whoa…it’s been awhile since I last posted. anywho, here’s a bit about what i’ve been up to this fall 🙂

For several years, I have wanted to try cyclocross (or ‘cross).

It’s a type of bike race typically held in the Fall/Winter in which you race a bike that basically looks almost like a road bike, except it has knobby tires and cantilever brakes. You race on grass, trails, and have obstacles like hills and barriers in which you have to dismount the bike, run or jump, and get back on several times in the race (more details here) – so it involves a little bit of running and leaping over short hurdles while carrying the bike.

This year for my b-day, I got such a bike which arrived at the beginning of October. 24 hours after its arrival, I did a race. The day of its arrival, I went on YouTube to watch a how-to-mount-dismount-and-carry-bike video and took the bike to a local park to learn how. The following day, Daniel and I drove down to the Cape. The race was being held on the grounds of a farm in Falmouth.

Having never been off-road before in my life, I resembled a cat on ice. I started at the back and figured I really wasn’t going to “race” it…more like try to finish & hopefully with no broken bones. Anyways, after one lap of my knuckles turning white from clinging to my brakes, I got a bit more comfortable and actually passed 2 people. I finished – even though I ran into a fence on one of the corners, I somehow managed to stay upright.

Since then I have done 4 other races – usually one each weekend. Most of the races are with Cat 4 and sometimes with Cat 3 women. I still need a lot of improvement – especially on any technical/tactical parts – but it is a lot of fun. With each race I have gotten more comfortable and improved little by little. The ambiance of ‘cross races is really nice too – usually there is beer at the end and the crowd support is awesome. Laps are short so you pass by the spectators a lot & there’s lots of cowbell (especially when you take a digger!)

The last one I did in Plymouth this past weekend, I finally felt like I actually raced the whole thing. When you race, you are pretty much going all-out the whole time. It’s similar to a 5k effort, but for 30-45 minutes. I did get tired the last lap and it probably didn’t help that I had 2 martinis on Friday night, but the start was wide and everyone got to start in the front row which I thought was nice. I definitely have room for improvement (for instance, in the last race I did, on the last lap there was a junior that held me up for a bit – I should have called out to him to let me through. Instead I waited for the space to get wide enough to pass & during that time the racer behind me caught up to my wheel. After that, I could not get a gap on her and she went around me at the end when I had already expended my energy working). I also need to be smoother on my mounts/dismounts and get more comfortable going fast in technical parts. Overall, I am really enjoying ‘cross. There are a few weeks left in the season, but I will definitely do it next year.

A few weeks ago, I was sick on a Saturday which was when the local ‘cross race was being held. There was no local race on Sunday, so instead I did the Wrentham Halloween Duathlon. It was my first duathlon and I haven’t really been running much this fall, but figured what the heck I’ll try it anyways. It was a 3 mile run, 11 mile bike, and 2 mile run. My goal was to keep the run under 7(mins/mile) and the bike over 20 (miles/hour). The first run, my brother told me to take it easy so I wouldn’t pay for it on the second. Getting on the bike afterward hurt…a LOT. Was not used to it and should have probably practiced it before racing. I think I was rolling around the first 2 miles and after that, I really had to pick it up if I wanted to average over 20. The second run, not sure how, but I managed to do a negative-split over the first. I felt like I was going slow, but I guess that’s just after coming off the bike. Anyways, ended up meeting my goal time/speed-wise. I was 6th female and 2nd in my AG. I might do some more duathlons in the Spring…and actually practice run-to-bike transitions before racing!

Anyways, have a few more ‘cross races and might even do one in DC when I go down there for Thanksgiving.

After the ‘cross season is over, I’ll take a few easy weeks and then it’s back to training. Boston Marathon and Quelle Challenge Roth are my big events for 2009.