Project #4 – Imagine That!

For this exercise, find something in your environment (similar to the previous observation exercise) but this time, imagine something to do with it. Think back on our conversations in class today about how to use your imagination like you did when you were a child. Then do something that you consider to be wildly imaginative based on the thing you observed in your environment. The point is to let yourself really go with this and see what happens.

My instinct for this assignment is create something with my hands.  But events have unfolded to where I just don’t have time to actually create something with my hands.   The events that have unfolded are thus; Wednesday my car, Kumar, decided to break down.  Thursday was spent getting the car to the repair shop and then scrambling to find someway to get up to Winona Lake for my cycling races this weekend.   A friend ended up getting me a killer deal on a rental car and that I picked up Thursday evening.  Friday I had to work in the morning then leave straight from there to drive 3 hours to the north part of the state.  Saturday and Sunday are race days not leaving much time to create something by hand.

One thing that is in my environment is my bicycle, so, I thought I’d tell the story of what I experienced in my first ever road race.

Friday: After arriving in Elkhart, I unload the car and feel really excited to pull the bike out of the trunk and get it all put back together.  Brent and I lay all of the equipment and food out that we’ll need for the race tomorrow, then headed out to our favorite pizza place, Venuri’s.  After dinner we watched the Tour of California and the Giro de Italia race.

Saturday:  I’m typing as I eat a pre-race breakfast, and am feeling excited, nervous and a little antsy.  Brent just asked if I want to do a little warm-up ride of 10 miles.  Yes!  I need to get my legs moving I can’t stand the waiting.

I grab a quick shower after the warm-up ride and then pack the equipment into the truck.  As we are driving the temperature says 83F.  Every 20 minutes it’s raising another degree, it’s going to be a hot race.  An hour later we arrive at the race site.  We get our bib numbers at the registration desk and then watch a friend, Sharla, ride by a few times in the women’s race, while talking to another racing friend, Chad.  The sweat is pouring down my face at this point and it’s just getting hotter as the day wears on.  I get my riding gear on and get the bike ready to ride.  Brent and I head out for a quick warm-up ride and return as the Category 5 field is lining up at the starting line.  The head referee gives us a little speech while the other referee check all of our bib numbers off of his list.  The whistle blows and 50 racers are off for a 28-mile race.

I experienced the race by miles:

Mile 3, the pack is averaging 25 mph and I’m staying with it, a pace I’ve never been able to maintain.  Mile 7 and I’m still in the pack, the sound of carbon fiber humming with the road vibrations, free-wheel bearings clicking and gears shifting is the only noise I can actually “hear”.  Mile 10, the heat starts to attack me and I notice I’m struggling to breathe.  I start to fall off the back of the pack.  Mile 15, the right side of my torso cramps and I realize I’m starting to hyperventilate.  I put all of my concentration into calming the rhythm of my breathing, because if I don’t get it under control I know I’m finished.  Mile 18, my mental strength starts to waiver.  I want to quit and question if I should.  My right side is still cramped, mouth is dry even though I’m taking in fluids, and my legs feel like they are wanting to cramp.  All of a sudden I see a rider in front of me.  I come up on him and draft him for a few minutes.  It’s just long enough to catch my breath and rebuild my mental walls, I will finish this race!  He and I start trading off drafting roles and we catch another 2 riders.  Now there are 4 of us to share the workload, but at mile 19 one of the riders falls off the back.  Mile 21, it’s my turn to pull the pack and all of a sudden I feel it.  It’s the small twinge, that small hint, that my muscles give me right before they cramp.  All of sudden both of my calves cramp and my right hamstring threatens to cramp as well.  It’s the heat, my body won’t absorb liquids as fast as it’s expelling it as sweat and my body too dehydrated to keep pushing my muscles at the rate I have been for the last 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Turning to the guys behind me I have to declare that I’m cramped and cannot continue with them.  They tell me sorry and wish me luck as they pass me.  Mile 21!  I have one more 7 mile lap, do I quit now after coming this far or do I block my pain and finish?  I know I’m severely dehydrated, I’m having trouble controlling my breathing as well, due to being on the verge of heat exhaustion, but I still have a few bricks of my mental wall up and they scream to solider on.  So, I pass the start/finish line to complete my last 7 mile lap.  Mile 22, I think, this isn’t so bad I can do this.  Mile 23, why did I decide to continue?  Every fiber in my body aches and is wishing for a rest.  Mile 24, the heat is all I can seem to feel surrounding me.  Mile 25, the cramps in my legs and the cramp in my side are screaming at me to just quit, but I know there’s only 3 more miles left.  Mile 26, all 3 of my water bottles are now empty, but, somehow I’ve shut out the pain of my body.  Mile 27, all I can taste is the sickly bitter taste of salt as the sweat pours down my face.  Then I hear 2 volunteers yell, “Keep on going you’re almost there!”  All of sudden I see it, the finish line, and I cross it at mile 28.  I did it!  As Brent and I are getting our results later in the day, we learned the heat index was 95 F.  I’m proud of how I did considering the heat, the fact that I’ve never raced a distance race before, and in total that was my 3rd race ever.  As I type this, and apologies for a lot of grammar errors due to being exhausted, I’m in the truck on the way back to Brent’s place.  On the agenda when we back: recover as fast as we can because we have a Criterium race in the morning.  Yes, we cyclists are a bit masochistic.

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