Wednesday, December 1, 2010

pre-race hype: going deep

There's a pre-ride of the course available to all registered racers on Friday afternoon, between 2 and 4 pm. I went last year and will probably go again. Friday's pre-ride gives you the opportunity to try out Saturday's course; USGP officials will change the course slightly for Sunday's race, to keep things fresh for those racing both days. I will pre-ride Friday and expect a few things to be different on Sunday.

I admit that I am scared of this race. I am scared because on a truly athletic level I know I have NO business even being on the starting line. True, it's an OBRA-sanctioned race in the morning and as long as I pay my money I am free to show up and ride till my face falls off. The only problem is, at the Cross Crusade races I was on the course with women of every skill level. At USGP I will be on the course with a much smaller field of women who know how to train, who have coaches and workout plans and special diets and who, well, are pretty darned dedicated to this racing thing, who have centered at least a good chunk of their lives around it. And that is not me. Not even close.

Sure, I set up some practices alone and with friends; and I tried really hard to get to bed the same time every night during the week leading up to a race; and I raced more this year than I did last year and felt good about it; and all of that is certainly more than I did last year. But let's face it -- I am not working with the same tools or the same body, and and a part of me worries about succumbing to Pretender Syndrome: What on earth am I doing entering a race with women who are, well, so serious about racing?

I make it pretty easy for folks to spot my pretenditude: I'm racing cyclocross on a singlespeed mountain bike with 26" wheels and flat pedals, and while I would never call myself fat, my physique doesn't exactly scream "athlete" either.

So -- how I get through these races, the only way I get through these races, is pretty much an exercise in sheer will and stubbornness.

I finish my races because I am stubborn, and too proud to quit when it gets harder. I will make the officials pull my ass off the course, because as humiliating as that is -- and it IS humiliating, trust me -- it is not ever as bad as quitting. So on Sunday morning, I will go like the Energizer Bunny and the only way I'll stop before the race is over is for someone to trip me and yank the damned batteries out of my back.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my final pre-race hype of the season.

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