Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monroe Mud Between the Toes (SCX finals)

Mud between the toes feels good for a change! Nowhere near the epic mud-a-thon of last year, but just enough to make things a lot more interesting than last week at Steilacoom.

I was so excited by the mud that I decided to race my new disc brake equipped 'cross bike (Specalized Carbon Crux). The confidence it gave me on the descent and through the corners was worth the slight weight penalty. Mud was definitely not going to slow me down!

With double points on the line for the final race of the series, placing was going to be doubly important for the overall standings. My goal was to hang on to my 3rd overall and not have a repeat of the last couple of weeks.

To cut a long muddy slog short, I quickly settled into 3rd place and kind of just got stuck there until the end of the race. No moving up, no moving back. So, not 2nd (yay!) then again not 1st (humph!), but 3rd. Hmm, you'd think I might be a bit disappointed, but no, I was far from it. Although fairly and squarely beaten by a couple of very fast ladies, I achieved my mission AND kept my 3rd overall in the series.
Thanks Jodi - my photographer has been slacking!

And to top that off, a very fine day was had by the team, with these impressive overalls in the series-

Kristy Kelsey - 2nd elite women
Sean Kelsey - 1st 45+ elite men
Jason Jablonski 1st 35+ elite men

A very happy day on the bike!

Christening the New Bike in Mud - where is my mechanic anyway?


A reversed course made no difference at Steilacoom (SCX#6) for our return visit. It was still Steilacoom (yawn) and the results were the same - 2nd again. My puny running legs let me down again.......

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Just Never Know.......

So here's the funny thing about 'cross - you just never know how things will pan out in the race, let alone by the end of the season. Woodland Park was the last race of the MFG series and through this series I've run the gauntlet of finishes from 3rd being my best finish to 11th being a race I'd rather forget. Overall I was sitting in 4th and looking at the competition and doing the math before the race that was likely where I'd stay. If I had a good race,  maybe I'd scrape a 3rd overall.

I had a good start off the line, sitting in 3rd, but goofed early by being in too high of a gear coming out of the first corner, and allowed a gap to form from the lead 2 gals. Fortunately no one came around me to capitalize on this, but it left me chasing hard with a couple of gals on my tail. What felt good was that I was actually capable of this hard chase (probably the first time this season I've felt this strong). There was a little back and forth between me and the 2 gals that were with me, but we weren't exactly closing in on the lead 2 gals. But all of a sudden I'm in the lead. Not exactly sure what happened, but it turns out one of the leaders pulls out after crashing hard and the other has an untimely flat and has to pit.

So now I'm not fighting for 3rd place, but for 1st place. Game on! The 2 gals with me fight hard too, each of us taking the lead at various times. On the last lap one has dropped off the pace a bit, so it's down to the 2 of us. Each lap I lose time on the run-up, so I'm dreading this section on the last lap. I know if she gaps me here that'll be it. I visualize gazelles and springing up over the barriers and logs on the run-up, but it is to no avail, the inner heffalump in me comes out and I thud my way up the slope. She gaps me, puts in an extra effort on the next climb and I have to be content with 2nd place. She earned it, fairly and squarely.

Even though I had a great race, I couldn't help but be deflated at the end, especially knowing that a win would have really shaken up the overall placings. However, it turns out it was enough to push me up to 2nd overall, so I am pretty happy with that. As for the gal who flatted, well she fought back and took 4th place, good enough to take the overall series win. So the moral of this story? Well in 'cross,  you do really never know how things are going to turn out, but you should never give up, and even bad luck in a race won't slow you down if you are that strong! Congrats Kari on your overall win :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Like Mud

Mud is good, it makes racing fun. Enumclaw (SCX#5) was fun! Not quite the mud swamp of last year, but enough to make things interesting. The slick, peanut buttery twisty corners claimed a fair number of victims and favored those who could maintain speed and stay upright.

I like this course so much in fact that I can forgive it for the 'wall of doom'. This is a run-up that seems to go vertically straight up and for me becomes a 'stagger-up' by the 6th lap. It's truly not a pretty site to behold and the beer garder hecklers at the top have plenty of time to comment on your progress! They show no pity and don't offer ropes to tow you up. Maybe we need a climbing sponsor rather than a beer sponsor next year??

Kristy just ahead of me on the 'Wall of Doom'

The 'wall of doom' was really where the 1st split in the pack came in the race. I got through around 6th place, but soon pulled into 5th place after narrowly missing a gal who crashed on the descent (she was ok). The leaders were pulling away though and as hard as I tried I could never match their speed. I knew if I had a 'clean' race (technically, not literally!) and kept focused I'd keep my 5th place though. It was hard not to be demoralized each lap by the 'wall of doom' but my endorphines kicked in on the descent and I used the guys as carrots to keep me going as I worked my way through them.

I was pleased with my solid race for 5th place, and even happier for team mate Kristy who held her 4th place ahead of me and even made some ground on 3rd place.