Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today was Stage 8 and the final stage of the Sadler's Alaska Challenge. It was easily the most demanding of all the stages this week. We had an early start time and fortunately it was not raining (it threatened but no go) during the race. I'd like to say I blazed through today's course, but truthfully, by the time we started climbing I just wanted to finish!

There was about 15 miles into the course before your turned to the road leading up to Hatcher Pass. Then the next 9 miles were gradual climbs (5-7% gradient). At about the the 24 mile mark we turned and started to climb which turned out to the be hardest climb I've ever done. The average grade had to have been around 9% with places all the way up to 15%. To put that into perspective: riding up Mt. Lemmon was easy compared to this. The last six miles was just a grueling, steady effort up and up with no relief. You're putting out a strong effort but still only moving at 3mph. What was strange is even in places that visually looked flat or even downhill I wasn't going that fast at all and when I looked at my computer on the bike it said you were still at a 7% grade. Nobody, except the real beasts, was moving at a blistering pace here.

The great part as always is when you finish! "How did you do, Pastor?" I finished! What was great was even if they were world class racers or plodders like me, everyone was cheering as you hit the 100 meter sign to the finish. Everyone was truly glad for the fact that people made it to the top. At this time it wasn't about setting a world record (although the leader and winner probably did), but it was about making it to the end! My overall standing in the men's longseat division was 16th out of 23 racers. It was basically the position I found myself in from Day 1. In the 55yrs and above group, I finished 3rd. The "labor pains" are now offically over...the child has been delivered....and now we get ready to come home tomorrow. There are a lot of thoughts in my mind right now. I'm very grateful for Mona and Leonard who were volunteers who helped not only me but many, many other racers as well. We've got an awards banquet tonight and then back to the "real world" tomorrow. I'm praying that the Revival Meeting with Stacy Dillard is going well, and I should see most of you on Tuesday night!

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