For most triathletes, the off-season is spent recuperating. Time spent regenerating, resting and being kind to their bodies that worked SO hard all year long. I do that too, but first I have to get in a few good cross races! Admittedly I use the term "race" loosely. Sure, it's a good effort for most of the 1 hour out there, but by no means do I put it all on the line. Most of the reason I go is for the atmosphere, spending some quality time with friends and to get in a workout w/o having to think about it. Most of the time on the course, I'm focusing on things so far out of my comfort zone that I can forget it is an actual race. It's a good thing there are lots of "fans" to remind me of when I do something stupid, that it IS a race and I should be going harder. I love cyclocross fans, they're so honest. The fact that the beer starts flowing around 9am might contribute to their honest, fun loving nature :)
The season started on October 7th, with Cross Crusade #1, Alpenrose Dairy. Usually this race coincided with Hood River Hops Fest, but I was thankful to have a whole week to recover before jumping back on the saddle! Alpenrose is generally the biggest race of the series, mostly because it's the first one. This year did not disappoint! We even had personal fans this time! Ryan's Dad came all the way from Idaho Falls, and my Dad and Brother were able to make it as well! For me, the race was kind of ..eeeh. The course is pretty technical, which does NOT play well to my strengths. Technical and super bumpy, left me feeling discouraged and a little discombobulated. Not to mention it was hot and dusty, leaving me extremely thirsty! I am not usually a big soda fan, but Ryan's Dad bought us some Coke's after the race and it was the BEST THING EVER! I finished almost exactly mid-pack, and happy to be alive.
Cross Crusade #2, Rainier High School. Out of all the courses, this one is definitely my favorite - yay for hills! The day was typical Oregon coast fall weather, a little cloudy, a little drizzly and a whole lot misty. It felt so refreshing! I had a horrible start position, but found a good hole at the beginning and was able to work my way up to top 10. The girls I hung with were the perfect balance for me. I was a little stronger climbing and thru some of the technical sections, but they pushed me on all the gradual and flat sections. The race ends on a climb, and I tactially set myself up for a sprint finish, swinging around another girl just before the finish line. I did get a little too anxious and went too soon, but was still able to hold her off - whew!
Ryan and I had scheduled in a "break" for the following weekend, but were persuaded by some friends to race again. Though I am exhausted...there really isn't much I would rather do with a fall day! Heading into cyclocross season, we always intend on being under full control of the season and what races we do...but the fever is nearly impossible to avoid. Before we know what happened, we inevitably spend 7 weekends in a row, driving at least 7 hours per weekend to participate in cyclocross. More specifically, Cross Crusade.
Cross Crusade #3, PIR Heron Lakes. In the few years I've done Cross Crusade, I have yet to do this course. It was a blast!! My legs did not want to give me much, so I just accepted what they could give me...for the most part. I did make them suffer a little bit...but was mostly nice :) I had a great starting position, but squandered it by not being able to clip in right away and missed a good hole. Anyway, I worked to get up to the second group of girls, and stayed with them for most of the race. There were some nice open sections that were perfect for picking up a draft when the "A" men would pass, but the rest of it was a little slow going thru mud and gravel. Though it didn't have any real significant climbs, it was a good mix of terrain which kept it fun and interesting. I didn't quite finish as well as I did at Rainier, but am not too disappointed with my finish of 13th place...after-all 13 is my lucky number :)
This last weekend, we missed the Cross-Crusade double header in Bend, OR for a trip to San Diego and a USATriathlon Coaching Certification Clinic!! It means a lot that Ryan would give up a weekend of Cross racing to be my moral support person and travel buddy..it made all the difference!