Carpenter Park Cyclocross
October 19, 2008 – Carpentersville, IL
Masters 30+ – 26th
Today was my most painful race in years. Not from the usual exertion, but from true physical pain. I don’t know the cause, but my legs felt as if they were going through the last few miles of a marathon. When it came to dismounts and remounts, my legs did not want to move. In fact, I could barely lift my legs over the barriers. So weird. At Jackson Park, my legs felt better as the race went on and they were feeling really strong during CX practice last Wednesday. Oh, well, out bodies have a mind of their own.
I was very disappointed, because I was really excited about Carpenter’s Park after having missed the last couple of races. I felt as if I got a good warm-up in and had done an adequate amount of stretching. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. The Masters 30+ race started with about 30 guys and we were immediately thrown into a long, twisting section just yards after the start. I didn’t get a good start, but wasn’t too worried as my plan was to slowly work my way up in the barriers and sand pit.
Oh, yeah, the sand pit. That’s one of the features that makes the Carpenter’s Park course unique. It’s next to a playground and about 20 yards long. This year, the organizers got a high school drum corps to play for us racers we went through. Very cool. I was able to easily ride through during the preride and even made it through the first couple of laps during the race. However, the sand got rutted and I found running through to be much faster and use less energy. The sand pit is definitely a crowd favorite.
After a couple of laps, my legs really started to cramp. While I had been picking off riders, I started to get eaten up myself. I had a lot of trouble at the barriers, especially those on a short little run up. It got so bad that I had a hard time climbing over the barriers even standing in one spot. Remounting turned into a painful exercise in fruition. Just 20 minutes into the race, I wanted to quit. Wait, this is cyclocross. It’s supposed to be painful and frustrating. The last half of the race felt like the last few miles of a marathon when your legs shut down even though your heart and mind can keep going. I’ve been there before and figured I could at least hang on for a few more laps no matter how ugly it looked. I ended up rolling in at 26th. I probably should have dropped out, but finishing provided some sense of accomplishment and to provide motivation for next week. Time for a massage at Athletico and some much needed stretching.
A big thanks to North Branch and Main Street Bicycles for the new course and hosting a great race. I missed the afternoon races, but I heard the beer tent added a nice European-like atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to the race next year!