Such a brutal race took place today in such a wonderful and serine in the contrary place.
Ft Clinch Park is located on the beautiful Amelia Island where giant sand dunes, old oak trees covered in moss and Giant Swallowtail butterflies fill out scenery, not forgetting a historic fort on the other side of the park. It is gorgeous here, sunny, hot and we can hear the monster waves crashing from the race start line. Everyone knew however that all smooth and rolling trails covered with some pine needles that were hiding sugar sand underneath were going to make this race as brutal as it gets. It happened to be almost a survival game with long 7 mile laps that we had to repeat three times in a row.
We had a rolling start and strong and amazing girls showed up today on this start line and everyone was hungry for a win. First half mile on the pavement was very painful and everyone seemed to try to get in the tight single track first. I was lucky enough to get in with a fifth position, right behind the girls that I knew I wanted to be right there with. It worked out well and we stayed all together for most of the first lap. It was hard however. I imagined already not getting anywhere near podium for that day and I was in acceptance of it. Everyone was riding strong consistently and pushing and not giving anyone a break. It was a battle. Just seconds before entering the first lap check point I had two girls go by me putting me in sixth position. It didn’t last long since just seconds later I stood up and I passed them back. I was back in forth and still had a long way to go. With time, I managed to catch the wheels of the third place rider; I made a smooth pass and finally after this long awaiting misery was in the top three. I was exactly where I wanted to be. With little time I realized the second girl, Candance was some 20 seconds in front, which was great news. I could just hear my husband screaming through the trees, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds. And shortly I jumped on her wheel and stayed there. Still I wasn’t sure where the first rider was. Luckily the trail ended and we had some quarter mile or more of the pavement. I went out right behind and sped up, went to the side of the second girl and did acknowledge her. She didn’t seem to have an interest to fight for her position and I sped away having first rider, June just some forty feet ahead. It gave me motivation to push even more and I was gaining distance very quickly on her. I imagined it would be great to manage to make a pass right before going back to the twisty single track. And I did it, just with inches to spare before the turn I went right by her. Oh this felt good. I was in the lead now and I had still whole lap and a half to hold it. Once again I heard my husband encouraging me to keep on pushing and make as much distance as I could. I started hearing now 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds. I was gaining and gaining, but I knew that I did not have a comfort of giving myself any break or making any mistake. I rode still like I was on the chase to the finish. Covered with sweat, dirt and goose bumps from the heat, exhaustion and excitement finally I crossed the finish line with my traditional fist pump. Race director announced my name and my victory.
I was very happy and felt very accomplished. My husband was also proud as hell of me. I did come to this race pretty sore and tired from my current triathlon training and would not expect to perform as well as I did. Well oh maybe yes I was wishing and hoping for a great placing but in those races you just never know. That was just an incredibly important and fulfilling day. My first win in the sport division! It all culminated with me diving in straight to the ocean still in my race kit. I submerged in those big waves like a little kid and finally was able to relax. After that I went to the podium and received my gold, and shared podium with my bellowed bike “Sonic” that deserved to be there as much as I did. Afterwards I still managed to get out for some trail running and jumped into the ocean one more time before we headed home…