It was a big weekend out in Cedar Point, OH last weekend. I wasn't able to attend due to some other commitments (see below) but I want to congratulate REV3 on another awesome event and my Trakkers teammates on some awesome performances!!
Saturday kicked off the cyclocross season, not only on the local series level but the UCI calendar as well. The Nittany Cross was a two day event held at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Typically a flatter, faster race, it took a 180 degree turn this year due to the record rainfall and flooding that has hammered the Northeast over the past 10-14 days. A quick summary, it was the muddiest race I've ever done. Mud pits that were un-ride-able, forcing you to run through shin deep soupy mud; standing water / mud puddles that were up to your crank deep; and of course some peanut-buttery mud through the woods. Throw in some barriers, short climbs and power robbing rutty sections and you've got a perfect recipe for pain and suffering.
I was originally going to race both days, coming back Sunday after pacing Lauren's cousin through a portion of his first marathon. Then found out Autumn had a soccer game that would conflict with that plan so I decided to move my registration from Sunday's Master's race to Saturday's "Killer Bee's" race (Men's 3/4). The Elite Masters 35+ race (Cat 1-4) contained a field of nearly 100 starters and started at noon. The Bee's field was over 100 strong and started at 3:45. Sounded feasible, but with the caveat that race #2 would HURT and I wouldn't be up to speed there.
So in a rookie move I was scouting the course out and missed my call up for the Masters race. I would have started mid-pack, but as I rolled up to staging to find everyone staged I realized my big mistake. I slid in the back row, hopped off my bike to clean off some of the heavy mud from my preview lap and all the sudden everyone takes off...while I'm standing there. DAMMIT, NOT what I had planned for my first race of the season in such a stacked field. You simply cannot give Cat 1 and Cat 2 'crossers a head start, you will not catch them!
Coming through the start / finish area on lap 1, I had already made some passes
I knew I had to make some passes early while everyone was bunched up. I was seriously in the red, it was humid and I was hurting. The course seemed to get worse every lap. As you went through the two standing water sections, your shoes would fill up with water with each down stroke of the pedal...
|Photo credit to Joe Mallis|
Right after the fall, trying to bridge back to the guys that just passed me.
I was never quite sure what position I was in, I just kept moving forward. I was pretty gassed with one lap to go and focused on a steady effort. I was in a pack, but didn't have much "fight" left for any form of sprint. I could see my friend a few turns up, but realized that there wasn't enough time to catch him. My thought was to get through the mud pit quickly and hopefully pass the couple of guys in front of me...and hopefully have enough to hold them to the finish. It worked, I passed two guys through the mud section, but they crushed me in the field sprint.
|photo credit to www.cyclingcaptured.com|
End result: 27th place out of 69 finishers. I unofficially gave myself the "hard charger" award for likely passing the most riders in the race! My friend and trainer partner finished top 20, right where I thought I'd be. Bummer, but I'll get them next time!
|Photo credit to Dennis Smith (www.dennisbike.com)|
Now onto race #2. After I waited an hour or so in line to wash myself and my bike off, I grabbed some food and got to watch some great racing. The sun stayed tucked away so the course only seemed to get muddier. I was called up in the last row due to my registration switch. Fantastic, only about 105 riders ahead of me! I made quite a few passes in the first few corners and my legs weren't feeling too bad. It all went wrong not long after that though....
|Photo credit to Dennis Smith (www.dennisbike.com)|
As I entered the high speed barrier section all I felt was someone drill me from behind...and land on top of me. He then proceeds to toss my bike across the track....classy, thank you! Turns out the impact ripped my saddle off of my rails. I could have limped more than half way around the track for my pit bike, but that wouldn't really accomplish much, so I packed up and headed home.
With my cross racing out of the way for the weekend it freed me up to run more with Doug in his first marathon / BQ attempt. The original goal was to have Lauren run the middle 5 mile leg with him, but he started to hurt at mile 12 or so and asked if I'd stick with him the whole way. "Sure" I gulped...I was in, to run the whole marathon. It was a decent day, high 60's, no sun but high humidity. Our first 12 miles were dead on the 7:15 range, but from that point forward I could tell that the race was now more about salvaging a decent time then being a hero and going for broke. We managed to stick to sub 8:00 pace for a while, but the late hills of the last few miles were tough. Doug hung in there through some bad cramps, a few walk steps to shake them out, but we made it in, 3:24:15!! About 7:45 average and more importantly an 11 minute Boston Qualifier time!! Doug was psyched.....and now he's ready to learn from marathon number one and take some time off his next one.
Next weekend is the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon....hoping the legs are recovered!