Thursday, October 31, 2013

Race Week - 10k Edition

All racing is just for fun, at least at my level, so it seems a little weird to make the distinction I am about to make: my last few races, the cyclocross ones, have been just for fun, but today I am feeling nervous.

I am focusing on running at the 10k distance this winter and Sunday is my baseline race. Run for the Parks 10k in Washington. And it is 3 days away and I am already nervous. Part of this is nailing down the logistics, since the race starts at 8 am and they ask you to take Metro because parking is limited but Metro isn't opening early. The Metro schedule tells me that the very best I can hope for, if everything goes right, is to arrive at the Metro stop about a mile away at 7:38 am.

If everything goes right. And Metro isn't delayed.

That's not going to work for me.

So I am driving. So I am parking. So I will be departing early in the morning, I guess, fo my sanity and peace of mind.

But the other part of my nervousness is definitely about performance. I haven't been training a terribly long time since I decided on this goal and it is just for a baseline, but still... a hard 6 miles always hurts, no?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cross Season: Tacchino and DCCX

I kind of knew all along that I wanted to race cross again this season, and I even incorporated some cross-type intervals into my commute over the summer (I don't get to do a proper bike workout during the work week, so all work on the bike has to happen as part of my commute. Surprisingly, this did not lead to me signing up for any cross races and the morning of the first I could make it to, Tacchino at Rosaryville, I found myself (1) switching my commuting tires out for a pair of race tires and (2) signing up day-of when I got to the race.


My last minute preparations meant that I didn't get to preview the course but I could tell pretty fast that it was muddy. Luckily my new tires would help with that. It was a fairly small field, 12, maybe, so starting position wasn't a big deal. There is a new Masters Women 45+ race that they have going off with the Cat 4 women this year, so it is a little hard to tell where you are in the field unless you know who everyone is. I don't know who everyone is.

 The mud was greatly to my advantage, though, as I just dropped my elbows mountain-biking style and powered through it while lots of people were getting off. It was a slippery mess for most of the course, but I managed to stay upright through all of it. I passed some people, but felt like there were lots of women still ahead of me. Imagine my surprise then, in the last climb, when a group of spectators told me that #3 was right ahead and I should "go get her!"

That didn't seem likely and I actually thought they were teasing me, which seems like something cross spectators might do, so imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line (legs literally shaking) and my friends told me they thought I had won the Cat 4 with the women in front of me all being in the Masters class ("Just don't go anywhere just yet," they advised.) In the end neither group was right, as there was a very young girl in the mix who everyone probably thought was a Junior but was actually Cat 4. The other 3 women were in Masters, however, so I was thrilled with my 1st cross podium in 2nd place. I got a medal and some chamois cream. Woot!

Not signing up much in advance came back to haunt me more at DCCX, which is, it turns out, a huge race. By far the largest field for the Cat 4 women that I have been in in my vast experience of 6 cross races. Again I had not managed to get there in time to pre-ride the course (darn you Army Ten Miler and your road closures), but I kind of remembered the course from the clinic last year so I hoped it wasn't much different and went in blind. Unfortunately, the fact that I signed up week-of the race placed me in the last line for the start. Though honestly, the girls didn't seem to be very good at lining up by number despite the officials telling them to.

I seem to be learning that a lot of the time in cyclocross, you make your own luck. That is, my live and let-live attitude out on the course that probably comes from only racing bikes in the context of triathlon does not seem to be the norm. We'll leave it at that.

So the start was crowded, but I passed a big group of other women in the first couple of hundred yards, which felt good since last season everyone just seemed to pull away at the start. 

This course was dry, and I wasn't convinced that was to my advantage, having been able to pass a lot of people in the muck at Tacchino. I also thought the course was really quite hard, starting with almost a full lap that, as my friend John pointed out, "Didn't even count" since it was only almost a full lap. The lap had 2 sets of barriers and another spot where you dismount to run up some enormous stairs then mount at the top just to go straight down and do a 180 and go straight back up. I guess that's cross, because that happened a few other places on the course too.

Let's just say that when I went by the judges the first time and the lap counter said 3 laps to go, I might have let slip an expletive. But I checked my watch and yup, that painful lap had only taken 9 minutes, not the 15 it felt like.

So I just kept powering on, for what felt like eternity. (That might be hyperbole, but it felt like a long time.) I picked off a few more of my competitors and went back and forth with one woman in knee high bright pink socks.

Is the knee sock thing at cross a fashion choice or a performance choice? I haven't been able to figure that out...

Actually, after the first lap, I had hardly any jostling around the corners and tight spots and was pleased that the only places I had to put a foot down was when I got off the bike for the barriers and the stairs. Until the last lap, when going into the final uphill turn I made the mistake of thinking, "Last hard turn!" at which point I ran into the tape along the side of the course, got tangled up in it, and had to dismount. Whoops.

It was a really fun race and I ended up 9th, which I was ok with, since it was a hard course with a big field. Anyway, out of 29, being in the last row meant I started behind 20+ of them from the start.

A few more races to go this season, and maybe I will sign up not at the last minute. If I'm smart.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Living Without...Briefly

I am bracing myself for a short time without my prescription Rudys.

You know how sometimes someone new to triathlon might ask you what your favorite piece of gear is, for me it is a tough call, but the Rudys are right up there.

But I am getting a new pair of prescription lenses, clear ones for riding at night, for fun night mountain bike riding, if I ever do that again, and more practically, for commuting this fall and winter.

They said I would only be without for 5-7 days.

I hope so!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


There are all number of things I could have spent all day doing on the 1st day of the government shutdown. I did some of those things from the time my "orderly shutdown" ended and noon.

Then I went mountain biking.

Because that's more fun.