The past weekend was the busiest weekend we have had in a while… Thank goodness it is over. (No, I don’t really say “thank goodness” IRL. I would more like drop a couple curse words, but I am trying to not let my potty mouth out too much here).
We worked Friday night to get the Haunted Yard ready for Maple Leaf Festival. We still had more to do on Saturday, but I had to head out to Joules Cross with Bowie. We didn’t do a great job with nutrition, as I skipped breakfast and we grabbed Sonic grilled cheese on the way over. Fail.
After we finished registration, Bowie had to help me pin my bib on since I was racing, too! We learned cyclists use 8 pins (not 4 like runners), and you put your number sideways down your left side. Always learning.
We did a couple warm-up loops on the grass oval track before I lined us for my Cat-4 race. I had the option of starting off in front (I guess because I was new), but that was the last place I wanted to be. I lined up in the very back. As everyone took off, I quickly realized that they were much faster than me since I chose to wear sneakers instead of clipless shoes. I reasoned that I would be less intimidated if I felt I could put my feet down, since my shoes tend to get stuck in my pedals and won’t come off easily. I did my best to charge after them and wore myself out pretty quickly. (So, another lesson learned, do my own race / own pace. Two slow loops are better than dying on the first one).
Soon I encountered the first set of barriers, I rode up, brought my right leg over and jumped off the bike just fine… but with all my adrenaline going, I came in too hot, and my bike was going faster than I was… So I fell down. Thankfully I hit the ground and was able to roll, which I think made it less jarring. The picture of my face as I started to fall was pretty awesome. No. I won’t post that one. I popped back up and said, “I’m OK!” as I fought back tears. I wasn’t hurt, just startled. (Lesson learned, keep hands on brakes so you can stop your bike if it is rolling too fast).
I crossed the barriers and climbed back on the bike and rode around more hills. Then I hit the red-mesh fence monster: The Spiral of Death. This was the obstacle that I was worried about the most… but actually, it was really easy for me as I wasn’t going that fast so I was able to navigate the tight turns. (Looking at the race pictures, it looks like some of the other women has to unclip and use their feet on this one. I think probably because they were going too fast. But hey… maybe my car racing experience of finding the right line helped me on this one).
After the death spiral, I went out for more hills. There were a few really steeply slanted hills, so I made sure to stay on the high side so I wouldn’t fall over and land in the pond. I did pop off my bike and walk the off-camber right-hand turn. I think I could have done it, but I was just not in a good place right then. I was tired and crabby, and really wondering why I signed up for this.
Down a hill and I came across a mud pit. Now, I had noticed the previous racers were all muddy. I just couldn’t figure out why since it hadn’t rained… (I seriously wonder if they created this giant mud pit for the race… .Can they do that? Is that legal? Because it just seems mean.) I know that I dropped some curses as I approached that pit and got some laughs from the crowd. Speaking of mean… I also learned you shouldn’t listen to the spectators. They were yelling for me to ride “right down the middle.” Now. I am in sneakers. I can’t generate enough power to plow through mud. I should have gotten off and pushed my bike along the edge. But I tried to ride down the middle and made it half-way or so before I got stuck and had to jump off my bike…. In ankle deep mud. Gross. So I pushed my bike out of the pit and up the hill. When I got back on, my feet were covered in mud and the pedals were slippery, so I ended up racking myself. Ouch. (Again, why am I doing this?)
I was having a hard time getting my bike to pedal. I think the chain and cranks were packed with mud so it took a lot to get everything spinning again and by this point, I was just done. The last part of the course was more hilly than technical. There was another set of barriers that I cleared without incident, mainly because I walked over them. I had nothing left.
I made it to the finish and said I didn’t want to race anymore. I thought if I waited for the leaders to pass me, I could be done so I stood and waited a few minutes. After they passed me, I rode over the finish line and they told me I had to do another lap. Oh, hell no. I took the DNF. I didn’t want to ride anymore.
I rolled my bike off the course and I laid down on the grass until the nausea went away. Steven, who got to the race just in time to see me start, wheeled my bike over to the power-washer to clean off the mud. As I was helping Bowie get warmed up, another woman DNFd because she broke her collar bone. (OUCH!!!!! I hope she is OK!)
Bowie’s race was right after the little kids raced. (Little guys did a partial loop). He was off and although he started at the back, he was passing and worked his way to mid-pack. He went through the spiral like a pro (I saw some of the other kiddos crashing in there) and looked really strong. As he did his second loop, he picked up speed and passed some more riders. His second time through the mud pit, he had an issue with his pedals and had to stop to fix them. He lost a little ground there and had to work to maintain his spot. (He was about to overtake another before he had to stop). We waved him into the pit to get him a drink before sending him out to finish.
By the time we made it to the finish line, he was sitting on the grass with his bike, a huge smile on his face. He said he had so much fun! Finally, a fun race for Bowie! His first two were brutal courses. One of the race crew had told him they wanted to talk to him after his race, so we went back over to the Spiral of Death. He just wanted to tell Bowie how well he did navigating that section. We also heard from the Donderdag coach that Bowie has really good handling skills.
“It’s all starting to come together.” (Major League reference). I think Bowie’s fitness level is really great, and his handling is coming along. Once he gets some confidence with his shifting, he will be really moving out there.
So after cyclocross, we headed home and I started packing up for Des Moines marathon as I was to run the half. Long story short, we got a late start and didn’t make it to the expo, so my Oiselle Volee teammate, Sara, picked up my packet. We finally made it to the hotel, checked in (it was an amazing hotel! Definitely stay at Hotel Renovo), then walked next door to the Machine Shed restaurant for a huge comfort food dinner.
The next morning, I was just shelled. I was tired from cyclocross. (I don’t do well with high intensity exercise or stress, and cyclocross is both!) My legs were sore / bruised. It just wasn’t happening. I messaged Sara and let her know I would meet them for lunch after the race. So I am 0-2 at Des Moines half marathons. Boo. We ate lunch and did a bit of shopping before driving back to Kansas. We had a lovely time in Des Moines but I really want to get a race completed there! Ha!
Back to the grind this week…