Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good Friday Road Race

I am hoping this will be the first of many race reports but I'll be planning my season race by race. This one is long.... grab a coffee or something.

As most of you know I'm a mixed bag of messed up in many ways. I've been having health problems and anxiety issues that have been seriously affecting my training. My health issues are still unanswered but I'm doing everything in my power to manage the symptoms. The other aspect of racing that hinders me is the mind games I play on myself and the anxiety that I get from being in a competitive sport. Let's face it, I'm a pussy when it comes to standing my ground. Sure I can flap my swearing gums 'till everyone around me calls me white trash but when it comes right down to it? I am a ball of anxiety and my preferred place to be is far away from everybody.

Going into this race I had only one goal aside from not crashing my bike. That was: Do better than last year. I didn't know what to expect from my body, my bike, my skills, the weather, the other riders...

I'm in there somewhere (probably hiding behind people)

The weather was cold but that was expected. I didn't forget any clothing and I dressed appropriately (for a change). I got a good warm up out on the roads and was at the start line just in time. I was in one of the first groups to go out that day because it's common knowledge that nobody really wants to watch the crappier fields race, they all wanna watch the pros and they save the best for last. So the less desirables go out early. We had 4 womens categories in one field to make it a group of about 30 riders. That's a great size for always finding a slipstream to ride in but not so great with the various types of riders we had.

It was sketchy. I kind of wanted to push some of the girls off their bikes. Not really but I found myself shaking my head a lot. There were far too many "sorry's" going on in the chatter. I watched many girls overtake the yellow line and not by accident. Crossing the yellow line is an automatic DQ. I heard the loudspeaker on the follow car call bib numbers out and give warnings. I was pissed they were only warnings. I heard a lot of girls hit the gravel on the side of the road. I saw a lot of really terrible bike handling skills. It was risky. I have good skillz yo, I just lack the strength.

The course is 4 laps of a 16km circuit totalling about 64'ish km. Each time we return to the fairgrounds for a loop and then back out again. This is where I faltered. The loop in the fairgrounds was on a terrible gravel road with a sharp turn at a heavily pot-holled corner followed by an uphill climb and a sharp turn onto the road. We were skidding out each time. The second time out of the fairgrounds I had to push hard to stay on. The third time I got dropped along with about 4 other women. I was like, "Well, there they go." It was the familiar view of the field slowly disappearing in the distance as the follow car passes me. Except they weren't disappearing that fast. For the first time ever I refused to accept that my race was over. I hammered it and then I hammered it some more. I passed a group of dudes that were dropped from their race up ahead. One of them said, "Are you trying to get back on?" I replied, "That's the goal!". Just as I came up on the field, the follow car moved out of the way. I made one last leap with the other women in tow and I was in the safety of the roaring wheels surrounded by wind cover barely able to breath. One woman said, "nice job!!". I replied with, "If that happens on the next lap, there's no way I can do that again."

It happened on the next lap.

I'm pretty sure this was my last time out of the fairgrounds by the look on my face

The final time through the fairgrounds and although I had fire left in me, the gravel was daunting. I just sat back and grit my teeth. I stayed loose through the gravel which was really painful. It was vibrating parts of me I don't want to mention. I had to get out of the saddle. It was hurting. My body was a bit, er... sensitive after an hour and a half of balls out action. Again, myself and maybe 3 or 4 other riders popped off the back. This time I knew it was over. Don't get me wrong, I still tried to get back on but my legs were blocks of concrete. I saw the field disappear in the distance. I saw the follow car falling away from me. I was OKAY with this. I was so fucking proud of getting back on the last time. One lap to go and I had spent 3/4 of the race WITHIN the peleton and that was more than I could hope for. My friend and fellow scardy-cat bike racer Jany and I tried to work together. She had more spunk left than me and I just couldn't keep up. Part of me feels like I had mentally given up after the fact but at that moment, I really felt wasted.

Head down is a sign of struggle

I kept Jany in my sights for almost the entire last lap. I could tell by the way she was riding and her body movement it was just as hard as I was going. Then I passed the inevitable that I had hoped wouldn't happen. 3 women on the ground. I saw Joyce who is a new friend of mine and who was doing her first ever road race. I saw two old teammates on the ground, horizontal. All three were friends of mine and all I wanted to do was stop. Except there wasn't anything I could do. There were people tending to them and they were all conscious. I didn't see any blood which is always a good sign but I felt like my heart exploded a little inside my chest.

A woman passed me before the final turn but I thought I had given up gusto. Then I found myself speeding up and thinking, "nuh-uh chicky poo, nope, you aren't getting it." Where those thoughts came from is beyond me. Maybe all this THINKING about the mental edge has worn off a little. I sped up and passed her on the final stretch. I said some encouraging things. I said, "It's almost over, keep going, we're almost done!". That was before I asked her what her name was and which category she was in. I burned my last match, flew by her and had a super lame ass sprint attempt across the finish line. I promptly grabbed the fence and nearly collapsed before even getting OFF my bike. The race was immediately followed by conversations and chatting. We could barely walk 3 minutes without running into someone else to rehash the race again.

I didn't finish last and was only 5 minutes off the main field. I was over-fucking-joyed that I raced with the field for 3/4 of the race. A far improvement from my 1/4 last year. I was even more proud for chasing back on after the 2nd lap. ME! Scully! I chased back on!? that's unheard of.

Diabetes!! I nearly forgot about it (as if that's even possible). I took my regular Lantus in the morning and didn't bolus for my breakfast green smoothie which I was still sipping while pinning on my bib #'s. The last pre-race BG had me at 11.6mmol/l (208mg/dl). Totally fine before 2 hours of mayhem in my mind. I had one bottle of water and some blocks and gels. I didn't know how I was going to eat anything with big mittens on which left me unable to get anything out of my jacket but whatever. I didn't end up eating anything and hoping for the best. I had no way of knowing what my blood sugar was doing so really, I was planning to just wing it. When I finished my BG was up to 12.2mmol/l (220mg/dl). Not really what I was hoping for but I was glad I didn't eat anything during the race. The anaerobic last lap probably had something to do with that high reading. Really though, that's a number on the edge of still being safe and able to push for me. Could it have been better? Yeah, of course I could have given 1 unit with breakfast but if I went low I would have been fucked. I never really know how the 'betes is going to play out anyway. I've had so many opposing results of trial and error. I actually didn't think about my blood sugar the entire time because I was too busy thinking about the race that was going on. I took a couple of units of insulin and the rest of the day was completely uneventful with a nice even keel of glucose.

My training has not been optimal but I've worked as hard as I was capable of with health, weather and work restraints. This race proved that I still have a lot to do but it also proved that I received a veritable record of improvement and that's more than I can ask for. Dropping almost 30lbs of body weight has had an integral effect from this time last year. I know, I still question the weight loss. More about that and an update on my health in another post I hope.

I followed up on the friends in the crash and they are all recovering. 2 of them went to hospital for x-rays and no broken bones. Broken carbon fiber bikes - yes, but bones all in tact. Phew.

Muchos thank you to Ryan for manning my camera and waiting out in the cold.


  1. :( Broken carbon fiber bikes. SAD, but yes, way better than broken bones.

    WHAT?!?! You chased back on? Damn, that's freaking awesome. My one and only bike race, I could only stare longingly as I watch the peloton chug away from me up a steep hill. Buh bye!

    Anyways, very cool. Glad to hear you're making progress and from the sounds of it, being a little easier on yourself. I'm looking forward to reading your health update, but your blog is always entertaining, no matter what you write about.

  2. I was totally cheering in my head that you managed to catch the peloton that first time. That is crazy-awesome, and I loved that you had that one last pass in you at the end. Beautiful. I'd be freaking proud.

    And one word about in the increased BG: adrenaline. I've often wondered why my BG typically drops when I'm lifting and typically climbs when I'm climbing (but not predictably), and having the opportunity to ask, I was told it was adrenaline that was causing it. So an average lifting session I'll drop, but if I'm trying 1 rep maximums or something, I'm going to go up. Likewise with climbing I'll typically go up, unless I'm having a relaxed mileage-only session.

    1. I always appreciate your input! I thought about the adrenaline and wondered if that last lap was just so crazy on me and it was likely adrenaline.

  3. Great job Scully. I would definitely be a ball of nerves in a bike race like that... i'm such a loner when it comes to riding.

  4. So I decided to read the story BEFORE getting my coffee, and I'm glad I did. I am in awe of your focus and determination in this race -- forgetting about diabetes and any other physical/medical goings-on (yes, forgetting is a GOOD thing!) and attending to what it is you set out to do - and you did. Great job!


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