Thursday, July 05, 2007

Marathon Woman: Stony Creek Marathon

By Dana Nevedal
Detroit, Michigan

The weather was just perfect- mid 70's and mostly sunny. The trail was bone dry, loose and gravelly in many places.

I was disappointed to see that there were ony 2 of us registered in my class as the race was about to start. I guess that word had spread of the misery that was last year's 100 degree scorcher. The attrition rate had been huge. All in all, the women's turnout was pretty low.

All the sport women started together in an open area that led up to wide single track and then a long-ish gravel 2 track climb. I am way faster in the 2 track than the singletrack and I knew that I needed to get up that 2 track first in order to enter the single track ahead of the group. At the start I stood and powered ahead of the group all the way to the climb, then settled in for a steady push. A FFG from the 40+ age group caught me on the climb but I didn't care because she was not in my class. I hit the single track well ahead of my competition and with several bodies in between as buffer.

For the next 3 laps I hammered on the 2 track (6 miles) and recovered in the single track (4miles). I never saw another female rider that whole time!! I was passing lots of people on the 2 track and getting passed on the single track. I felt awesome, like my pacing was good and I could go all day. Avg speed 10.7mph.

Twenty-six miles into the race I hit this log on top of an off camber climb in the rollercoaster without enough speed and bogged down... then tumbled down the hill. I was now upside down pinned under my bike and clipped in. My knees hurt. I whimpered and a nice man from the clyde class stopped and hiked down the hill to help me. he carried my bike up as I wobbled on my shaky weird feeling knees. My friend Lynda Racy from the 40+ class passed through and offered some encouragement. I pushed my bike up the rest of the climb and thanked the nice man. I rode off cautiously with a pain in my left knee. The other girl in my class was not far back and I was trying to hold her off.

When I finished the 3rd lap I stopped to switch camelbacks with the help of my Velo Fella support guy Todd. He handed me a gel and helped me get a fresh camelback on. The old one got stuck to my pigtail braid and I just tore it out out of frustration. As I took off trying to get out of there before the other girl in my class passed me Todd yelled for me to get the flag out of my derailleur! I looked down and not only was a pink plastic flag stuck in there but the wire stake was all wrapped around the jockey wheels. If he had not pointed that out it could have been a disaster. I yanked it out and took off but my knee was aching and did not like anything but spinning. I started to worry- had I torn something? If I pushed too big a gear would my knee give out?

I was riding more conservatively now. I was afraid of what was wrong with my knee and afraid of falling again. I knew I was going to walk that log in the rollercoaster this time... and when I got there the sign outfitters girl I was racing was right behind me. We had been chatting for a bit. She was on my tail but not trying to pass. I followed the lead of the bella who did the 24 hours of adrenaline and did not tell her I was walking that log. I just stopped and got off at the last minute and she had to too! We walked the climb together and I kept her behind me as long as I could after we got back on the bikes but when the trail widened she took the pass. With 5 miles left in a 42 mile race I lost my lead. I never saw her again. my legs were fresh, but my knee ached and I had lost that drive to win. I just wanted to finish and get off the bike without messing up my leg anymore, and that is what I did.

I finished at 3:59 something- 16minutes and 30 seconds faster than my last year's time. I also got to stand on a box and get a silver medal which was sort of bittersweet since there were only 2 of us. But my time was commensurate with a podium spot in the women's sport classes from both this and last year so I felt good about that.

Full results available here


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