My goal for the day? Be conservative and not to die from heat exhaustion! My new team's tent provided much needed shade to warm up in though, so things were looking ok whilst warming up on the trainer. I stayed as hydrated as I could and stayed cool with a wash cloth soaked in ice cold water around my neck. Delicious! So delicious in fact that I took it to the start line with me. I intended to discard it at the start line, but just could bring myself to remove it from my neck. Was this going to become my new security blanket? I tucked it into my sports bra and hoped it would hang in there for the race. I was breaking the first rule of racing - never do anything new or unplanned during a race. I had visions of the wash cloth falling out and getting lodged in my rear wheel, causing a spectacular crash. This wouldn't be a good start on the new team. I couldn't work out whether the gals around me were watching me with envy or pity as I poured the last of my water on the cloth, giving it one last soaking. Were they rolling their eyes or were they pleading with someone to give them one too?
And we were off. My plan to stay conservative went out the window and I tried to stay with the lead women as they shot off the front. It didn't take long for the lead 3 gals to gap me, but I was leading the chase group and not feeling too out of my depth. My team mate Kristi was right behind me, so we were in a perfect position to be able to work together to attempt to reel them in later. That's what I thought right before she took a tumble in a loose section through the woods. Damn! Already injured from last week, I hoped she was going to be ok. I put my head down and kept going knowing she was the only one who could take care of her situation.
My new friend (my wash cloth) was good company through the race and we didn't have any abandonment issues (ie. no nasty accidents). As cool (or should that be uncool?) as I was with my new friend I hadn't thought about putting a water bottle cage on my bike so I could take a water bottle. Usually, CX is so short that drinking isn't necessary and carrying a bike with a cage and bottle is awkward, so it's just not done right? Big mistake! It seemed like not only my mouth dried out completely, but my lungs too! So dry in fact, that when I tried to make a friendly passing shout out to racers I was passing through, nothing but hot air came out. Literally, not figuratively that is. My voice had gone and nothing but hot dry air came out! Team mechanic Justin could see things were getting dry offered a bottle through the pit. Arrgh, didn't see it until too late. I said 'next time around' although I don't know whether any sound came out and just hoped Justin would offer it again. He did. Hero! The best tasting water ever! Although only a sip before I had to discard it before heading into the woods. Don't ask why I didn't think about putting it in my pocket - duh!
I hung on to my position through the race, but I never did catch the lead 3 women, although I did make up one place when one gal flatted and had to make a pit stop. I'll take a 3rd place however I can get it! Goal achieved - I didn't die of heat exhaustion and had a bonus of a surprisingly good start to the season. Kristi had got back on her bike and worked her way back through the field to a 4th place after her crash. She's a trooper and an inspiration.