Defending? Well Sort Of…

Illinois State TT Championships
August 30, 2008 – Harvard, IL
Masters 30-34 – 2nd – 47:44.42
266 watts – 25.6 MPH

One of my old teammates asked me before the race, “Aren’t you defending?” I replied that I wasn’t.  He looked confused.  “Didn’t you win last year?” he asked.  “Well, yeah, I did, so yeah, well, uh, I guess I’m officially defending my title from last year. ” After a couple of more seconds, I added, “Well, I’m the defending champ, but I’m not defending my title”  Yep, I was just happy to have made it to the race.

I won’t go into a long frustrating story involving ComEd, contractors, and being president of my condo association. Let’s just say that Friday full of stress and a sleepless night didn’t really encourage me to get up at 7 AM on Saturday to drive out to Harvard, IL for a race. In fact, if it had been any race BUT the Illinois State TT championships, I would have killed the alarm and gone back to bed. That championship jersey was begging me to defend it.

Like last year, the state TT championships were held on the familiar Harvard 30K course. Conditions were great with temperatures in the 70s, clear skies, and a slight SW wind. With my hectic day before the race, I was taking a fairly laid back approach.  I had plenty of time to warm up and also chatted with other racers in the parking lot. I really just wanted to chill and enjoy the weatehr, but I had a race to do. Thankfully, I got a little more focused during the warm up, but not much.

My start went fairly well. I got into a good rhythm until I ran into an idiot on his cool down biking in the middle of the right lane.  He was completely ignorant of traffic trying to pass him on the left and other riders trying to pass him on the right. He didn’t respond to verbal yells and he nearly hit another rider who tried to pass on the inside.  I ended up dropping a quick sprint in order to get around him.  Note to other riders.  Don’t cool down on the course while a race is in progress.  I know you can’t do this is crits and road races, and am pretty sure you can’t do so in TTs. Considering he won his category, he should have known better.

After that encounter, my race started to go downhill. And, I don’t mean in elevation.  Super genius here decided he didn’t need water, because the race was only 30K.  Great idea considering that I was wearing a black, long sleeve skinsuit and I barely had any water before the race. Let’s just say the final 15 miles of the race weren’t pretty. I felt like dropping out and noodling the rest of the way, but I knew that I would be POed with myself later. I got into my normal, thirst-induced momentum thought in my mind–the trunk full of Gatorade awaiting me in the parking lot.

I was pretty sure I was out of the running for a podium spot after my finish, but was pleasantly surprised with a 25.6 MPH average over the 32K distance.  Ironically, my one good decision of the day probably saved me a podium spot.  I had only raced on it once before (and I broke my collar bone in that TT), but I still opted to try the “hundo”, the Blackwell Research 100, in front.  Good idea. Had I chosen another front wheel, I wouldn’t have placed.  Thank goodness for aerodynamics!

Rather than heading home to beat traffic, I wanted to wait for results since this was the state championships. Besides, the weather was great and I had a chance to chat with other racers and meet new XXXer, Chris Kinonen.  Chris had a phenomenal race that day, coming in right behind me despite not having a ton of aero equipment. We finished 4th and 5th in Masters 30-34, but went 2-3 in the state championship placings. A great XXX showing!

So, until next year…:)

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