So, as I alluded to, I raced in my first 'cross race this weekend. I say raced because, well I am quite sure I didn't race as much as just ride, but it was called a race and since I was a participant I guess I raced and I was a racer.
Initially, I was just going to go watch, but the "Prince" (go back and see some of the previous posts to see the explanation of the Prince) prodded me into doing it because he called me a pussy in a text message. And, as everyone knows, being called a pussy by a cell phone text message is akin to putting a horse head in my bed or saying bad things about my mom...the gauntlet was thrown down and so I had to do it.
So, I dragged the family to Spearfish at 9 in the morning on Saturday for the 10 am start of my first cross race. Once there, we hooked up with the Prince, Princess and their royal court (their awesome little girls). The Prince and I did a practice lap and immediately I wondered why the hell I signed up for this. Each lap was somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3 of a mile on the rolling hills of the Black Hills State University campus. Did I mention the ENTIRE race was on grass? You know what it is like to ride on grass? Like running in mud. A lot of effort put in for not a lot of gain.
At 10 am, the race organizer (and coincidentally my son's dentist) called for a quick pre-race meeting. I had hoped for a 30 minute race and immediately those hopes were thrown to the ground and stomped into the grassy terrain of the course. He says we'll go for 50 minutes....50 MINUTES! Aye caramba. I immediately felt a bit of vomit in the back of my mouth. Before I get much of a chance to wrap my brain around any of this, we're off and "racing". Seeing the lead guys with their strength and seriousness I said to myself that if I didn't get lapped in the first lap, I'd be happy. Well, it took almost 4 revolutions of grassy goodness to get lapped, so I felt OK about things.
After my 5th lap, the woman (and I use the word "woman" in the nicest sense of the word, during the race I was positive that she was some sort of succubus or chupacabra, making a pact with the devil) said we had 5 more laps to go. 5 LAPS TO GO? Holy CRAP. Tears ran down my face and they were decidedly NOT from going fast. My legs already felt like two old Twizzlers left on the dashboard of your car for a week after a road trip through the desert, how was I gonna do one more lap, much less five?
I have to say, most of the people there were totally cool. The fastest guys, when they lapped me, said things like "good job" and "keep it up" and I reciprocated. All except one douche bag. I don't know if the thought it was going to inspire me, but when he barked "You're gonna have to get it in gear", had no inspirational effect on me at all. At all. Immediately I wanted to stop in the trees and bash him right off his bike with a branch. Why does a guy, not even CLOSE to the top 2 racers and no chance of catching them have to act like we're in Belgium at the World Championships? Sheesh. I suppose it was because he realized he and I were in the same boat, getting schooled by the race leader and he was upset that he and I were somewhat equals. Yeah, he beat me, but he also lost with me too.
So, I did finish the race, in spite of what my brain said to do. And I am glad that I saw it through. I love that taste of iron in your mouth when you do something so aerobically hard you know your lungs are bleeding. And with another race in a week and a half, I will have to go do it again.