Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 Hours of Amelia - Hialeah, FL

Endurance racing is not easy.

It suits some better than others, but after all we all are going to suffer, it is just a matter of time.

I was strongly considering not racing this time, even with having this event on my permanent calendar.

Racing is fun, challenging and inspiring at the same time; but also very draining on the body and the soul.

6 Hours of Markham took a toll on my body and I was not completely healed. Of course my mind always wins over my bodily needs and I wrapped myself up as well as I could (KT Tape to the rescue!) and marched to the start line.

We had a running start and oh boy, this run was long and it can take the wind out of you…

I was glad to finally get to my bike and hopped right on it. Thankfully I ended up in the single track in the great company of the Bicycle Generation crew, Casey and Chris, and also next to my friend Jen and main rival for the day Kathy. Since we were all together stuck in the easy moving what seemed like “tour de forest” ride, there was no need to rush. We enjoyed each other’s company and even were able to chat some.


It seemed like we were in almost identical order for first lap and a half; and then things started to change.

Kathy stepped on the gas and I had to go around Casey to stay close. I was on her wheel for a long while.

Everything seemed just in order until my knee pain kicked in way earlier than expected. I was wondering now how much longer I will be able to go and if I will even finish the race. I backed off and allowed Kathy to get away. I decided it was time to just ride my own race and see how things unfold.

Not that much later I realized I forgot about the pain and just started counting the passing laps.

After three laps which is what I normally race in the regular races things always start to get tricky.

You are used to the distance and everything beyond it seems just plain weird and wrong. But I pushed and I was fine. Four laps and you definitely start feeling fatigued. I’m not even sure how I or anyone goes mentally beyond that point. Everything becomes blurry in the way. You just stare at the path ahead of you and have a cocktail of thoughts running through you head. You are definitely not in the normal state anymore; it seems more like being in a trance. All your body knows is to pedal, and pedal and pedal some more, and nothing else really matters. Once in a while you get a nice break from someone that exchanges a few words with you. Otherwise you are on your own on this very self-discovering journey. And you count; lap 5, lap 6 and all those numbers don’t make sense anymore. All you feel is pain and discomfort, but you refuse to stop. The most memorable, and not for a good reason, was for me lap 7 when I failed to take the proper nutrition. While on the single track it suddenly hit me.

I was depleted and there was nowhere to charge energy from. Suddenly I felt incredible hunger and emptiness; my body became weak in matter of minutes. I was at the point where hills that normally during training rides are complete fun and a piece of cake, suddenly become as scary and high as Mt. Everest and you can’t even be sure if you will get to the top. It was a long time of being very weak, slow and light-headed before I got to the spot when I was able to get my Clif nutrition. When I was very close to the transition zone there was a big cheering group with cowbells that I was so thankful for, their enthusiasm gave me some extra boost that I needed at that moment so badly...

After finishing the 7th lap I was at the point where I could have ended my race or risk going for another lap. The last lap would only count however if I finished it by the 6 hour mark, and I was already on 5 hours and 10 minutes. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t hesitate even for a second, I geared up and went away as fast as I could for my final lap. I knew here every second did count, every turn, every hill, every possible mistake. I didn’t want to make any and stayed as focused as I could. I didn’t want my hard work to go to waste. In this tired state that you are after that many hours of biking it seemed like I was flying, however I knew that my time will be very close. My previous lap was 47 minutes long and I could only hope to finish the 8th one at least at the same time.

I pushed and pushed and pushed and could just see my husband cheering me on and hoping I will make it. I felt better now after I got my Clif nutrition and was giving everything that was there to give. When I got out of the single track I had fellow female racers cheering me on. Now all I had left was the final gravel road to the finish with a quite strong headwind.

I was so close but so far away and time kept ticking…

When finally I reached the finish line my GPS showed that I still had two minutes to spare and that was confirmed by the race organizers…

Overall I finished 2nd and covered 65 miles in 5:58 hrs…

Team Bicycle Generation

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