As my first real bike race (I don’t like to count Barry Roubaix, well, because I don’t and CVNP is a different dynamic), I was pretty nervous, despite it being dubbed a training race in both name and spirit. The weather conditions were pretty good, low 60’s and some wind, but the course is pretty well protected making the wind mainly a nonissue.
Along with a teammate, Zac, I had pre-ridden the course a couple days before and got an idea of how the it would go down, where I would need to conserve and where I could potentially attack. I was uneasy with the uphill finish, but I was comforted by the number of 90◦ turns on the course, figuring I could either make up time or attack with some success in those areas.
Upon getting there, it was good to see fellow racers. Having missed the first two races, I was often greeted with the “oh, look who decided to finally show up.” Yeah, I had legitimate reasons not to be at this race, and to be honest, I was missing yet another family obligation to go to this one, but I was finally ready to race. People told me who was doing well so far and gave me a few insights into who to watch, other than the obvious.
We had neutral start and then 15 laps of a 1.3ish mile loop. There were a few prem laps, but I have a history of never going for a prem, I need to get over the belief that I cannot out-sprint someone. As expected, Sam and Sally traded off attacks until we finally let Sally go after about 5 laps. Unfortunately, a CAT4 managed to go with her. I had been in a few attacks, but the breaks were never successful. As is usually the case, I spent too much time in the front pulling, pretty pathetic since I had no teammates in the race. I did try to talk strategy with LB, but it just didn’t work out. In the end, as soon as the bell rang, I attacked and pulled through the entire lap. It was a strong pull, spreading out the field, but in the end, I let up at the sprint. I had 2nd in the bag and then started to let up as I was doing a Time Trial the next day and right at the line, I was passed literally within inches of the line to end up in 4th.
I am pretty embarrassed as a slew of obscenities flew out of my mouth. I was beyond angry at myself and had absolutely no one to blame but myself. I warmed down with Lorena, chatted for a while, then called my coach to tell him what an idiot I was. He pretty much agreed.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This race was so much like a Westlake Crit that it doesn’t seem to merit it’s own blog post, but I will write one regardless. From the moment I opened my eyes, I could feel the intensity with which my legs were trashed. Not only had I raced a fast (for me) 5k the day before, but I followed up the 5k with a sprint interval workout, doing 7x 1k time trials on the bike. It was supposed to be 10, but after talking to my coach, he felt 5-7 would be sufficient given I wanted to race the next day.
Now, Sunday morning, my boyfriend and I got into a fight that went something like:
Me: “I am not racing. My legs are trashed.”
Boyfriend: “You said that Wednesday, and you did a 23mph time trial.”
Me: “I know that I said that Wednesday, but I am in physical pain, not just tired.”
Boyfriend: “You will be fine.”
Me: “I don’t like going to races knowing I am going to suck.”
Boyfriend: “Then don’t suck.”
Guess who won the argument...
, this race lacked a separate women’s field so a couple of women raced in the A group, the rest of us in the B field. Racing in a men’s field is completely different than racing in a women’s field. For one, we are just hanging in the field, rarely attacking each other (although it does happen from time to time) and usually only if there is a women's prem. The other big difference is that turns are taken with higher speed and faster accelerations through them. In a women’s race, I can create separation in a turn because I tend to corner faster than most. In a men’s race, I am often in the back sprinting to catch back up to the field. If you are in the back, you have to get used to those turn accelerations, and you also have to deal with squirrely riders who lack handling skills or confidence in their handling skills sufficient to keep pace with the field. Westlake
Feeling the way I did, I started in the back of the pack with fellow female teammates, which was mistake number one. I should have just started with the front of the pack and kept myself from having to try to work my way through the field. The roads were a bit narrower than
, which made moving to a better position in the field a bit difficult. I was never all that close to the front, but I was able to get out from the back and away from those touching their brakes through the turns. Westlake
The course was 4 of about a 6 mile relatively flat loop on roads that I ride multiples times a week. As soon as we got to the first turn after the neutral start, it was business as usual. I talked to my male teammates offering my help if they had a plan in mind, but all of us seemed just to be hanging in the field. At times, the field was going so slowly that I felt like I was back at the Tour of the Valley Road Race with the sounds of “Slowing” echoing through the air, but at other times, the accelerations seemed pretty hard and a little long because I was unable to hit many speeds on the high side of 27 mph. I had no problem staying in the field, but there were two guys who almost got an earful from me about braking too much going into turns and the other about being fidgety in the field. Hold your freakin’ line dude! (Ironic given my latest race, but that will come later).
Sure enough, on a perfectly flat, rather wide, no debris or pothole section of road, 2.5 laps into a 4 lap race, someone hit someone else and created a cascade crash in front of me. If I had had about three more feet, I probably would have been able to avoid it, but I couldn’t quite stop and ended up in the ditch. I quickly got up, checked that my brakes weren’t rubbing and got back on the bike trying to catch the field that was speeding away trying to take advantage of the crash.
Here is where I could tell the difference between normal Marie and sucky Marie. I was about 20 yards from the field and just couldn’t bridge the gap. I didn’t have the time trial in my legs to get back up to the field. I tried to work with a couple of other guys, but they both petered out. Then, my teammate Zac passed me with a strong group of guys, but my failed attempt to TT it back to the field had left me completely depleted and unable to latch up to their line and ended up just waffling in the wind. A few minutes later, another teammate, Oleg caught up, and with a little recovery, I was able to work with a few of those guys through the next lap and a half of the race to get to the finish. I knew that the two of the other women who had started in the B field were still in the field, and I was just bummed that I didn’t even have a chance to contest the finish.
We did work pretty hard on that 4th lap, a few miles in the 25 mph range, but when it came to the finish, I just sputtered across the line. I don’t like the fact that I made a stupid mistake of not paying more attention to where I was in the field. I know better than to hang out in the back, but that is where I was and that was what caused my finishing placement. I don’t like losing, and I wish I could blame someone else’s poor handling skills, but the bottom line is that I know enough about racing to know that the safest place in a race is not where I spent most of my time in this one.
I should look on the bright side: despite absolutely destroyed legs, I had no problem hanging in pre-crash. My bike is seemingly fine as is the brand new never had been ridden Zipp 404 that my boyfriend let me use for the race, but no one has ever accused me of being “Little Miss Sunshine” so don’t expect it now.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Finally, a race where my two worlds collide! After convincing my sister to start running, she agreed that a 5k has a possibility of being a good fundraiser for our team. My sister is the head coach of the Copley Speech and Debate team so yes, it's a very big family affair. Like most cocurricular activities at Copley, we are not given money from the district, but raise our own funds throughout the year. This past year, a few of the bigger programs opted not to attend our tournament, and we were hurting a bit financially. We tossed the idea around a bit of having a 5k, but I was a bit scared of the undertaking, particularly of the potential liabilities. My sister, however, took the bull by the horns and did an absolutely amazing job. She has absolutely no qualms about going door to door at local businesses to ask for donations or help with the event. She was able to obtain substantial support from local businesses. Heck, she did such a good job that we contemplated not even having the race, but we did manage to get 41 people to sign up for the event, and to be honest, a few very strong runners made the small field pretty competitive, despite some pretty cold and wet conditions.
Now, the race morning itself was pretty hectic. First of all, I had many friends come down and support the race, and I felt it necessary to greet them all. There were a few that I hadn't seen in a while, others who I just love to bug every chance I get. I really appreciated the support. While greeting people, I still had to organize the volunteers/students, straighten out the course with the timing company, then drop off volunteers along the course and at the water stop. Since it was cold, I made these drop offs as close to the race start as possible. When I got back, I made a mad dash to get ready for the race. As I went to put on my running shoes, I noticed that they had no inserts. I had forgotten that I had taken them out for some reason and needed to get my other shoes. I ran back to my car, gathered my old running shoes and started the panic that I wasn’t going to be there when the gun went off. I went to the bathroom, got my water bottle, and nearly gave up on taking my phone with me, but managed to find it and the headphones just in time to get to the start of the race.
Because it was cold, my sister opted to start the race early. I had given the kids at the mile markers explicit instructions to start exactly at 9 so I was kind of like “dang it” when the horn went off. It was kind of startling and one of those, I wasn’t ready so I felt rushed to get on the course and that rush didn’t subside until the race was over.
I started the race feeling that same rush that I had been feeling for the 20 minutes before the race. The course was a simple down and back on a business parkway that is directly across from the gym where I and many others run throughout the week. It's also pretty flat so feeling how fast I started, I knew I had the potential for a relatively fast 5k.
Just a sidenote: I have been running once a week for probably the last three months. I usually run somewhere between 5 to 8 miles, but my focus is almost completely on cycling.
When I got to the first mile marker (student), I looked at my watch and listened to the times he was saying and told him to add 2.5 minutes.
Mile 1 split: 8:09
As I continued down the way, I ran to the girl at the second mile marker on the other side of the street to add 2.5 minutes to her time as well. On my way to the turn around, I saw a good friend Steve in the lead followed shortly after by a couple of teammates.
Side note #2: If you have ever done the Akron marathon, you know that the first couple of miles are out and back on teh Y-Bridge. It's pretty cool as it's the only opportunity really that you can see the people actually racing the marathon. Almost every time I have done the Akron marathon, the first person I saw who I knew at the front of the race has been Steve. He's that fast.
I also saw that I was the 2nd overall female. Knowing that the woman ahead of me is a good runner, coworker of my sister’s, and the wife of one of my favorite trainers at physical therapy, I felt like I knew there was no way I was going to move up in the standings. Let’s be honest, being 2nd overall is still pretty shocking, even in a small field.
At the water stop was my nephew and a couple of my debaters, I tried to say hi, but I was easily in Z5 and didn't have much oxygen to spare. As I made the turn, I saw Mentor nipping at my heels. I had an instant flashback to 2011. A week before Ironman
Wisconsin, he and I did a 5 mile run up at . It was miserably humid and hot that morning, and I crashed and burned, finishing a minute or two after him. Every time I contemplated letting up on the pace, I imagined him passing me, and I continued to push. Crocker Park
Mile 2 split: 8:18
At that point, the mile 2 is kind of down hill and had a significant tailwind so my pushing too hard at the beginning of the race was compensated by having an easier second half.
Mile 3 split: 8:25
.1 split (actually says .13) 1:02
Total: 25:57 (25:54 on my watch). I ended up 2nd overall with my 2nd fastest (I think) 5k of my life. I equate the faster 5k with a few things: having better fitness through cycling and being about 10lbs lighter, thanks mainly to my skin removal.
Most people hung out after the race as we had a TON of food: a party sub from Subway, cookies from a local bakery, bagels from Brueggers, donuts from Leaches, and food left over from our tournament this past year. Nearly everyone there said it was one of the best organized and best fed races they have attended. Almost everyone there got their money's worth: a gift card, post-race food, and a coupon from Brueggers.
The best part was that our team raised close to $1,000, which is a huge benefit for this coming year in terms of being able to compete. Not the best part: I won a gift card for my placement, but when I went to leave, it was nowhere to be found. I couldn't believe someone would steal it. But then, as I was chatting with people, I caught a glance from one of the kids I coach and just knew that the little punks had taken it. After about 5 minutes of "give me the gift card" they finally fessed up. It'a amazing, the same kid who got me on April Fools Day got me again (along with his co-conspirator). When did I become so gullible?