(don't mind my finger!)
I never really wrote after the Road Nationals because it was a complete debacle. But I think I need to get it all out and move on. I need stop thinking about it. The overall experience - of being with J1 and J2 and Super Blind was incredible! I miss them every day of my life. See post below The Clique. But the racing side, not so hot.
First of all, let's get this straight that we AREN'T talking about the Special Olympics. In my own special way, I might some day qualify for the Special Olympics. Perhaps most likely in the finding where you are and where you are going competition. But this is the Paralympics, the branch of the actual Olympics in which those of us with disabilities are allowed to compete against one another. In an attempt to level the field, the classify us by our disabilities. There are handcyclists, tricyclists and those of that ride upright bikes. People who are visually impaired ride tandem bikes - with a sighted "Pilot" (the person in the front) and a blind stoker. I fit into the upright category, which is called C. There are five different rankings for C, C1 (most disabled) to C5 (least disabled, in most cases there is nothing wrong with her lower body, but she may have an arm amputation, etc.). You race against people that are "like" you.
The day before the time trial four of us went to go get classified. I was the second to last person of the day two classifying event. The classifiers were not suited for cycling. One was from Canada and were not sure what she does and the other was a PT (we all know how I feel about PT) that had done classifying in swimming. So J1 and J2 go in and come out. They are classified as C5 (most abled), neither of them thinks he fits this class. I go in, the nationals coach hopes I'm a C3 and I do too. They barely talked to me and told me I was a C4, one point away from a C5. Well....shoot, really? I am one point away from having normal legs?! Why didn't someone tell me that?!?!?!?!? That pair of legs would have been a lot more helpful along the way in my life!!!!!
Sign from the basketball kids camp
So suddenly I was racing for a much faster time, against a much faster girl. I had trained to hit a certain time. My mind was a disaster - the day before this huge race. On Thursday, was the time trial. It was 8,000,000 degrees in Augusta at the Strom Thurmmond Damn. But thankfully, near the para start time it started to rain and cooled things down. It wasn't a good race. I ran off the road once. I got passed by everyone and their mothers. I threw up on myself. It was all over disgusting.
Then I got pulled by the US Anti-Doping agency to be tested. So this small little woman followed me around until I could pee in a cup in front of her! Hooray! Thankfully, so many hospitalizations have made peeing in some small receptacle nearly acceptable for me.
Hooray! My pee! (and for those who wondered, I was cleared from doping!)
I had a day of rest because I didn't compete in the crit, but Saturday was the road race and that darned thing is hilly. I got dropped right off the get go on the first steep hill. I hung the whole race with a C2. She claims we "worked together" but I think I did the majority of the pulling there. In the final 500m we sprinted and I technically "won," even though we weren't really racing against one another because we are from different classes.
I got second place in both the time trial and the road race. And some people may say I should stop there. But I think it's important to say, I got second out of two! So I got second and last place all at the same time.
Here's a picture on the podium after the road race:
Next year, I'm going to show up to road nats and I'll know what's coming. And I'm going to make sure if I get second, I earn that freaking place - I don't get it out of default!