Well we did it again. Another endurance race. Every time I agree to one, I think, "wow, it'll be so fun". On the way there and waiting for it to start I always think "why do I get myself into these things?". During them I don't think, I just do. Afterwards I remember "because there is something so cool and fun about pushing yourself further than you thought you could and racing with friends that makes it all worth it".
This race was no exception. Since the Bakers Dozen I've been focused on this race. I rode my ass off for a week until I could no longer breathe. This sent me back to the doctor thinking I had really bad allergies. Nope, still sick! So round 2 of antibiotics, plus a ton of allergy medicine and a week of rest brought me up to Lodi.
Saturday morning we all pack up and take off for VA. It was a beautiful morning. On the ride down I fell asleep as normal, only to awaken to pouring rain. No!!! I wasn't supposed to start until much later. We get there get set up and me and Uncle Mike head off for a pre-lap to see the course while it was still light out. Looked like a nice course, but I wasn't happy about the rain.
It was time to register. We headed up to registration not knowing exactly what to find. Let me explain. When we went to register originally a month prior, we noticed there was no women's class. Only a men's duo. So Marc very kindly contacted the race director and asked him if we could have a class. He responded that they hadn't had many women, but if women wanted to come he'd give us a class. Later we saw an email go out that they were adding a women's class due to pressure from the North. However, a week prior we still did not see a class. At registration we told the people working that they had said that we would have a class. So they went off to ask. The race director came back and said "who's Marc's wife". I said me. He said "if you want a class, you got one". He told us he'd still score us with the men, but he'd have a class for us too. So that was cool.
Then we went back to the compound to wait and wait and wait. I laid down trying to get some sleep, but instead woke up to pouring rain at 10pm. I lay in the car trying to go back to sleep, only to do so and have a horrible nightmare and a panic attack. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to ride at night and in the pouring rain would be worse. I just wanted to be home. Despite the 50 degree temperatures, I was sweating out of control. I tried to tell Marc, but he said "I don't want to hear about it. You know how to do this". End of story.
So I got up and did my lap around 2am. Amy had already done a double. I just had to do a single and she had said she'd do another double to help me out with the night laps. Amy is great! I'd like to say it was better than expected, but not really. It had stopped raining, so that was a plus, and the temp's had gone up some too. But the course was soaked and very slippery. Tie this in with a ton of roots and bridges. Not my favorite combo. I went on and finished my lap with an absolutely awful time of 1:28. That's pathetic.
Then came panic panic attack #2. I was sleeping and couldn't get warm. I just lay there shaking uncontrollably. Meghan told me it was time to get ready. As I was getting dressed Tom saw me and said you're not cold. He had me touch his hands and then mine. I was hyperventilating and not knowing it. Yeah, I just keep getting better. Tom calmed me down and I got myself together and took off to wait for Amy. Luckily the dawn was just starting. I took my light, but was hoping not to use it. Amy came in looking a bit drained after two back to back doubles with only my one single in between. I told her I'd give her some rest and take my time. As I took off and could see as the sun started to come up, I got so excited I could see I started going faster and faster. I was riding things I had walked during my night lap. As I came around to the transition I told them I was heading out for another lap. I stopped by the compound to have them tell Amy she can rest more I was doing a double. Good thing, she was still asleep. So I unloaded my lights and took a Gu and took off. It was excellent. The trail was drying up. Now the sun was up and I could see clearly. I was bombing through the trail. I was fatigued and sore but didn't care. I just kept going. When I came in I learned I had pulled a 1:12. I was super happy.
By now Amy was awake and rested (as much as you are during these things). We quickly discussed strategy. Yeah we were only racing against ourselves. But we were racing against the men too. We decided Amy would do another double and I'd take the final lap and Amy took off.By now it was a beautiful day. People asked how I was holding up. I said "great, it's like night and day out there". They laughed at me. By now everyone was tired and fatigued, but we also knew the end was near. We all sat discussing how we felt and who was up next and who would be taking the final lap. One of the conversations we had was what songs we had pop into our heads while we were riding. They were great, I wish I could remember them all. A very odd assortment. Matt's by title I am guessing were something his son Hunter listens too. Poor Matt. Mine was "Rawhide". That rolin', rollin', rollin' part always gets stuck in my head. Bob's was Suicide something, which we later listened too and the best song to have stuck if you head to pick one.
As people came by going out on their final laps, Ethan sat in the lounger with the heckeltron 2000 and cheered them on. When Amy came past I yelled, "come on, this is it and you're done", to which she stood up and took off like a shot. I think that ended up being her fastest lap of the race.I took my final lap. It was beautiful. Almost no one out on the trail anymore. But I didn't care. I had the beauty of the day to myself. My legs were tight and sore, but I pushed on. I had to reason with myself on the hills, "yes this hurts, but walking would hurt more", and up I'd go. I bobbed and weaved through the flat whoopty section towards the end hearing Marc in my head the whole time, "your Rudy the rabbit". I loved that section. I kept my pace up all the way to the finish and finished with another 1:12, yeah! Later when we saw the results sheet, we got 5th place with the men's duo by 3 minutes. I had a guy on my tail, but I never saw him.
Overall, it was a rough start, but an absolutely fun and great race. I loved the course. It was so fun (dry). Amy was awesome and we work really well together. All the teams did really well. I do hope that more women come out next year so we can have a real women's class. So any women reading this, please get a buddy and mark it on your calendar. This race is worth doing. If we don't show an effort on our part, we can't expect the promoters to show an effort on theirs.
In closing, I just want to take a moment to say thanks to Tom and Meghan for all their hard work and support. Without you guys it would be so much harder. Everything you did was very much appreciated by everyone.