Look up the word Dammit in your thesaurus and you will come up empty. No results. No words that can be substituted to express the same sentiment. I find this incredibly disheartening because my vocabulary leaves me short on ways to express my feelings regarding this past Sunday's race at the USNWC. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so here is an image that I feel best expresses my overall mood as I recovered from a day that I don't wish to relive any time soon.
Coach Hoff says hang your legs to drain out all the sadness
Perhaps I should jump back a few hours to explain how I ended up spending Sunday evening with my legs in the air while an 80s era TV star offered words of encouragement. This Sunday was the Catawba Riverfront Classic race at the US National White Water Center. I could not have been more excited about this event. It provided the first opportunity in months to race on a course that I am actually familiar with. Forget familiar, I know this course like the back of my hand. My left hand. Or is it my right? I forget but anyway, moving right along. The course was in great shape and I was running a big happy gear so I was certain that my name would be high on the results list at the end. Nope. No such luck. Why? Not because I am slow but because I am very stupid. I made two mistakes leading into this race. The first was a definite lack of proper hydration throughout the week. The second was staying up until midnight doing housework and then getting up at 6am to prep my gear. Oops.
The first lap of the race started out just fine. I was tired and my legs felt a little funny but I wasn't too worried. It always takes me a long time to warm up so I figured I would get faster as the miles ticked off. About three miles into the race I settled in with two other guys and maintained a fast yet comfortable pace. I was third in line and the two gentlemen ahead of me kept looking back nervously every time the sound of my DT Swiss hub filled their ears. Loud hubs make me happy. The three of us were flying and I was having a great time. My legs weren't coming around the way I expected but I wasn't particularly worried. Then we hit Goat Hill. Goat Hill is neat. Straight up. Straight down. Thank you for playing, have a nice day. This is where I assumed I would overtake my riding partners but instead they dropped me like a stone and I never saw them again. Panic time. As I rode through the start/finish area to begin my second lap I was desperately trying to lift my pace and reconnect with the two men with whom I had shared the first lap. Then it happened, the first of many cramps. Halfway through the second lap both of my legs stiffened up. I soft pedaled for a bit and then my right leg cramped to the point where I had to get off my bike. The muscle above my knee was protruding above the rest and my foot was pointing away from my bike. It's hard to clip in when your foot is perpendicular to your pedal. For the next six miles my leg and I were embroiled in a futile argument. I said pedal and it said no. My race was over. I crossed the finish line knowing full well that I could have done much better but it is what it is. I was shocked when I checked the results and saw that I was not DFL. I'm quite comfortable assuming that the two people I did beat were not small children or quadriplegics.
After the race I grabbed a quick shower and headed over to the Rivers Edge Restaurant for a big fat juicy recovery burger. All the top guys eat hamburgers as recovery food. Don't believe me? Look it up. While enjoying a Coke and a sit in a comfortable chair overlooking the big drop at the end of the white water run I was reminded of the fact that my day was not over. I received a phone call from an old friend reminding me that I had committed to joining him at a trail running party hosted by Run For Your Life. This is the point when you might ask yourself if I was really stupid enough to go running after barely finishing my bike race. The answer is yes. Stop judging me.
By 2pm the temperature had risen to a not so cool and cozy 95 degrees. I was still very dehydrated but my legs were moving so I was fairly certain that a light trail run might just be a good idea. With several runners of all skill levels in attendance I was certain to connect with someone who could pace me through the woods at a reasonable speed. And then it happened. Three runners took to the singletrack in front of everyone else and I ran after them. We quickly put a sizable gap between ourselves and the rest of the group. As we ran we discussed our running histories and the mileage we each log on a weekly basis. I quickly discovered that all three of the men I was running with put in more than 20 miles per week. When I told them I only run when being chaste they seemed very confused. Some small spelling errors are not so small I guess. Either way it quickly became apparent that I was the only non-runner in this group and I was about to have my legs handed to me. All was going well until the final incline that would lead us to the end of our off-road 5k. The pace of the leaders quickened as they ascended the hill and as I kicked after them my legs finally gave out. With only a few feet to go I was spent and had to walk to the finish. It was then that I realized just how far ahead of everyone else we were. Dripping with sweat and gasping for air I waited for the man who invited me to this event. When he crossed the line and headed for the shade of the tent my first instinct was to punch him right in the nose. Instead I thanked him and made arrangements to do it all over again very soon. Dammit again.
So now you know why I spent my Sunday evening with my legs in the air. Three days later they are finally starting to feel better. Lots of stretching and lots of time on the big black foam roller have not made for the most exciting week. But good things are coming dear readers. There is a 24 hour mountain bike relay race in my very near future. Oh the stories I'll have for you after that. You'll be back. You always come back.