Following a DNF at Scheldecross and a frustrating ride at Overijse I was seeking revenge this weekend with the Essen GVA on Saturday and the Namur World Cup on Sunday. More than anything I was seeking a good ride to quiet any doubts I was having. The mind can be your best or worst enemy and while I can make excuses all day for why last weekend didn’t go well: I hurt my arm, I bonked my head, I broke a nail; my mind still kicks the crap out itself because I didn’t get up quicker and finish stronger. After last weekend I took a couple recovery days and when I couldn’t stand being sedentary any longer I started feeling poorly. The recovery from the crashes turned into a head cold and it felt like a war was going on inside my body. Thus, I didn’t start the Essen GVA on Saturday in hopes of salvaging something out of Sunday, because my overall focus in on the World Cups.
Sunday I woke to snow sitting on my window and smiled a smile to that of the Grinch; part evil, part greed, part elation. The fast & dry races are nice and all for the sake of keeping clothing and equipment clean and pretty, but look no further than the hidden glee and thrill in Sven’s eyes & smile to gain a grasp of what playing in the mud does to a ‘cross racer’s aura and passion. The setting of the Namur WC circuit is that of a fairytale, as you drive through a decorated town and wind up a steep hill to the fortress, the Citadel (or Castle) of Namur from the Roman era. If racing around the citadel wasn’t exciting enough, the actual course and conditions matched the allure and class of the castle.
The first snow of the year on Sunday felt like the first snow of the year when I was five; the delight of making a snow angel and the gaiety of building a snowman returned as I watched the first fluffy snowflake land on my eyelash. The fun of snow creations may have been replaced with the fun of slip-sliding around with mud splattering everywhere, but the simple elation was the same. To my surprise my legs felt quite lively and springy, telling by a good start and first few minutes of the race. Usually if I can stomp the first quarter or half lap it gets better from there, but Sunday’s first half lap felt like the grand finale of a fireworks display before the sky goes black, blank and quiet. I have never felt my legs so lifeless and overall energy so depleted. I could hardly place one foot in front of the other in the first steep & sustained run-up and in the distance & time of the second half-lap I lost about 20 positions, moving from 10thposition my first time through the pit to about 30th position my second time through the pit. While my heart and lungs were just trying to keep up and go into overdrive, my legs went blank and my mind was wailing abuse as I pulled off the course and coasted to the car for another DNF.
When the shaking of being cold, bitterly pissed off and functioning solely on fumes of adrenaline dissipated I sank heavily into a weak and disheartened body…one that for over a month has been hinting and begging for something, I just didn’t know what (or was too stubborn to acquiesce). I went to the doctor yesterday and his hypothesis is that my first head cold that I had a month ago never fully kicked the bucket and this time returned with vengeance. So instead of easily killing zee germs with adequate rest and backing-off in November, the racing helped the germs thrive into a chronic sinus infection. Alas, the athlete succumbs to her best & worst enemy again: the mind being too stubborn to listen to the body.