Have you noticed that a lot of women, and more specifically moms, are entering weekend races? The moms I know seem to always be training for and planning excursions to participate in events ranging from relay runs, half marathons, bike races, triathlons, Cross Training competitions or the Tough Mudder events.
I too race. But, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I really understood why women love to enter these events. Until then, I was doing it all wrong.
My race scenario went something like this. My husband and I sign up for mountain bike races for which we camp with the other competitors the night before at the start. This is often at a fairground or somewhere in the middle of the desert. Jake likes to sign up for team races in which a team of two to four competitors take turns racing for a given time – usually 12 or 24 hours. At our last event we brought our kids. So while most of the competitors rested between laps, refueled and cleaned their bikes, we chased kids and made snacks.
When it was my turn to race I walked my bike, in my race gear, trailed by three kids to the staging area before my lap. Two of the kids were mine, one was a friend’s and at least one was crying.
A middle-aged man also left the neighboring camper for his lap. His son came out to wish him luck then started asking a bunch of questions. The mom immediately interfered and said, “Honey, let your dad focus. He needs to concentrate on his race.”
I chuckled at the difference in our race-day “focus” and made my way to the start with my train wreck of an entourage. Jake was on the course. Our plan was that he would finish his lap, pass the baton to his teammate, grab the kids from me, before my partner completed her lap and it was my turn to race.
Unfortunately, our plan didn’t’ work. The first laps of mass start races on single track can be unpredictable and Jake got caught in a few bottlenecks. My partner came in before him. She doesn’t have kids and hadn’t seen mine in a year.
I jogged toward my bike and rode away with an hour and half of relative pain in front of me, but also relative freedom. Later, I heard she had to ask which kids were ours.
These races are fun, but the logistics are hectic and the accommodations are lacking.
This past weekend I found a whole new way to race.
A fellow mom friend and I signed up for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic that took place Saturday. The Iron Horse is a classic 50-mile road bike race from Durango to Silverton that includes a total elevation gain of 6,700 feet.
Leading up to the race I realized the first intrinsic benefit of racing with a girlfriend. You train together which means two or three times a week you get to gab, uninterrupted for a few hours, while riding your bike. All of a sudden, getting a babysitter to ride, or riding for three or four hours on a Sunday morning is justified.
The training is fun and you tend to stick to your training plan when you have someone else to make you accountable. But, as we drove to Durango the day before the race, I began getting nervous and thinking “Did I hydrate enough?” “Should we have done more intervals?” “Did we train hard enough?”
We arrived at the hotel and my mind was still scattered, thinking about race strategy and preparation. Then I spotted the overstuffed duvets and my friend’s voice brought me back to the present. “I love Ken and Sue’s, [one of Durango's best restaurants]” she said. “We should go there for dinner.”
I smiled, finally understanding this whole race thing. It’s a total win-win. Even if I failed miserably the next day, I would get a dinner out with a friend, an uninterrupted night of sleep in a hotel, and maybe even an hour in bed reading my smutty novel (yes, Fifty Shades of Grey).
I relaxed and the fog lifted. I looked at my friend in a clearer state of mind and said, “It’s just a bike ride.”
“It’s just a bike ride,” she repeated.
The next morning we got up early and raced. For three hours, we got to experience a beautiful bike ride on one of the most scenic stretches of highway in America, and possibly the world, on the only day the road is closed exclusively for cyclists. We both came in minutes of our goal times and crossed the finish line ready to sign up again for the following year.
Only, next time, I think we’ll book two nights instead of one. We need to include the after-race celebration and recovery.
Hey Ladies, anyone want to race?