This past weekend proved to be glorious. I know that I have a winner’s high, but I do believe that even without a double win I’d still be singing its praises. The weather, the long yet painless drive, the beautiful scenery in the Cherokee National Forest, the flow of buff and rocky single track trails, and all of the truly amazing people tipped the scale and put me in awe of life itself.
It was slated to be a long weekend and I knew I needed to concentrate on one moment at a time. It was ambitious, maybe warped, but totally doable. For the second year in a row my dear friend Roger, my husband Lee and myself would drive to TN on Thursday, Pre-ride on Friday, Race Cohutta 100 on Saturday, drive back to Pa Saturday thru Sunday, then race the Michaux Maximus on Sunday. Fortunately, my husband was only joy riding all weekend and not racing so we could count on him for the most evil driving shifts. He is a saint!
I was nervous about what was to come on Saturday due to the distance and climbing. I had yet to do any such numbers this year. Having prepared with a lot of hard work, all that was left was to let go and believe. I had to trust that my body would respond.
The start of the race was very fast and sketchy up the paved road. There were hand bumps and tires rubbing. Fortunately we all stayed upright. There was a bit of a match to get into the single track, but after some elbowing I was able to place myself directly where I wanted to be. I felt very comfortable and not at all fatigued from the effort of the sprint to the trail. Pushing back the urge to go too fast I hung back a bit and rode conservatively until the first fire road climb. Once on the fire road I notched up my speed and got into a good climbing rhythm. It was enough to form a gap between myself and the other women.
I continued on and used other competitors as gauges to how I was holding up. As long as I was passing and not being passed I was good. Getting encouragement and giving encouragement from and to the other riders helped along the way as well. I did my best to stay motivated by staying in the moment. Using the course description and elevation profile, I chunked the course off by sections and as each section was complete I gave myself a pat on the back. I knew that not one section could crush me. They were temporary and would eventually end. Once I crossed the last bridge of the last single track and headed towards the road I looked over my shoulder and then knew it was mine. A crushing sense of relief engulfed me. All the bottled up emotions I did my best to squelch over the last 8.5 hours came rushing up. Staying motivated and positive and not allowing dark gremlin thoughts to enter my mind took its toll. But I conquered it and now I could let it go.
It was now time to consider the next moment. Be there for awards, clean up, pack up and head back to PA. We were able to leave TN around 6pm. Arriving home in PA about 3:30 am, we did some quick gear shuffle and then napped for about 2 hours. When we woke from our naps we were pleasantly greeted with sunshine, a true rarity for the Maximus. Despite the lack of good sleep and the tired feeling in my legs my spirits could not be brighter at the start of Sundays race. It was so good to see all the smiles on the racers faces. We all knew deep down that this was going to be a great day and we were in for a truly special Michaux treat. The trails were in spectacular condition and the race promoters strung together a sweet loop that included some old school routes. It was dreamy. I felt a little sluggish at first, but soon found a groove. I could not believe how much fun I was having. Once finished I was gushing with good vibe and smiling huger than ever. I was not alone in my feelings. People in every direction were in good spirits and loving the day.
A huge thanks goes out to all who rooted for me and sent positive things my way. I am also extremely humbled by all the wishes of congrats. You are all so awesome.
A congrats goes out to my two teammates Kristen and Nikki for completing their firs 100 miler and for coming in 3rd and 5th place. Additional congrats goes to Christian for his second place ride and Cary for his 6th place finish. Team CF rocks!