Well, summer is here. It's hot, I'm done with school, and that means lots of riding and racing. Or at least that is what I thought it meant. Being a marginally employed graduate student in between finishing my Master's and Starting my PhD means that when work finds me, even if it is 60 hours a week for a week here or there, you take it. I really like the work I have been doing, but between that and a sinus infection (more on that later), I have not gotten in much training these past two and a half weeks. Fortunately, recovering from the sinus infection means time off the bike anyway, so the lack of pedaling due to work (although bad for my mental state) has actually not been too bad of a curse.
Two weeks ago we loaded up and headed to the Dauset Trails in Jackson, Ga for SERC #6. I had been fighting a slight cold that I thought was gone and I was hoping for the best. Dauset is a super fun trail but one of my least favorite places to race. It is ALWAYS hot and the course does not play to my strengths. Last year I took a serious beating from my teammate Catherine, who always seems to rock this course. Saturday afternoon was a time trial (not part of the SERC series but part of Georgia State Championship Series). In year's past I didn't do the GSC series because it meant too much travel and racing and not enough recovery, but this year SERC and GSC overlap for half of the races so I am going to try for both of them. This meant doing the TT.
Well it was HOT. Just like I remembered. And in order to pre-ride the TT course, I didn't get to see the whole XC course for Sunday. Hmmm... things are not off to a stellar start. I felt like absolute poo during the TT and although I was going hard, it felt like I was riding in quicksand. Catherine also felt like she was in quicksand and so we spent the evening arguing over who raced slower. Results in Sunday morning showed me besting her by 8 seconds; we still went 1,2 in the TT.
After exerting myself Saturday I slept about 2 hours Saturday night and felt like total crap by Sunday morning. I guess my cold wasn't gone. Okay, this is going to be a long, hard day. UGH. I felt so poorly that I didn't even want to race. Of course I did, but you know things are bad when all I want to do is go back to bed. I was pretty sure that today was Catherine's day and not mine.
They said "go" and I quickly assumed second wheel behind Catherine with Heather and Tiff in tow. The four of us rapidly distanced ourselves from the rest of the field. After taking a quick turn on the front I let Heather pass me. She obviously was still flying after her return the week before from the Xterra World Championships and I was suddenly starting to struggle. I needed to sit in and just survive this one. Well, that worked for almost a full lap. And then it didn't. All of a sudden I was coming apart. I think the whole park heard my explosion as I blew up. I let Catherine and Heather ride away, Tiff was a short ways behind me. Now on my own I settled into a more reasonable pace for my ailing body and decided that quitting wasn't an option so I needed to suck it up and continue on. Shortly after that I got to the feed zone at the end of lap 1 and yelled to Mark that I needed water. He knows it is not a good sign when 1) Kym is not at the front of the race and, 2) she comes through asking for water instead of her energy drink. He scrambled and got a me a water and yelled something encouraging that I don't remember. The water did something good for me and I slowly started feeling like myself again. and suddenly I could see Heather in the distance. I was gaining on her!!! I kept telling myself to stay steady and be smooth. Before I knew it I had passed her. I was back in second place. I figured Catherine was long gone but as bad as I was suffering I was ecstatic that I was where I was. And then I saw her. Catherine was right up the trail from me. I focused and tried to ride as strong as I could. I passed her near the end of the race and she hung on to my wheel. This was going to be an exciting sprint finish between teammates. Well we did not disappoint. We sprinted to the line and I got her. And then I collapsed. Whew. What a race.
It is amazing at how far you can push your body when you try. I managed to win a race where I was afraid at one point I was too spent to even finish. Of course the other side of that is I spent the following week recovering from being ill. And working...