Once again the week is here and I've got nothing for you. I did however find a website with some pictures from the cross races thus far. I can't believe how different my racing experiences have become after just a month of this hellish 45 minutes of pain that they call cyclocross. Looking back at the pictures of me at the Boulder Reservoir the pained look on my face looks very similar to some of the pictures from this weekend, but two things are very different. Number one, I'm actually moving in the pictures from this weekend, where as there were a couple points during the Reservoir race when my momentum completely died. The second difference is the way that pain on my face felt on the inside. During my first races, it hurt. When I say it hurt, I mean it hurt in a bad way. Sharp pain, everywhere. It hurt to take a full breath, it hurt to stand up or sit down. It just didn't feel good in any way. It hurt bad enough I had no appetite for an hour or so (for those of you who know me well, you realize how astounding that is) After my two races this weekend I realized that I'm digging just as deep, and working just as hard, but it's more of the dull pain, the good pain that us endurance athletes savor. The kind of pain where your whole body feels hot, and fuzzy. The sort of pain where even though you are hurting, you can dig in that extra 2% to go just a little harder and somehow the hurt gets more intense, yet feels better. The sort of pain where a grimace just feels right, you clench your jaw as hard as you can, you realize what a horrible look is on your face, but you can't wipe it away.
This is the feeling that makes me want to race my bike. I'm much prouder of my race on Sunday even though I messed up, lost some positions, and got straight up beaten by a lot of the other racers. On Saturday I rode away from everyone without ever hitting that total 110% exertion level. I held a steady pace riding at about 90% through most of the race and only trying to dig deep the last couple laps. Even then I never totally went all out. I was very pleased with the way I rode on Saturday, but in the back of my mind I knew I hadn't ridden my hardest, and that I just won a race on less exertion than I put into my previous couple races. I got into my car after the race on Sunday totally content with how I had ridden. I knew that I left everything out there. I gave it everything I had, every lap, and in the end I couldn't have put any more effort into the race. I had some technical errors, but I can only expect that as every race I do is usually the first course of that type I've raced, and usually the conditions are like nothing I've ever raced cross in. The technical side of the racing will come around eventually, but my form is well on it's way. I may not be in the best shape of my life, but it's starting to hurt in that good way so I know I'm on my way.