When I opened my eyes this morning and looked out the window, going to Goddard Park seemed very improbable. It took some digging- some soul searching- some quiet comtemplation- and finally just saying the words "Let's go" to myself, before I sprung into action. Family debated a little bit about going with me, but I persuaded them to "htfu" and get ready to leave (in my kind and loving way). When we left the house and our minivan employed it's traction control system just to get moving (we had 1" of snow) I knew it was going to be an interesting day of racing. We got to the park in good time- right at 9:30. I mounted my Fuji and remembered that the front wheel was still flat. I smartly grabbed the 3 pound front wheel off my commuter bike before leaving, just so I could ride to registration, and probably steal it's inner tube. Said commuter wheel with Kenda tire did exceptionally well on the slippery ride to the carousel- using it in the race even crossed my mind, no pun intended. So after saying hi to Bill Y, J-Lo, Jim P and Chris D along the way, I make it to the carousel in time to register for the 35+ 1/2/3. Problem is, I don't ask how much to pay and I ignorantly write my check for $35 just like yesterday. Wrong. It's $40 and I don't have another check nor do I have any cash. I leave my license and go outside to do some panhandling. Christopher Dale whips out a fin for me without hesitating and I'm on my way. (Thanks again Chris) Number 164 is mine. I then make my way over to the pit to inquire about a front wheel (or a tube). Adam Sullivan offers me one of his wheels to use, but I'm not a lucky person- it could be a taco when I return it- you never know (thanks for offering though Adam) So my pit friend is more willing to sell me an inner tube than loan me a front wheel- don't blame him one bit- except I have no cash. Dear wife has it. So I promise to return to pay the $4 later on. Fine and dandy. From here, I go back over the bridge, back to the car and make myself ready to race. No trainer time though- I go straight out onto the course, and not a moment too soon. After chatting with team mate Lynn Samartano (16th in the women's 3/4 race) I realize that the race is being staged and I take the b-line straight to the start. Within moments, we're on. I can't deny that I expected to have an easier time today than I did yesterday. The legs were opened up, the course was technical with lots of slick hairpins and bottlenecks. If I could find the strength to sprint out of every corner- like in a crit- I might have done ok.. and this positive thinking worked! For my first 3 laps, I was not dead last, even though I started there. I was passing people. I had about 5-6 stragglers behind me. I'm going into the corners aggressively, powersliding the front wheel (that feels so cool when it happens and you recover from it, avoiding certain collision with the ground) I'm sprinting out of the saddle and getting some good speed. The worst parts were the sand pits and run-ups. This is where my weakness was always evident. I had to go deep into 180 bpm every time I had to run, plus my lower back felt like it was being kicked with steel toe boots. Then on my fourth lap I started to lose steam, heading down into the 2nd sand run (which was a LOT longer today) funny noise from the rear wheel- and pedaling seems a lot harder- sounded exactly like a spoke had popped and the wheel was rubbing. I get down to the sand, thinking nothing of it- how bad can it be. I hump the bike to the top and try to ride but the wheel is jammed. I dismount to the left of the bike, look at things, see nothing. I try to loosen the brake cable, but this isn't working. I start riding again, in earnest. The wheel is rubbing badly. I make it around a couple of switchbacks and the tire blows ka-boom. Turns out the tire bead failed and the tube was out of the rim (afterwards I see that the tire is shredded from the explosion) I try to keep riding, but the turns are too numerous and too icy to be riding on the rim.. I start to run. The pit is about 300 meters away. Once through all the turns, it's a straight shot for a while, so I start riding again, carefully. It's faster than running. I ride over some roots and almost lose it, but I make it to the pit without crashing. A rear wheel is quickly applied by my pit friend and I'm off. Everyone passed me by this time of course, and I lost a big chunk of time fiddling with the bike and running. From here, the finish is just about 150 meters. Lap card says 2 to go. I'm just beginning my 5th lap. I make it down to the 1st sand pit, make the run up, and then I see what I was dreading- the leaders down on the asphalt, kicking the crap out of eachother- flying. Needless to say, somewhere around the time I jumped the wooden barriers I was lapped by the first few leaders, and then by a few more, and by the time I completed my 5th lap, Paul Curley was the last to go by me and I watched him beat someone to the line as I followed them across the finish. My time for 5 laps- 51:15. Three minutes prior, Mark M won the race and completed his 6th lap. I'll often wonder whether yesterday's or today's flats caused me to be lapped. Let's just say it didn't help, and neither did starting at the very back of the field, as I always do. The accordian effect of the first run-up no doubt strings the whole field out pretty good, and being the first 20 guys through there is a clear advantage. There's no denying that I suck at running- I'm biomechanically inept at it, plus my Fuji is an overweight piece of shit, but I'm using the equipment which is compatible with my ability, I suppose. Maybe in fall 2009 things will be different. I admit that this cross thing has won me over a little bit- and the most compelling evidence I can give you is that I dug-deep and finished both races this weekend in spite of flatting and in spite of running all over creation to reach the pit and in spite of the knowledge that I would be dead last and lapped. That says something.
FULL RESULTS are UP at USA Cycling. Thanks for reading.
Here's the ubiquitous data file showing my heart rate and such: