Greenbrier Challenge MTB Race
The Greenbrier race takes place in Boonesboro, MD. I was nervous about this race. "It has decent climbing," is something I was told repeatedly. I didn't think my legs were good for it. But to get better at racing, you kind of have to race, right? So I sucked it up and said, OK let's do this.
Because it is a USAC race, I wasn't able to race in the Cat 1 field, so I registered for the Cat 2; I requested my license upgrade a little too close to race day. But I was totally fine with that - I was definitely a jittery mess about the whole thing.
I kept those anxious feelings to myself for the most part. Compartmentalizing each of the emotions I was going through, I did my warm-up, jammed out to a little bit of music, and set my jaw into my "serious" face. I wanted to do well, and for me, I've noticed that means no "sandbagging" myself at the start line or coming up with silly excuses about why I don't think I'll do well. No negative thinking allowed. Just race and do your best.
It seems simple, right? The fact is, though, it's not. If it was that simple then the best athletes in the world wouldn't need sports psychologists to help them with their A-game, but they do. A lot of them go through the same jitters and performance anxiety every other athlete does.
I've talked several times with my closest friend about what I go through every time a race comes up and I feel that nauseous sensation in my gut. That same feeling started the evening before the race, when the guys began talking race tactics - it totally stressed me out. So I texted her, and she said the same thing we always say to each other: "Don't listen to them; use that nervous energy in the race."
That's usually my mantra while standing over my bike at the start line; it wasn't any different at Greenbrier.
I was super focused right from the start. I took the lead right away, before we even hit the bottleneck, and I never looked back. 2 laps of using everything my cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems had to offer ensued. Those climbs were hard - they had waterbars and were very slick from the morning's rain. I remember shouting up ahead to guys who had come off their bikes that I was coming through. There was no way I was going to walk up these climbs, and I wanted any obstacle out of my way. The first lap went by fast, and was SO much fun! The course had everything from technical climbs and downhills, to smooth, go as fast as you possibly can singletrack. On the second lap, I started to feel the pressure. I had a feeling some of the other girls were going to catch me, so even when I started to feel tired, I didn't let up. I couldn't. I wanted this win.
And I got it! Oh man, crossing that finish line with a win was such a confidence booster. It felt like my legs were finally back and ready to go for the season.
All the other Rocktown Racers did well in their races, as well, with Ken winning his age-group category, and Connor and Chris coming 2nd, and 3rd in their Cat 1/Pro field. Misty and Adam didn't hit the podium in the Cat 1/Pro race, but still made top 10 and won some money :) Congrats everyone!
The Greenbrier Challenge is an event I would recommend to anyone. A good race for all levels, it definitely won't disappoint those looking for a good time.