Monday, September 22, 2008

Starcrossed-The Teaser, Then the Race Report


(Teaser Hint: That's me on the far right!)

You will also notice that I've change the title to this blog. Seemed a bit disingenuous to continue to refer to myself as a triathlete when I haven't competed in a triathlon in over 12 months and, since that first great weekend of criterium racing, developed a general and profound disdain for running.

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Now that I'm finally done with a hectic three weeks of work and am now just killing time until we take off for Las Vegas this afternoon(a trip that will be even more delightful now that I've met the spectacular Heidi Swift and learned that she and Sal will be at Interbike as well!)-here is the real deal.

MY FIRST PODIUM RACE REPORT.

I first want to comment on the weather. Tuesday night, we couldn't sleep at the condo because it was 89 degrees that day and I refuse to turn on the air conditioner in September. By the time we woke up in Seattle on Saturday morning, it was pissing rain. Someone had turned the "off" knob on summer and the "on" knob on cross weather. Too bad we didn't pack accordingly. I usually do not go anywhere near a cross race without two rain jackets and my pink rainboots. Saturday, i had to borrow coats and sneakers so i wouldn't be wandering around in FLIP FLOPS. Doh.

Second comment is on UCI events. Sign up early and bring your own safety pins. I registered on the first day that registration was open for Starcrossed and, therefore, got to line up at the front of a 70 person field (I have already registered for the Portland Cup races in December-here's to hoping that my body and my bike hold up till then) .

Racing first is a luxury/disdadvantage that the ladies never have at Cross Crusade races, where we are always the second to last race of the day. For the 3/4 ladies race, the course was just bumpy and slick, not the mud death soup that it would become by the time the elites raced.

This was my first race of the season, as I promised myself that I would take it easy on my shoulder for as long as I could hold out from racing. After we parked and I lollygagged in Heidi and Sal's tent for a bit, I rode 3 1/2 laps on the course in the rain to warm-up (note to self: bring trainer) and to calm my nervous stomach. No matter how much I race or how little is at stake, I always get the jitters before a race.

My strategy was to sprint like hell after the gun and make it to the entrance to the velodrome's technical sections with as many people behind me as possible. I had a great start (since I was on the first row, I didn't even have to use my stellar bumping skills to work my way out to the front) and was the second person into the velodrome and up the first set of barriers. Good strategy-sounds like there there was a mid-pack clusterfuck in the same section after we came through. Kristin's bike didn't survive.

By the second lap the front of the field (which, by the way, I still couldn't beleive I was still a part of) had separated into two packs. Coco was up in the first pack with three other ladies and my chase group of about four was about 45 seconds back.

I spent most of the race seesawing back and forth with Ali from the Starbucks Team (shout out to Ali, who kicked ass in her first cross race ever!), one of my Group Health teammates and another gal. They would either catch me or create a bigger gap on the pavement and I would pass or catch on the technical sections or barriers.

By the fourth lap, every muscle in my body was screaming for mercy. The mercy point is normally the one in a cross race where I would back off and give myself a 1/2 lap of recovery. This, reader, is why I always finished mid-pack last year. I was a fucking weenie.

I didn't even think about backing off this time, even when I fell back from fifth to eigth in the fourth lap. I basically just sucked Ali's wheel until the red spots in my eyes went away and then just kept going.

I was seventh heading into the final 500 meters or so of the race, which snakes around the inside of the velodrome. There were three of us heading into the log barriers and I caught both ladies ahead of me on the run-up. My legs were rubber fire, my left shoulder had called uncle ten minutes before and I couldn't discern any noise but my own breathing. I was ready to settle for a top ten finish.

Then I heard a voice speaking to me from the gray heavens.

HARDEN. THE. FUCK .UP.

Turns out it was D, not god, but damn--than man is loud when he wants to be.

So that is exactly what I did. I hardened the fuck up, took the inside line on a tight corner and never saw either of them again. Just to be safe, I sprinted the last 20 meters out of the saddle, rolled fifteen feet past the finish line and promptly threw up in my mouth.

Fifth place. Good enough for a podium spot and some serious schwag.

I still have a huge grin on my face when I think about it. Fifth place may be peanuts to some, but to someone who has spent her cross career languishing as a mediocre B, this is good stuff.

Some post race thoughts:
  • All it takes is one race to make six weeks of 5:30 AM intervals worth the hassle and pain.
  • I am running a single chainring on the front of the Redline Land Yacht this year. Love it. There were a lot of places where I normally would have dropped a chain with a traditional set-up.
  • I won't be riding for Group Health in 2008, but those ladies were awesome-both on and around the course. I had someone cheering for me at every section of the course!
  • If you're going to borrow someone's rain jacket, don't leave your damn driver's license in it. In Seattle.
  • D-you are a superfan. No one has yelled at me in that tone of voice since my high school basketball coach. It was equally motivating, yet not nearly as terrifying.
Off to Las Vegas for Interbike and a few days of rest for my weary legs, then back for the Veloshop and Veloce races this weekend. May try my hand at singlespeed racing this weekend....

5 comments:

sbt said...

Great Picture!!! That's so exciting that you were up on the podium!!!

Kristin said...

woowoo!

mikey said...

Way to go Linds!

I hope you brought your palmar├Ęs to Interbike so you can ink a pro ride for 2009 and save practicing law for "retirement."

Russell@Upper Echelon Fitness said...

Did Heidi get you into any trouble at Interbike? Watch out for her!

RC

Lindsay said...

The true question is who got who into more trouble...