Choosing Not to Race

5:58 PM

I will admit, racing amongst the art was tempting...
There is a race getting set up right now.  It is just before dawn on a Sunday morning, but somewhere out in a frosty field a guy is pounding in stakes and running tape.  Barriers are leaned against each other waiting to be positioned.  While most people will sleep in, there are those who are up cleaning their bikes, giving their drive trains a once-over, packing an extra base layer into their duffle.  
But not me.  For once, I am going to not race.  I am sick.  It started last Sunday with a lower voice in the morning and a bit of phlegm.  Through the week it stayed low, just some extra sneezing, but yesterday it flowered into a full-blown sinus infection.  My teeth hurt and my throat feels like there is a pointy hedgehog lodged in the back.  I’ve slept fitfully the last two nights, waking throughout with a dry throat and painful swallow.  My only hope now is that I can kick this thing by Thanksgiving.
Yet even yesterday I was thinking about racing Sculpture Cross today.  Old habits die hard.  Way back when I ran cross country I raced for a team, and the sense of responsibility to the group that I developed has been difficult to shake in the individual world of cycling.  If I say I will be at a ride, I go no matter the inconvenience.  And races?  Those are things you engrave on your calendar at the beginning of the season and never change.  As a runner I raced tired, sick, and injured - all bad ideas.  
Why?  Not sure.  It is certainly not because I’ve gotten away with it.  I still remember a stupid “training” crit I entered once with a little something in my throat.  30 minutes later I walked away with no voice and in such bad shape I couldn’t workout for a week.  While it might be good to keep your activity levels up while you are suffering through a virus, I can assure you the intensity of a race will knock you flat.  
You know how when you hear something for the first time you usually ignore it?  And the second, fifth, and twentieth time?  The Spouse has said this many times, and this time it has finally sunk in: we’re not getting paid for this.  I’m a mid-pack, no longer in my (cough) 30s rider whose only winnings in biking exist in a growing water bottle and sox collection.  I’m not cranky about this statement, just freed by it.
So today I will go help with parking and drink lots of soothing hot cocoa, but the bike will stay home.

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