On the way back from Moab Sunday night I noticed my middle finger was swollen. It didn’t hurt but definitely needed to get checked out. So, first thing Monday morning I went to the Urgent Care center close by to the house. The Doctor told me it was some sort of infection and a double dose of two different antibiotics should clear it up. This was the second time I had been to the Urgent Care center for the finger issue. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday went by and my finger got worse! The antibiotics had been making me feel horrible and I now had a finger more swollen and red than three days ago. I went to a Dermatologist and got some topical cream which seems to be clearing up this issue. Anyway, this was the start to a bumpy week. Friday I took Mickey over to the dog local dog park. We have been going there for a while now together. The park has just been extended to four acres. Now I don’t have to send Mickey over the fence to get the Friz when the wind takes it too far. I’ve been using this frisbee which can be launched the length of a football field! Mickey and I spend an hour or two 3-4 times a week at the park. It’s great exercise for him and way to keep him socialized with others dogs besides Cooper and Frito. At times, Mickey will run around me in circles trying to get the Friz. In a moment of absentmindedness, Mickey jumped up and grabbed my hand instead of the Friz. He bit down pretty hard and boy did it hurt! In all the years I have been working with dogs, training them, walking them, ETC…I’ve never been bit by a dog. Of course, when playing with one of my own pups I get a first hand feeling of how powerful a dog’s bite force really is. It’s incredible how strong they can chomp down. My hand wasn’t bleeding much and it didn’t hurt until I got home. Then the pain came. I rushed over to the store and got some extra strength Tylenol and passed out for a few hours. When I woke up it still hurt to move my hand and grab object with any sort of force. A couple hours later, the pain finally subsided. Still, I needed to make a decision on whether to race tomorrow afternoon.

For dinner I opted out of pasta and went with some Philly cheese steak strips I bought from the store. Maija and I were going to make a steak salad but she didn’t think it looked too appetizing. More for me! I cooked those bad boys up and threw them on some Jewish rye with white cheese for a great tasting sandwich.

Bad idea…

I woke up about five times that night to rush into the bathroom. In the morning I found myself dehydrated with an upset stomach. On a positive note my hand was feeling better! I decided to race. Maija went to the pool and fell back asleep for a couple of hours since the race was not until late afternoon.

My stomach remained in knots as Maija, Mickey, and I traveled to Boulder. It would be a little too hectic bringing three dogs to a race. Cooper and Frito held down the fort. The ride to Boulder was a windy one with high cross winds blowing sand in our car. We arrived on the east side of CU boulder and parked the car. First stop the bathroom. My stomach was still aching. I hung out at the car with Maija and Mickey, registered, and warmed up a bit. I was not in the mood to warm up much. It was a hot day and I didn’t want to tire myself before a hard effort. Sometimes you need to chance it and not warm up much before a race. Criteriums are especially important for warming up. Crit’s usually start out the way horses do at the racetrack. Wicked fast blazes of glory fast! But in this case I decided for a modified warmup.

I noticed a lot of heavy hitters in the field. Bissel, Trek Livestrong, Jelly Belly, ETC…I never get nervous when I see domestic pro kits in the field. We all are human and on any given day, anyone can be beat. Still, I knew I had my work cut out for me. A couple of warm up laps and the race was under way. The first few laps were predictable with gobs of attacks from everyone. Breaks usually do not stick early in a race because everyone’s legs are fresh. The next thing I know some Kenda guy gave me an elbow to the gut. He yelled something at me but I couldn’t make out exactly what he was ranting about. No time for people like him, especially in a Crit where the average pace was above 45KM an hour.

A bit of time had passed and I noticed the pack had gotten smaller. The pace remained the same but less riders to jostle with. A few times throughout the first half of the race I was put into the red zone. The line of riders was getting strung out and I could feel my hurt tank getting larger and larger. As always in a Crit, right at about the time you can’t seem to push anymore, the pace drops slightly.

The first time I noticed the lap board there was 18 to go. Surprisingly my legs and body felt great. I didn’t feel my hand and my stomach issues appeared a distant memory. With 8 laps to go, I told myself to work hard at getting a good position for the sprint. This was no easy task. No one was giving an inch and with the the final lap just on the horizon, I was having trouble making my way into the top 10. Organization starting forming at the front and with 1 lap to go I was sitting 15-18 deep. I gave one last hard effort on the backside of the course but a small gap formed and I got hit with a huge headwind and no one’s wheel to grap. I kept pushing as hard as I could to the line but it was obviously not enough as I saw the winners arms raise in the distance.

This was my first 1/2 race of the season at altitude in Colorado. At sea level where it tends to be damp I could have gotten away with 1 bottle. With five or so laps to go I was out of fluids and my mouth and throat quickly became parched with thin dry hot Colorado air. Overall I was happy with my performance. I held in to the finish and didn’t give up as there were plenty of times throughout the race I had contemplated the notion. It was a good first race of the season and my legs felt great despite the minor setbacks in the past 48 hours.

It was great to have Maija and Mickey along for the trip as they are always great spectators. Maija even received some attention at the race. Earlier in the day Maija had been out on her FS mountain bike where she flipped over the her handlebars and got a sweet looking shiner on her face. People had thought she raced initially but then she explained it was a mountain biking adventure causing the war scar.

I’m excited for the upcoming season here in Colorado and look forward to some more Crits and hilly road races.

Stay tuned for more race reports in the future!