It has taken me over a week to be able to sit down to write about last weekends experience at Sunny King Criterium, (my first race of the season on the Pro Road Tour-PRT). One thing I wanted to do throughout this season is to make sure to write about the awesome times of my cycling adventures, but also, the bad..... Now days, with the self-promotion of social media, it's so easy to see only the glorious window of someone's life, but little do we see the struggle, let down, and sometimes epic failures. It's hard facing defeat, especially publicly. Social media can be hard to follow sometimes, just this week....I was checking out my newsfeed on instagram, and I see a world champion discuss the two flats, and mechanical she obtained in her race- and yet STILL finished 5th overall. Overcoming all obstacles is quite glorious, but sometimes impossible.
There are so many mixed emotions since Sunny King Criterium, but at the same time, it was a weekend of, "Well, there goes THAT." I needed my first race to just get-over-with-it kind of thing, and that will be the ONLY purpose SKC served.....getting the first race jitters out! First off, the weather was miserable....freezing COLD and WET and WINDY.... it began drizzling before the pro women's race, which meant, I knew that the bigger teams were going to be smashing the pace to get a break-away, since some riders may be a little hesitant in the weather. I was ready to slam the power. I was expecting it, but I hadn't ridden or performed intervals in the cold.....MY LUNGS SHUT DOWN. Legs felt great....lungs not so much....I began coughing and I haven't really stopped this entire week. I struggled with asthma growing up, but have not had too many issues in a few years, until this weekend. My lungs shutting down like that really shocked me, I didn't know what was happening, and before I knew it....Game OVER.
Good to see that the Pro Women's field is not letting up.
I didn't know what to expect after 7 months of training (no racing) so I was ready for anything and my expectations were not set crazy high. It all happened so fast, I am more disappointed, and hate, that I didn't even have the opportunity to negotiate with my body. My lungs said no, and there was "no-go." Usually, if I am struggling, I can set 30 second, 1 min, or "just 3 more minutes" but usually, by my goal time, the pace slows, I recover, and hang in there for the finish. Like I said, well, there goes THAT.
Besides the weather and my body choosing not to participate on Saturday night, I was ready to put it behind me to move on to the Piedmont Road Race, which I was expecting to be extremely challenging. By this point, my husband and daughter both have the stomach virus, and I knew they were both miserable. Well, we bring a camper to travel which we LOVE, but the heater electricity kept skipping all. through. the. night. It was FREEZING. A few minutes of shut-eye, vomit everywhere in the camper. Let's just say, I was OVER IT.
I decided to try to have some kind of redemption, or at minimum, a good training ride for the piedmont road race while my husband and kids slept in. At this point, I didn't give two flips how I did and I felt like a winner for just showing up. Funny thing, the race directors decided to combine the Pro-Women and Master's Men 1/2/3. Which meant, I would be racing with a very strong Men's Master's field which included my coach (who still races pro). Ouchy.
However, I surprised myself and hung in there on the climbs and completed the race with a solid sprint. I felt surprisingly good considering all the shit, literally, that had happened from this weekend of hell. The peloton split in half at the first major steep climb, I thought I was in good position being behind several men....little did I know these guys were struggling to keep up with the pro women and ended up gapping me on the climb. WHHHAAT?!!! There was NO WAY I was going to be able to climb any harder and close the gap to the front group...... Front group gone. Disappointment, again for the weekend, but I was numb to it because I was just happy to be riding, challenging myself, and that I was being productive (not feeling sorry for myself).
I just kept digging, and I immediately started thinking, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???? Well, first thing, I had a little too much confidence in the men. Which makes me laugh, because training and riding with primarily men, I hear (some) derogatory jabs and micro aggressive behavior towards the pro women's field sometimes. "I wonder if the women could keep up with the men." That's just one comment I encountered after the weekend about the two men and women fields being combined. I JUST CAN'T..... Many of these women race and train full time for a living, and to say they couldn't keep up with the men?!?!? Let's just say the women DID NOT get dropped, and the few men that were left had to sprint for dear-life to not get beat by a woman. I am thankful for the directors putting the fields together because I feel like it shed a new light on women's racing and opened eyes to the strength of the women's pro peloton.
I am proud to say my coach won the sprint.