How was your race?….The age old question that has always left me unsure of how to answer. Ever since I was 9 years old people have asked, “how was your race?” and to this day I’m not really sure what they are asking. Are you asking about my race or about my result? I’ve won races that were definitely sub-par performances, and I’ve lost plenty of races where I performed the best of my life.
So if you ask me how my race was this weekend, I’ll say Great! If you ask me my result, you’ll get a different answer.
My focus this weekend was on “the process.” I wanted to take risks and put myself on the line. I started out in the front pack, feeling stronger by the pedal stroke. Going into the 2nd lap, I started making moves and found myself further and further up in the pack. I was riding like I know I am fully capable of and I was having a blast. There is something so incredible about looking up and seeing that you’re riding with Olympic champions. As we went through the start/finish I could hear the announcer announcing multiple Olympic medalists, Olympians, and World Cup champions, I was flooded with joy. What an incredible experience to get to chase their wheels…and to be hanging on!
On the 3rd lap, a couple mistakes left me dangling off…just a few meters behind…not gaining time and not losing it…just sitting. The 4th lap introduced a whole new pain cave. Post-race thought has allowed me to understand a new level of race hydration and the hindsight now tells me that I was selling myself short with my hydration levels. I found myself bargaining water. “Hannah if you just push a little harder you can have a drink next lap.” We aren’t competing against the thirst mechanism! Dehydrated and moving into the 5th lap I started to move backwards. I found my legs seizing, but I still didn’t think that it could be due to water intake. I lost a lot of places and was not able to recover a strong result, but I earned a world of experience.
The longer I race in the front pack, sooner the pace will stick and the more feedback I can gain. While the average person might wonder why pacing isn’t a better option: pacing doesn’t allow you to be in the race and see how the best of the best perform. Now that I’ve seen it, I know what is being asked of me and I’ll be bringing it this season.