My 2015 season was a strange one. It started off with a trip to Costa Rica in January to race The Coastal Challenge (which put me in the hospital for almost a week). It crested in August with a really fun weekend at the Squamish50. But, then I finished off the year with a fizzle rather than a bang (which i will expand on below). But don't get me wrong, I had a ton of fun throughout 2015. As I've mentioned before (many times), I'm a true believer that it's about the journey, rather than the destination. If i use the quality of the adventures as the measuring stick, 2015 was pretty damn awesome. I raced a lot, and had some great times with some really amazing people. This sounds a bit sappy, but several of my top memories from this summer were with my girls. They are now old enough, that this we tackled the Grouse Grind, the Chief, BCMC, and a few others. (I wrote a short piece about kids and running for the Inov-8 blog here)
You can browse through my recent posts to get the specifics of my bigger races, so I'll try to keep focussed on the last couple months here. After I returned from Rio (last month), It took me a good week to get un-jetlagged. When I did finally come back around though, It was obvious that I had some really solid form. I felt recharged, and ready to kill it at my last two cyclocross races; South Surrey Junkyard Cross, and BC Provincials in Squamish. But...things didn't quite go as planned at either of those races.
At Junkyard cross (Surrey), I got tangled up with another racer within the first minute of the race, and somehow punctured my rear tubular. And of course I hadn't brought my spare wheels to the race that day. In denial, I muscled my way around another lap and a half before I realized it was futile. For the first time in a while, I was pissed right off about a race outcome. Probably more disappointed with my lazy decision not to bring my spare wheels, but also mad at myself for not being more aggressive at the start of the race. You see, I was trying to be a bit more calm off the start line, and I let a couple extra riders get past me in the first few corners...one of which was the cause of the pile up. Good manners just bit me in the ass. Lesson learned. I wasn't going to make the same mistake in Squamish.
The following weekend was the BC Provincial Championships in Squamish. We, Steed Cycles, were hosting the event, so it was going to be a busy weekend for sure. The entire Steed crew was up there early on Saturday morning. Despite some uncharacteristically cold weather, with Paul and Dan leading the troops, we all put in a solid day and had the course fully prepped for racing the next day. Sunday morning went really smoothly, mostly because of the amount we got accomplished the day before. The venue was awesome, but the temperature was still sitting just below zero....which meant a fair bit of ice on course.
Because of my relatively successful cross season last year, I had a front row call-up on Sunday. I wasn't going to make the same mistake as the previous weekend. I was committed to taking it out hard and defending my position in the opening sections. The horn sounded, and within the first few hundred meters I had slotted into 5th position (right behind my good friend Norm). I was actually shocked at how strong I felt. I was smooth and powerful, and I got my HR under control by the end of the first lap. My plan was to ride the train for another lap or so, then put in some real effort and try and move up...or at least hold off others that were trying to move up too. When the time felt right, I put some power on the pedals in a corner and moved past Nom....only to lose traction in th next corner and hit the deck. I hopped up quickly and hammered to get back into it. But then it happened again...in fact, the exact same scenario was stuck on repeat for the next 15 minutes: I would put extra power to the pedals...make up some ground, then slip out in a corner and lose time (and positions). I was so caught up in the racing, that I couldn't see that it was the extra 2-3% output that was causing me to lose traction In the icy corners....well, that and my bald mud tires. Just around the 30 minute mark of the race, things took a turn for the worse. I slid out... again.. in a corner, but this time I hit a lot harder. I smacked my helmet quite hard (actually wrecking it) but I also put my hand out in an awkward way. I got up quickly and started pedalling again, but something wasn't quite right with my right hand. I pulled to the side of the track and took my glove off for a quick look.
CRAP...2 dislocated fingers. Sadly, not the first time I've dislocated fingers. A couple of quick, aggressive tugs, and they were back in place. But add in the head impact, and all the wind was out of my sails. I soft pedalled my way to the finish, but it really sucked that I had blown some of the best legs that I had had all season. And it was all because I was riding just a tiny bit too aggressively. I just couldn't catch a break for the last two weekends.
Still feeling that I had some good form, I wanted to try and redeem myself with a couple of late season (December) XC running races; Gunner Shaw in Vancouver, and then Stewart Mountain on the island. But as the title of this blog hints, neither of them went as planned. Through brute force and stubbornness, I managed a 3rd and a 5th place respectively...but I felt like a bag of death for both races. It wasn't because of poor fitness though. I can honestly put the cause down as my own stupidity. You see, we live in a semi-rural area, and we are on a shallow well for our water. One of the components of our filtration system failed a few weeks ago, and I didn't catch it at the time. My entire family struggled through several weeks of stomach issues (some mild, some severe) before I clued in to what was happening and was able to get the replacement parts. We sure take water for granted in North America, but It was a real reminder as to just how important clean, safe drinking water is.
I just finished off December with an easy week over Christmas, and a family trip to Mexico to visit with the sister and my dad. I managed to hold back and keep my running to a minimum while down there, so I'm feeling pretty fresh right now (and parasite free!). I've been participating in a study out at UBC (PhD for my friend Eric), and my last lab session is on Tuesday. After that, the plan is to jump in to a few more XC running races in January and February, using them as building blocks for some bigger early-season goals in 2016. I had also hoped to get in some mtb riding this winter, but with the massive amount of snow on the North Shore right now, some skate skiing may be a more reasonable option. Either way, I'm feeling fit and healthy, and I'm excited to jump right in to 2016