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A Thoroughly Entertaining Post by Amy about Lessons Learned in this Weekend’s CRCA cat 4 Race

So I can finally say what it feels like to win!  I felt it yesterday, at the CRCA Central Park Cat 4 race, not only when I crossed the first finish line ahead of the entire group, but then again when I crossed the finish line AGAIN in front of the entire field.  Only, neither the first nor the second finish line were ACTUALLY the finish!!!   When I reflect on each race I complete, I always feel great about the experience because I learn something to apply to my next race.  Here’s what I learned from this race:

Lesson #1  – KNOW WHERE THE FINISH LINE IS!

I’ll spare you the play-by-play of the entire race, so long story short – it was an 3.1 lap crit in Central Park.  Somehow in my mind I had decided that meant it was 18 miles.  My teammate Ellen and I got up at an ungodly hour to be at the start line at 6 am, where we lined up with about 30 girls, many familiar faces from the Hunter/ Woodstock weekend.   I sat in the group for most of the race as per our plan and spent a lot of time trying to figure out when the right time would be to make my way towards the front for a finishing sprint.  The field was big and the race short, so I doubted anyone would be dropped, and I needed to figure out what the best position would be for me to sprint to the finish when the time came.  I knew that with such a large field if I was too far back and everyone started sprinting around me, I was likely to either get boxed in or panic and not be able to go all out because there we too many cyclists around me.   Not being familiar with Central Park (it all looks like grass and trees to me as it flys by) I was watching my odometer to determine when to make my move up to the front.   Ellen was riding strong and would get in front of me and take the wind whenever possible.   There had been few attempts at breakaways throughout the race, but they were brought back in and at about 16.5 miles, I could hardly stand it and started to make my way up front.  At 17.5 miles,  I started to go for it.   I am not sure what IT was but I pulled away from the group and turned it on. I think somehow in my attempt to position myself somewhere in the front of the group, I had put on a little more speed than I needed and/or meant to and had opened up a good gap.  When I heard all the hulabaloo behind me as the group tried to catch me, I got nervous and I thought, ” I guess I have to follow through now”, and turned it on again.   I buckled down and started to give everything I had.  I was ahead of the group and I thought I could stay there when I saw ahead of me some cones and Marshals on either side of the street with a gathering of people and saw that the finish line was within my grasp.  I turned it up a little more.  I couldn’t believe it, i didn’t really feel anyone coming around me!  I was going to win!  I couldn’t believe it!  At the beginning of the race when I saw how big the field was, I wasn’t sure how I would even be a contender and there I was winning!  I thought about how I was going to call my husband and tell him the news.  I thought about how excited the team would be.  As I crossed the line, I let up and put my head down, but the group right behind me started shouting “THAT’S NOT THE FINISH LINE!” As they started to come around me, I picked my head up and turned it on again.  I reached and then passed the group in front of me as I strove toward what I was then certain was the REAL finish line.  (Again, Marshals on  either side of the street, cones, groups of people. etc.).  I went for it again and once again and was the first across the line and couldn’t believe what a mistake I’d made, and that I was able to recover and STILL WIN!!  Except that I didn’t, because THAT wasn’t the finish line either!!  At this point I looked down at my odometer and we were past 18 miles, so I was thoroughly confused and as the group came around me I figured I’d better conserve now because I had no FREAKIN’ idea WHERE this finish line was and wanted to have something left.  Unfortunately, at the very same time I let up to recover for what I hoped to be the final sprint at some point soon, the rest of the field- who evidently KNEW where the finish line was –right there– continued all out and went for the sprint and before I knew what was happening they were all ahead of me and I ended up coming in at the back of the field.  UGH!!!    Have I mentioned lesson #1?

Lesson #2 – DON’T GET EXCITED ABOUT WINNING UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY HAVE WON.

It’s like talking about what you’ll do with all your money when you win the lottery but you never actually play the lottery (oops, I do that too).    I think that I typically have a pretty good attitude about bike racing.  Its my first season, and all I want is experience and when I don’t win (which counting yesterday is umm… well… ALWAYS) I console myself with some self-serving theories about why its okay the girls who came in front of place better than me; i.e.; she is younger than me (= more energetic); she is older than me (= more experience and lung capacity); she has no kids (= more time to herself); she has older kids (= they don’t need her attention as much); she doesn’t work outside the home (= she has more time to train); she has a more successful career (= since she has climbed the corporate ladder, she can dictate her schedule, therefore, she can train as much as she wants because no one is watching the clock)…   on.  See what I mean about self-serving???   Anyway, I digress.  So as I was saying, I typically don’t let the results of a race get to me and chalk it up to experience but yesterday’s results have made me SURLY!!  Not sure if it because I got up at 3:30 in the morning but I think it is most likely because I really, really tasted winning and then really, really tasted defeat!!!

Lesson #3 – I AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY.

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