Surf City #1, Soquel High School, Soquel. After last weeks total kick in the kidneys I was looking forward to a flatter course, and Soquel HS is pretty flat. Also it's a great venue. I had thought going into this season I had a better fitness base than last year. Not entirely evidenced by last weeks performance, I was humbled in the reality that I may be in better shape to start the season that last year, but don't go thinking I'm in great shape. Regardless I looked forward to this race as the first race of the season that I thought I had a chance to go top 20. (top 20's are the goal this year, and in NorCal that is easier said than done)
Typical morning, everything went ok, but I still managed to screw myself out of a warmup, mostly....There was a hold up at registration, which took longer than desired. BUT, the reason for the hold up was that they were testing a chip timer system for the NCNCA to take a look at. There were some instructions that needed to be relayed to the racers. For the record, you should always plan for registration hold ups that way when one happens it doesn't throw you off. This one, since they were fielding a chip system (non-locals won't know this has been a hot button topic for years here), I say give them allowance. So I do.
The reality however is time spent is never to be spent again, and once I got my number and went to change over I simply had not enough time to get done what i wanted. Firstly was that bowl of grape nuts and dried fruit that was sitting in my truck instead of my belly. Getting too close to start time to eat now....and then not having adequate warm up time.
I do get a couple of preview laps to see what this year is going on. Same gravel road start, up the road and then double back and then into some grass. This year the grass sections were, shall we say...extended. Double back again and then to a ride/ run up (depending on if anyone is in your way when you hit it). Around a tree with another little punch up to the upper ball field. Different this year is not having to traverse the disintegrating ditch, instead being routed over a little bridge and then down to the next ball field. Not before pumping though a double ditch at the bottom of that. Then bomb down to the lower sports fields, and I always liked this little corner and section that goes between fences and ball fields then leads up to the run up. It's a good run up, appropriately sized. However this year they decided to put triple barriers leading into and part way up it. The course went back to the field containing the finish line, let you see it, then cruelly led you away for a couple minutes worth of grassy snake turns before allowing you to cross. All in all, another fun course at a great venue put on by cool people.
So how did I do with no breakfast or warm up? Awesome, although I don't recommend this. The B wave was all set up, waiting and they tell us it's going to be 10 more minutes. It's cold and all I got was a couple hot laps so I do not want to settle back down. 10 minutes, I can do a truncated lap and keep my self going. Well, I get back and the B's have left, a minute later my field (35+B's) went. I pull up just as the last group (45+ B's) is getting ready to...1,2,3, go!! Shite, I'm already a minute behind my field, and I'm in the back of a whole other field that I have to contend with. First order of business is to get over it, then hit the start hard. I get into the middle of the pack by the first obstacle. Then I just keep jumping whenever I can. Problem is I start to really hurt, like I want to quit hurt. My empty stomach shrinks down, I'm dry heaving, cramping...miserable. A few guys pass me, I start recognizing a pattern of kits from the guys I'm jockeying with. The laps are so long feeling that I convince myself it's going to be a 4 lap race. 2 laps in and I'm in damage control like last week. Then on lap 3 I start feeling like ok I am going to finish no matter what. I come through thinking I'll see 1 to go, because I totally think I have it figured out. So, when I saw 3 to go, I almost deflated right there. Instead I told myself that 2 more laps or 10 more, damn it go!! I then started feeling not miserable, and recognizing that I was moving forward not back; this is motivating. I started seeing numbers from guys in MY field. I will NOT be last, I will NOT be lapped...my mantra going forward. I knew that even though I was now warmed up and able to race, I had finite energy stores and one gel left which was consumed w/ 2 to go. I settled into a nice rhythm. I picked spots on the course where I was able to pass people without blowing up. Like on all the grass section, it was sucking the energy out of people but I was pretty content there. The gravel road, where I was hating it earlier I'd figured out a line and was cruising. The corners are where I excel, and I was able to take advantage of that in the twisty's. I even passed a couple of guys on the run up (like one on one lap, one on another). By the bell lap I felt like I had managed to completely salvage my day. The only thing that would ruin it was a reality where I was lapped and finished last and so blowing all of the progress I thought I'd made.
So how'd I do? 19th. Time gaps aren't posted at the time of this writing, and the field was only 32 guys, so it's not the same as getting 19th out of 80 guys like in BASP races. But I'm taking it. There were some guys who got lapped, and they started on time. I now wonder where I would have finished -1 minute....maybe....18th?