Wow! This one created so much confusion for me that I don't really know where to start. It might take a second post to sort out, but here goes:
The opening race of the mountain bike season was this past Sunday at the Swanson Shoot Out, race #1 of the Psycowpath series out of Omaha. As noted two posts back, I haven't had the same amount of training as last year. Of course, it has been a colder winter, so maybe everyone would be in the same boat. As I drove to the local Hy-Vee for a pre-race breakfast, I actually had thoughts on how bad this race would go and what I could do to salvage the rest of the season. Maybe all racers are full of self doubt, it seems like a common thread among other race reports. But I was just sure that with the lack of training and more specifically the lack of concentrated base training that I'd blow up early in this race.
Jason, Jeff and I carpooled together and arrived with plenty of time to get a good parking spot, take our time kitting up and placing our coolers in a prime spot for mid-race replenishment. We hopped on the bikes and pre-rode a portion of the course. Just last Thursday, I had installed new Specialized Renegade tires and moved my gearing back down to a 34T in the front (I run a 1x9 setup). I only had the chance to ride singletrack once prior to the race (Friday night), so I was happy to feel pretty good during the warm-up and course recon.
Ryan Feagan and Daryl gave the last minute instructions and we all lined up for the start. Now I should explain that I had peeked at the start list Saturday night. I saw 3 top Cat1 riders, and 2 other marathoners that had beaten me previously. I also figured that a few other fast people would show up for morning registration, so with my self doubt firmly embedded, I was thinking that a 10th place would be a decent start to the season.
I have no idea what changed my mind, but I decided "F-it" and took the front row with Kent McNeill, Cam Kirkpatrick and Kevin Limpach (the fast Cat1s). At the whistle we took off hard and Jim Winklepleck came streaking around us. I settled into 5th spot (behind the four mentioned) and off we went. I could hear others behind me, but I made the snap decision to stick to Cam's wheel as long as possible and hopefully build a lead on those behind me. Outta sight, outta mind...and hopefully recover enough to hold off a few of them by the end.
Lap 1 ends and I'm still there, lap 2 and Cam is slightly outta sight of me when he must have hit something. He is dusting himself off from what looked like a hard crash and gets back on after letting me by. Cool! I'm in fourth, but say it's just temporary until he comes back around me. I hold him off for lap 3 and on lap 4 we catch Kevin. He is obviously trying to stretch his back out. I begin to wonder if these guys have gone out too hard? Maybe they aren't invincible.
We finish lap 5 just after the Cat1s have started. I stop for water bottles and Cam goes by (I think it was lap 5). I hear the Cat2s start just behind me and I try to hold them off as long as possible. Eventually, the leaders catch me and I let them by, finally settling into a group more of my marathon speed. I figure that Cam wouldn't let that happen to him and will now be gone. I'm racing for fourth and keep looking over my shoulder.
Nothing spectacular really happens during the rest of the race. My laps were consistent until the last 3. Lap 9 finished at 3:50, so I knew that I had to go onto lap 10. Pride kept me pushing as hard as possible, I wanted to keep all 10 laps under 30 minutes and I didn't want to get lapped by the marathon leader. I finally finished the 10 laps in 4:15.47. Good for what I figured was 4th place out of 34. It wasn't until later that I learned that Cam also had to pull out early (also back problems?). I was handed a very unexpected 3rd place.
Sorry for the lack of pictures, I know these posts are boring with all words an no pictures. I'll work on that.
Next post will be on theories as why my body was actually ready for this effort (despite the best efforts of my mind).