First, let me show you this picture. Notice how calm and happy I look. Also, admire my ridiculously stylish eyewear.
The photographer managed to catch the only moment during the race in which I looked relaxed. My experience yesterday was the exact opposite of that picture. I was not calm, or collected. I did have fun, but I can't say I was happy while doing it. I was suffering. For almost a little over an hour and a half and 33 miles I hung on for dear life. I tried to start each hill near the front of the pack so that, as I lost the ground I knew I would lose, I would at least still be with the others at the top. That strategy worked until the last big hill before the finish line. I couldn't claw my way up to the front in time and eventually watched the pack crest the rise at least 5 seconds before I managed to make it. I then hammered as hard as I could down the backside of the hill, but there were a lot of them and they could smell the finish line. I didn't have a chance.
So I crossed the finish line not with the women, but with some of the Cat 4 men that finished immediately after my pack. At least I wasn't by myself. The results came up this morning, and it turns out that I was not the only one who suffered miserably through that race. I ended up 23rd of 34ish. I had expected to be much closer to that 34th spot. Somehow knowing that I wasn't the only one suffering that badly makes it seem a little more worthwhile.
Next week is the same course, but in the opposite direction. Opposite direction means harder. I'm trying to decide if I want to pay for the pleasure of suffering even more than I did yesterday. Though, in hindsight, it sure was a lot of fun.