Back-up title: If I knew then what I know now…
I spend quite a bit of time in a quandry as to where I belong in the racing world. I feel like at local races I am sandbagging, but it is often mentioned to me that these aren't "national level" races, and the competition is a lot better on the bigger stage. I don't have delusions of grandeur thinking I can hold onto Georgia's wheel any time soon (first off, she's probably been racing Pro longer than I've been riding a bicycle), but I also don't feel that good not giving any of the "local" Cat 1 racers a chance at the top step of the podium.
USAC feels that I don't belong in the Pro category, and since their site has been down all day, I can't check on any updated racing info (and I heard over the weekend they changed a few things?).
If I knew in late 2007, or beginning of 2008, that I'd be this serious about racing, I would've upgraded to Cat 1 (nee Expert) following Fontana last year. I would've gotten my butt handed to me at quite a few Expert races last spring, but I would've learned something. I had no idea. I didn't know I should've been moving toward something else. No one told me I was wasting my time. USAC didn't mind that I was winning most of my races, and podiuming the others.
I upgraded a bit too late last summer, so only had half a handful of results that went to USAC, and they were all for really local events. My result from the CA State race is a bit skewed, since I got a flat tire (tire glued to the rim = long tire change). I was 3-4 minutes up on my field and felt great. That's racing. I set my sights on not having a DNF for the race, and accomplished that.
Either way, I am where I am right now, and have a decision to make.
Now, let's back up.
I knew I wanted my nutrition to be stellar leading up to the race since we'd be basically training through. Saturday we were hoping for 3.5-4 hours, so I wanted to have the tanks topped off after a slow week, nutritionally and ride-wise.
Dinner Friday night - yellow sweet potatoes, chicken, and Trader Joes' Brown Rice Medley (super bomb stuff)
Since I mentioned it last week, I thought I'd get some shots of my new oatmeal concoction. I'd eat it more often if it wasn't so loaded!!
While we were packing stuff up I figured I'd shoot for some extra protein in my weekend diet, and I threw together some berry protein shakes for us for after the ride. I need to find a way to make them more liquid and less solid, but they're pretty good.
The taste of the protein powder is fairly overwhelming whether I have yogurt or not (Sunday I didn't have yogurt in there - it was thicker than it had been WITH it, also). Guess I'll have to live with that!
Not too long after we started the drive up north to pre-ride the course a few times!
Justin took some shots of my new bling
Mentally preparing for the start!
We got in 4 laps. One was race-pace, and the other 3 were mostly SST. I was super worked after the ride, and easily downed my protein shake and some water, then we went to check in and pick up our race packets.
I didn't really look in the bag until we got home, but we got hooked up! A ton of swag!
Cool number plates, free t-shirt, free water bottle (event "personalized"), a bottle of H20 Overdrive, sample of Rapidade (I've never tried it), sample of E2 Hydro (looking forward to trying this one), Gu pack, KMC power-link type deal, and coupons for Rock N Road and ESI Grips.
Figured I'd try out the H20 Overdrive post-race since it's 3:1 carbs:protein.
We both spent too much time on our feet (Justin prepping bikes, and me prepping food, drink, and clothing), but since I was having some pain and discomfort behind my knee Justin had me sit with my feet elevated (laying down) and had me take 4 Ibuprofen. I couldn't feel my feet after 20 minutes, so got up to shower and hit the foam roller.
I had half a cup of Kashi Go-Lean (non crunch) in some milk and went to bed.
Got up Sunday morning after a fairly poor night's sleep (I spoke too soon - the upstairs neighbors have spent the last 3 nights making noise), made some more oatmeal and got together post-race PB&J bagels and the berry protein shakes, along with coffee!
We packed up and headed north with Luke.
We were there plenty early, but we got a pretty primo spot. We hung out and chatted with James, Eric, Ryan, Herber, Jason Ranoa, and the Fletcher's, and eventually Justin and I headed over to the start to watch the Cat 2's take off! It was really warm already, and not even 11 am yet.
Once it got close to 11 we went back to hydrate, have some food, and get changed into race clothes for the warm-up. I did a fairly long warm-up, but spent a good amount of time spinning the legs out, and did a few hard efforts to get the body really warm and ready to go. It was seriously hot out.
Added a few new stickers!
Luke thinks it looks like a NASCAR body!
Slater got this shot of Justin and I warming up
I told Justin good luck and we both lined up in our respective locations. The Pro's took off, and shortly after the Cat 1 men were out of site. It was hot standing in the line, but no worries. We were moved along really quickly, and I think started some time around 12:50. I sort of lined up wrong - I wound up behind someone who wasn't on it when the women started, and then my gearing was a tad off. I worked pretty hard to bridge from the last 3rd of the pack up to the front half. I had no idea whose wheel to grab, but we were all jostling for position on the early climb.
I held on one wheel, went around, held another, went around, held another, went around, soon I only saw Melanie McQuaid and Krista Park in front of me, and we started to pass some of the older Cat 1 men. What!
I continued to hold Krista's wheel where I could, and she and I traded spots for most of the 1st lap. She gapped me a bit in the transition, and I managed to catch back up by the time we hit the feed station. I hit the lap button late, and up we climbed, trading spots here and there.
Lap 2 it got really hot. I had little desire to drink my Cytomax, but continued to take it in anyway since I knew I needed the fluids. This one bottle cage situation is less than ideal, so for hot races this summer I think I'll be trying a weaker mix.
Krista started to pull away a little more than halfway through the lap. I could've dug deeper and held on, but it wasn't really necessary, and my legs were begging for mercy. I sort of wish I would've gone and done a 3rd lap anyway, to see if I could've held off 3rd in the Pro field, but since I wouldn't have been "racing", I'm not sure it would've done me any good. I pulled off after my obligatory 2 laps, and spun around for awhile, after grabbing some ice cold WATER!
Had a good time cooling down with Rachel and Heidi and chatting about the race and stuff. I managed to make it back to the finish line area and catch Justin coming through! He finished 8th out of 24 in his first Cat 1 race, despite cramping up for most of lap 3! Way to start out the season!
We both had a killer day of racing. Sho-Air has definitely breathed some good life into the US racing scene and I'm really looking forward to Fontana later this month!
Since I shoved so much food in my mouth after the race (lots of water, H20 Overdrive, berry protein shake, PB&J bagel, half an In & Out burger - my first taste since 4/04, no joke) I wasn't even hungry until about 8 last night. I enjoyed some "victory cereal" and a small bit of pasta and olive oil.
I slept poorly again last night, but the legs are feeling good and physically and mentally I'm ready to hit the tarmac for some hard intervals this week. No matter what category I'm in come later this month and year, I've got to be ready to hit it and do my best.
This training thing really pays off.
Next up - more food info, and list of stuff I liked.