November 14th, wow how time flies....almost a MONTH ago already!
I didn't know it, but I saved the best for last. The Kutztown Cross would be my last cross race of the year and it turned out to be my best performance of the year. It was a first time event, held on the grounds of a Flea Market in the nearby sleepy college town of Kutztown. The event was part of the PA Cross Series and the normal crew was preregistered. After my epic battle with Johan the day before (and some First Endurance Ultragen recovery drink) I wasn't sure what I had left, plus the ever accurate predictor placed me in 9th place out of 45 preregistered riders in the elite masters field. Could I prove the predictor wrong two days in a row?
The course featured a wealth of turns winding through flat fields surrounding the market. There were some tight tree sections, some gravel and two sets of barriers. Nothing crazy and nothing that would push you too far into the red. The start was a long false flat grass straight with a 180 degree turn on gravel. I knew a strong start would be key, get to the gravel first and let the rest of the field string out through all the turns before you hit the tree section. For some reason, the first few guys called up left the inside open on the front row, so I jumped in there.
I had a great start, maybe 6th or so. I pushed myself deep into the red through the first half of the course, trying to gain as many spots as I could before we hit the single track through the trees. It worked as I entered that section in 4th place and as we exited that section I made two more passes...suddenly finding myself in 2nd spot. Now I was nervous, I completely burried myself physically for the first 4 minutes of the race and I was sitting in 2nd place with a fast pack behind me.
I focused on smooth turns and lowering my heart rate. I got passed by one guy, we jockeyed positions a few times and I settled into 3rd place. The course was fast, laps were relatively short so we were looking about a 9 lap race...OUCH! I continued to focus on my turns and being smooth. To my surprise I kept the leaders dangling about 15 seconds ahead of me...and no one was gaining on me!
I rolled across the line to finish my best effort of the year, a podium in 3rd place. I was excited by what I had just accomplished (and that I pocketed some cash!) and satisfied with how I had ended the year. I can't believe that it will be 9 months until I roll onto the starting line again, but it is just the motivation I need.
I left the race on my way to wrap up another season, my daughter's soccer season (and my first year of coaching). We had a great day and it was really rewarding to step back and see how far the girls had come throughout the year and to see them all having fun.
We've been busy around the house...a great Thanksgiving with family, our annual pilgrimage to cut down the Christmas tree, decorating the tree and Holiday parties.
I've started to look at next year's racing schedule and my goals....more to come....including possibly a trip to the newly announced REV3 race in Portland?