Sunday, December 2, 2007
USGPCX #6 - Portland, OR
A very quiet race morning turned into chaos with one phone call. My dad had been found lying collapsed, not moving on the floor by my mom who had just gotten up. He was only semi - conscious. My brother was on his way down to their house and 911 had been called but had not arrived yet. This was still too fresh for me to deal with. The unknowns, the possibilities, the questions. No one had answers yet and I was/am 2 hours away from them with a race in 3 hours. What is one to do? I got off the phone uncertain of my next move.
The questions for myself started pouring in. Had I been put so close to my parents for this very thing to happen, giving me the opportunity for a last good bye? Dad's been sick a while. Or was this going to be one of many happenings before the end which may be years away? If I didn't go home, raced and dad passed today, how would I feel? Would I feel guilty the rest of my life? How would dad feel about all these questions I have? What would his answers be? Would I be happy with possibly our last conversation that we had on Friday for the rest of my life? Was there more I needed to say? Did he need my support and need me there? How is one to know what the right or wrong decision is? Did mom need me now more than ever and I wouldn't be there because I raced? Would my family shun me and my decisions if something more so went wrong with dads health in the next few hours and I wasn't there?
These were just some of my pre-race decisions that had to be made. Not your average pre race morning. No pressure and actually my family didn't pressure me. They encouraged me to stay and race since there were more questions than answers at this point. That helped a ton and I appreciated that more than they know. I needed their guidance because they were the one THERE. Needless to say I had a tough morning. Very tough in fact. My parents mean everything to me.
Based on what everyone said, my decision was to proceed as normal and pack up everything at the last minute into the car in case I got the "get the hell home NOW" phone call as I made my way to the venue. I decided to take everything minute by minute and just have everything with me in case I need to jet right before the start of the race. This put me about a half an hour behind, leaving for the venue 30 minutes later than we wanted to. Crap.
An interesting warm up that consisted of me being in la la land not really paying close attention to anything (cadence, hr), having to get off the trainer 62 times because I forgot this or needed to get that, got 40 minutes in of a 60 minute warm up, I was hungry, NO high end VO2's completed, team tent was ready to sail away in the crazy wind, I hadn't been drinking enough liquid (1/2 the amount I normally do prior to a race) and finally, my backpack that had my last minute pre-race stuff in it was taken (kindly by a friend I found out) that I couldn't locate right away 10 min from race start.
I wasn't with it AT ALL prior to the race but somehow it felt right. I wasn't worried. I felt taken care of. I wasn't dwelling on any of it and wasn't feeling guilty or getting down about how my race would be. It was a calm feeling quite honestly and yet it should have torn me up inside to know all that went "wrong" up to the race may affect my race GREATLY. All those bits add up and can break you but I was not worried for whatever reason.
Even as I got called up into the 37th slot I just lined up wherever not really thinking about anything except getting rid of my last layers. This isn't how I operate which is why I write this. Everything I normally do when it comes to racing is calculated and for a reason. I have my routine DOWN and you don't mess with it or I will mess with you. :)
The gun goes off and everyone in front of me suddenly parted like the red sea and I went right through to the front with no prob-lem-oh. Say what? That was SWEET!!!!!! It didn't even really feel like an effort to get there. I was in auto-pilot mode. I got up into the top 15 with a snap of the fingers and was more relaxed through the mud, goop and slop than I have ever been. I was putting in an effort for sure but I was so calm taking killer lines, hitting the muddy ruts perfectly creating a train on a track feel, shifting was sweet, the mud was crazy thin with all the rain, tire pressure perfect, puddles were enormous, tires were hooking up, and everything was ridable. Everything.
They changed the course up some from yesterday and added some fun rollers to power up and over and back down. Plenty of off camber slime hills with ruts too. I got in some more passes, about 5 women all at once in a mud laden S turn section. Gapped em there with one that came back through. Others cased it on some of the rollers on the next lap far enough in front for me to sail down one side and miss the carnage as I came back up and over on the other. I was smooth and in my own world but I think I did fall though because I have a knot on my shin. Again, like yesterday, when did that happen? Weird. I kept thinking to myself "Do it for dad. If you are going to be here racing while he is suffering this is the least you can do, now boogy on up to the front and stay there, don't walk away from this regretting your decision plus getting a shat result on top of that." That would be unbearable.
You never know how an athlete is going to channel their energy and if that channeling is going to work or not. You don't know until its YOU actually doing it either. I did it and got THE BEST CYCLOCROSS RESULT that I have ever had in a National race. 8th.
Donn from Challenge was there again for us but no need for one bike change. I didn't even think about it. Geez. I have to ask myself if I WAS thinking out there or not today? Maybe that was a good thing??
After teeth chatting shivering and completely ruining the inside of the rental car..........
which WAS blue and is NOW brown with mud, Shannon G (above) and I got back to host housing.
The second we walked in the door I saw a blue and orange flash and heard BAM. Power outage. The winds were so high today here that fir tree branches were falling everywhere taking power lines with them. At one point during the race I was fearful of getting knocked over from the wind whipping across the course at fierce speeds. In fact, the barriers that separated the team tents from the race course were all taken down at once by a powerful blast of wind while the women's race was happening.
The power here was out for approx 5 hours. What would we have done with all our crazy muddy clothing if this had been in between the two USGP's? Oh my.
As it turned out dad suffered another TIA stroke today but walked away from it. In the next few days we will be able to access what capacities he has lost further but things are looking "good" as of now.