02
Feb
09

New Braunfels Road Race, Day 2

Ouch. This one really hurt.

I spent Saturday night just hanging out, eating, resting, reading, and catching up on some movies, since we don’t have HBO at home. Looking at the race info sheet, I confirmed that my race really didn’t begin until 12:03pm, so I ended up sleeping for almost 9 hours – a real luxury. I got up and rolled out in time to visit with Cindy, my client, and learn more about her race. Her chief comment, “The wind was atrocious!”

YES. IT. WAS.

I’ll summarize her results before going on — she took 3rd, was in control the entire time, and just made one mistake – letting someone else glom on and suck a wheel so she could save her energy at others’ expenses. I hate that, but honestly, it’s good tactics, especially on days when the wind is blowing right across the finish line at 10, no, 15, no, make that 20 kts…

During warmup, I met up with Andy Kutach again, and we got our bikes ready, bodies ready, etc. Knowing that I have a tendency to cramp on humid days, and seeing that it was going to be hot, with winds coming right off the Gulf, I made sure both he and I carried at least 3 bottles, with juice in them. We ended up needing every ounce.

From the time the whistle blew, you could tell that this was going to be absolute hell, and it didn’t disappoint. Looking at my power meter numbers, I hit my MMP60, MMP20, and MMP5, both absolute and normalized, within the first 90 minutes. They were also records, not just for the season, but for at least two years (since May of ’07).

By the end of the first lap, the pack had splintered in to a lead group of 5, then another group of maybe 6, and then another group of 17-20. Everyone else had already popped. For the next two hours, I worked extremely hard, with several erstwhile allies, to try and reel in at least one breakaway, and to try and make some time on the lead group. However, Andy was in that group, so I didn’t want to spoil his chances, though by the 3rd lap, they were several minutes up the road, and we couldn’t even see their chase vehicle.

Kurt Wolfgang, the tour guide whom I rode with in Spain, Moab, and now here, was spectacular. We ended up controlling the pack, urging each other on, complaining together about wheelsuckers (there were plenty), and keeping the pace high when we thought we could get in a decent breakaway of 5 or so, on the 3rd lap.

However, by the 4th lap, first crosswind, it became obvious that we weren’t going to merge with the first five, and it became even more obvious that my energy was waning. I made it to the 2hr 14min mark, before popping on the last smooth hill, and then rallying, only to make it within about 10 yards of the group of 10 on the gravel, and then pop again. Half out of my mind, I remember screaming in to the headwind, “DAAAAAAMMMMMIIIIIITTTTTT!” before dropping my head and withering to 15mph.

About 10 seconds later, I passed two guys who blew up just after my wail. I tried to rally them so we could work together – no joy.

I then spent every ounce of energy that I had fighting a brutal headwind, fresh chip-seal, and then the same wind as it crossed my left shoulder out by the feed zone. I drank every last ounce of fluid that I had. I passed several Cat 1-2’s who had also blown up in the wind, heat, humidity, and intensity, but was rejoined by two C3’s and 3 C1’s, in the final 3 miles. We basically huddled together like scared puppies until we crossed the finish line. Thanks and congratulations on surviving the effort were passed all around, and with what little energy I had left, I crawled back to my car to try and recover.

When you complete a race like this, you sort of end up half out of your mind for a while, and anything you eat or drink tends to taste bad. The one thing I did that seemed to help the most was to brush my teeth with a disposable toothbrush. Getting all the sugar out of my gums and off my enamel sort of revived me, and I was able to finish my Ultragen and even drink a little Coke, which seemed to keep my stomach settled. I congratulated Kurt (9th), and Scott Simmons of Moritz (winner), and several others, and then crawled in to the driver’s seat to begin the trek home.

STATS and LESSONS

Like I said – this one hurt.

I set new MMP’s for 5, 20, and 60 minutes, both actual and normalized, and even under the new estimated threshold, I averaged 88.2% of threshold for 2hrs 14min. Under the old number, it was over 92%. I burned, what, 2800 kcals? I may correct this- I’m too tired still to look it up. But suffice it to say that for over 2 hours on Sunday, I was completely on the rivet. I later got a lot of compliments for the amount of pulling I did, and for the work I did to keep the trailing pack together, but in the end, you know, it’s still about scoreboard. I’d love to be able to say that I upgraded on merit and character, but with zero points in 3 tries, well, the effort remains elusive. Still, I know that the indoor interval training has at least paid off somewhat – no one could touch me on the hills. Too bad they weren’t long enough to merit a break. Also, I have NOT been training my AC repeats – something that will be coming up in the very near future. The weekend was a bust points-wise, but it was NOT a bust when you consider all the experience and training I got out of it.

You can’t train indoors completely for something like this, and expect to do well. You have to spend time outside. You have fight your own headwinds, learn how to handle blustery crosswinds, learn how to avoid crashes when there’s a gust, learn how to get people to work with you, forgive them (and yourself) for stupid things, and correct, not cuss or shout, when things go wrong. Still, the intervals we’ve been doing have definitely helped, and I’m proud of the fact that out of 75 starters, there were only 21 true finishers, and depending on how you gauge it, I was either 19th or 18th. No points, but fitness, friends, and the ability to gain some confidence instead of feeling like pack fodder all the time.

It was unmerited, but Andy gave me $20 for assists for the weekend. It felt like a million. If you read this, thank you. You’re just like your brother – UNIQUE. It was a pleasure riding with you, and I hope we get to do it again soon.

What else…. Oh – this may be the last time I use the Ergomo-equipped Soloist, but the Ptap and the Soloist read within 1% of each other for every single MMP marker. They varied in trip distance by .04 miles. They varied in Kilojoules by less than 12. I think I’ve entered the realm of “Don’t F with it!”

So what went right on Sunday? I stayed hydrated, I came in rested and confident, I stayed on top of my KiloCalories, and my equipment worked flawlessly. What went wrong? I missed the break, I worked too hard, too early, and I bonked slightly after 2 and a quarter hours. Considering that I’m not doing the crits, and my racing is really just now resuming after missing most of 2008 or doing poorly (thanks, Hammie, you rick with a P), and, well, I’ll take the result, I’ll take the fitness that I get out of this, and I’ll make a vow to return to the scene and perform better next time in the results department.

A Sports Psychologist I worked with for a while told me “think about that which you can control, and that which you can’t control.” I need to spend more time on the bike, but I’m improving on optimizing my time, my wattage, my strengths, and my attitude. Intrinsically, I can’t ask for much more.

One last note… This RaceDay is uncanny. I did a 20MMP test today, even though I was completely trashed. The test prediction was a 280.2, with a probability factor of .9936. … I blew a 281.

Good luck in your endeavours, and thanks for reading.

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