Traditionally I've really disliked this race (nothing personal, Badger Prairie), so it was a shocker when it turned out to be a great race.
Inexplicably, I got the hole shot... what was up with that? I never try for it, preferring to sit a few back and then ramp up throughout the race. I think I got clipped in before anyone else, or maybe nobody wanted the hole shot? It was seriously strange. When I realized what was going on I went with it, though. Through the first loop (before the first lap) I led- preliminary feedback suggests I should have gone faster, but what do I know about leading a race?
At the end of the first loop, Abby and Elicia flew past me and I stepped it up to get on Elicia's wheel. (This is starting to sound like a real race report, isn't it?) We went from the road and onto the grass, where the course snaked around a bit before coming to the first set of barriers. In the first turn Abby went down, followed by Elicia. Lucky for me, I hadn't quite caught up to them, so there was a second or two to slow down and wait to see if I could get through- and I could! I knew Abby was probably the big threat of the day, so I kicked it in to try to get a gap on her. Amanda was right behind me- I forget when she passed me up, but I figured I could catch her later on so I let her go. Dun dun dun!
Abby caught up and we raced for a little over half of the race together, near as I could tell. I'm not actually out there taking notes on each lap for the blog... Anyway, we were racing together for a longer time than I thought I could go. I began to dream of slowly but surely racing Abby into the ground (oh glorious racer, me!) and then catching Amanda for my first win over a horde (OK, six) of excellent, top shelf cyclocross racers.
Was that foolish? Sure was. I think they call it counting chicks before they hatch. BUT it's the first time I've ever thought I could actually achieve that. I think they call that daring to dream. For a few years I've been sweeping up the 3rd through 7th place finishes, resigned to it. There are some top shelf ladies in WI, ladies I thought I could never actually race with. Now, whether or not I was having a great day and Abby was recovering from the Bubonic Plague, we're going to count this race as actually hanging with the upper crust for a good chunk of the race; something I haven't done before.
No doubt dreaming of top spot on the podium. (By djonn)
Back to the race, where things were playing out a bit differently that I had imagined. During one of the laps, Abby led for a while. She was fast on the straights, I was a little bit faster on the steep climbs (but not the run up), and I was blessedly faster on the long descent. I noted that as I put on my brakes not to run into her, and the next lap I was sure to keep the lead until that hill, so I could make her work to keep up. I led for about two laps, but then she dropped me on the run up. So long. That was pretty much the end of my race. I was tired from racing head to head, so I sat back a little, while still keeping in mind that the rest of the race behind me was still going on.
That sounds pretty discouraging, but like I said, I was just kind of tickled to have been in the game for so long. The race ended with Abby catching Amanda, and me not catching Amanda. Hm. Oh well. Glory, perhaps we will meet again at a later date.
Season so far: Last year I was usually 5th or 7th or so. However, this year I've had people come up to me and comment on what a great season I'm having. It's true! I'm consistently placing 3rd or 4th, with even a 1st thrown in there (when almost everyone was gone to a mtb race and the woman in first got a flat, yaaay!). Sure, some of the very fast women in the 1/2s race have moved away. Or gotten pregnant. Or are racing other races instead.
Long story short, I think it's obvious that we're seeing my strict training regimen of racing once a week starting to pay off.