I’ll keep it reasonably short. The week leading up to the SM100 I woke every single night/early morning (after my evening dose of pain killers wore off) with an aching spine and spasms down the right side of my body. It was pretty miserable. I tried sleeping in a different bed, getting massage, taking very strong pain killers and muscle relaxants, visiting my chiropractor 3 times in that week, but nothing worked. I rode once for 45 mins on Thursday evening.
I decided to try and race; maybe I would feel at my best on my bike? On Saturday morning I headed down to VA with Richie Rich and Matt Ferrari. Rich was working Eurobike with NoTubes so couldn't make it.
On our warm up I bumped a tree on the trail and was attacked by hornets! They were everywhere and stung me through my gloves, up my arms, across my shoulders and around my ears. Matt said the noise of my screaming was piercing! I was so busy protecting my face that I didn’t move and continued to be stung. Something deep inside was telling me that this race was not a good idea.
Now I was full of pain killers and anti-histamines, awesome.
I felt ok as we headed up the first climb at day break Sunday. I was leading the other ladies up the climb, but felt comfortable. Cheryl soon caught me on some steeper pitches of single track. I stayed with her in a pace line to the next climb where Karen also caught us. During the long single track climb I started to feel bad. My back was aching from pushing my bike and the spasms I had been suffering from starting creeping in. On the next section of fire road Brenda her husband Lee caught me. I decided to let them do the work, following Brenda’s wheel up the next climb. We passed Karen, but I felt unmotivated. The climbing pace was slower that I would have liked, but at the same time I had no fire in me to try and drop Brenda.
Early race with myself, Cheryl and Karen
Aid 3 to 4 is a death march; lots of off-camber single track climbing. This involved pushing/hanging over my bike. As I dropped into aid 4 I was crying out to the volunteers for some pain killers. My back and psoas muscles were weary. I started up the climb to aid 5 but my mind and body said no. For once don’t push through this pain. There will be more races. I needed form for one extra week, but my body went into hibernation early and there was no coaxing it out! As I rode down the road, I saw Richie Rich. Of course I burst into tears! He kindly (and with hindsight, unnecessarily) also dropped out to help me get back to camp. That guy has the biggest heart. Thank you.
Do I feel disappointed to have experienced my first DNF? No. Deep inside I know it was the right decision; I am still suffering this week from the same pain. My plan is to get healthy in the next few weeks. Take a little break, rest, eat good food and (all being well) start preparing for cross season. I am excited by the coming change in season, training and racing.