After a fun and successful weekend of local races in Plymouth and Lowell, Mass, I was looking forward to UCI competition again. So naturally, I got a nasty cold again. Maybe it was the same illness continued... I don't even know anymore. Phlem-filled fun from Tuesday through, well, even today. I was feeling a little better by the weekend, but should I have raced? Perhaps you would argue that I shouldn't have. But I'm so glad I did! With Gearworks Cyclery and my coach sponsoring the race, I really wanted to have a good showing. Plus, there was no mud and no tape in the course, so I had no excuses. :)
I didn't have the greatest start. Just didn't seem to have a hard enough jump right away. Probably chose the wrong start position, too, and got pinched. I ended up around 5th or 6th around the track and up the hill, then made sure I ramped up my chase on the flat section after I got over the horse jump. Now comes the amazing part: I don't know exactly where my energy came from, but I could always "go" during the race. Usually I experience a "lull" in the middle of the race, slowing up a lot in the third lap, but not this time. Ward was taking lap times, and I gained over 10 seconds on Lyne that lap. (Of course, she could afford to slow up.) I could still push the accelerator. (Wish I had had a better start!!) I think that despite my cold I was relatively rested since I didn't travel to North Carolina or the USGP the previous weekend. (Of course, hosting Thanksgiving was pretty tiring!) I had Friday off work, which allowed me to decompress after the week and the holiday. Have you ever had the experience of being so focused that only the present moment exists? Musicians call it "in the pocket" when you're smack in the groove. Maybe athletes refer to it as "in the zone." Whatever you call it, I was there. I felt very focused. It was me and the ground beneath my tires, ahead of me, smooth corners, the barrier, the gravel, the hill. Later in the race, when the course doubled back and Lyne would pass by, I found myself thinking, "She's ahead of me, but not by as much as I expected! What's she doing, knitting a sweater up there?" While I would certainly never wish for success through an opponent's misfortune, anything can happen in cross, and I found some dark region of my brain imagining how a flat tire might shrink that lead.... Can you ever be "comfortably in the lead" in cyclocross? A mechanical could always happen. A crash. Anything. You always ride on hard. Although I was "comfortably in the lead" at Plymouth, I visualized having to run half a lap to the finish with a mechanical... would I still come out up top? It kept me riding hard.
As I hit the pavement the last time, Lyne was finishing. 26 seconds later, a solid second place finish was quite a thrill. Now I know I can ride that hard, and I hope I can push myself there again.
These photos of the podium above and us below are from Dave M's site.
Check it out!
This photo by Paul Weiss on Cyclingnews is a bit disconcerting.... and how come Mo's smiling??
Ahh. What to do this weekend?? I WANT to race UCI in Reston. But a weekend trip to D.C. for a Sunday race is crazy when I have to be back at work at 7:30 am Monday and the sad reality is that the bald tires on my car probably won't make it that far........