What can I say? This week has truly been an experience like no other. When I woke up this morning I was exhausted and dragging, but sad that it was coming to a close.
This race brought me 6 opportunities to put together my most perfect race. I can’t believe that it all came together on Stage 6.
Laying in bed this morning I woke up at 5:44, 1 minute before my alarm went off. Maybe it was a sign that I was prepared for the day. I stuffed down my breakfast. Like every day my equipment was laid out the night before and I went through the motions of preparing for the race. I soaked in the start line hustle. People from all over the world, all different speeds preparing for an epic day on the trail. Each person making his or her day as epic as they want it to be.
I stood on the start line excited for one more chance. The trail was almost immediately single track and I deferred to my more experienced teammate to take the lead. She set a relaxed but solid pace up the first singletrack climb. As we came to the top of the singletrack, I realized that almost the entire women’s field was still together. I wanted a little more separation. As we crossed the fireroad to the second half of the climb I went around Katerina to set a faster pace to separate the field.
I didn’t mean to go off of the front, but after a few minutes I looked back to see who was still in our group and I saw a gap. I had a 15 or so second gap back to 2nd place. I had a decision to make. I felt strong, I have been riding strong, now I had to trust in myself.
I turned back to the task at hand and committed. I continued up the climb at a solid speed. I began to pass men and found myself in some strong groups, taking my turn pulling and being smart with my effort. As we crested over the top of the 9 mile climb, I couldn’t see any women behind me. I was all in to this strategy.
I began to 7 mile descent assuring myself that someone was right behind and not to be surprised when they caught me. I felt like I was flying though. Unlike yesterday where I was making a lot of mistakes, today things were just going my way. For example, I came around a corner and was pointed straight for a ditch and somehow managed to magically hop over it. You had to see it…
Then began the 9 mile climb back up and over the top. I took it one mile at a time, but with each mile my excitement grew greater. By the time I crested the climb I refused to even look back anymore. I just decided to tell myself that they were right behind, but they were not.
I crossed the finish line on day 6 in 1st place! I took the stage win! It was the perfect way to finish the week of racing.
While I put a lot of time back into the overall results today, it wasn’t quite enough for the overall. I’m ecstatic with my 2nd place finish in the 6 day event! In 6 days with over 200 miles of racing, 40,000 feet of climbing, and 21+ hours, I was just a few minutes off of the lead.
All Photos By: Bill Schieken