Is someone running a washing machine at 4:45 AM on the 5th floor at the Canyons on a Saturday morning? What else could that sound be? When I opened the curtains and the saw that the sound was accompanied by flashes of light I immediately got a big lump in the pit of my stomach with the realization that we could be starting this race in a storm. Fuck. The parking lot lights illuminated the sheets of rain that were blowing across the property.
Take a deep breath and stick to the routine: Make coffee. Eat rice and eggs with parmesan cheese. Do a short session on the foam roller & stretch. Try to poop.
When I looked outside again at 5:45 AM it was raining harder. Fuck.
I was walking out the door with my pre-race bag over my shoulder and my two drop coolers in my hands when my phone “pings” with a new text message from Amanda Carey: “Update from Shannon, race delayed 1 hour”. All of a sudden I felt calm and I liked the idea of having a little more time to assess the conditions and mentally get ready for a potential slog-fest.
As I drove into the Round Valley parking lot, Jay Burke was in his truck telling racers that we are definitely delayed and possibly racing tomorrow. Tomorrow? I like the sound of that…or do I? Shit, I don’t know how I feel about any of this. I really wanted to race the entire course under sunny skies but that wasn’t in the cards any longer.
It is 6:35 AM and I am sitting in the truck, in the dark, in a hard rain, and I am checking Twitter, Facebook, and the PCPP website for updates.
All of this uncertainty has put my GI system into overdrive and I had to scramble for a rain jacket and make a mad dash across the parking lot to the porta-john. Thank you Jay Burke for having porta-johns at the start line.
The next ten minutes were a blur. There was a quick meeting, then a vote on whether to race a shortened course Saturday or a full course Sunday, more discussion, and then finally confirmation that we were racing a shortened (by 12 miles) course at 8 AM.
I immediately put on too many clothes because my brain was still replaying images of the apocalyptic storm from 5 AM that morning. All of a sudden it was 7:50 AM and I still had to warm up. In one of my better decisions of the day, I stripped down to shorts, jersey, and arm warmers just before start and stuffed my tiny Montbell wind shell into my center jersey pocket where it would live all day.
|Photo by Cotton Sox Photography|
I distinctly remember having the following thoughts during the first hour of the race:
How fast can I go without paying the price later? Not this fast you dummy… ok, maybe this fast. (which in reality was 98.5% of the speed I was going to begin with)
You aren’t drinking enough.
Get your HR down… but don’t slow down.
My hands are numb and I can’t feel my waffle in my jersey pocket. I really want that damn waffle.
Wow, these trails are incredible right now. This is fun. This is awesome. I am ripping. I am the greatest mountain biker in the world...oh wait, there are a lot of people in front of me. Strike that last statement.
There goes KC Holley, passing me in yet another race.
As we entered the Deer Valley property, the course sent us up a steep service road climb that is used in the ICUP Deer Valley Pedalfest races. I was steadily grinding my way up this climb, just trying to keep from tipping over sideways, and Mark llinares goes flying by me like he just started his race. “That was rude of him”, I say to myself as he passes about a dozen riders in the next 200 yards. I want to climb like Marco when I grow up.
Overall, my race was going pretty well at this point. I was riding right on the edge of my sustainable pace and I wasn’t having any issues with the mud. Due to my Raynaud’s, my hands had been numb from the start but that was manageable now that I have 10-spd gripshift on my bike. Without the gripshift, I doubt I would have been able to shift at all.
I rolled into the Silver Lake aid station in 1:59:00 and immediately found my drop cooler to swap my pack and grab more calories. I also ditched my sunglasses since they were fogged up and not doing me any good anyway. My split time of 1:59:00 “felt” like I was on track given that the course had been shortened by about an hour and I had originally planned on 3 hours to arrive at Aid #1.
The hardest part of this race was still ahead of me.