The trail run was as close as I’d come to a “real” trail race within 10 miles of my new home. That’s a far cry from the half dozen that were available in the greater Ithaca area each season. I could pick and choose, and if I wanted to do a road 5- or 10-miler, that was easy. The C&O Canal, while a decent path, was basically as close to paved as possible without actually being paved. It wasn’t interesting or unique, especially compared to what was available 6 hours away.
And sadly, races in DC are almost all expensive. I was roped into more than one race by the $5 entry fee (hey, you gotta stock those aid stations with something). In DC, everyone wanted to distribute “goodie bags” and pass them off as something adding value to the event. Meanwhile, the number of entrants to these races was off the charts. Average cost per mile approached $5; that’s gone up to about $10 lately. And I know that a 5k race with a single aid station isn’t costing the group putting it on $10,000, especially when they get a dozen sponsors. It’s rather absurd.
All that made me feel like the racing scene in northern Virginia wasn’t worth the effort. I bowed out for the rest of 2007 and turned my attention to staying in shape.
As 2007 neared its end, my wife and I started looking for a house. We poked around, got a real estate agent, and were escorted to an up-and-coming neighborhood in Fairfax County, where we both liked the properties and prices. We bought and became homeowners about 3 blocks from where I used to park the car when shaving those 8 miles off the ride.
My commute shortened somewhat, I started riding to the office any day I could, including during the winter. And at the office I kept a pair of shoes and running kit, throwing them on to go out for a midday run every few days. I would sometimes run in the morning (I was used to it, and it was easier to work into the schedule most days), but as winter turned to spring, I had the burning desire once again to just do more.
A new strategy suggested itself. Instead of driving to park and ride, I would drive to park and run, using the W&OD trail as a utility trail. This was made easy by the many access points available along the way.
The first summer after our move, I established a completely non-routine routine. My training program consisted of running or biking each day, with no regard for what day it was or what distance was to be done. This was wholly dependent on how I felt. I also took an hour or two on one or both of the weekend days to disappear, usually to some exotic location like where two freeways meet and there’s no ready way across.
Really, it was more like exploring the area than maintaining any speed or strength. I guess at that point it was OK by me to give in to these meanderings because I didn’t have anything scheduled.
My office digs were a different story. That year I discovered the path down a gated dirt road (I think technically I wasn’t supposed to use it, but who was going to stop someone coming down a gated dirt road without first undoing aforementioned gate?). It was a single-track, poorly-maintained pathway through the woods along the Potomac, out of sight of pretty much everything. I loved that path, and in the summer of 2008 it became my de facto daytime run, in spite of the overgrowth that accompanied all those trips.
During the winter, I had also responded to an ad on Craigslist seeking players for an indoor soccer team. I jumped at the chance, though I hadn’t really played since college -- I’d done a couple outdoor games in Ithaca as a fill-in player and was recruited as a goalie for indoor, but my indoor experience was cut short when I cracked my wrist blocking a shot.
Anyway, the team that took me on for indoor was willing to have me on their outdoor club, and I ended up playing the following two years with them until childcare duties really pulled me out of it.
Regardless, 2008 was also the summer we started a workplace -- mostly in name only -- soccer team. One of my colleagues decided it would be a great plan to get a half dozen coworkers (plus some others) to start playing indoor. I signed on with the intention of playing goalie, but I missed the first game. That may have been a good thing: three of my coworkers came in the next day sporting career-ending injuries. But I would have a long and fruitful career as an indoor soccer player for my “work” team, which morphed from featuring 4-5 players from my office each season to (eventually) just 3, then down to 2 after I tore my ACL and 0 when the only other vested interests moved out of the area.
These digressions and progressions are killing the narrative. In summary: I was exploring but not training, and I’d started playing indoor soccer.
The indoor soccer venue was located a tolerable 6 miles from my office. That made it a perfect place to park on game days so that I could get in a short ride on the mountain bike. As for running, I found a parking spot about 4 miles from the office that included direct W&OD trail access on one side and easy access to the back side of a little-used and under-construction golf course.
I went through the golf course most days, sticking to the back 9 that hadn’t yet been built, or traversing the course and joining a series of paths by going under the highway into a forested yet-to-be-developed area near the local internet hub. I used that golf course for years, running it probably once a week until 2011; that year, the course’s grounds manager yelled at me for daring to tread on his otherwise unused paths, and I’ve been recommending people against the 1776 Golf Course in Ashburn, VA, ever since. As I now recommend you, reader, against it.
In addition, my employer was a cyclist, and he I went for a couple long trips through Northern Virginia. I would sometimes pass him on the trail on the way to the office, he on his Bluetooth in a conference call or something, me with the hammer down trying to get in before 9 a.m. I always envied that he could manage his business while riding a bike.
That’s how I spent 3 years. My wife got pregnant (I love that phrasing, as though she contracted a pregnancy from some unknown source, perhaps a rare equatorial fly -- or, rather, a not-at-all-rare equatorial fly, since it seems to strike so many women) in late 2008, and the next year we had our first daughter. My life changed, but many of my habits did not, and I was still on the lookout for something brand new to experience.
Next up: BABIES!
Mash out. Spin on.
I settled into my new place easily. We were in Alexandria, near the convergence of several running/biking trails. It was relatively easy to cruise south/east on even the major roads, with destinations 20 km away that weren’t knotted entirely with traffic, stop lights, and pedestrians.
My job was in Ashburn, 30 or so miles away on the W&OD trail. Which I had to get to first. I didn’t have time to ride 60+ miles daily during a normal work day - especially since we moved in that November - so I started getting up at 7 to drive to Falls Church, where I would park the car and ride the other 22. That kept me in shape, saved me probably 30 minutes each way, and eliminated the most stressful part of the ride to and through Shirlington. (Eventually the city built out its trail system, which might have saved me that half hour without having to get in the car. Alas, too late for this old man.)
Rides were great and got me in great with my biking boss. But the running! I kept running kit in the office and went for mid-day treks around the burgeoning neighborhoods of exurban DC. Unfortunately, infrastructure was lacking, so in winter the roads weren’t consistently cleared; also, most of the trees had been cut down, so in summer the heat was brutal. And trails were - well, they were often whatever I decided was a trail, which meant running across fields and ducking through what were probably backyards or across land cleared for development that wouldn't see a sheet of Tyvek for a half decade. It was a compromise.
The summer after we moved, I ran a couple local races.
First up was the Hugh Jascort 4-miler on the C(hesapeake) & O(hio) Canal path. I had run on this path once or twice before, or maybe ridden on it, but it didn’t hold any particular charm. It’s mostly a flat, compacted dirt pathway along a straight waterway. The redeeming features: it doesn’t feel super-urban; it’s softer than pavement (though not by much); there are occasional path-disrupting water features that don't require particular skill to get by with no more than a splash; and the race cost $5.
It all felt a little Ithacan, and I was hopeful that this new locale had something to offer. The 4-miler was put on by DC Road Runners, who don’t charge much for any race (in fact, they don’t charge at all if you’re a member) and put on several each season. Strangely, they seem to have a fetish for the unusual 4 mile to 8 km range, as looking at their annual races I immediately see 3 at that distance. Maybe they figure they can pull in $1 per mile but don’t want it to cost more than $5 for any race. Who knows?
Digression, digression. Wasn't I about to extoll one of my heroic exploits?
Oh yes, the race. First off, I rode to the race course, so I felt like I was keeping to my trademark style. It was an evening race, starting at something like 6 or 7 p.m., and my wife met me afterwards so we could go out and do something on the town or whatever it is we did back before kids. Those days are so long gone that I can only vaguely remember them. Kids: the ultimate panacea for memory.
So there I was at the race start, in a crowd of people I didn’t recognize or know anything about, trying to figure out where I would likely finish. I hadn’t done a race in a year, and this felt like a universe of difference. New place, new distance, new crowd, new fitness. So new it should have come with a warranty.
I pressed my way near the front -- but not too overly confidently far forward -- and came out of the gate a little hot. I passed several people on the way out and established my place in 5th, tailed by some youth. At the 2-mile mark, I felt my legs start to slow, and the kid behind me passed; I held on as long as possible, then finally let him go and established myself in 6th. My time was apparently 24:02 on a non-chip-timed course.
Not too bad, but certainly not the elite level I was hoping for. Then again, I’d just ridden 8 miles to get to the course and hadn’t trained for the distance. (More excuses coming, maybe?) Let’s get real, though: my performances were slipping. I was no longer running at the pace of the top 2%. There were 93 runners in that race, and I had managed 6th, or about the top 7%. That seems about right for my athletic situation those days.
Having dipped my toe in the competition scene, I did my race prep at an event put on by the Potomac Valley Track Club on the 4th of July. This 8k traversed a portion of the George Washington Parkway Trail, which eventually gets you to the old Washington estate at Mt. Vernon.
I remember riding to the race start and feeling a little wary of the competition. I was 27 at the time, coming off some major life changes, and not only did I once again not know anybody running, I also felt like the 4-miler result needed improvement. As usual for a race under 10 miles away, the bike was perfectly fine transportation. When I rolled up, everybody stared at me like I was a crazy triathlete. No guys, swimming is so out.
Once again, I went out too hard, burned myself up in the first 3k, slowed significantly for a couple kilometers, then finally found my rhythm for the last 2 miles. End result: 30:19, good for 10th out of 200+ runners.
At the time, that may have been the largest race I had ever been in. I don’t know how many people did Wineglass or the Lake Anna half, but neither one felt that crowded. I was definitely in a down-South urban area away from those low-entry-fee, high-personality races from my way-upstate New York days.
I ran that 8k as a warmup for the Blackwater Traverse, a duathlon held on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (the dangly peninsula east of the Chesapeake Bay, also known as the Delmarva Peninsula because Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia each claim a portion) on July 8. Again, I don’t remember these being so close together, but according to the internets, they were.
My wife and I went to the race packet pickup together the day before (July 7), busting down the peninsula in some kind of ugly traffic and stopping to eat our weight in crabs. The Maryland crab scene is awkward: while many places claim to serve “Maryland crabs”, most of these are, apparently, imported, causing the users to proclaim menu items as “Maryland-style”. It’s weird.
But we ate them anyway, because that’s what you do on the Eastern Shore.
I chatted up a couple people at the packet pickup hoping to find some neighbors who might anchor a future relationship. The DC area is big, though, so it was hard to form any lasting alliances. Back in Ithaca, everyone lived within 10 miles of each other and would meet up on a whim or just end up on the same trails once or twice a week. That meant it was easy to get to know the regulars. The duathletes at this event were from all over the Chesapeake drainage.
We drove back late in the afternoon, stopping for dinner to wait out some even uglier traffic, and I slept as usual in my own bed that night.
The next day broke warm, with the humidity rising quickly. I hopped in the car and made it to the race site with over an hour to spare, but it was clear the event would be done in a slogging heat. At the race start -- inside a stadium -- it was still possible to find a small amount of relief by leaning against a wall. But the course was set up to do an out-and-back along a road with one side lined with trees (the evening shade) and the other completely open (morning and noon sun). It was uncomfortable.
I ran hard enough to feel good but not so hard that I would burn myself out. The first leg was 12 km, and I ripped through it at a sub-6:20 pace. Hopping on the bike, I was convinced the course must have something more to offer. But it didn’t: the bike ride went through open country, searing hot and muggy, around humidifying ponds and lagoons, up small rises and across long, blistering flats. Halfway through, my 38 kph pace dipped, first to 34 kph, then to 32 kph. I limped across the line in just under 2 hours for the 70 km ride.
But now I was back on foot with the end in sight. I chugged some water and headed out the road, being careful to take on more water at each opportunity. The heat was devastating. My pace was much slower than it normally would have been, shriveled from baking in the sun. I somehow managed to pass about a dozen runners during that event, though, and finished the 8 km at a respectable (if not spectacular) 7:30-ish pace.
It was one of my worst showings in a race: 38th of about 180. Top 20%, sure, but not exactly what I was going for when I signed up.
It didn’t seem right to be that far behind the leaders, especially in what should have been a “sweet spot” competition for me. Sure, the duathlon was a distant event put on in brutal weather. But it still left me with a hollow feeling; I had no desire to follow it up. The runs were fine, but the whole event lacked joie de vivre. It wasn’t just that I had lost a step (though that may have been a part of the problem), but finding races around the area had proved difficult, and finding races that looked interesting had been exceedingly hard.
Sounds like a future me problem.
Next up: Reflections of the untrained.
Mash out. Spin on.
That winter, I stayed in good shape but was largely non-competitive. It had been a tough year, what with the injury, and my friends were increasingly interested in finishing something they called a "thee-sis" or something?
Wait, is that what I'm supposed to be doing?
I had been in grad school for 3 ½ years already, and my advisor was asking about my closeout scenario. He wanted me done around Year 5, which looked plausible given the work to date. (As a cycling friend told me around that time, "Based on race results, I'd guess 8 years." No spoilers, but he was right.)
One February night [ed: most nights], several friends [ed: and a professor] and I went to a bar [ed: several bars]. Near the end of the evening, after our crowd had thinned, one of those friends struck up a convo with an interestingly-dressed guy sporting a colorful, poofy scarf. Scarf Man's cluster of acquaintances included an attractive young lady, which is what I might normally have noticed.
Instead I noticed how much the room was spinning and how terribly I needed to relieve myself.
Somehow my horribly drunken state didn't show enough to scare her off. She came to a department happy hour shortly thereafter, and we started dating a few months later.
Around that time, the traditional bike race happened near Rochester to open the season. I was a Cat 3, riding like a madman and ready to do some damage. The Cat 3 pace was far more aggressive, but I was prepared for it. Nobody attacked without being chased down. Including me. We stayed as a pack through the race, and as usual I tried to make a break before the end, with about 2 miles left. Two others came with me, and we pulled across the next mile, but the pack chased us down, and I finished in a generic place in the middle of the pack, completely destroyed.
I did our early-season official race as a Cat 3 as well but didn’t feel particularly strong. I performed unremarkably, and probably would have as a Cat 4 as well. Three days later, I showed up for the traditional Tuesday gathering and rode hard, my frame creaking the entire way. At the finish line, I took a look at what seemed the source of the noise and saw a crack in the frame near the cranks. Glenn had sold me that bike 3 years earlier, and the warranty was still valid; alas, his shop no longer sold Cervelo, so I had to go to Rochester to get it replaced.
While my bike was out being replaced (Cervelo customer service was great for this), I borrowed my friend’s wife’s bike for those Tuesday and Thursday events. Two weeks on, I was late to the Tuesday race, and I latched onto the back as it rolled out of the meeting place. But my legs just weren’t in it. I was having trouble keeping up. I wasn’t sure where this tiredness came from, but it was probably excessive run training and too little bike training. I didn’t have the push to stay with the pack and was dropped off the lead group.
I rode on my own that beautiful April day, chugging up hills and into valleys, across flats and around a course of my own making. And at the top of one of those hills, I looked down at a steep descent, clean except for a driveway on the right. I swerved a little left as I approached, figuring this would give me some space in case of an emerging car.
The thing about vision is that it’s hard to focus on more than one thing at a time. And when you’re looking right, you don’t see things coming from the left.
Dogs that want to be run over.
Dogs that are also heavy enough to stop a speeding bike.
So a dog and I performed an unscheduled stress test on the fork of a bike that was not my own. The fork failed.
And then the road performed an equally unscheduled stress test on the epidermis on my back. My epidermis also failed.
A neighbor called an ambulance, and after I'd been loaded in, I had the paramedics phone the woman from the bar -- with whom I had a date that evening -- to let her know I would sadly be forced to cancel. I was brought to the hospital to be tended to by the wife of a professor in my department. Small world, Ithaca.
And that ended my summer of riding. It took over a month to recover -- all of May down the drain -- and when I got back my legs just weren’t the same. I didn’t have kick, I didn’t have aggressiveness, I just didn’t have it. I had crashed big twice in less than a year, and in spite of being in generally good shape, I couldn’t bring myself to work toward anything in particular.
There was, amongst my friends and well-wishers (who may not have overlapped significantly), the idea of me as a bike racing nut. But if I was a bike racing nut, I had finally cracked, my hardened shell shattered by the unyielding pavement of Tompkins County. Equally importantly, I felt a responsibility to my (ostensible) school work, something I had neglected in riding and running.
I cruised into autumn and ran the Triennial Relay for the first -- and so far only -- time in my career. This race takes a team of N runners (I don’t know if there’s a lower bound) and has them run 7 or so stages, 8-15 miles each, on the Finger Lakes Trail. I answered an email on the listserv (where else?) and joined the party, hooking on with a local friend to run for a team led out by a not-local-anymore-but-formerly-local-and-still-quite-good runner. Our team did acceptably, taking 3rd of 14, and I enjoyed the race immensely, despite missing a turn and leading a few other runners into the middle of a foresty dead end.
For the next year, I didn’t race at all that I can recall. I went to Tuesday night rides, slowly sliding down the totem pole as I focused more and more on writing my thesis. Weekends were almost all spent in New York City, where the woman from the bar moved after she finished law school. That put a damper in my race prospects, but it made my running life soar.
Running in Ithaca was always a trail event; running in NYC was a different beast entirely. I had to shift courses to go with traffic, often ending up at unusual intersections in strange parts of town with little idea how far I had come or would go. I criss-crossed the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges -- at one point all in one run. Running fitness continued apace through ever-longer excursions on pavement and through backwater parks. During the week, back in the open space upstate, I went on long rides with friends or alone.
I stopped feeling competitive about any of it. Sure, I could run a half marathon, and pretty quickly at that. Yes, I could ride 50 miles and barely touch my water bottle. Indeed, I could run to Central Park, take a lap (well, maybe a 1/3 lap; Central Park really is huge), and come back to Williamsburg before joining friends on a local pub crawl. I did all these things not because I had something to win, but because I was exhausted from racing so much.
It gets to you eventually.
The daily preparation is fine, but the weekly routine grinds you down: Identify race; sign up for race; change plans to incorporate race into training; find a way to the course; spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours in the car en route; hang around endlessly waiting for the start; race (which will probably be shorter than 2 hours); return; repeat.
And for the race itself, if the weather is bad, because you’ve signed up, you feel an obligation to ride or run anyway. It’s hard to swallow your pride and say, “You know what? When it’s 98 degrees and 90% humidity, I run before dawn or after dusk for good reason. And death by lightning just isn’t in my plan today. It turns out I really don’t feel like being out in a hailstorm for 30 minutes. Also, it’s going to be freezing and windy by the end of this, and I wouldn’t pick today as a day and time for hardcore athletics if I were at home.” But you do it anyway, you start a race at 9 a.m. against your better judgment, put your legs and feet and back and shoulders through hell on sopping wet roads on your way to the next aid station, where you can’t possibly put back enough water to replace what’s been lost in sweat, or you endanger yourself in a rowdy pack, hoping against all hope that you keep your collarbones intact for this ride. You suffer, slowly, inevitably, until you cross the finish line and get a number for a time. And then you relax with other people who have just done the same thing, enjoy some good company and maybe some “free” food and drinks (they’re not free because you’ve just paid for them with your entry fee, but it sure seems that way). You don’t even notice the drive home, because you’re worn out and thinking about the shower that’s 30 minutes to 2 hours away, considering stopping at every restaurant and store along the way just because you can.
Wow. I might have just convinced myself that racing is a terrible idea in general. Whatever, brain, go back to thinking about discrete optimization.
I admit, I was hypnotized by this process for years. It was almost reflexive, developing from a product of my desire to simple habit. And not a lucrative habit: the few times I won races and collected prize money, it was a small payout; meanwhile, I left a trail of $5-$30 entry fees in my wake. My lost work time was significant, and I felt my peers accelerating away academically.
Through the summer of 2006, I either couldn’t afford the habit or wasn’t as interested in it. Or both. I no longer felt racing mattered. All that mattered was that my life was moving along, that I had to figure out where it would end up.
So I proposed. It was a lavish event, full of champagne and music and a wonderful setup, totally shocking to my girlfriend, who immediately said “yes” and then tweeted to all her friends and relatives within 6 seconds that she was engaged to the man of her dreams.
Or perhaps I simply said one evening, “Marry me?” And she agreed. And the next morning she asked whether I was serious before telling anyone about it. Also, Twitter didn’t exist then, and she may have mistaken her dreams for her waking moments and thought she was agreeing to the man in her dreams and was secretly hoping I’d look at her like she’d just told me a tale of fairies and unicorns when she asked if I was serious.
One of those stories is true.
That was June. By September, it was clear that our future options were limited if we were both going to pursue our careers. As a result, we chose DC. We rented an apartment in October and were married in November, the same day I interviewed for what would become my first legit professional job. It was a fine exit from New York for both of us, and I don't know about her but I was sure as hell ready to cut out weekly 6-hour drives through Manhattan traffic.
Next up: Attack of the Swampmonsters!
Mash out. Spin on.
“What goes up…” &cetera.
I was up. Severely up. Cat 3 for bike racing, winning local trail races, maintaining a solid week-on-week training schedule.
And I was signed up, too, for another triathlon, this one an Olympic distance bruiser that should have been pretty routine. I don’t even remember where it was, just that I wanted to test out my swimming form somewhere nearby and not too challenging.
I haven’t looked at these results before, so it’s interested to think about where I stood in that race. The event was Olympic distance, meaning a 1-mile swim (or thereabouts), 40 km bike, and 10 km run. Obviously, I had the bike and run down, and I’d been working on the swim all summer. But swimming in the pool or in a non-competitive lake crossing was one thing; the group start of a triathlon, I knew, was a different beast.
I remember going to the race with Lawren, and I remember waiting lakeside for the start. We hung near the back -- his swimming was almost as terrible as mine -- during the lead-up to the race, including during the obligatory announcements by the race coordinator. These were done without aid of a microphone, and included the important instructions to stay slow on the downhill on the bike because there were curves and they hadn’t been swept of gravel.
I missed that part.
Just before the gun, I positioned myself near the middle of the pack. We dove into the water, and I swam furiously through the course, losing minimal ground in the process. Remember that I was in the bottom 1/3 for most of my other races, so this was definitely an improvement. I hopped on the bike and started passing immediately, blowing by people on the flats and across the rollers and up the big climb away from the water.
At the major downhill, I took an outside line and smoothly slid by another rider. Coming to the corner, though, my rear wheel lost purchase, and I fishtailed badly, my bike skidding left, right, left, right, before my front wheel had turned enough to throw me over the bars. At close to 25 mph, I hurtled forward, rolled once, and slid to a stop on my back, my bike bounding down the hill another 30 meters or so.
Adrenaline pumping now.
My thumb was severely displaced, and my knee was a splatter of red pouring blood down my leg. My helmet was destroyed. Shredded bits of my jersey flapped against my back. This was the time, though: pain hadn't registered yet. I dashed down, grabbed my bike, and threw it on the other side of the road where nobody would run into it. Passersby gaped at a bloody mess.
Now to the decision. Bleeding profusely from leg and, presumably, my back, I could go up the hill to the aid station I had just passed or down the hill to the next one, which was indeterminately far away. Having “just passed” an aid station when you’re going 25-ish mph means it can be a long walk, but I gritted my teeth and girded my loins and screwed up my courage and verbed various other nouns in the interests of just getting back there.
When I arrived, the volunteer was horrified. She obviously didn’t expect to see a mangled body walk up the hill to this station. But there I was. She plied me with some water, and I passed out briefly while sitting on a utility box. I regained consciousness only when the wee dream-like scenario that was playing out in my head -- being at the doctor and having a conversation with someone -- resulted in my head slamming against something, which turned out to be the box itself.
An ambulance arrived, and I was whisked to a local hospital, treated for abrasions all over my back, diagnosed with a broken thumb, and given a lot of pain medication. My knee had a hole the size of a 50-cent piece through all the dermal layers, but the internals had somehow survived intact. Even now, I remember my quadriceps femoris, exposed and pale and straight against the pink and red disarray of the surrounding wound.
The road rash on my back required daily maintenance and forced me to sleep upright for weeks. My thumb was surgically repaired, and I spent a month with my hand and wrist in a cast. The knee hole healed very slowly as the flesh built up from bottom-to-top and around the edges where the pieces had been sewn back into place.
And yet I rode. I remember commuting home down the hill in the cast, each small bump feeling like it might throw me again and re-open the newly-scarred or as-yet-unhealed tissue. What manner of madeness compelled me to this course?
I was 25 at the time, and every passing day felt like a prime day lost. So I tried to stay in racing condition. This meant riding the trainer and getting back to the daily running routine. Once all the healing was done and summer slipped into autumn's rearview mirror, I was only barely less well-off than before the crash. There was one race left: the first race course I’d ever done as a cyclist.
A few friends joined me this time, and told them what I remembered from years earlier about the Apple Fest: it’s got a couple major climbs. I started cautiously with the pack through the rollers, but on one of those major climbs -- one of the 5 or 6 or 8 -- I embraced that old cycling aggression and pulled away from the field. Riding out front with a group of a half dozen or so, we stayed away, then strung out across the road over the final 8 miles. I remember the effort of the last two miles, an explosive emptying of long-unused legs anxious to show their capability. I won.
My friends, needless to say, did not appreciate my advice about the race complexion. Then again, I honestly didn’t remember the course being full of climbing.
This was the unfortunately happy end of what could have been a remarkable season, and though it gave me satisfaction to close with a victory, it was unclear just how much I had left.
I packed away my warm-weather kit and hunkered down for winter.
Next up: Interpersonal Inclinations and Competitive Chaos
Mash out. Spin on.
Some runner person. Also perhaps a cyclist & brewing type. But for your purposes, a runner person.