Monday, October 15, 2007


I'm trying to teach my kids some solid values. I admit I'm not the best at practicing what I preach. My boy charlie taught me alot this weekend at the Gran Prix of Gloucester cross races.

Three weeks ago I was crawling under the course tape at my second cross race of the season in Bedford Ma after rolling my ankle on a rock at the base of a steep run up. It hurt, but the main thought going through my mind was how a simple mis-step may have put an end my cross season: a season that is short to begin with and really isn't the kind of thing you can take two months off without missing some important races. I'd be lucky if I could race in Northampton in 6 weeks.

This past Friday I headed to Gloucester with the family (and new bike) in tow with super low expectations for the two races there. I felt good enough to at least enter the race but was only hoping not to hurt myself further. I declared that finishing at all would be a victory.

Day 1: Tip toe through the sand pit

A quick recon of the course in the morning revealed good news: no technical running would be required. A slow run up with barriers and a low speed sand pit would be the only time I'd have to be off the bike. I was a bit worried about the looseness of the pit underfoot, but the heavy sand packed solidly below while running. I'd have to run on my tippy toes so that I could control the motion of my foot by locking my calf, but that wasn't a big deal. Thanks to my above average registration skills, I had a third row spot next to Mark Stotz, and behind Chris Long, and Kevin Hines. The S/F straight bends left and goes uphill before flattening and heading to the right into the upper fields. I decided to stay right and get my sprint on at the whistle, settling in around 20th off the pavement. The fast guys with slow internet connections behind me made their way through, and I was around 30th after the first half lap. The first run up was more of a test of nerves than anything, and the foot felt great as I remounted at the top of the run up. Most people were riding the sand even on the first lap but not me: no way was I taking a chance of going down and having to unclip quickly as the sudden movements are the ones that had been hurting me the worst. I felt bad slowing the train of guys riding the pit but I just wanted to stay injury free. It worked.

After a few laps I was no longer concerned about hurting my ankle, though I was still careful when off the bike. The two guys I was riding with were super slow in the grassy turns but absolute animals on the road and the power straights so I put in a huge effort coming out of the sand pit on the second to last lap to keep them behind me until after the paved section. That worked well, so even though they caught me they were forced to ride my pace through the turns of the last lap before the pit. I rode the sand pit on the last lap to to avoid the remount and put in another huge effort to establish a gap before the last few turns. I was uncontested at the line for 37th.

Day 2: Opened up or shut down?

Last year my Sunday races were usually a bit better than my Saturday ones, a phenomenon Zank refers to as "opening up the legs." The Sunday prerace was a bit more relaxed even though we arrived at the venue later than the day before. The registration lines were non existant and since they hadn't changed the course there was no real need to pre-ride it. I was in about the same starting position and basically behind the same people for the line up, and at the whistle I gave it a much harder effort than the day before. By the time we hit the first runup, I knew it was going to be a long day. The legs were questioning what was going on and the HR was already pegged. The lactic acid was building faster than normal, and I battled with an uncooperative seatpost that cost me about a minute and perhaps 10 spots when I went to pits for a fix. I was riding behind the guys I had ridden just ahead of the day before and considered dropping out with three to go as the legs were simply cooked. I was frustrated with the post and the lack of snap, but figured that I'd use the time as training. I was nt involved in any significant mini-battles and finished a disappointing 48th.

So I was kind of jerked about the weekend results. I worked hard all summer to improve from my normal mid-30s finishes in 2006, and here I got 37th one day and 48th the next. Then Charlie did the 5-6 year old race. He admitted to some nerves before hand and I told him that was normal, and most likely excitement not nervousness. "Dad! I got fourth!" he screamed after crossing the line, and he came over for a hug with a huge smile and double high-fives. He had done his best, enjoyed the ride and was happy with his results.

He's practicing what I preach, and I should do the same. So I came to the realization that I'm thrilled to have raced without injuring myself and am pleased with my decent results considering how little I've been able to ride the past month or so. I spent a great weekend with my family and some great friends doing something I love to do in a beautiful setting with perfect weather. Ali made apple pie and I had two peices. My season isn't lost, I will continue to race the season as planned from here on out. Giddy up.

CJ on the rivet


Yash Katsumi said...

Good to see you healthy and racing this weekend!

Your son is already shattering dreams of other competitors at Gloucester!

By the time he is a junior, he can say, "Yeah, this is my 12th time lining up at Gloucester"

josh said...

i wish my dad had me racing 'cross at a young age.....

Robert said...

Good writing. Thanks for the post. I laughed as I read about "fast riders with slow internet connections...."