Even though we had heavy rain in the early morning hours the race course for the Stony Marathon wasn't too muddy. I got the most mud on me from being behind people when we were on the two track and we were riding through puddles. I was actually hoping for more rain during the race because some of the mud in the singletrack started turning to the consistency of peanut butter. The rain would have made it easier to ride through.
I wasn't sure how I would be feeling since my legs and HR haven't seemed to be cooperating with any higher intensity riding. I figured I would just hang out in the back and see what happened.
From the start the pace was much less frantic than a normal XC race, probably because we knew we would be racing for close to five hours. I had no problem staying with my age group as we made our way around the course. We had one guy go off the front but no one made an attempt to chase him down.
Once the trail opened up onto the relatively flat two track I felt like I could probably open it up some since I knew I would have problems on the hills. I seemed to be able to ride fairly fast on the flats without a problem. I took the lead of our group and slowly stretched it out, eventually catching and passing the early break away.
I stayed in first for the end of the first lap but half way through the second lap the original front runner caught me on a hill but then I caught him back again on the flats. We traded positions through the rest of the lap and half of the next until i backed off, trying to at least salvage a finish. I was concerned that if I raced him instead of riding my own pace I wouldn't finish at all.
About half way through the race I started getting lots of cramps in various leg muscles as the legs seemed to stop working well. The cramps would come and go throughout the remaining three laps.
One time my rear wheel slid out on a root and I fell, causing both my legs to instantly cramp, much to the amusement of the rider I was passing as he was pushing his bike up the hill. I lay there for a few seconds trying to stretch the legs out. I managed to get back on and keep going but I could feel my legs wanting to stop at any second.
I managed to hang on for second place. With this race worth double points in the local USAC series it gave me a good chance for a top three overall position at the end of the season. Of course, there are a few more races that I have to do well at. Anything can still happen.