Over the last few days I finally think I have dropped the massive headaches that accompanied the meningitis (that is a wonderful feeling) and I've slowly gained some energy back. I've learned that this can linger for about 6-8 weeks and I'm trying not to rush into thinking I should feel normal too soon. I've slowly tallied up some rides. I've enjoyed being back on the bike when I can and buckled down and hit some pretty cold rides as the weather is getting pretty chilly these days. I also have decided to try and stay outside for most of my training this winter and invested in some lights and winter Specialized defroster shoes thanks to Summit City Bicycles in Fort Wayne. I can't wait to really put them to the test!
This season has certainly been a roller coaster ride for me and this weekend I decided to keep that crazy train rolling a little more. Given that my overall ovcx standings were pretty much in the dog house since I had missed so many races, I decided to do some other races that I had always wanted to do, but could not since I was in a points chase. I really wanted to do the Gravel Grovel, but decided that the distance would be a little much for me to tackle with so much recent time off the bike. I had always wanted to hit up Jingle Cross in Iowa City, but
it had always been difficult to get the timing just
right with the holiday and my work. Somehow,
it all seemed to line up just right this year, and I decided to head west. I had to work Friday, so I was bummed about missing the night race, but in the end, I'm glad I didn't head out that day as family time would have been tight on Thursday to pack and get ready. So it worked out.... my sister Beth and I took off late Friday after work and had a nice trip to Iowa City and enjoyed catching up with each other and settled in to the hotel for some rest before heading out into the cold on Saturday... and so it began. I had always seen pictures of Mt Krumpit. I love how they say pictured say a thousand words, but somehow, that saying failed me for this venue. Funny how things never look as steep and gnarly in pictures as compared to what they really are. When we pulled into the venue on Saturday, we rounded the corner, saw the hill, and collectively said, "oh sh**." I knew I hadn't been training much lately, but I figured I had some sort of lingering fitness to hold on in this race, but my recon in pre-riding of this hill had me out of breath. It was a 200 ft "run" up and it was pure mud... and we ran up it 4 times in the race. I'll get back to that. I loved the rest of the course. It was held at a fairgrounds and had some really fun features and I felt right at home since I do most of my cross training at my local fairgrounds. I was excited to get racing, but really had no expectations since I had prep for this race in almost ZERO ways. I just didn't want to come in last. At the start we had a pretty competitive field of 25 gals and I struggled from the gun with clipping in as the pic shows above. I finally got it together once I was dead last and started to work back up. About 1/2 a lap into it, I had worked back up to 12th place and was feeling pretty good and then it hit me- the Wall. The stupid Mt Krumpit wall. Who's idea was it to put that stupid hill in the way of the cross course anyway? I started the run up and I started going backwards - it was all downhill from there. My body just didn't have it in me to exert that sort of upward effort just yet. Every lap I would gain on the bike only to drop a few more places on the run up. It was frustrating to have everything else go smoothly and watch it all become pointless on the hill. I ended up finally trying to fight the frustration and not get so ticked at myself for not being able to run up a massive hill after being really sick for the last month.
I just chilled out my attitude and enjoyed the venue and kinda rode like I was in cross practice. I think hitting the deck kinda helped me do that too (as seen in the pic above). Nothing like a high speed endo in to a downhill pile of hay bails to help you not take things too seriously. I ended up sprinting for last place on the last lap. I could have done a little better, but it just wasn't realistic for me to expect it. I have never finished last at a race like this and I would have never imagined being okay with that result, but I really didn't mind. I had fun, I did a race I've always wanted to check out, I had my sister there cheering me on, and I was able to race my bike at a pro UCI race. It easy to be the Monday QB and look through the results of the weekend and look at the snap shot of how races turned out. We all do it. But a thousand words of that snap shot isn't nearly enough to tell the whole story of what happened or what events lead up to the results. I was last on the results, but at least I was able to show up, which is something I hadn't been able to do for the previous 4 weeks.
After the race, Beth and I did some shopping after dinner. There isn't much else to do in Iowa! We both faded pretty fast while shopping and retired to the hotel pretty early. The second I hit the hotel lobby, I was exhausted. The buzz of the race was wearing off and the reality that I was still recovering from illness hit me. I was asleep by 9pm. I woke up Sunday and still felt exhausted and I had to decide what to do. I was afraid that if I raced that I wouldn't be able make the 7 hour trip home alive enough to do anesthesia Monday morning. Given how exhausted the previous day had made me, I was sure another day of My Krumpit would only compound things more. I decided to skip day 3 of Jinglecross. That decision just about killed me, but it was the smart thing to do. After all, I'm a professional and I have to assure that I can do my real job above all else in the end. Beth and I opted to have a nice breakfast and worked our way back home at a nice pace, stopping and having fun along the way. We really had a fun time together and it was a nice trip despite my race results.
Jingle cross is now marked off my "to do" list and I can say I have no desire to ever do this race again in the future. I've done enough races in my life to know that I will never be good at Mt Krumpit and if the Grinch wants to own that hill, he can have it for all I care. I'm glad I went and found that out before taking a lot of time off from work for it next year. The event was run great, the fans were wonderful and I would recommend this to other people, but it wasn't for me. I'll mark down Jinglecross on my resume as a 25th place result. It will be there visually for years to come and I'll look at the number and chuckle a little to myself knowing that it was a last place finish. I'll even chuckle a little more knowing that that is only a number and a snap shot of the journey I had to get there and fun trip I cherished with my sister.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a memory is so much more valuable in the end.
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome.
-Booker T Washington