I'm still trying to recover from last week's racing adventure. Now that the results are posted, I figured I'd post a quick recap.
The monster is a 40 mile cross country race near Gettysburg, PA in Michaux State Forrest. It is probably one of the best and most grueling races I have run. The course is hilly, rocky and long. It's enough to make a grown man (or woman) cry. I'd estimate that there is 4-5K of climbing and almost all of the route is single or double track.
I am not in my peak condition. I'm 34 and I have 4 kids. Training time is at a premium and I spent many an evening on the indoor trainer. Since I can barely stand the thing, though, I am hard pressed to do more than an hour. So with a fair amount of indoor training, two or three 60 mile road rides and two 30 mile off-road marathons I lined up at the start.
About half a mile from the start, the course turned to rocky single track and stayed that way for quite awhile. Since I didn't start at the front (intentionally) I was immediately mired in more traffic than I see on my morning commute to Rockville. It always amazes me how poor some racers ride in rocks. I managed to get a few good passes in and got into an area of lighter traffic.
After about an hour of riding I was pretty much on my own. Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse. It was in the low 40's and windy. To top that off, as I struggled up a steep, long, fire-road climb it started drizzling. I was far from happy. Then it started snowing. It's almost May! I had purposefully dressed lightly in anticipation of the predicted high in the mid 50's. I was freezing now and the high never did materialize.
I spent all of hour two and part of hour three freezing. Then the sleet started. Mind you, that the precipitation was light enough that it wasn't really sticking, but it sure was miserable. During hour two my legs started getting tight which was not a good sign. I reduced my ouput a little and tried to hold on. I was starting to drift back, and the trend, unfortunately, would endure throughout the rest of the day.
The good news was that I had passed the halfway point and I new in my heart that I could and would finish. The bad news was that there was still a lot of climbing left to do, some of it on double track or fire roads. I get killed on these long non-technical climbs. I am a technical rider so I can crush a descent or grease any rock garden. I am not, however, a whip-thin mountain goat.
During the third and fourth hour I lost contact with another cometitor that I spent the entire middle of the race with. He was 20 years my senoir and absolutely awesome. I passed him on every descent and he caught and passed me on every climb. I was getting real close to cramping up, though, and I just had to let him go. This was a grim part of the race for me and I played mental games with myself to keep going. I also sang little songs, made up poetry and had complete conversations with myself. I was a little out of wack by this point.
I caught and passed one rider on a climb who had pulled over for cramps. The only problem is both of my inner quads locked up completely. Darn that hurts, but I kept going through sheer determination. I must have looked like a train wreck throwing my body weight slopily from side to side on my unbending legs. At this point, though, I felt good to be doing the passing instead of getting passed.
Hour four was worse than hour three. I got caught and passed by a woman on a single-speed. I had dusted her off in the first two miles in a rock garden. I really didn't expect to see her again. She was smarter than me, though, and saved something for the end. I on the other hand, was fighting for survival. I maintained contact for awhile hoping to pass her back, but she didn't crack. My legs started transmitting little cramp warnings so I sucked it up and let her go.
The race for me ended in a wimper. I managed to store up a little something for the end in hopes that I might catch someone, but the finish line came up and I was done without using my last little burst of energy. It probably wouldn't have mattered much anyway because a 6-year old kid could have out sprinted me at that point.
All told I was out for 4:32. In times past that would have been respectable. It was 15 minutes better than the time I got two years ago and would have netted me a top ten last year. This year it was only good for 19th out of a field of 25. I was disappointed, but I believe the poor weather probably kept all but the sickest die-hards at home. Usually there are 4-5 DNFs but there weren't any this year. So I guess that competition was tougher. That's what I tell myself anyway. I'm a little disappointed by more poor showing. Especially since I felt like I was making a good pace. I guess I'll see what I have come the next race in July.
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