Tuesday, January 29, 2013

lost transmission

Due to internetal issues, no post yesterday - I didn't forget about you.

You want to talk about greasy trails?  Well, then you want to talk about this weekend's Winter Short Track race.  Thawing trails were the culprit, add a bunch of riders tearing off hot laps and you get a messy, snotty trail.  After the ripping up of the grass section in race 2, there was a reroute in the grass to avoid the muddied uphill switchback.

Was that a positive or negative?  I guess it all depends on who you asked.  I saw one post somewhere on the internets calling for it's removal from the course because (paraphrased slightly to protect the originator) too many ate shit on it during the race, it influenced the outcome of the race.

Mountain bike race.  That is about all the response needed for a comment like that.  Techincal/difficult sections SHOULD influence the outcome of a race... that is why they are there.  Otherwise we could all jump on our trainers and compare efforts to determine a winner.  Side note, I didn't see one crash in my beginner race on that particular section.

Ok, on to this week's race.  Due to the travel to CT I didn't get to ride as much as I'd like last week.  I have been torn between wanting to get on the bike and wanting to follow my training schedule.  I've come to a conclusion about that one, which I'll get to in a bit.

So, race day was cold(ish).  We are talking high 30s/low 40s.  I've been spoiled with the weather down here so far so that felt real cold.  I wasn't exactly sure how to dress as I was getting ready to head over to the course.  Wear shorts?  I figured my long sleeve merino jersey with my team jersey over would be fine, winter gloves, and layered socks (need to get some cold weather socks I suppose).  I went back and forth on it, but ended up deciding to go a little warmer and wear tights.  The issue being is that I don't have full length bibs, so I have to get creative to keep my legs warm.  The solution: bibs, tights, baggy shorts.  I also ended up throwing on my balaclava during warmups.  I contemplated taking it off for the race because I wasn't sure if I'd overheat with it.  I left it on, and I think that was smart - the air was crisp.

Down to the nitty gritty.  Like the first race, I started off the front and entered the singletrack in about 6th.  The first lap showed that the course had already deteriorated from my pre ride about an hour and half earlier.  This would prove to be the trend, each lap progressively getting slicker.  I held with the group through the first lap.  On lap two I learned that following a rider too closely on the singletrack produced a nice mud shower.  On the gravel climb to the grass I lost a spot or two but kept the riders within striking distance.  Lap three I started feeling in on the gravel/grass section and was already looking forward to the end of the race.

On the last lap I entered the singletrack with another racer from my class on my wheel.  I tried to do my best to recover on the singletrack as I knew it would be a race for the finish.  As I hit the gravel it felt like I had nothing left in my legs.  I looked down, dropped some gears to keep my cadence up and told myself to just push it.  I kept it going and I put a little distance in on him.  Once we hit the grass he stepped it up and I heard him coming up beside me.  I decided to let him take me there in hopes I could jump back on his wheel until I could hit it hard on the final section of gravel road.  He jumped up and I couldn't grab his wheel right away.  Once we hit the gravel road I wasn't sure if I could get him so I put it all out there.  I shifted harder and harder and hammered my way up.  By the time we hit the parking lot I was on him, and I hoped he had used up his reserves trying to get to the lot.  He hadn't.  He was able to hold on.  Knowing I didn't have the speed or distance to over take him I let up and cruised across the finish.

In the previous two races I had always finished hard, no matter what.  This weekend I just couldn't.  I didn't catch him - and it just left me disappointed.

If you asked me how my race went before I looked at the results I would have said pretty good.  I could have sworn that I only gave up spots to maybe 6 riders... which I figured would put me in at 12/13.  But, with timing chips I can't argue with the results... and they were not friendly.  17th out of 18.

Back to the drawing boards.  I'm wondering if I'm hitting it too hard off the start and not leaving myself the ability to recover enough to keep up decent laps.  Or, if this is just a glaring wake up call that I am no where near race shape.  And really, this has been a wake up call that if I really want to be racing I need to take a more focused approach to riding, training, and eating.  Ultimately, I'm disappointed that I've wasted my time and the opportunity that I had to train ahead of the series.  That I haven't been focused.

But, I'm not going to dwell on that.  I'm making the decision now that I will be more focused. I won't take the short cuts, or take it easy when I don't need to.  After all, there really is no better feeling than being drained after a great ride, workout, or training session.  Yeah it might suck in the moment (the suffering or pain) but the payoff is sooo worth it.

So what will I be doing differently?  I'm going to do my time on the trainer - hitting intervals as hard as I can.  One thing that I realized while on the trainer this past week is that I can push a lot farther then I might think.  You start feeling it in your legs, or you don't think your lungs will hold out - but a glance at the time left and I'm able to push it and go.  I need to carry that over in races.  To ignore that first voice asking me to back off.  To acknowledge that voice, but to trust in my body and spirit and the feats that I may be capable of.  I'm going to get back on eating better (more frequently, smaller portions, better food), working out to get the rest of my body back up, and riding.  This is where I'm jumping off my "training plan" because I can't see being off the bike so much is helpful.  I'm not talking about long hard rides, but I need to get my tires in the dirt.  I need to stay sharp, continue working on my handling, keeping my eyes up the trail and working on getting the hell out of my own head out there on the trail.

So 17th out of 18.  That is fine.  It's the motivation I needed to make the real choice - no excuses, time to do this for real.

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