Disclaimer: I want everyone to try new things of course. I do it all the time. However just because most events end with the word RACE doesn’t mean that I’m racing any of these events. In fact I have yet to “RACE” all summer. As it may seem I’m racing to some, my coach has me on a very strict plan of practicing restraint. Racing every weekend would and has resulted in very bad injuries. READ ON!
“Race” #1 – Chase the Coyote Trail Race
Let me first say. I’m addicted to trails! Just last week I finished up the 5peaks trail running series and thought, I will take a break for a few weeks and go back to pavement. Then after coffee with Krysten Bishop, we both signed up for this race. This was her first time on the trails, and it was another weekend I was going to give my coach more grey hairs.
Chase the Coyote is such a great race. I’ve always wanted to try it and next year I’m going for the coyote! I signed up for the 5.7km race. I heard the longer course was even more picturesque but the 5.7km did not disappoint.
Let’s get to what happened out there on trails. After doing and wanting to die after my “Kenyan Workout” on Friday night, my coach heard my friend wish me luck on my race weekend. Oops! After some explaining and coach talk, the promise was, I was just running, not racing and oh yeah that bike race, was just for fun.
3km into “Chase the Coyote” I was out in front. Still not racing, I promise. Suddenly the game changed. A fellow female runner came up beside me. This would not normally bother me. This female is someone who on the road I have out raced every single time. A strange thing happened. I went into “race mode”. I swear I felt my eyes dilate, the hairs on my arms raised and that fight or flight mode was locked in. Then somehow, I took my ego, locked it up and threw away the key and took back the controls. In 30 seconds I went over my weekend schedule. Trail race, family dinner, my first cross race on Sunday and then a 25km long run Sunday night. A race at this moment would have ruined my weekend and next week’s workouts. I let her go. What made me happiest was even though all summer I was practicing “race” restraint, this time I actually had to put it into play. I happily took my second place finish and reminded my ego, my real race day will come. Coach’s favourite word for me is “patience”.
“Race” #2 – More Cowbell CX Race
My first cross race, my third time on my cross bike. Total Newbie. Like trail running, cross races are so relaxed and the people are super friendly. I was happy to see lots of familiar faces from my Saturday morning Toronto Donut Rides. I felt less “like I didn’t belong”. Team905 Cycling club is my favourite club. The guys are so supportive of each other and they really took me under their wing during practice and at the race. The race organizer Nathan did a great job and he deserves a huge shout out for putting on a great event.
I will admit I was nervous at the race start line. There was a lot of talk of crashes and the women lined up with me looked like total badasses.
- not finish last
- not end up in an ambulance
- have fun!
The race started and my inner endurance athlete kept whispering, “pace yourself”. The first lap I didn’t push too hard, and spent a good part of the lap figuring out what gears I needed for each section. Once you do one lap in cross, you pretty much have it all figured out.
Things I didn’t know about cross.
Timing Chips. Lap number two my timing chip fell off my bike. After grabbing a decent lead on some of the other girls, I very quickly lost it because I went back to pick up my timing chip. In running races, no chip means you’re pretty much screwed. Not the case in cross. After the fact, I was told I didn’t have to do that and could’ve just kept going. Now in last place, I had to spend the next three laps making sure I didn’t stay there.
Heckling. Who knew this was a thing in racing. The barriers are stressful enough as they are, but then with a sideline of guys heckling you, didn’t make it any more comfortable. It was all in good fun, and I had some epic re-mount fails, which were caught on camera somewhere.
I finished the race in one piece, learned a whole new language that is special to cross and most importantly had so much fun! Of the whole day there is one person that stands out as my favourite. Brandon. He is the owner of Inception Cyclery. This guy is at every event making sure our bikes are in top shape and most importantly that the riders are safe. He is one of the nicest guys I’m happy to have met. He heckled my butt off, but he was extremely supportive and cheered me on the whole time. If you go to St. Catherine’s you should stop in a say hi. He will make you a coffee and keep you in stitches. The bonus, he’s a master bike mechanic.
As a runner, I’ve mastered my sport. It comes naturally to me. The best part of the doing cyclocross is that I’m not great at it, I fumble, I get my ass kicked and it’s perfect. There’s something refreshing about being a total newbie. Taking up a new sport at 40 will make you feel like a kid all over again.