Black Partridge

I love the Black Partridge course. Lots of tight twisty singletrack with a bunch of log crossings and bridges. Enough climbing (for me) to keep it real. I do hate the grass start/finish though. Unfortunately there wasn't a very big field of women. Kind of a bummer. It's hard for me to stay motivated or remember what I'm doing when there really aren't that many people to chase or stay ahead of. Bev hasn't raced at all this year, and apparently isn't planning on it and Betsy is recovering from an injury from a crash in March (I hope she's back soon).
My stomach had been acting up for the previous 24 hours and I hoped it would settle once I started racing like it did on my ride yesterday. We started with the men. We were right on the back of the field for a bit. I'd prefer to have an open course however them in front of me probably helped me not blow myself up in a few minutes time, not to mention gave us a 5 minute gap on the sport class. It was hot. I had to wear a hydration pack as I didn't know anybody to hand up bottles. I hate hydration packs. For some reason today my bike felt "off"; I don't know if it was the hydration pack, my new cleats (I think they are a bit too far back) or what. But I was leaning a bit on my arms, which has never happened before. It didn't affect my climbing or riding, but towards the end of the race my forearms were really tired.
Anyway, I was trying to stay away from Gina. I could hear her on occasion right behind me. Which is surprising because my bike was making so many noises I thought it was going to explode. My headset was loose (which I only was guessing at the time as it was just swapped) which had me off the bike a couple times to make sure my wheel was on. I don't know what sounds like it's going to break off in the rear; I think it might be my derailleur. I stopped to make sure my rear wheel wasn't going to fall off. I grabbed the derailleur a couple times to make sure that wasn't falling off either. My crank was creaking something fierce as well. But then I was like "fuck it. If it's going to break, it's going to break; there's nothing you can do about it so just go." So I did. Do you know how hard it is to ignore all those horrible bike noises? Ugh.
The front of the sport guys caught me, actually I don't remember when they caught me. Then it was a slow trickle after that. I finished the first lap wondering how I was going to finish two more. As I headed into my second lap, just before I dipped into the singletrack I saw Gina headed for the finish shoot. I figured I had a couple minutes on her. So I continued to ride a steady pace and killed it anytime it went a bit downhill. There is one section there that is super rad after you climb out of the first switchback- it's like a slight downhill twisty singletrack with lots of little dips and log crossings.
By this time my stomach was starting to feel off. I thought I just drank too much water (another reason I hate hydration packs). I ended up puking on my top tube; I cooled it on the water after that. I knew I was hot, but at the same time there was a nice steady breeze that made its way through the course most of the race. I ended up puking more liquids out again. I didn't want to let up but at the same time I didn't want to be a wreck for the next few days. A couple of the sport guys said I had a sizeable lead so I backed it off a bit. Or at least I thought.
Going in for the third lap Gina was right on my wheel. D'oh! She actually passed me for a second as we crossed the start/finish area. I remember thinking, GOD DAMMIT- I don't want to work! And right after that I stepped it up and kept stepping it up for the last 7 or so miles. As I approached the last downhill switchbacks I noticed I was a mess. My legs were aching and my arms were pumping; my tris were hurting. I dreaded that last switchback climb out. There was just misery left- switchback climb out, multi-track and then a bumpy grass finish. When I was on the switchbacks I thought I was going to cry. My legs just didn't want to go anymore and my stomach was cramping. The grass finish felt forever, but when I looked back and didn't see anybody in site I just soft pedaled it in relieved to be done. Gina rolled in 4 minutes or so later.
I feel like I did this at my last race- in the middle just completely forgot what I was doing and then ended up having to really pick up the pace. Today wasn't fun. 1:50 minutes of misery (actually more considering I still feel like shit) and about 25 minutes of fun. Racing has never been a total goal of mine but I've done it as it's nice to push yourself harder than you normally would, there are great people, and it's fun to talk about later with John and others. Lately though, I'm just not that into it. I'm sure part of it is I'm sitting here on the couch with a messed up stomach dreading the bathroom, not to mention John had a terrible race. However next race is Jubilee the day after the girls' recital and I've already tried coming up with excuses as to why it's not a good reason to go- one so far is I won't be recovered from the recital the day before, like I'm dancing or something. I don't know if I'm ready to give it up completely just yet, but I definitely feel like my excitement for it is fading. Getting ready today I just wasn't into it all, and it's one of my favorite courses. My kids sort of push me towards this too. A part of me would have loved to have gone for a long singletrack ride today, played soccer with Zoe, talked what-ifs with Casey and had a beer. It would help immensely if everything was closer.