Fast forward a few weeks and I am just as stoked at having been able to make the drive out to Blodgett for the TOE 50 miler, race it, and have a darn good time suffering up and down its blatant offering of 8,000 feet of climbing. Flashbacks of the Shenandoah 100 pulsed the pupil of my mind's eye and I was quickly reminded of the importance of mantras, of which mine became 'slow and steady wins the race.'
Apparently the mantra works; although I was far from 'winning' the race, I was able to maintain, suffer, enjoy, laugh, cry, squeal, and make it through in 5 hours 39 minutes and 52 seconds. Thanks to a verbal commitment I had made with a friend prior to the race (that every time I felt tired I would click up a few gears, get out of the saddle, and grind it out... something which I adhered to 8 times out of 10) and an NPR radio lab about so-called 'limits" shown to me by another friend, things worked out slightly better than projected. A few rabbits which had darted off in the beginning, taunting me to chase and tire, were reeled in and passed with about 45 minutes to go. Sure my legs were on fire and I wanted to puke, but so did everyone else, so I smiled, stood up, and rocked out a climbing pass. Sure I was torn and whimpering inside, but so was everyone else, and mind games, inevitably, work advantageous wonders given the appropriate scenario (racing, not relationships. that shit's just not cool). Let them look at you and wonder why and how you have fresh legs. I've looked at others and wondered the very same thing; but, it is in these instances when we realize exactly how powerful the mind is.
Thanks for the sketchy singletrack mud and endless fire road climbs laid over miles of pine and creeping mist; thanks for the opportunity... couldn't have been any better. Props to Lizzy for crashing (around the same precarious water bar section I also crashed on), flatting, and still whooping me. Props to Pia on her first 50 mile mountain bike race... her and Nuby are gems. Also, thanks to Lizzy and Adam for the clothing, chocolate, water, and laughs; those kids sure know how to handle a natural disaster.
Pia and me post-race. Borrowed clothing has a different kind of comfort to it, especially when it is clean and you are cold and dirty.