Leading up to Seneca Creek and Tacchino a bit of rain was in the forecast, leading me to extensively over analyze the previous dryness of the soil, combined with a mere inch of rain, and compare it to last year when we got about 7 inches of rain before the race. My final conclusion was that it wasn’t going to be too terribly muddy since an inch of rain is about what you might aim for when watering your lawn–and most people do not try to turn their lawn into a muddy mess. I was terribly wrong.
It was still raining on Saturday morning at Seneca Creek, and conditions grew muddier throughout the day. It wasn’t like crazy mud, but it was certainly enough to keep things interesting. I had a great start at this race. It was slightly uphill and I had a front row start in our small group of 6, so I suspected I could take the lead and that was my goal. I was quickly in the front off the line and led for maybe a 1/3 of the lap. I even created a small gap at the start! However, when I was caught, I gladly gave up the front as it was more of an experiment to prove to myself that I could be a better started if I tried harder.
Overall I had a pretty good race, well except for running over a course stake and getting passed by the leader of the Cat 3 field (both at about the same time). But other than that, it was good. Well, maybe also except for my barriers. I’m not sure what changed from last week, but I felt like I was wallowing across them. Anyway, I ended up 3rd out of 6. It was a small field, but some of my closer competitors were there, meaning almost anything could happen.
Sunday was Tacchino. This time, conditions dried out over the course of the day. By the time I went off at noon, there was still some mud but most of the turns were drying out and were more sticky than wet. I had a better than usual start, but I quickly ended up towards the back of this very competitive field. Going into the woods, a woman started scolding me that “we need to close the gap, we need to stay with the group!” I wasn’t creating a gap on purpose! We were on a road, and I was trying (unsuccessfully) to hold the wheels ahead of me. But seconds later I almost came to a complete stop as the women ahead slowed to negotiate the muddy, rooty turn at the entrance to the woods. Good thing we closed that gap.
I managed to work my way up throughout the race, but my slow remounts kept putting me back and forth with another woman for about 2-3 laps. As we fought each other, we were closing in on those ahead of us. We passed one and headed towards the finish. I wasn’t able to make it around my nemesis for the finish, but it certainly kept things interesting to the end as she finished about a wheel ahead of me.