Monday, August 18, 2008

Going All Out

Have you ever had those races where no matter how small the race was or how unimportant it was, you just wanted to win? You decided before hand that you were going to give 110% and see what happens. Saturday was one of those races for me. It was the Guys vs. the Gals 5K and 10 mile bike race for our club. I had no illusion of doing anything other than crossing the finish line in the run, especially with the PF in my foot. But the bike was a different story. I knew that today, I had a shot. Even though a long one at just winning that leg of the race.

The whole Guys vs Gals race is a lot of fun. We started this last year and with a couple months of trash talking had the race. We probably had twice as many people show up last year but there was a Triathlon going on this year which caused a conflict and we had a lot of people out for that. Two of the three guys that I knew I couldn't beat on the bike were there so I knew I had a shot at a good placement if nothing else on the bike. For the run, the guys would be granted a 2 minute head start if they wore a running skirt and the girls a 1 minute head start if they wore one. This made the 5k interesting. When I got to the school for the start I figured most all the guys would have some type of skirt devised up. Nope. Coach Dennis had his wrapped around his head as he said, they didn't say "where" it had to be worn. After the girls picked at him about it he finally put it where it was suppose to be. Duane M. had his on and on back he had written in tape " I need the 2 Minutes". Well, that was my thinking! Robert borrowed and extra that someone had. Phil wore a long skirt which really made everyone laugh. Annette and Jackie have pictures but I hope the evidence gets erased somewhere along the line.

So, at the start of the 5k we had 5 or 6 guys getting a 2 minute head start. I told Josh (who wasn't wearing a skirt and is VERY fast) that this would be my only chance to be ahead of him in a race, even if it was only a few minutes. Josh is on the verge of breaking into the 16 minute 5k range. With the PF in my foot, my goal in the 5k was just make it through it, maybe run a 10-10:30 pace. Felt pretty decent at the start. The bad thing I haven't ran a lick in a week so this would be my only run in probably 10 days.

Josh passed me probably less than half a mile into the race. Man that guy is fast! I trudged on, pretty much running a 10-10:15 pace all the way. Endurance wise I felt better than what I expected. I really had no need to walk the whole race though I did take about 20 seconds a couple times just to slow down as I wanted to save it for the bike. My finishing time was 32 something, pretty bad considering I would have ran this in probably 26 something if I had been healthy.

Then it was on to the bike race. This was the fun stuff. My plan was to line up at the front and go out hard and fast, then see how long I could hang on. I figured if I could get a good breakaway at the beginning I could have a shot at winning this thing. The front line found me, Cindy C., Lisa F. and several others. It was pretty packed actually so I was concerned about just getting clipped in and getting going. We had an uphill start also right next to the stadium. It probably wasn't the best route especially since we didn't have any traffic control.

The race started and I went out standing up and pushing up the hill. I was all alone. As I looked back in my mirror I could see I blasted out pretty good. Had to slow down at the first intersection to check for on coming cars, I was good and took off down East Main. This was a hilly but fast road. I immediately dropped to my aero bars to gain all the speed I could. My quads started screaming at me early when I hit the hills. I kept watching my mirror and could see a small group of bikes working to catch me but they still had a ways to go. I knew that several working together could catch me pretty fast but there were hills they had to contend with. I made the right turn on to Stagecoach and kept hammering. A big incline here slowed me down and the pack would gain on me in the flats. I was probably averaging 20+ mph at this point. My quads continued to cry in pain as I pushed hard up the hills. I knew another major intersection was coming up and this was where they would catch me. As I got there, I had to stop for traffic. One guy went right so that he didn't loose momentum and then when the traffic cleared there were 5 of us right together. I figured I would tuck in and ride the draft here for a while and take a rest. I knew these guys had been pushing to catch me. All 5 of us were determined it seemed. The group was me, Cindy C., Bill K., Mark O. and Duane M. All through the ride I thought Duane was James B. because they had the same color bike and wore the same color clothing. James B wasn't even there!

As we made our way down Campground, we jockeyed back and forth for position. Cindy would be in the lead then Mark, then me, then Duane, then Bill. It was each person for themselves at that point but we were smart enough to draft when we weren't in the front. Campground was fast, 32 mph at one point. Then a right on Dogwood. The pace slowed a little here. More hills and more pain. If you missed a gear someone would go right by you. I seemed to have it going good on the hills but I was almost to the point I couldn't stand up anymore. My legs were screaming. I knew the way they felt I was giving it all I had. This was fun though! I was racing with some extremely good bikers and no one was winning at that point. It would have come down to a Tour de France sprint if we had all stayed together. Now that would have been fun!

When we turned on to 321 Mark got ahead of everyone. After the first hill we pretty much dropped Bill so it was me, Cindy and Duane trying to chase down Mark. Duane got ahead of me and Cindy a little so I told her "we have to catch James, we can't let him beat us". I said this as I passed her going uphill and she said something but I didn't hear. I'm sure it was "thats not James!" I wish I had known it was Duane and not James, i would have probably just backed off and settled in but no.....I had to push it even more. After about the second or third hill on 321 I could feel my right calf twitching a little. I started thinking, uh oh, a cramp is coming. I had NEVER had a cramp on the bike. Even in 100 milers, never! Was this little 10 miler going to be my first? I backed off a little, tried to take a drink and wonder what was going on. Two bikes in front of me and I was gaining on Duane. Mark was way ahead at this point. Cindy was pretty close. I turned on to Dietrich in pursuit of Duane and Mark. About a block down Dietrich it started. I felt my right leg starting to cramp up in my calf. I slowed down and Cindy passed me. Another block and I was in a full blown cramp. My right leg was locked up and I tried to stretch it to make it stop. It wouldn't. I tried to pedal and I couldn't the pain was so bad. I stood up in the pedals and tried pointing my toes down and then up. I was just coasting at that point. I could not even move my leg it was cramping so bad. I was thinking I am going to have to stop, get off the bike and lay down or something to stretch it out. I was approaching the intersection of Campground and Dietrich so I knew I would have to stop for traffic. Maybe that would help. I stopped, stretched it and then started across the road just as Bill passed me. I knew I wasn't going to be able to hammer anymore. I looked back in my mirror and only saw two bikes coming so I thought maybe, just maybe I could hold them off and make it in. I'd pedal some and then have to back off and stretch the calf. They were gaining on me at that point. I pushed harder, thinking I can't let them pass me.

I held them off all the way to East Main and there at the intersection with Honeysuckle they pass was made. It was Andrea and Lisa M. Andrea asked me if I was ok as she could see I was in pain. I said yeah, my calf was cramping. As we went up the hill to turn on Bellamy I got a second wind. I was not going to let them pass me that easy. I hammered as hard as my leg would allow, just hoping I could make it in without another painful cramp. I did manage to pass Lisa about halfway down Bellamy and was gaining on Andrea but ran out of race course. I had to settle for a 6th place finish. Not bad but I could have been at least 2nd I think.

After talking to some of the others I found out that Mark had also gotten a cramp towards the end and got passed. I think Duane ended up being first, not sure who was second through 4th. I know Andrea was 5th. It was fun, I had a good race going until the cramp. And I'll have to say, I was giving it 110% up till that point. There is always another race.

Loving the bike!

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