Thanks, Cory, for the great finishing pictures! While the highlight of the day was definitely Bri’s stellar first place finish, the team showed some true grit in all aspects of the race day. Pam caught the worst luck in completely blowing a chain 5 minutes before race time. While literally everyone scrambled to try and fix it, we simply ran out of time as the officials counted down the race start. Amidst all the confusion, the six racers barely made it to the line before the whistle. Whew!
Since the organizers shortened the race by 22 miles, we knew it was going to be aggressive early. Bri didn’t wait longer than 5 miles before she started pushing it up the first little hill. Katie, Syd and Bri all traded turns attacking the field. Half way through the first lap there was a break that finally stuck. Bri was mixing it up there. As we all collect in the group behind the break, we realized that Bri was our only team representative in an 8-10 person break. It took several crucial miles (covering a few bridge attempts) to communicate that we needed better numbers in the front group. Two choices: someone attempts a solo bridge or we work to bring the whole break back.
At the feedzone, where we were delighted to see Pam cheering us on and handing out bottles, we had decided our next move.
Syd didn’t wait long, just before the end of the first lap, to make her solo attempt at getting up to the break. I’m not sure what the final mileage ended up being (was it 18 miles?), or what her average pace had to be, but through true tenacity she made it to them. That effort, in the wind, by herself, is as awe-inspiring as a team win, but not nearly as visible as a deceptive 6th place finish. Katie, too, put in huge efforts–riding a compact crank–finishing 10th.
And then there’s the rest of us. Not nearly as jaw-dropping, but we consistently, tenaciously hammered away at the miles to finish the race. While there’s no bragging rights in simply finishing this race, there’s still pride. I let the chase group go on the last hill before the end of the first lap. As I rolled less than 100 meters from the team van I seriously considered the luxury of watching the finish of my race from a lawn chair. Knowing the cramping in my quads was only going to get worse in the next 22 miles I heard the words of a friend of mine, “DFL is always better than DNF.” I knew I’d finish this race, even if I was Dead F’ing Last. And we all did.
Now we look ahead. Some of us stinging from a race that gave us the kick we needed to inspire our next month of cold, spring training. Each of us with renewed sense of purpose and a measure of our baseline. Next up: Dogwood Road Race. April 6.