than usual, leading me to hold my breath a little as I skirted a tree or the edge of the trail. I was nervous coming through the creek crossing where I'd crashed the previous Thursday, but I made it through with no problems.
|Crossing the first creek towards the end of my first lap|
I went and sat in the shade under Chuck and Lori's tent until Chuck came through to switch out his water bottle. I asked if he needed his bottle refilled or anything and he said yes and told me to tell the others to stuff ice in their jersey pockets.
So then I kind of transitioned into pit crew for Chuck and Robin (Patrick declined assistance and zipped on through) with Lori joining me when she came back from taking race pictures in the woods. Well, we did some helping and a lot of talking (sorry Patrick!). It was fun getting a chance to hang out and talk and give a little help to people who've been including me in their training all year long. A little part of me wished I was still out there riding, but once the Cat 1 riders started flying past (they started at noon, 2 hours into the marathon) I was newly glad to be on the sidelines. There was a lot of passing going on at that point, and I think I'd have spent more time on the side of the trail than riding. I definitely made the right choice, and watching my friends push on in the heat made me see how far I have to go.
In the end, none of us placed, but all of us had a great time. Because it's been so hot and dry, we were all a filthy mess. If you look at Chuck's legs (far right), you can see how dirt-covered we were.
The awards were awesome. The flowers are made from CO2 cartridges, the stems are spokes, and the leaves are tires. How cool is that? And even though I didn't place, I was able to make someone's day. The girl who came in ahead of me was at the tent next to us, and I'd overheard her telling someone how disappointed she was that she hadn't placed but had come in fourth. I was a little confused, because I had come in fourth, and I knew she hadn't DNF'd, so I went and re-checked the board to be sure and then came back and told her. She was all happy and gave me a big hug, so even if I didn't win it felt a little like being part of someone else's victory.
They had a ton of schwag to give away, so we hung around for the awards and the raffle. Chuck and Patrick's numbers were called really early, while Robin and I just sat there as number after number was called. I never win anything, so I didn't have a lot of hope. It got to where it was almost funny. It was so hot that a lot of people had already left, and the table was piled high with stuff, so you'd think there was no way anyone could go home empty handed....the organizers called number after number, and none of them were ours. I wasn't too worried about it until I noticed a helmet on the table. One of my helmets is a cheap one from Target, and the other one is a helmet my son's stepmom picked up for him at a thrift store. I could really use a nice helmet. Finally, they called my number and I got it. Yea!
**This is where I'd show you a picture of the helmet, but I put it "away" in the garage and now I can't find it. :-/ **
Poor Robin's number was never called, but the guys got so tired of calling out numbers that they just started tossing stuff into the crowd. I snagged a t-shirt for her...it's the most hideous clown with blood coming out of its mouth. Ummm...sorry! A water bottle fell right into my lap, too, so I went home with two new things. I figure that getting a new helmet offset the cost of my race entry, so it was like having all that fun for free.
All in all, it was a great experience. Can't wait to do it again. :)