Almost; but not quite...
This past weekend was a conglomeration of atypical happenings. The following is a summary of those events.
In no particular order the first oddity was that I slept almost eleven hours Friday night. I’ve been training hard and it would be a lie to say it finally caught up with me. It caught up with me a week ago; this was just the first opportunity to sleep in and I took it.
Because of Hottie’s bike crash we opted to stay in town this weekend. It provided some opportunities to do things that were not in the plan had we gone away. One of those things was that I did a cross race that I had intended to skip. I emailed my Sensei and told him I would race and anticipated he would change my Saturday workout from a thrashing to a warm up. Without a hint of a pause he responded that I should keep the same thrashing on Saturday as this was scheduled to be a “heavy” weekend. Thank you very much.
Dutifully I punished myself with over/unders Saturday morning. When I finished I threw my bike clothes into the washing machine and heard them splash in the empty drum because they were soaking wet. I could feel those efforts in my legs the rest of the day. This was on top of a week where I had done stairs and over/unders already. Ouch! I am learning how to fall asleep with sore legs. It is a skill worth cultivating.
Tux, as a former professional racer, how did you sleep with sore legs?
As it happens; El Chefe’ was supporting a fund raiser by skipping sleep for four days making and selling his award winning BBQ ribs. Since we were now in town, Hottie and I picked up some of his BBQ perfection and had a picnic at Alki. We had enough left over that we called it dinner on Sunday evening.
Hottie was moving slowly and painfully from her injury and because she is a rabid Seattle sports fan she opted to watch the Seahawks once again dispatch the Denver Broncos. This made more sense than shooting pictures of middle aged men in Lycra riding bikes in the sand. Thus I went to the race solo. I can’t recall the last time I raced without having my personal photographer at the race. Yeah; poor me.
I met up with Guy, El Pirate and Mr. T who would all get a head start on me at the appointed hour. Big Ben was there as well who would had so much fun passing me he did it twice.
My race was tough on every level. It was freakishly hot by Cyclocross standards and there were two long sections of soft beach sand that could be ridden only with herculean effort and no traffic issues. The balance of the course was a serpentine nightmare with an uphill literally around every one of the eight hundred corners found on each lap. I know others seem to have found a rhythm but I never did. I didn’t have good lines and fought the course the whole day. The endless series of short accelerations didn’t suit my sore legs on this day. I was reminded of some of the single track at South SeaTac back in the day. On that purgatory of a course, there were sections that I just could not get going fast no matter how much horsepower I had in my legs. This felt the same way.
After a decent start I relaxed for a nanosecond and a couple guys popped in front just before the first turn and I counted myself ninth on the first hill. Soon a gap formed and I couldn’t close it on the technical course. I could see a bunch of guys chasing me. I think they started us only thirty seconds behind the group in front and we were catching guys from that group on the first lap. I moved past guys the rest of the afternoon and I didn’t really take much notice if they were in my group or were from the group in front.
Oddly the part of the course where I gained the most ground began with the second long sand section which was followed by a brief bit of solid ground before a final corner of deep, soft, slow, strength draining sand. Then with virtually no momentum you had a steep climb that led to the lone barrier followed by a loose run up on a steep hill. The zone five remount that followed was challenging for many as it is hard to swing your leg over your seat when it feels like a soggy noodle.
The sand tackled me on my second lap and for reasons I cannot explain I am good at crashing and rolled over and resumed racing with only a momentary delay. As I pedaled I could feel sand spilling out of my left ear. I took my hand off my bars and brushed the sand out of my ear or so I thought. Three minutes later I tiled my head and felt more sand exit. That isn’t a nice sensation. This wasn’t my day.
Anything in a 46.5?
I was feeling the previous day’s effort and just didn’t have the top end that I had two weeks ago. This was the other end of the spectrum as my earlier race and the same words applied. It wasn’t any easier or harder, I just went slower. I found myself battling a friend/nemesis and put the hammer down. He wanted to beat me and would not give up. Tired legs or no, his days of beating are were over and I made it so. On the next to last lap I got a shout out from the announcer who commented that I looked like I was suffering. I was. When I crossed the line to claim seventh place he noted my placing over the loudspeaker and added that he had no idea I was that old. I took that as a compliment.
I compared my times to those in my old age group. My time would have placed me right where I was last year. Considering my poor match up with this course and my Saturday trashing, I was okay with that. I did take note that the 45 plus Cat 3 field is stacked deep with freakishly fast mofos. If anyone is looking for a category to race in that would inflict self doubt that is the place. I don’t miss it for a second.
After crossing the line I did my proper warm down and tried to catch my breath. I pulled off my sweat splattered glasses and realized I had sand on the side of my face. I looked at my left arm and realized it was covered with sand. My right arm had black lines where the dust and sweat had congealed in the wrinkles on the inside of my elbow. My left leg was also battered with sand. My tan and hair made my sand coating less visible to others. I was a mess.
Back at the car I poured the sand out of my shoes and socks and discovered I had sand between my toes as well as in my hair. There wasn’t much of me that wasn’t sandy. I drank a bottle of recovery drink and then another bottle of water and then a third bottle. I cleaned up as best I could with water and wipes. I checked my results and I had indeed finished seventh.
Two races so far in 2014. One podium and one top ten. I’m okay with that.
Next week we return to where it all began.