Friday, January 27, 2012

The wrath of mother nature

I've been bitten by good old mother nature many a times in my days.  Come to think of it, my dad has been struck by lighting twice, wonder if it runs in the family? 

Well, as my birthday weekend rolled around (and the previously discussed trip to Louisville, KY for some big race) it appeared that mother nature had planned to draw blood again!  My teammate Marten made it down a day before Greg and I did.  He got to pre-ride the course on Thursday and it was POURING.  A full day of racing / riding coupled with over an inch of rain left the course quite a mess. Enter Greg and I (who almost missed our connected flight due to, you guessed it, weather delays) on Thursday night.  It's now snowing and 20 degrees.  Fantastic! 

We got back to our rooms after getting our numbers, built up our bikes and prepared for our seeding qualifier the next day.  You see, I was concerned for the last three days as I was watching the weather.  "This is the WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO you could imagine for a cross race.  FROZEN SOLID MUD RUTS".  We arrived at the course (freezing our asses off) to find a frozen tundra.

As we sat in the rental car getting our gear on, we witnessed something odd.  There was a "flyover" structure that you had to climb up stairs, hop on you bike on top and ride down while the course passed under you.  Well it was so cold that it was frozen to the point where people could not ride down it.  They were sliding their bikes and then sliding down on their asses!  Then we heard that the officials were going to delay the start because of that.  So we headed out for our site lap.  Basically all you could do was run, just about the whole course.  And it was painful running, rolling ankles in ruts from the day before, etc.

At this point I was freezing, and quite frankly scared.  Scared that I'd spend the rest of January like I did last year.....injured and on the DL.  I wasn't scared about a big fall, but scared about twisting a knee or an ankle that would mess up my next two big races, the HAT50K and the Boston Marathon.
Back on track here.  Our race was scheduled to start at 9:45.  We were pretty sure we heard the officials say it was starting at 10:00.  Well, we were in the car pinning up our numbers when all the sudden we see our race take off!  This is only a seeding race for start position so I wasn't too worried, but we did get out there, and had spotted the field 3 minutes.  I was running just about the whole course, it was a windy 21 degress and I was cold.  I was however still smiling, and I somehow managed to catch and pass someone!  Long story short, I finished 2nd from last.

Our main event was scheduled for 3pm the next day.  Temps were not supposed to get above freezing.  The sun did come out and turned the top layer of the course to a greasy, sticky mud with some fun icy ruts throughout the course.  My heart just wasn't in this one.  It was a bummer for me.  I had taken a good shot to the groin in a site lap crash which took the breath out of me, so when we lined up, all I hoped for was a safe finish.

We took off, I made a couple of passes from the back row and Greg and I were marking each other until I got caught up with someone who had gone down in front of me.  About halfway through the first lap I could tell my bike was pretty heavy from the mud, then I started to experience shifting issues.  As I was about to complete the first lap, I was carrying my now 3 times the weight bike up the runup and I felt a pull in my knee.  This worried me.  I got to the top, put my bike down hoping to hop on and ride out the pain, but now not only was my chain skipping, my tires were so clogged they wouldn't move.  That was it, game over.  Save myself and save my equipment.  There will be more days.  Not what I had planned / dreamed in my head, and yet another blow from mother nature, but I was safe and still smiling.

I was glad that I pulled out in the long run.  Of the three other people that I knew in my race, two of them broke their rear derailleurs.  The other guy had two bikes, so he would ride a lap, grab a clean bike, ride a lap, grab clean bike, etc.  That was the only way you could have finished.  It was brutal.  My hats off and congratulations to not only the winners and the new world champions, but to those who simply finished!

So now on to bigger and better.  I had a great week this week training.  Nearly 65 miles last week as well.  My speed and tempo workouts are spot on.  Now I'm getting anxious to test the legs out in a race.


  1. Yeah, I'm glad that I didn't have to race in your conditions, they were pretty awful. Good luck at Boston, sounds like everything is headed in the right direction.