I started the Palo Dura Marathon race this past Sunday.  The course was beautiful, the pace was doable, and with every twist and turn I was learning more about handling my bike, my gears, and my lungs.  Things were hard then easy, killer then peaceful, doubtful then positive.  The first lap was a bit more torturous than I had thought it would be mainly because every time I’d get a flow, there would be another hold up of riders in front of me just by the fact that the marathon group was a huge group and if one person gets stuck in a little place, everyone has to put on their brakes.  I had a low tire one hour in to it (probably was  going to be a 6 hour race for me) but used my CO2 to get it back solid.

I played flip flop with a number of guys throughout the course.  Most of them were 1 lapers (15 miles) or half marathoners who went out way to fast for their britches and had to stop and rest every mile or so.  I was going back and forth with a real nice guy for a while when I took the lead up a short climb and around a left hand turn and then…BANG!!!!  I introduced my left cheek bone to the hard ground with all the force of my body attached to my bike.  I haven’t endo’d in a while (something in my beginning days that was a regular occurrence) and I didn’t miss the bone compressing a single bit.  I got up, a bit shaken…well, really shaken, with the wind completely out of my lungs, and steadied myself with my bike while I looked it over.  The guy who was behind me said the crash was “really freaking loud” but said my bike looked alright to him as well.  No blood, just shaken and freaked out, I hopped back on for the last 3 miles of the course.

I came in to transition to refuel and hopped off  the bike to stretch.  The feeders in transition told me I already started to bruise on my cheek.  No broken bones so I figured I was lucky and could try my legs for at least one more lap.  I got back in the saddle but as I rode on, I started to have strong pain in my face.  I kept opening and closing my jaw to make sure it worked but that hurt.  I continued to pedal but then realized I wasn’t having fun and that was what I was there for.  I went a little more and decided to turn back and take my first race DNF ever (DNF=did not finish).  I hung out at a crossing for a while to see Greg (who finished 6th overall) go by and then rode to another to cheer others on.  I finished up the last 2.5 miles of the course, rolled through transition, and motioned to the officials that I was done.  It was the right thing but to be honest there is that stubborn part in the back of my head that wonders what I would have been able to accomplish if I had stayed on.  Maybe the pain would have gone away, maybe the course would have become so fun that the third lap would have been a guarantee- but you cant  live your life with what if’s and could of’s- so I put it on the shelf and learn from it.

Scrolling through reports and results yesterday Greg yelled that I made the Amarillo paper, kind of…

One woman sported the beginnings of a bruise from a bad tumble on the course. But when she stopped briefly to refuel near where Halfpop was stationed, she stressed her bike was fine – that was the important thing – before pedaling off again.

Yep, that was me!  I’m a legend in o’Amarillo, ha!  Next year I’ll be back and ready to take on more.  Each race I learn something and work on skills so there’s never a loss as long as I line up.

Then next marathon race is Camp Eagle next month.  I think I’ll sign up for the half for that one but you never know!