|Photo Credit: Captions by Mary|
This was the second race in ChainBuster Racing's Southeastern Endurance Cup. I am using these races as prep work for Marathon Nationals (Single Speed division). The courses are very similar to what I will be racing on in Augusta in June: fast and flowy to tight and twisty with little elevation gain.
After completing a power test a couple weeks ago and hitting an FTP that I had not seen in well over a year and a half, I was ready to put this wattage gain to a real world test. So I threw on a cog one gear harder than I have used in the past at Conyers and was pleasantly surprised during my pre ride. I was able to clean the climbs and go a bit faster on the flats.
Race day was going to be hot! I do love the heat and humidity, but only after being able to acclimate. One day is not quite enough. I prepared my bottles accordingly, adding Elete Electrolytes to my Torq energy drink. The guys at Torq would most likely say that their product contains just the right amount of electrolytes, but after having lived in this body for 47 years and pushing it to its limits for the past 15 years, I know what works for me ... and keeps the cramps at bay.
Here is a summary of how the race went for me:
Lap 1: Running a 32/19 made it a bit easier for me to enter the single track in a decent postition. At this point I knew there was at least one woman in front of me, possible two. Not burning any matches, I passed when the trail opened up. The flat sections I used to refuel and spin the legs out. The two climbs were a 4/10 on the pain scale.
Lap 2; A friend told me I was a minute and a half behind first. Whoa! Either that chick was crazy fast and powerful, or (I was hoping) she burnt a few matches. I did not change my game plan, but continued to cruise along, knowing that consistency is key, and the single speed makes it easy to be consistent. I began to feel the heat on this lap ... and drank accordingly. The two climbs were still a 4/10, and I passed several SS'rs who were pushing.
Lap 3: As I passed through the transition area, my friend said that I had closed the gap on first a little. The fisherwoman came out in me: time to slowly reel her back in. I stopped briefly, swapped out bottles, and motored on. Feeling the flow of the trail, it seemed like I was on autopilot. The first two laps had warmed the legs and they found their happy place. The two climbs were still a 4/10. Towards the end of this lap, I caught up to first. I could tell by her posture that she was hurting. I slowed a bit, wanting to be cat-like and watch for weakness. She pulled away during the final 10 mile flat sandy stretch to the start/finish area (it was only 1/2 mile, but for a SS'r, seems to go on forever).
Lap 4: I had to now stop by my pit area each lap as I was downing a 24 ounce bottle each lap. I caught back up to first, made some small talk, and then slowly pulled away. I was still in my happy bubble on this lap, and began to start making the mental calculations of how many more laps I was going to have to do. 3-4 more were going to be necessary. The two climbs jumped up on the suffering scale, now a 5/10. After passing through the start/finish and seeing that I was 4:03 into the race, I knew I had to do 3 more. So I chugged my traditional Red Bull, and awaited my "wings."
Lap 5: It was here that I began noticing the little pains: low back, left big toe, outside of my right foot. I began to feel every little bump and root on the trail. What I thought was pretty smooth in the beginning now became teeth chattering. Tons of braking bumps on the descents began to annoy me! To take my focus off the pain, I began to talk to people as I came upon and passed them. I was very surprised at the women. I followed one on a long descent who was buttery smooth through the corners. And I admired those that fought for every inch of trail on the two long climbs. At this point those climbs jumped up to 7/10 and it was about all I could do to turn over the pedals ... but I did.
Lap 6: I felt pretty confident in maintaining first as long as I did not have a mechanical. I had lost sight of second place in the twists and turns of the course. I now just focused on riding smooth, especially through the creek crossings, which caused many flats on the day. I noticed that each lap the line through the creeks changed as rocks were flung about. The climbs jumped up another notch in intensity to 8/10, mostly due to fatigue, but they were also getting a bit chewed up, and finding traction got harder.
Lap 7: I was now 7 minutes ahead of second and at least could rest a little easier mentally. The last lap was relatively enjoyable. All the body pains diminished in intensity and I focused on body position, carving the corners, and seeing how little I could use my brakes. The long single track climb, I thought about going for it, but felt a twinge in the quads about 1/2 way up. So I wisely chose to dismount and run up the last 30 yards. I did manage to clean the powerline climb, but it was not a pretty site. I hit my limit of pain at a 10/10.
I rolled through on my final lap in 5:19. This was not easy. The heat and taller gearing had me hurting at times, but with Coach Lynda's guidance, I had a perfect lead up in training to this race. I am looking forward to burying myself in some L4/L5 work outs in the near future.
|Sandwiched between a fast Floridian and Canadian|
My power is coming back and I am feeling good about building up to my "A" race. I definitely learned a hard lesson last year about overtraining. It has taken me a full year to recover from digging a hole I almost did not climb back out of. "Less is more" is my new motto. No more back to back or back to back to back foolishness. Although I have been training less, the quality is better. Recovery has been a bigger part of the picture as well. I am turning into one of the "old people," who rise and set by the sun. Pretty soon, I will be in the 4 pm supper crowd.
|Stealing "cloud Pop Tart" from Karen Jarchow, as I am pretty sure I had the same feeling as her yesterday.|
The other piece to this power puzzle is the functional fitness class I have been taking since December. 2-3 times per week, I take a 1 hour class that focuses on mostly body weight only exercises and high intensity cardio, although we do use barbells, dumb bells, and kettle bells, too. I have seen tremendous gains in high power output. I absolutely love this class and Coach Joshua is am amazing motivator. I almost cannot take it when I have to cut these classes out during the week leading up to a race.
I must give a huge shout out to the local SORBA chapter for all the bridge work they put in to make this course fun and mudless. My bike thanks you. Eddie has done a wonderful job in getting sponsors who give away awesome, usable product.
|Have I said how awesome Mulberry Gap is?|
Looking forward to Fort Yargo in May!