Due to some last minute changes, both the women's 1/2/3 fields and the women's 3/4 fields were to be run together and would only be 3 laps, but scored and awarded separately. The field(s) stayed pretty much together on the first series of climbs.
The psychological damage of yesterday's crash was MUCH worse than the physical. I tried to stay as far away from every other rider as possible. I made it to the top of the climb with the lead group. Despite thoughts of abandoning the race anyway due to my panic, I decided to give the race another lap.
We'd dropped a number of riders already heading into the second lap, but got neutralized for quite a while as we waited for the Men's 5s to pass. We started downhill #2 as a big group again. The pace going up Tiorati was much more controlled, so most of us stayed together.
The 3rd time down the Lake Welch Hill was crowded yet again. Beth Miller came around the corner at or near the front, and hit it really hard going back up the hill. We were instantly strung out, with Dara up the road, Donna a little ahead, and Ashley and I about 10-12 riders back but with a lot of road to cover to cross the gap. Ashley kept a really hard pace going up the hill, and I stayed on her wheel as much as I could. I took solace in the fact that I would have a few seconds to recover before we made the final push up to the front group.
But the solace would not come. Kristen pushed the pace hard in that last hill just after the bridge, and I got gapped. The only riders near me from my field were Annelise Haines from NY Velocity and Nancy Ford from USI, the rest had been gapped. The 2 riders went around me as I tried to catch one of their wheels, but didn't quite make it. I figured we'd just consolidate on 7 lakes drive and paceline in together, since they didn't look like they were going to be able to regain the front group either. But somehow Annelise did. I give her a lot of credit. Nancy and I however came around the turnaround together and despite working together, we were not able to catch them again. But at least we were able to stay ahead of all the rest of the cat 3/4 field.
Going into the final climb to the finish Nancy was in front. Contrary to my usual approach of leading out my competitors, I got on her wheel and just stayed there. If she outsprinted me, so be it, but I wasn't going to make it easy for her. With about 100 meters to go I opened it up and sprinted as hard as I could (for an uphill finish anyway) and crossed the line 1st.
I thought this gave me 2nd place in my field overall, but it turned out that they have given the wrong number to an upstart cat 4 unattached triathlete, who had been up the road all along. I placed 3rd. I was thrilled to finally get a podium spot in a road race.