Nancy Taps Her Potential…

Dunnigan Hills Race Report- W4

I am not a sprinter.  In 2012, my first year racing, it seemed like the entire field would pass me at the end.  I just didn’t know how to go fast enough.  This year, I worked with Julie and she convinced me that I could position myself and sprint. I just needed practice.

So I came out for the Dunnigan Hills Road race on Aug. 10th.  I was the only one on my team in the race.  The weather was gorgeous; a perfect temperature a light wind.  24 gals pre-regged. It’s a 46 mile race with rolling terrain. We do 1 lap. The biggest concern is the mammoth potholes on the road.

As we headed out, I wanted to be conservative.   My last two races didn’t go well so I expect this to be a very, very hard race for me. My goal for the day was to stay with the front group. No getting dropped, no matter how much it hurts!

Well, I soon remembered that I really like road races and wasn’t panting as hard at the top of the rollers as most gals. I was gonna be okay!I’d done this race last year and remembered what sections people hit hard. I figured the last 15 miles would be fast so I just conserved energy, until the last section of rollers. I cruised to the front just to enjoy going up at my pace and down with no one in my way. I heard Julie in my head,  “Kept the pedals light, don’t burn your legs up.” It was fun to work with some other gals who were driving the race.   I could see that about 10 gals were feeling pretty good, but no team had enough gals to really try any tactics.

There is a very long slog to the finish line along I-5. It’s a tail wind section and sometimes people attack it so I tried to be near the front just in case.  At about 2k to go, I positioned into 6thwheel so I could take the critical turn onto an overpass near the front.  But I got swamped and per my usual ended up in last place going into the final corner. Fiddlesticks! So now I’m pushing to pass people on the overpass only to find a group of 6 had a gap. I chased them down and the whole peleton seemed to be together.

The next left hand corner had a course marshal and a bunch of cones in the middle of it because there was a huge pothole they didn’t want us to hit. It was very confusing but somehow we all navigated it safely. Surprisingly I came out of that chaos on the yellow line side in 3rdwheel behind Emily, a solid wheel and former teammate, with 1km to go! SWEEETT!!! I have never, ever been in such a great spot at the finale of a race.

I know that Emily will go hard at 200 m when we can use the whole road. Fist pump! When she goes, I follow. At about 125m or so I jump, then shift into a harder gear and go like hell. The finish line gets closer and I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me? I could win!” I hear a gal grunting like a pro tennis player behind me to the left. I kick hard but my pedals are too light with 20 feet left. I shift, finding I have one more gear, but it was too late. Two gals passed me with about 10 feet left.

I did hang on to 3rd!! I would have won if the course was 10 feet shorter. It was a surprisingly good day for me as a racer.  And it’s nice to know my sprint isn’t horrible.

Nancy Fairbanks, o2fitness Athlete