I may as well give my race report now. I already know what's going to happen tonight.
George and I will arrive early and set up the team area. We'll suit up and attempt to warm up on the bikes. The 90 degree temperatures along with the high humidity will end those plans quickly. I will hook up my 3 lights and head over to the start line. On go, Kathleen and Selene will shoot off the front. Everyone else will be in a pack chasing them. Even though I'll be slightly off the back, the flat grassy field will give me a hopeful feeling that I can actually keep up with these women this time. My hopes will be dashed when we'll turn into the woods and I'll lose sight of everyone. As I concentrate on descending the fast single track, I'll lose sight of everyone. I won't worry though, because I'll know that when we come out to the open area by the parking lot, I'll see where everyone is.
But when I reach the parking lot area and look for my competitors, most will be gone. I will see one woman halfway across the clearing. I'll see another one just disappearing back into the woods. The rest will be out of sight for the rest of the race. I'll tell myself, "Concentrate on running your race, reel them in, ride smooth, don't give up, and don't make any mistakes." This worked in Sport last year, but it doesn't work in Elite.
One of these races, maybe that strategy will allow me to start catching some people. Perhaps my training will really kick in. Maybe, I'll try a different training program and I'll be faster next year. It's not that I'm not dedicated. I have to imagine that for all my focus and efforts, I will soon achieve the success I'm looking for. I want to be a worthy competitor.
Some people say that you should still be proud of yourself even if you don't win. As long as you did your best, you can hold your head high. Well, that's getting old. I'm tired of being the slowest person. Something needs to change. I need to figure out what to do differently.
Next year, I will become even more dedicated. I have to figure out what my training program will be and to what degree I should utilize a coach. I will not accept being in the back of the pack for my second season in Elite.
So, tonight I race.
I can hope for a 4th place out of 8 women if everything goes right for me. Meaning if I can beat Kim, who I only beat last time because she was on a single speed, and if I can beat Laura, the wildcard who I don't know anything about, and if one faster woman gets a flat... See what I'm up against?
Or I may end up being last.
In spite of knowing my rank, I am excited to race tonight. I love being pushed harder than ever before. I love going my absolute fastest for 20 miles, drenched in sweat, heart beating out of my chest, my mind alert and focused. I love finishing the race and feeling like I've just accomplished something that most people can't do. I love being at the edge of losing control, yet every time I sense the loss, I back off just a little bit... Always pushing the envelope... Learning more and more about my body and what I can demand from it... Knowing that every race I do, I come closer to running that perfect race.
The perfect race is the one where you left everything you had on the course. You held nothing back. You thought you were going to die, but you didn't stop. You did everything perfectly and smoothly. And best of all, it was a race that you won fair and square.
So, tonight I race...