Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bitter Disappointment: Hanson Hills Race Report

I should have known I was setting myself up for disappointment at Hanson Hills. The thing is, I am so slow that the only way I can feel good about my season and all the training I did over the winter is if I don't worry about anyone else. I can't compare myself to other racers because if I do I start wondering why I even race at all.

The only way I can keep myself from feeling discouraged is to only race against myself, meaning that I have to see some progress from last year. Even though I didn't place well at Yankee, I was happy about how much I improved my time from last year. So, here's the problem. Last year I had an uncharacteristically good race at Hanson Hills. I got first place in my age group in a field of three girls. Granted, I only beat my teammate Sheila because she was being tended to by paramedics when I passed her, but even so, it was a great race for me.

This year's race got off to an inauspicious start. To begin with it was ridiculously, unseasonably chilly and wet. I was underdressed since I didn't bother to check the weather forecast before we left for the weekend and all I brought to wear was bike shorts—no knickers or tights.

I was also worried because there were five in the beginner women 30+ class and I knew they were all going to beat me. They left me in the dust fairly quickly (even the one who was whining to me beforehand about how it was her first race, she was slow, everyone was going to be so far ahead of her, etc.). Someone told me that the course was different than last year, so I didn't even think I could shoot for a better time.

I snapped myself out of my funk by setting a goal for myself—no walking anything on the course. I know this seems like it's not that much of a challenge, but I had walked quite a bit during my pre-ride.

Not only did I ride everything, I was having a good race all around. I discovered that the course seemed to be the same, so I began to pay attention to the time I was logging. I felt pretty fast (relatively speaking) and estimated I would be able to significantly beat last year's time. I even passed some people walking up hills. What's more, despite the dampness and the cold temperatures, I was having a great time. I was feeling better and having more fun than I have had in any mountain bike race, with the possible exception of 6 Hours of Ithaca last year.

What I didn't anticipate was that, due to my inexperience with the trail and the fact that my computer doesn't work, I was much farther from the finish line than I thought I was. I ended up taking only about a minute off my time from last year (and I did come in last). Even though I know I had an exceptional race last year, it's still depressing to go from first to last when I'm supposed to be so much better this year.

Oh well, better luck next time.

Next up: What I've got on tap for this weekend

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