My First Crit
September 21, 2006 · Print This Article
by Jennifer Rodriguez
Amid a very intense training program leading up to my first crit, I started to wonder. The mental tape that played in my head over and over only made me push it and work even harder. Am I ready? The other women work so hard and some didn’t recently have babies. Can I still compete? Can I still hang in there with the rest of the pack? Yes! And it was that mental tape that played over and over in my mind during the 35 minute – push yourself as hard as you can – race.
Then the night before my very first race. Excitement! I love my Trek 2200! Nerves! I stressed and rested and did everything I could think of to prepare, even though I know it only comes down to preparation. Finally, you have to go to bed and try to sleep. I dreamed of flying on my bike all night long.
Many kind family and friends gave me their rah-rahs and I found myself at the starting line, heart pounding! I sized up the strong women on both sides of me. I can do this! I’m ready! The gun was fired and we were off! I hung in the back of the pack, watching in a safe place. I pumped as hard as I could to stay with these goddesses. One lap around and my “safe” place began to scare me. There was no way I was gonna be dropped in my first road race. But it looked like it was gonna happen. Bummer. I summoned all my adrenaline and shot up out of the saddle to remain in the group. But what the heck was happening to my legs? The shaking was out of control and every time I rounded the corner I could feel my quivering quads. What to do? Accelerate! There was absolutely no time to hydrate, let alone inhale a GU. The only thing I could do was dig deeper and push harder so that I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. In hindsight, that sounds so stupid. For the first
time in my life, I felt the bonk. My body wanted to crash and my spirit said no. Unfortunately, this mental battle with my lame legs caused me to slip back even further and those female warriors lapped me. Oh my gosh I wanted to cry. What is it about sports that makes non-criers cry?
I am proud to say I never gave up. I finished the race amid applause and cheers. I was proud to be out there as a Velo-Bella chick. I completed one of the biggest goals of my life – I finished a real road race.
My average speeds even shocked me, mostly because they were so high for me and yet not even close enough to compete with the other girls in the race. I raced against the Cat 4 chicks when I’m absolutely a Cat 5. Needless to say, it was tougher than tough and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the race coordinator as she sat eating a giant breakfast burrito while I went around the track at 22 mph twelve times. Those women must’ve been going at least 25 mph and I was way out of my league.
Alas, it was not a total disappointment and there are many things one quietly ponders whilst racing behind some really fit women:
– I have courage
– I will finish, even though it burns
– 35 minutes is a long time to push it 150%
– I have a baby and these women have no hips. And I have a beautiful healthy baby!
– I am strong
– Good for me for doing this
– Man this is hard
– These women are built like Olympians!
– These people on the sidelines are really amazing for cheering me on every lap I make
– Glad I’m doing it, only eight laps to go
– Holy smokes, I’m never doing this again (when can I sign up again!)
– Baby and hubby are cute on the sidelines, pointing at bugs and leaves in the street.
– I need to wash my uniform so badly!
– Yay, here’s the cowbell, one lap to go and then we’re finished!
– Don’t fall over when I descend the bike!
All in all, a great experience. The other racers were very supportive and we talked after the race. I did kick a$$, but I think it was my own! I wanted to write my race report a whole lot sooner, but it’s hard to find a solid ten minutes to write without a two-year sitting on my lap wanting to “help” me type on the computer and it’s also been tough to get over that spanking by the strong veteran gal racers at the Long Beach Crit way back on July 23!
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