Yesterday, I attended day three of the three-day Cincinnati Internal Cyclocross Weekend at Harbin Park. When thinking of a race report, two phrases come to mind and I couldn't decide which would be a better title.
"I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."
This is sort of an old inside joke, but I can really only think of one person who will know what I'm talking about, so I will explain. When I was racing beginner class in the DINO series back in 2006, I went to check the results after one of the races and overheard one of the other girls from my class talking. She was saying something like, "Oh yeah, she was the one who got in my way at the start. I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness." This was funny because: 1) I'm fairly certain she was talking about me and didn't realize I was standing right there because I'd changed into my street clothes. 2) It's one of the more "duh" statements I've ever heard in regard to bike racing.
Obvious as it may be, I couldn't help thinking of that phrase during the early part of the race yesterday, because I was once again in next-to-last place in between the same two girls from the last race. Apparently, the 20 additional racers that were present yesterday made very little impact on "our" race. I was attempting to battle it out with the girl who beat me last time and I kept passing her in the twisty sections, only to be passed in the straightaways. Apparently, pedaling over grass is like kryptonite for me; I've got to work on the raw power thing. To complicate matters, this race had a lot more bumpy straightaways than the last one and a lot fewer corners. So when she finally passed me on an long, grassy uphill and pulled away, I couldn't help but think, "I could have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."
"There's no coasting in cyclocross."
Crying is fine, as long as your legs keep moving.
After, she pulled away, I proceeded to be caught by the 35+ age group women who started 30 seconds back, and then by some of the juniors who started after them. Yes, I know I'm weak when the 10-12-year-olds start passing me, and I probably shouldn't admit that. However, the last two races I've had a kid come around me and just sit up. They just stop pedaling on the gradual declines. This bothers me because I'm in a world of hurt and can't stand to lose any bit of momentum. I build speed where I can and maintain it as much as humanly possible. I never stop pedaling, except to lean into turns or absorb shock on bumpy downhills.
Yeah, I know that any adult who's slow enough to be passed by juniors has no room to complain, but it's just an observation I've made.
Overall, I would call this race "Yeah, Fine, Whatever", which is a step or two down from "Perfectly Acceptable". I placed about the same in relation to everyone from the last race, but 20th place sounds worse than 5th and I was hoping for an improvement.
When I set up my Training Peaks account, it prompted me to create an annual training plan and it asked my three top goals for the season and the limiter that had the most effect on each goal. I actually had a hard time thinking of three, so I left one blank for 2009. I was thinking yesterday that number three should be "write a race report where you actually call a race 'good'." I'm not sure about the limiter though; they don't have the choice of "self-esteem" or "all of the above". I'm actually giving some thought to the criteria for meeting that goal and maybe I'll have more on that later in the week.