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 :)