I usually don't like writing race reports where nothing unusual happens during the race. But, as you know, Monday's race was unusual and exciting for the simple fact that I was out there thirteen days after my last chemo treatment and three hours after my second radiation treatment.
The race itself may have been uneventful, but the evening was not without some unintentional cancer side effect hilarity. First, I had wardrobe issues. After my diagnosis, I sold most of my 2010 team clothes to my teammates, keeping just a few items for cyclocross season. I don't ride much in my team kit, primarily because I think the shorts are the work of the devil and I have three brand new custom Hincapie kits (courtesy of my firm and R's employer) that are infinitely more comfortable. And a wee bit larger.
I brought my team kit to the race Monday night and it turns out that the ten pounds I put on during chemo make a huge difference in how my kit fits. Two days later, I still have elastic marks on my thighs and as for the jersey, lets just say that I chose to race in a cotton T-shirt rather than spend 30 minutes with the hem of the jersey creeping up around to my neck.
I also learned that I need some different sunglasses. I am down to approximately 10 eyelashes, which are essential to keeping wind and dirt out of our eyes when we ride. The D-List sunglasses that I use for short track did not cut the mustard Monday night. If you noticed I was crying on the course, those were not tears of joy or pain. I was just trying to clear my eyes out so I didn't run into a tree, another racer or the portable BBQ by the course.
When the whistle blew I let everyone start before I did, then started navigating the course at my own "race" velocity. My plan was to do two laps, then quit and rest up for the team relay. However, this plan was quickly short circuited as I began passing people. Just a few people, most of whom had crashed or had a mechanical, but it was enough motivation to try and ride out the entire 30 minutes.
Short track is hard enough with a healthy cardiovascular system. Throw in a lack of fitness and some stupid cancer, and by the fourth lap, my lungs and legs harmonizing through a full on rendition of "What the Bloody Hell is This!" "Shut up Legs" may help Jens crush souls through the pain, but if my legs had shut up, I would have stopped completely and faceplanted into the dirt.
But I finished without crashing or having to put a foot down and I wasn't last. The latter fact shouldn't even matter, but it does.
To be honest, my body wasn't ready to even pretend to put in a race effort. (No kidding, says you.) And I'm not sure that it wasn't detrimental to my physical system in the short term. But mentally, the effort and the resulting hiccup of fatigue was worth it. I needed to get back out there and test my mind and my body. And I also needed to go out there and commune with my fellow races. The enjoyment I get from watching races one thing, but to have a shared experience with hundreds of other people is another thing altogether.
I'm going to ease my way slowly back into the "serious" racing thing, but it doesn't mean that I can't have fun in the meantime. Kruger's Farm Dirt Crit on August 29....be there or be square. I'll buy a beer for any of the B Ladies that can lap me.
(In other news of note, I was on KBOO's Bike Show this morning with OBRA's executive director, Kenji Sugahara, promoting the High School Cross Series. The podcast can be found here.)