The warm, sunny sky was a stark contrast to the brownish grey sticky icky ground. Paula, Anna, Sonya and Caroline took off with the main race pack and I followed 2 minutes later with the short course group. I met Anna at about mile 4. She had been nursing a back injury flare up all week and I could see from her posture and speed that she was not enjoying her ride! She confirmed that she was not doing well but planned to complete the first lap. Kudos to her for sticking with it for the next 16 miles as the horse trail course this year was unusually energy zapping due to the relentless deep peanut buttery mud. And navigating the entire race course was a whole body effort.
I had a great race this year and came in 4th among the women's open field which was about 20-25 deep (?). This was an improvement from last year's 9th place and I plan to be on the podium next year. I would add that everyone's times were considerably longer than last year' s due to the course conditions.
As I was headed back to the team tent, I saw Paula blasting through to start her second lap and there was visible foam frothing from the bit. Look out women's 40+ - its on! The next time I saw her, she was coming across the finish line. She was not her usual jubilant self and reported severe cramping at the bottom the creek crossing hill and had no idea as to where she had finished but had not seen anyone pass her. About an hour later, she learned she had won the race! Again! WOOT!
Next came Caroline across the line - clearly relieved to not be pedaling anymore and making plans for the beer tent. Then came Sonya who stopped just after the line to accept a celebratory swig of beer from Lester Brown!
I'm looking forward to our next opportunity to be together and represent.