I’m fighting off a funk in terms of my cycling routine. And I’m not going to blame the weather either. The weather is not an issue. It seems as suddenly all these crazy workouts have caught up with me. I had one good ride last week and I was rewarded with a tweaked hip that pinched a nerve and made it near impossible for me to cross my own kitchen, let alone pedal. I went mountain biking with a friend which was great–I liked the social aspect. But the ride was slower due to conversation and 5 minutes before we wrapped up I crashed and smashed up my left knee.
Also-last weekend I rolled my ankle and it’s been stiff ever since.
I officially sound like everyone’s older parent bitching about what aches. How awful of me. I don’t like it. I don’t like that my knees pop and crack when I try to get off the couch, and that my hamstrings are so tight they cramp when I bend down to pick up my son’s Legos.
What to do? A lot of folks advise some time off the bike, but I don’t know….I’m sort of afraid to stop. I feel like momentum is one of the things I have going for me.
This is where I am, wrestling between time off and another goal. The most immediate would be next weekend’s finale on the cyclocross season.
The New England Cyclocross Championships is a Dec 15/16 and in Fitchburg, MA. There are some good videos posted online and it doesn’t look like a really crazy course. Despite the name it’s really not a big race. There is a flyover which looks fun–you have to dismount, climb up, and remount at the top. I am looking at racing Saturday in the 35+ Masters Women group. Like anything, I have analyzed this to a ridiculous level and know that based on last year’s race it’s a small group, under 10 women, and that if I raced those same women from last year, I would finish last. I know that even if I do finish last, I will score low points as scored on crossresults.com, which will help my overall average and earn me a better starting position in larger races next year.
I am pretty proud of myself for doing all these races but after reviewing my results, I have a lot of improving to do and I do want to get better race results. So I suppose I should just take my creaky middle-aged body to Fitchburg next weekend.
I’m not committing 100% yet. I’m going to do my normal training plan leading up to a race and see how I feel after Wednesday. Then I’ll either pull the trigger or stay home and ride the couch. Then I’ll get it together to recap the year and set some new goals for 2012. Providing the Mayans aren’t right and all.
Camp Sloper held it’s annual cyclocross race to a warm, bright autumn day during peak foliage season here in New England. Sloper is in Southington, CT and getting there didn’t take long, providing you have a trusty Mapquest App on your smart phone. I got there with ample time–I am finally getting the timing down on these races and know that it isn’t outrageous to arrive 3 hours before the start of your race.
The day before I had spent in the Ronald Reagan Airport in DC, stuck while I waited for the airline to get us another plane. I had come off a week of traveling, no workouts, and poor diet. I was really tired and felt thin in my attempt to do most things. Get dressed, pack the car, have breakfast–all took deliberate effort. I was deeply fatigued but had registered and it was such a beautiful day, I decided to push on in the hopes that I would rally, as I often do.
The rally never came for me. The course had very minor elevation changes (almost none) and no barriers. There was a steep, slightly muddy climb with a hairpin at the crest, a sandy beach with a stair run up, and a sand volleyball court as obstacles. There was a section of woodchips which were more treacherous than they looked, and some small loose gravel areas. But you really only had to dismount once a lap for the stairs. Otherwise if you had the power and the sand gods were on your side, you could just ride through.
I took my place in the back with the other Cat 4 women. I delayed the entire race by accidentally pinning my number upside down, and the woman next to me re-pinned it for me (thank you!) A rookie move for sure, I laughed it off and the other women seemed to take my mistake in good humor (I hope so anyway).
Then we started. I didn’t feel good from the start, but I know the first lap can mean a lot and I pushed what I had, which wasn’t much. I managed to pass the woman in front of me, then she me, and then we played cat & mouse for the next 2 laps. Then I was done. What little energy I had slipped away so quickly–I felt transparent. I tried to hold off another woman who was downright chipper. She was chatty and conversational and rode with me a bit. I appreciate her because she was friendly and puts things in perspective….and I didn’t really mind when she finally pushed past me.
I had a spill too. My pedals were sticking and my cleats were also filled with sand. I got in on one side before a small climb but could not clip into the other. I lost momentum and fell over. Then tried to unclip when on the ground with no leverage. I struggled on the ground, twisting the bike away from my foot to unclip, get up and run through the mess I was in. Sand was a first for me and boy you need to choose your path carefully. I think there is an art to it but some spots just seemed to snag you. The sand was a major time and energy suck. It drains you quickly.
Then I was alone for the last 3 laps. And when I say alone–I was ALONE. I saw the chipper woman a few times in front of me but by the last lap she was out of sight. I saw NO ONE behind me. I thought for sure I was last. All I had in my head was to finish the damn thing and go home. As much as I wanted to “turn it on” there was nothing to turn….nothing in the legs, no strength at all.
I finished and headed back to my car and kind of crashed. I felt nauseous and dizzy. I tried to eat something. I drank and coughed and sneezed and sat for a bit to try to collect myself. I thought about driving away immediately. But then I thought I should check results and snap a few pictures so I did.
When home, I got progressively worse. This happens to me sometimes after a big event and effort. I get really sick. Headache, nausea, and stomach fall out. This is the 4th time it has happened, and I have been very careful this year to eat and drink correctly before during and after these events. From the week I had prior, I think my system was just off its game. And with no one sticking a bottle of Gatorade in my hand and telling me to drink, I probably wasn’t getting enough hydration. It was a rough reminder that I need to be careful about hydration and nutrition.
Additionally, I checked my numbers on Strava. I could not believe my average MPH. I am capable of faster speeds by 2-3 MPH on courses with more elevation and physical barriers. On this day I was SLOW. How I felt for the whole race was right there in the numbers.
All day yesterday was pretty shot for me as a result. And I admit for a good part of the day, I was feeling so sick I thought “This isn’t worth it.” But now that I’m feeling a little better (still fighting something I think, but better than yesterday), I’m thinking that I need to end of a high note. I have 3 more races I’m seriously considering. The 2 days at Northampton and then Hop Brook back in CT. That should give me a few more opportunities to finish strong for the year.
PS–Results are in and I was not last. There looks like there were again, issues with the final numbers. The first results showed out of 15 women I was 12th (I took a photo of the handwritten results at the race). Official results from crossresults.com show I was 13th. I’m not sure what the issue was but it hardly matters. I had a bad day and could have done better. Not by much but better. Next time….
More Photos Here of the Men 35+:
They speak my native tongue there. They speak Boston, and despite a remarkable lack of the letter R in virtually all sentence structures, we’re all talking bikes & fun. Another year another #GPGcx–and every year I think it can get no bigger, no better. And then it go ahead and gets even more awesome. I’m going to post a bunch of pics to show you what it’s like.
AND there is a beer tent. Nuff said!
Bold statement, I know. But after finally getting my road bike tuned and the rims checked for a cause to my chronic flats, I flatted AGAIN on my second ride out. That makes–what? 9 this season? I haven’t flatted this much over the course of all the years I’ve been riding, my only solace has been the cyclocross bike. And after this last incident, I’m beginning to think there may be some divine intervention.
Now my grandmother warned me about doing something like this. No, no, she didn’t warn my about racing bikes. A petite Irish Catholic woman who grew up in the Great Depression and who’s mother (Great Grandma) ran a speakeasy during Prohibition, she was a smart lady who warned me never to discuss politics or religion. Tough assignment these days and I’ve made a real effort to steer clear of those 2 subjects in this blog. But for what other reason would God give me 9 flat tires? Why would God not strike my cross tires down as He had the mountain and road tires? Why has He spared the cyclocross bike any harm and laid misfortune upon my mountain and road bikes? And all without bodily injury to me.
It got me thinking…..The Lord works in mysterious ways…….http://www.realcyclist.com/twin-six-jesus-t-shirt-short-sleeve-mens
So I said, Alright! Alright! I’ll do it.
I am registering for the Aetna Silk City Cyclocross Race in Manchester, CT this Saturday, September 22. At the time of this writing, there are only 8 women registered for the open race. This race was supposed to begin last year, but–don’t laugh–an Act of God put Connecticut, and Western Massachusetts, into a State of Emergency. This was the freak Halloween Blizzard we had in the Northeast last year. Pretty much the whole state was shut down (I myself had no power for 4+days).
Being that it’s the first year, it looks like a nice little race for a first timer like me.
Last night I put cyclocross tires on the bike–Michelin Mud2 which got a lot of positive consumer reviews, and didn’t break the bank. I planned to try them out today but I’m in the office after a long weekend away and it’s raining with wind gusts to 50MPH, so as much as I want to check out the mud shredding ability of these tires, it will have to wait until it’s less windy and I don’t have to return to office attire. Tomorrow the skies are set to clear and I plan to head out early in the morning to the cyclocross course for some practice. That will be my hardest workout of the week before Saturday, and ,my last chance to practice on a real course with real barrier and a real run up. So I need to make it count.
All divine joking aside, my goals are to have fun and finish. Prayers are welcome But as my co-blogger Heather told me last night “Hey, if you go to medical school and pass with the lowest grade, you’re still a doctor when you graduate.” So after this weekend, even if I finish last, I’ll still have raced my bike.
My favorite cyclocross racer, Tim Johnson has again claimed victory at the Men’s Elite Cyclocross Nationals this year in Kansas City. The conditions were extremely treacherous, but Tim has developed a reputation for excelling in the sloppiest, messiest, most severe weather and course conditions. Check out this video to see the action, and the official article at this link. Please join me in wishing Tim and his wife Lyne Bessette, who is also racing, luck in the UCI World Cup the day after Christmas in Hofstade, Belguim.