Monday, October 17, 2011

Spooky Cross 2011

After suffering through the flu last weekend I spent most of the week leading up to Spooky Cross somewhere between healthy and sick.  I had no appetite at all and didn't feel well enough to really train.  The net result was very little training volume and a questionable outlook on what is likely the most important 'cross race of the season for us.  To compound these issues Allison's coach sent her "Week 1" of her 2012 training plan on Monday, a week that essentially meant a low level transition week with a 1/2hr run on Friday.  This wouldn't have been an issue had we been doing any trail running lately, but over a month had passed since our last run...

Friday worked out to be different in just about every aspect from a "normal" day for The Mann Show.  It started out with a "Dawn Patrol" trail run up at Santa Rosa Plateau.  I really love trail running now and it was awesome to get up and run in the brisk morning air.  Before the run I had a banana with a bit of almond butter and maple spread (looking back I think this "breakfast" was part of what contributed to me feeling so good on the run).  I started the run behind Allison because she paces better than I do, especially with the use of her Garmin 310XT.

That didn't last long though.  I am guessing that the recent lack of training has left me feeling very fresh and I jumped ahead of her onto the second single track section.  We don't run very fast compared to real runners, but my feet felt light and I was jumping onto boulders and generally having a blast.  A large buck with a very impressive rack bolted across in front of us at one point.  So cool!  About half way through the run though Allison said that she was hurting pretty bad and needed to take the short route back to the car.  I think she finally stopped heel striking and the stress on her underdeveloped little calves was devastating.  Not good timing...

We headed home and I scrambled a couple eggs for us to munch on before heading to work.  It was a really short day at work due to a Department Picnic.  At the picnic I pigged out on BBQ and treats.  On the bright side my appetite was back, but I certainly wouldn't get sufficient volume over the weekend to burn the extra calories.  It is tough to balance off season with not gaining too much weight!

After the picnic we headed directly over to Irvine.  Our buddy Mykyta was kind enough to open his home to us for the weekend so we could hang out with the Rock N' Road crew and enjoy the festivities.  Allison and I stopped by the race venue and then headed to the Irvine store to chat with buddies and hang out.  A late dinner and a margarita with Mykyta, Chanson, and El Gato was lots of fun!

Saturday we cooked breakfast and spent a bunch of time hanging out with Mykyta before heading over to the race venue.

I had lots of bike prep to take care of and did so in the parking lot.  Allison even pitched in to help out, she is pretty handy with a rag!  When the course opened at 12 o'clock we jumped on to figure things out.  It was a fun course, not one that I would say favored me, with lots of long fast sections and a long sand pit that could not be ridden 100% (by me).  The barriers were also set up in an interesting fashion with a fast lead in, and a 180 left turn immediately before them.

Eventually it was time to line up and race.  I wasn't feeling super confident and my legs were sore from the trail run.  I am not sure why, but I had a terrible start.

Moments after the gun, I had managed to make a front row start look like a third or fourth row start.  That meant that I had to dig super hard to pass my way through traffic and catch back onto the lead pair of riders.  The lead pair consisted of none other than Johnny "O-show" O'mara and (unknown to me) Phil Tintsman (ex-DH Pro among other things).  I managed to catch them before the sand pit...

This is where Phil passed Johnny and then gapped the two of us.  I was on Johnny's wheel and then on the back section of the course where there are long straights I tried to put in a pull.  I didn't know who Phil was but figured our only chance to catch him was to work together.  This is where "Dumb Justin" took over.  I went into the gravel corner at the end of the straight way too hot.  I two wheel drifted most of the way through and should have gotten my foot out but didn't.  Down I went as Johnny yelled back to hurry up and get back on.  A few times I thought I might catch back up but made too many mental mistakes at crucial moments.  Since Johnny was racing 45+ I took second behind Phil in 35+, third from our start wave.  It was great racing though and I really wish I could have raced closer with Johnny as I surely could learn a lot from him on course.  I need all the help I can get to race with Ty and Marco next season!  There were however a ton of people out cheering and taking photos.  Some of the best race pictures I have ever had taken of me...

...and some suffering captured.

After my race I did my best to enjoy the night and support my wife and team mates!



It was a really fun night!

There wasn't much time for recovery between the races on Saturday and Sunday (less than 24hrs).  Allison and I were both feeling pretty beat down on Sunday but we suited up just the same.  With temperatures much higher I lined up looking for Phil or Johnny but neither of them were there.  My start was much better though and I led the pack into the first corners which is much more comfortable than working through traffic!  Soon it was clear that I had a new challenge for the day though in the form of Mark Noble (former National CX Champ and Track Olympian!).  

Had I known who he was before hand I would have tried to sit on his wheel but instead I played the "Dumb Justin" card again and wound up with my nose in the wind till Mark attacked me at my weakest, as I "ran" through the sand.  

It was an amazingly humbling and soul crushing moment for me in the race when he attacked.  He led by a foot or so as we dismounted into the sand and when I was about halfway through I realized through my race fog that he was already re-mounting and pedaling.  I never claimed to be a runner, but that was ridiculous!  As if my coffin wasn't quite nailed shut, later in that lap we were both working through traffic and a rider came off on a steep-up blocking the course in front of me and I came off my bike avoiding him...

It didn't really matter though.  There was no way I was going to catch Mark, this just made the gap a bit bigger!

So in the end I was second in the wave behind a former Olympic cyclist, but took 1st in 35+.

It was a fun weekend of racing but I am very sore and feeling exceptionally beat down.  Another 1st place and a 2nd place keeps me in the lead for the series but I am not sure how that will all pan out.  Allison and I both need to downshift to Base Training for next year soon!  It is tough to balance the pull of racing with the promise of training...  I am sure we will be at some more CX races though.

In the mean time, see you on the trails!

1 comment:

jameson said...

sounds like a fun weekend... bummed i missed it! keep shredding.