Melissa took the road race state championship (and it’s the first race she ever won!). Might as well make it a good one!
This weekend started as all the other race weekends have. Wake up at 5am, leave the house at 6 to get to the race at 7 so that I have 2 good hours to get my number and warm up. As with any race, there is a lot of anxiety that is experienced before the start. What I’ve learned to do is give myself plenty of time for prep. Before this race I warmed up on the road with teammates for a while. I was most concerned about the distance in this race. It’s been a while since I’ve been on my bike for that long, not even considering racing for over 2 hours.
The race started with a neutral rollout through town and the pace started off pretty mellow. For the first 10 miles of the course we had significant rolling hills. I positioned myself in the middle of the pack for the first 4 miles trying to reserve energy. I eventually found myself in the front of the pack for the next 10 miles working for everyone else. Up to this point, no one had made an attack. Everyone was trying to stay together to save themselves from the wind. There were a few girls from Primal who were pulling at the front quite a bit too so I asked one of them if they would lead an attack with me after one of the turnaround points halfway through the course. The plan worked out smoothly. Right after the turn we sprinted for a while trying to create a gap. There were 3 others who joined us. We were facing headwind for the next 10 or so miles but all 5 of us worked together to keep a paceline going at a high tempo and we were able to increase the gap by a few minutes. During the paceline, we had a couple girls drop off the back and then there were 3 of us, our teammate Natalia Ptas and a girl from Boulder Running Company. We knew if we kept the pace consistent that each of us would get on the podium that day so we stayed together battling crosswinds at that point. The last 8 miles were the most challenging with trying to maintain a quickly rotating echelon between 3 people. After the last turnaround in the course I knew we had about 2.5 miles left until the finish. I was feeling really good at that point and felt like I had a lot left to give. I picked up the pace and was able to cross the finish line 1st, something I have never experienced before. The excitement was almost overwhelming realizing that I had actually finally won a race. I’m so thankful for the girls I raced with that day that gave everything they had to keep our small group together and finish strong.