Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pescadero Road Race, June 14, 2008 [Masters 35+ 4/5]

Pescadero Road Race Report
By Eddy Price

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

That sums up my experience at this year's Pescadero Road Race held Saturday June 14 under cool and calm skies. It was the hardest 53rd place of my racing career. Yes, I placed 53rd out of 75 riders in the 35+ 4/5, a race I won in 1998 (although I was ten years younger and the racing then was not as fast and the fields were smaller).

Everything went smoothly leading up to the start of the race. I arrived two hours early, picked up my number and pinned it on, warmed up on the rollers for 60 minutes and stretched thoroughly.

On the initial two climbs up Stage Road I felt good but on the descent of the second climb I got stuck behind a poor descender but chased back on with a group of about ten. The initial climb up Haskins tore the field apart and at the top I found myself in a group of ten and we worked together the rest of the race.

Our group of ten dwindled down to four on the second climb up Stage Road and I felt strong until the last climb up Haskins. My three companions left me at the very bottom of the hill and I struggled up to the finish, losing a whole mile per hour average in the process (but no one in my cateogry caught me).

My right hamstring started to cramp riding back to the start line and I massaged it with no effect. Taking a pin out of my race number, I stuck the pin into the tendon of the hamstring at its origin (a trick I learned from watching a Russian runner at the New York Marathon ten years back) and the cramp subsided. Painful? Not at all. I even thought the pin was missing its mark because I could not feel it pierce my skin.

I felt very satisified with my effort. I was able to work with my group througout the second lap and almost never missed a turn at the front. I felt strong on Stage Road as our group diminished in numbers. The effort was almost as satisfying as winning ten years ago (I said ALMOST).

It may seem crazy to get up at 4 am and drive 50 miles to race 48 miles with 75 men I don't know and may never meet again, but that's what racing is all about. On the second lap, our group of ten was racing as if our lives depended upon it. For two hours and nineteen minutes all that mattered was getting to the finish line as fast as possible. I don't think we spoke a word to each other for over an hour, it was that serious. We were in combat and the stakes seemed like life and death. All of my worries and fears in life that keep me up at night or wake me up early in the morning were put on the back burner and the only thing I was thinking about was the race itself... when was it my turn to pull, what gear should I be in, what was the best line for the next turn, how soon before the next climb, when can I take a drink, what direction is the wind coming from, where is the best place to draft, who seems to be the strongest rider etc. Time is compressed, an hour seems like ten minutes and sometimes time is expanded and ten minutes seems like an hour.

When your'e in the grove, you are in the moment and absolutely nothing else enters your mind or matters. Heck, the world could be ending but you tell yourself it can wait till the race is over with.

That is what racing is all about.

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