Race Report: Chris Thater Crit & Life Changes

Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Before we get to the race report let’s catch up a bit. Yes, you all know about Syracuse 70.3, Mini Mussel, and Ironman Lake Placid, but the behind the scenes stuff..

We’re moving. I think I told almost everyone, but I’m truly sorry if this is how you’re finding out. Please forgive me. Last year Doug and I made a plan that whomever got the better job/job offer the other would move to accommodate that job. Well despite some job interviews and lots of applications on my end, Doug was successful with a job offer. We found out in April, that Doug was offered a job in Bellingham WA with the USDA. It was great, Doug had been stationed near there when he was in the Navy and I know how much he loved the PNW. I told a few people, and then we waited to jump through all the hoops etc. At that point we had briefly talked about me staying in Ithaca through July so I didn’t have to make a move during Ironman training (not to mention I didn’t have a job lined up and the whole insurance thing). While the office was dragging their feet, Doug applied to another position near Lowell, MA.

Now I was more than willing to move across the country with Doug, but I won’t lie that I was thrilled that he was applying to this position in MA. 5 hours is a whole lot shorter than 41 hours of driving. I would just be a short drive away from my family and friends. Eventually, Doug had to make a decision and after learning that the office in WA was letting people go and short staffed, we decided on the MA job. We weren’t willing to take a job at an office that was already short staffed and had let people go ACROSS the country.  Thus, Doug started his new job on August 8th, he came to Placid to cheer me (and his athletes) on, drove to Boston on Tuesday, flew across the country and raced Ironman Vineman where he finished 8th in a fantastic race.

So I was more proud of my training and performances so far this season as I don’t handle change well and I didn’t know exactly where we were going to be OR I was blessed to have training to handle everything and have a grip on something. A HUGE thanks to my friends and family during this time (and now) to help me and my emotions/fears/etc. As of this week, we’ve finalized all of our plans/ my move.

Things since IMLP have been fine, not amazing, but fine. Some things have been off until thankfully recently. I did go out of my comfort zone and joined the Tuesday night group ride with all the boys. I got dropped so hard on the first hill that I laughed at myself, but then I held my own on the second loop. I LOVED everything about it. Then I was fortunate to spend some splendid quality time with my family from WV and my family in Syracuse. I learned I was going to be an Aunt to a Baby Girl – Madeline June. I visited Doug in MA and set up our apt and cleaned and packed so much here.

During that time at home, I may have stumbled upon a bike race in the area, the Chris Thater Memorial Races, there is a crit Sat/Sun and a 5k on Sunday. Well I looked into it further, new that it would be special to me being in the area and I’ve been working on growing and getting out of my comfort zone. I asked Doug and he was on board so I signed up. It was probably a good thing that I had a couple adult beverages with my mom that night otherwise I may not have fully committed.

Knowing that the goal race is IMAZ, I knew we would just continue to train through the race. Well this week I had some good bike workouts and some great swim workouts, so I was kinda excited about seeing what would happen in the race. I didn’t get really nervous until Saturday Night. Basically I had three goals (1) keep the bike rubber side down, (2) don’t embarrass myself, and the super secret goal (3) place in the Cat4/newbie wave. Doug decided to come visit, which was a wonderful surprise this weekend in addition. I felt bad making him come to the bike race, so I almost decided to go solo or to just not go, but he insisted and so we went.

We got to Binghamton/Race venue relatively easy and found a parking garage and race registration easy. It was eerie as the place was deserted, like a ghost town. I took it as a good omen. Once back to the car, I decided I would try to warm up on the trainer. Because our heat (is it called a heat in bike races?) started at 8:30am I wanted to make sure I was sweaty before the race. Except I was an idiot and forgot to pack the trainer skewer after a brief panic, mostly because I was nervous, I was happy to remember we were the first heat! So we were able to warm up on the course as the race crew was finishing setting up the course. After a couple loops, I felt comfortable with the turns and learned of the spots I wanted to avoid. Then a gentleman at the finish line called out to me that I put my number on upside down. What a noob I am. I stopped and he fixed it for me, while we were joking around with another man about me ‘being harassed about my number’. I later welcomed this little bump in the road and was grateful.

Then on the final loop of my warm up, another girl in our race definitely noticed that I wasn’t a bike racer. She offered some good tips on how to take the turns so I don’t get boxed out (again- does that work?). Finally when we rolled up to the start, it was time to line up and get going.

First thoughts after the horn went off: here goes nothing, and crap, these girls are fast off the line. Eventually I got going and followed the race plan of just sitting on someone and seeing what would happen. Well in the first lap I knew the girl I was on was riding too slow for me, so I took off. Then happened to see the chase pack behind the leaders. I had no clue where I was but I wanted to race. When I reached the second group (only noticing that I hadn’t seen two of the different jerseys) I sat up and waited to see how they were racing. Finally after a loop, and a nod from Doug, I went off. I wanted to hurt, I wanted to see what I could do. I think I pulled for 5 laps before someone came up to help. I had no intention of pulling so long, but I tried everything to get someone to take over and no one would.

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Starting haha

 

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Photo cred: Chris

One of the riders’ coach was sitting in the perfect spot to give us feedback (THANK YOU). He mentioned that we were catching third. I was TOTALLY on board for working together. Thankfully most of the group was too. The first women who rolled up slowed us all down ~3mph, which annoyed me, the second woman pulled for a bit, but I assumed she was tired. The third women did a decent job but still I found myself pushing harder and going faster. So I pulled the last part of the race too. With two laps to go I really tried to give it everything I had. I did NOT want one of the women behind me to just slingshot around and out sprint me. At some point during this, we did catch 3rd. However we had lapped some other riders at this point so I had no idea.

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Photo Cred: Chris

This is where the first woman from above made a move. I followed as did one of her teammates. Then I’m fairly confident that the rider who made the move asked if her teammate could ‘hold me off’. I couldn’t exactly hear but this is when the teammate started pushing me out wider on the course. I immediately thought ‘f this’ and took off. I caught the woman on the hill and we rode together through the final turn where I was somehow able to out sprint her. As soon as I crossed the finish line I almost had to stop to see my breakfast again.

I survived, I competed and I held my own. We did another lap real easy, chatting and I was still a little heated about them potentially (again I didn’t hear) blocking me and may have let it slide that I was triathlete training for an ironman. I didn’t want to hear the rider talk about how she couldn’t sprint hard enough. The bike official also asked me why I was in the small chainring instead of the big.. I had no idea ha! Honestly, it felt comfortable with a higher cadence. Yeah I maybe couldn’t get on the wheel right away, but I was there soon enough. After the lap, I tried to maybe do another but skipped it as the men were lining up. This is when I learned that I had actually finished 3rd. It was awesome, everyone had a good day and there was nothing sketchy. The woman I talked to at the beginning of the race came and asked how it went which I thought was awesome. She had mentioned she was also a triathlete prior and so could relate to me unable to get off the line etc.

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3rd place!

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Giggling over not knowing the cycling things

So I learned things, I learned what gear to be in, I learned that the number has to be easy to read and I learned that I made that race happen – at least in the back half. I hit a new PR for HR – 187. I learned to hurt more. I also had so much FUN! Thanks to my friend Chris for the awesome pictures and a BIG thanks to Doug for coming and supporting me today. I know the 6AM wake up call wasn’t so fun, nor was the 2 hours of driving but I’m so glad you were able to be there today. Additionally, thank you to the race volunteers and supporters. Though everyone knew I was the newbie of the group, I felt so safe, secure and comfortable. Hopefully we’ll be back next year!

What’s next? The Big George 70.3 this Sunday!!

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