“White Tank Marathon” Race Report (by L. Kelley)

Hey Coach, well….get ready for some reading. Coffee, check. Feet propped up, check. Reading glasses on (they’re on top of your head), check. So let’s get started.


Let me start by saying…. driving out to the race venue on Fri was really tough for me. My collar bone, shoulder, arm started hurting just thinking about riding this damn course. UG, even my daughter could tell I was hitting stress mode. She told me it was alright, that I had already cleared the sections last week and that I was going to be fine. What a great kid. Though in the back of my mind all I could think about was hitting the ground.


Haha, thought I was going to get to sleep in for this race, since the start time was 11:30 but decided to volunteer. Up and at it around 6:00, which was fine. Had breakfast with the family, sent the husband golfing and me and the wee one volunteered till 10. So I have to say, volunteering is fine….but when I’m right next to the medical tent and within 20 min of the first start time riders were walking in all bloody and bruised…..not a good thing. Panic and anxiety were starting to creep in. I tried not to keep seeing rider after rider coming in. Smashed elbows, bloody knees, cholla balls in the legs and arms, abrasions on shoulders and rib cages…..OMG!!!!! Even an ambulance and fire truck had to be called out. And this was all only two hours into the race. Not good, not good at all.


So I was the only single speed registered for this race and I started with the Pros and Cat 1 racers. 15-18 only did two laps, the rest of us crazies did three. We were lined up and one of the racers looked at my bike and said “You’re going to spin out on the flats.” I looked at her and said, “Na, I’m running a 13 in the back.” She had no idea what I was talking about and of course I wasn’t riding a 13 (I ran an 18) but she didn’t know that…..hahahahaha gear heads : ) And the gun went off.


Holy Cheese Balls, I forgot how fast Cat 1 racers go out. With in a min, I was tasting copper in my mouth. So my plan…. Don’t worry about the Pros! and hang on for dear life. I knew two of the Cat 1 racers were fast and without gears I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened. Once we got out onto the double track, that was a gradual up hill, I just found a good pace and stuck to it. I passed three of the girls and could see at least one of the “fast” girls ahead of me (the other one was behind me now)…. and the gap was getting bigger. I could feel my itchy trigger finger looking for a gear. UG! So I just kept pedaling. Up ahead I saw a fellow teammate….. it was my best friend and training partner, he races marathon and he was struggling (he was on his sixth lap). I gave him a “great job” and he gave me a “catch ’em” and off I went.


I was feeling pretty good except for the burning in my throat and lungs and thinking….. I hope I don’t lose a lung out here! As I approached the “tech section” I could see I had shut down some distance on the “fast” girl but as soon as I got through it and now onto the flats, she was gone. : ( Then I got to the dreaded switch backs, this should be interesting…. Made it through the first one then got caught behind a Cat 3 guy and had to dismount. I ran up through the second and third turn then hoped back on my bike and finished the climb. So now it was on to the damn place I crashed.


I kept telling myself, I’ve done this numerous times…. I can make it….keep my speed up….I got this. I was going down the last drop when I saw an old teammate taking pictures, when I went down the drop the yelled out “That’s my girl” and I knew that I was going to get through the race okay. I put a smile on my face and some pep in my step…… and finished the first loop feeling like I had knocked the proverbial monkey off my back.


The start of lap two: I was basically alone, except to pass the little juniors on the first part of the course. I even caught my daughter! I think it was great for her to see me in race mode. I hope it inspired her to try just a bit harder. On this lap I decided to try to focus on kicking my butt with my heel. I tried singing a song but all I had was Dark Horse by Katy Perry….. Yep, that’s me… the dark horse in the race on the single speed…and it’s black! Still felt pretty good but could tell that I went out a lot faster than I was used to. I felt I was still moving a good clip. Got to the tech section and my pedal smacked a rock and I thought it was going to throw me from the bike, but I collected myself and kept going. Got to the switch backs and had to walk the second and third turns again, cleared the back side and made it through the loop.


Lap three: So I would like to say that this is where it got exciting….but I was still all by myself. I had to try to self motivate myself to keep working hard. So I kept thinking of one of my favorite sayings, even though I might say it wrong. Today’s pain is tomorrow’s strengths. So I would make it hurt just a bit more. I kept singing and trying to feel myself using the correct muscles, focusing on pedal stroke and talking myself through the tech sections. I kept thinking that I couldn’t let up because there were girls out there “racing” in other races, other states that I wanted to beat. I couldn’t let up because I was the only one in my category and I was no where near anyone else, I needed to keep pushing.


I finished, obviously first in SS but I also finished 2nd in the Cat 1 category. I think I gave it all I had. I couldn’t quit coughing at the end of the race and my legs felt like jelly. I got a recovery drink and did a short easy spin…..then maybe a beer…or two…and a hot dog, with ketchup and kraut of course. The post race meal of champions!!!


Good points: I finally raced on the course that broke my collar bone. I made it through and now feel like I’m “whole” again. I pushed hard when there was no one around to push me, so mentally I feel a bit tougher. I can still hang with the Cat 1 girls even though I’ve been training for marathon distance for two years now…. good stuff. I felt I had a good solid race.


To work on: Speed. I feel the endurance is there, would like some speed work if it would still help in the marathon distance. Still need to keep up on the tech stuff. Feel like I’m still a bit hesitant but my confidence is still going up. Cadence and strength.


I had a great race Matt. Thanks for all you do. The phone call on Fri really helped. It gave me the pick me up I needed and got me mentally prepared for a race that I wasn’t quite sure about. Thanks.

About Matt Carnal

I love riding my bike, and helping others achieve the goals that they've laid out for themselves.