So, I shaved some racing stripes in my legs.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going out for hot laps with a bunch of guys that were in it to win it. Did I have the fire to compete like that? Did I have the legs? Did I give a shit?
I guess I would find out soon. We lined up at the bottom of the hill, and my plan was to take off and settle into a groove quickly. We the race started, I found myself moving up towards the front of the pack. Before I knew it, I was in the lead.
Photo credit: Lunchbox
My time is first place was short-lived though. On the downhill headed towards the woods, I slipped back a little and went into the singletrack in second place. While my heart rate was up a little, I actually felt like I could keep that pace for quite a while. I did, until a few climbs later when my legs realized that I didn't have a proper warm up.
I let two guys go by, and shortly thereafter, another. I was in fifth place, soon to be dropped all the way to DFL. I kept pushing, hoping that I could catch up on the next downhill. The leaders were still in sight, so I knew I had a chance. When the downhill finally came, I let it go. They did too.
Since it was a two lap race, I didn't panic. I kept my pace, and when I came to the next big climb I still saw the pack up ahead. There was still hope to catch them, and I stopped worrying about anyone behind me. The two biggest climbs were coming up soon, and I knew that would be my chance to put the hammer down. I saw TomTom at the beginning of the climb, heard him shout something encouraging, and I put my head down to get up the hill. My heart rate was through the roof, but I wasn't backing down. I could hear the leaders up ahead, but they were out of sight and leaving me for good.
After making it up both climbs, my lungs were protesting. I coasted down as fast as I could, but I was a little woozy from a lack of oxygen. Knowing that the worst was behind me, I concentrated on getting my breathing under control so I could get back to “racing.” A few more short climbs later, I found myself on a rocky, rooty, and rough section...
and in sight of fourth place.
I blasted by him and turned it on. I was finally recovered, and with the easy stuff left I knew I could put a gap on him. Before I knew it, I saw my kid in the woods with the camera.
I blasted through the start/finish line and headed back into the woods. I felt much better, and thought that maybe I could catch the rest of the field. I exchanged pleasantries with Eastwood as I passed him sitting in the woods, and concentrated on trying to make this a race. I was much stronger on the climbs this time. I didn't know how much I had left, but the plan was to go until it was gone.
Things don't always go as planned though, as the guy I passed to get into fourth place was closing in. I don't know where it came from, but I pushed it even more and left him. I wasn't about to lose the position I worked so hard to get. I kept looking over my shoulder as I pushed ahead, widening the gap between fourth an fifth. The leaders were long gone I figured, and before I knew it I was getting close to the end.
I saw my kid again too.
With the finish line only a few hundred feet away, I was glad it was over.
Photo cred: Little Miss Sunshine
I finished the day in fourth place, which I guess wasn't so bad after not doing this stuff for so long. I was pleased with my effort, and more importantly I had fun.
I never thought I would say that again about cross country racing.
Will I do it again? Maybe. Who knows how long this “unretirement” will last.