That is the one word that best describes how I felt last weekend. I was nervous for a few reasons. It was my first race in CAT1. It was my first cross country race since March. It was also my first cross country race up at Rim Nordic and I did not know the course. I also don’t really train specifically for cross country races. Regardless, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and get up into the mountains to race.
I showed up a bit early to make sure I had time to register and I ended up just signing up for all 4 races. I have to do 3 of the 4 races to break even. If I do all 4, the fourth one is essentially free. After registering, I went back and got all ready. I had about an hour and a half until my race started. I ended up seeing a bunch of people I knew so we all hung out for a bit under a tree enjoying the shade. I then got in a bit of a warm-up, made several bathroom breaks, and found my way to the race start.
There were a total of 3 guys in my category. I sort of had the idea of sitting in the back of the pack to see how everyone was going to pace themselves, but as soon as the race started, that plan fell to pieces. I had a good start and found myself sitting third wheel from the group and eventually second. I soon lost the lead guy and let another guy by, but they were in different age groups, so I then settled into my own pace. This was my first mistake.
I say that was a mistake because my pace was my endurance pace. I could have held that pace for 50+ miles. Then, at the end of the second lap, one of the guys in my category caught me. I rode with him for a couple miles until the first major climb. I went to shift into a smaller chain ring and nothing happened. I think I had bent my front derailleur earlier in the race. I had to mess with my shifting for a bit and he rode away. I again found myself in no-mans land and settled into my pace again.
I finished in a hair over 2 hours, which I feel was slow for what I think I am capable of. The good news is that I know what I need to do to decrease my time for the next race. I heard some banter after the race about the course and I think I have gathered that it varies for each race. So, I wont be able to compare my times, but I can compare sections of the course using Strava and I can compare how much slower per mile I was from the pro guys. If I can decrease the gap, then I know I am getting faster.