Race (well..."Workout" might be more accurate...) Report - Cross For Tots

5:16 AM

Trying out the new socks
Technically, I guess this is a race report.  But “race” seems like such a strong word.  Less than a week after I wrote “Choosing Not to Race” about making the correct choice to stay off the bike when I was sick, I lined up for a cross race with a virus still very much raging in my lungs.  
Am I stupid?  Or just a bit touched in the head?  One may think so, but I actually went in to Cross for Tots knowing full well that I wasn’t 100% (I would say I was barely 52%).  When a virus hits, it takes my body a long time to fight it back.  After two weeks of decent days and horrible nights, I was starting to feel in need of a hard workout.  I know it doesn’t make much of a difference at this point in the season (one week to go!), but I just couldn’t see going into the last race off of two weeks where most of my biking was limited to my commute.  
So I figured, what the heck, why not race Cross for Tots (it’s for the kids!), get a solid zone 5 workout in before states, and try out my new Smartwool knee-high socks?  
It was definitely the right decision, especially two laps in when I felt strong on the climbs and smooth through the technical downhill section.  This is the third year for this race, and while previous versions have been skewed toward the low-key-training-race it is now officially a cross race with a well designed course, thumping music, great swag and full participation from the cross community.  
About halfway through, my decision to race started to lose its rosy glow.  As the dirt and leaves attacked my already dry lungs and my cough drop melted to nothing in my mouth, it became more difficult to control my breathing.  The hills loomed long, and my legs tired quickly.  Wheezing ensued, along with a shift from race-mode to workout-mode.
Still, I did get to try out a new race kit combination.  If there is one constant complaint among the women crossers it centers around the pathetic quality of knee and leg warmers during a race.  There is nothing worse than feeling a gap growing between the bottom of your skinsuit and the top of your warmer.  Rather than thinking about driving your bike, you begin to wonder if/when you will need to hop off and yank the damn thing up.  My new long-sleeved skinsuit has exacerbated this problem, as the inseam is pretty short and has absolutely no gripper on the bottom.
Enter the long Smartwool socks.   I wanted to see if I could race in the 30s without knee/leg warmers.  With the socks, I would expose about 12-inches of skin...would it be too much?  Would the comfort benefits of the socks outweigh the discomfort costs of colder legs?
It turns out racing in the mid-30s is totally doable.  It was nice not having to think about warmers and the socks stayed beautifully in place.  I should also mention that I did this without embrocation, as I hate the stuff.  If I wanted to push this look into the low-30s (or even upper-20s), I would need to reconsider my ban on the sticky, smelly junk.  

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