This was me last month...
After taking my foot off the gas pedal for most of September, it felt great to throw in some racing in the back half of October. I ended up doing my version of the double-double: I raced Saturday and Sunday, two weeks in a row. Cross country (running) on the Saturdays, and cyclocross on the Sundays.
The Fall is a fun time for a racing addict like myself. Cross country (XC) and cyclocross (CX) overlap schedules from September through December, and there is something happening every single weekend. I have found (through trial and error) that i can survive the double weekend....as long as the Saturday race is running. I know it’s strange, coming from a rehabilitated triathlete, but doing a running race the day after a bike race never goes that well for me.
So how did it go...
Well, the first Saturday (Oct. 19) was a 6.3km course out at Cates Park in North Van. I felt like a bag of crap that morning, and almost didn’t start. But i was there, and warmed up, so i sucked it up and went for it. The field was small, but i did have a couple guys pushing me. I had to dig really deep to keep from easing back, but i managed to hang on for first place. Not far back was Josh Weiss, who had ran the marathon 6 days earlier, and was definitely putting on a charge. He didn’t seem to have much problem with tired legs, and showed some awesome fitness.
The next day was cyclocross out at Mahon Park in North Vancouver. I love the course there, especially the technical cornering. The only glitch with a technical cross course is that i need to be out of the traffic to really use my strengths. For the first bit of the race i was stuck behind a few guys and unable to get past and move forward. About mid-way through the race, things opened up and i had a great back and forth with Simon Pulfrey...though he did end up ahead of me. I was really happy with how things went that day. It was the first time this year that my cross bike saw daylight, and my bike handling skills weren’t too rusty. Plus, i wasn’t as cooked from the day before as i had expected.
I took the next couple days pretty light, knowing that i had another double coming up: BC Masters Cross Country champs (Abbotsford, Oct 26), then Pumpkin Cross (out in Maple Ridge, Oct 27). Unfortunately, my ‘take it easy’ plan got derailed on Wednesday. Myself and three friends headed out to Lions Bay, and tackled mount Brunswick...which shouldn’t have been too big of a problem. Except, i was a bit tight on time, so after summiting I left the guys, who continued on to Mt. Harvey, while i headed back.
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that i LOVE a good descent. So instead of coming down the mountain at a reasonable pace, the adrenaline addicted hamster in my head forced me to haul-ass the whole way down. After nearly an hour of fast downhill running, i got back to my car, but i was pretty sure i had made an error in judgement. Sure enough, not even 24 hrs later, my legs were throbbing from the eccentric damage i had done.
CRAP...this isn’t good.
Not really by choice, i ended up taking Thursday and Friday really light, as the tenderness only marginally subsided. I woke up Saturday morning and hopped on the treadmill for a quick jog to get some blood flowing. I had a few hours to pull myself together before the BC XC Champs. It wasn’t a race warm up (which was still 4 hrs away), but just a hail-Mary to bring my legs back to life. Thankfully it worked a bit, and i felt much better by the time i headed to Abbotsford to race.
Following the logic that I needed to work through the stiffness, I did a long (1 hr +) warm up. I could tell right away, that even if my body wasn’t 100%, that the hamster wanted to run hard...which is always a good pre-race sign.
Right off the gun, Craig (the winner) went off the front. For a minute or two, I considered going after him, but good judgement prevailed. Myself and Tyler settled into a solid clip, running together for 7km, until I put in a hard move up a hill and got a small gap. I buried myself for he last km, and ended up grabbing second place. I am really happy with my effort that day: I dug deep and I had reasonably good speed. With 5 more weeks to Canadian Nationals, this race was a great stepping stone to some better fitness.
Now for Pumpkin Cross...
Mother nature was cooperating on Sunday morning, and my wife and girls came out to cheer (and play). The course was wet, but the sun was out and everyone was smiling. My girls got to play in the mud with some friends, and they all had a blast. Local Ride was set to put on a great event. In fact, maybe it was all the smiles and sunshine that got to Barry (race director). I was entered in the elite race, and Barry called me up to the front row for the seeded start. Obviously it wasn’t my racing credentials that got me there. More likely it was because I’m from Maple Ridge...and Barry just wanted to see me suffer.
So how did it go? Well...I rose to the occasion. I did stay to the side and let several guys get passed me for the first lap. By the second lap, I had settled into a lung searing, heart pounding, leg grinding fog, and held my own. Every time i came through the barriers, I could hear my girls yelling and cheering: that really kept a smile on my face. I did have some issues with my top-end power (like, I didn’t have enough), but otherwise I was flying. The only negative to my race was that I started to slightly bonk at bout 50 minutes (of the 60+ minute race). I tried to get a Honey Stinger gel down, but my blurry eyed, glycogen depleted body couldn’t manage to get the bulk of the gel into my mouth before the course got technical again. Better planning next race, and that won’t be an issue.
All in all, what a great double-double.
Next up is a day or two of rest, then cram in some more training before cyclocross provincials (in Nanaimo) in 2 week, and then XC nationals in Vancouver at the end of November.