So. . . the start was actually quite civilized. A 10am start, which with the time change felt like 11, so no crazy early alarm action. My mom (the uber-sherpa) came with me, and we carpooled in with another woman racer who I was randomly paired up with, but really liked (in one of the fortuitous turns of fate), and we all had a rather enjoyable time hanging out before the start. Here I am right before it was time to go:
You might notice we aren't actually on our bikes. Because it's a LeMans start - meaning you run a loop around a field before jumping on your bikes and heading out. And theoretically this should be the one place where I would actually excel - being a runner and all. Except that I see no reason to go sprinting like a crazy woman at the beginning of a 6 hour race, so I was pretty firmly in the back half for the beginning.
This was my first time racing with a heart rate monitor, and it was the bomb. (If you aren't used to that expression, and/or don't know my neighbor Geoffrey, I mean that phrase in the best possible way: "It was the bomb!!!") I loved it - easy to tell when I was going too hard (e.g., climbing up Long Branch, I looked down and my heart rate was 185. Not the bomb!! ), and also easy to tell when I was doing pretty well and was not actually going to expire regardless of how it felt (e.g., the last climb at hour 5.) So overall I felt pretty in control, walked down Farlow Gap as planned (I have a great deal of respect for people who ride that trail, but not much desire to actually do it myself), FINALLY got my nutrition figured out (it mainly involved a LOT of Perpetuem), and finished feeling pretty good.
Here I am coming through the finish:
That pretty much says it all. I was REALLY happy to be finished, REALLY happy to have met my time goal (I wanted to be under 6 hours, and I was 5:46), and REALLY happy to have kept myself more or less upright for the duration.
My friend Robin (my usual biking partner-in-crime) came to watch the finish, which was such a nice surprise, and took these pictures. Here I am just after. Again, looking quite happy just to be off the bike.
It turned out that my 5:46 was good enough for 4th place woman (out of the very slim women's field), and they actually gave prizes. Here's the jersey I won:
Cool, right? That's a good thing about mountain bike races - they always give out really good stuff. Sure, sure, it's all about the personal satisfaction, but who's going to turn down really good stuff??
And here Robin and I are under the finish line.
A good day complete, a big goal accomplished, a good friend to share it with - yay!