So I ended my “retirement” from XC racing yesterday, forgoing
a chance to spend the day in Pisgah for a sufferfest. The Riverfront Classic (a race in the Southern Classic Series
) was the venue here in Charlotte, taking place on trails that I know very well. It actually
wasn't a bad decision. Instead of worrying about dirt roadies and
sandbaggers, I went into my first cross country event in a long time
with a positive attitude. The plan as to have fun, yet be a little
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
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
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
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
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”