Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cooper River Cross

Last Sunday Greg and I headed down to Cherry Hill for a new cross race on the cross scene.  It was part of the New Jersey Cross Cup, held on a beautiful day and drew a great field.  From a timing standpoint, Greg and I had to race the 1/2/3 Elite race so we could get home in time for some other commitments. 

The race was 60 minutes long and I was just planning to use it as a training effort, hoping that my running fitness would pay off so I could be strong at the end.  I've been dealing with some issues that worked their way from pain in my foot up to what I thought was my piriformis.  I had run the Runners World Half course the morning before to prepare for my "speaking engagement" at the expo, then Greg and I kinda stupidly smoked a 23mi ride in the afternoon at >20mph and 85% ftp.  Not the smartest training the day before a cross race, but my plan wasn't to really race hard on Sunday, just to get a good 60 minute effort in.

We pre-rode the course.  The laps were long and strung out, a fast power course with a couple of technical spots, definitely not my strength.  The course was put together well though and it was fun to ride.  The soil was dry and dusty and somewhat slippery sand base.  I was down at 26psi in my front tubular and 30psi in the back.

Since I had not raced a NJCUP race prior, I found myself on the last row of about 50 Cat 1/2/3 riders.  The first turn was a hairy high speed gravel to grass left hander with a big electrical box to greet you if you overcook it.  I stayed safe and made a few passes in the first few corners.

Back section down by the river had a couple of technical turns.
 I caught up to the back of a group of 5 on the second lap as we entered the tight turns.  They slowed a lot for some reason and Greg was able to bridge up to us. 
They had a nice little double step section.
 With Greg on the group I though we had a good opportunity to work together.  It was windy on some of the long straights and having a partner could help.  I tried to make a move, passing one rider on a straight and the other heard us and moved over, catching my leg in his bars and nearly taking us both down and wiping out any forward momentum my effort had given me. 
I backed it down slightly from an effort standpoint.  Greg stayed in tow.  I was hitting lines a little better and dosing out my effort for the 60 minutes of racing. 

As the race wore on, not too much more happened.  I broke free and passed a couple of guys, Greg dropped back slightly.  The last two laps my back started to bother me, but I held on.  I ended up solo at 33rd out of 46 finishers.  Not my best ride by far, but given all the circumstances I'm satisfied.

One thing I learned is that a good start does matter, even in a 60 minute race.  Next time I'll be more aggressive on the start.  My Garmin splits were interesting, it was set to "auto lap" every 5 miles.  In 64 minutes of racing I was just shy of 15 miles, that's almost 14mph AVERAGE for a cross race which is fast and definitely more of a roadie course.  The other interesting thing is that my first and second 5 mile splits were within 4 seconds of each other, the third wasn't too far off either.  How's that for consistency!

Dealing with some back issues now, not sure how much training or racing I'll be doing in the near future.  2012 had been a trying year for sure but it has taught me patience. 

This weekend is the Runners World Half Marathon Festival, just a few miles from our house.  I'm in charge of the pace groups and part of the course talk seminar on Saturday.  It's going to be a great weekend of all things running, so the local running community is filled with anticipation and excitement.  Looks like some great weather is on tap as well.  I'm signed up to do the "Hat Trick", 5K and 10K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday.  Hopefully I'm well enough to run them!  Lauren and Autumn are doing the 5K together on Saturday morning which should be fun.

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