Monday, February 28, 2011

First Race of 2011

S - 17,100 yds, 4:50:00 hrs
B - 215 mi, 10:53:56 hrs
R - 48.6 mi, 6:05:05 hrs

1 bike race

Total - 21.82 hours

Another day another dollar, right?  Well, if I actually made money doing triathlons I suppose I could use that metaphor but unfortunately, I do not.  I do, however, seem to be good at making [spending] money at bike racing . . . more on that later!

Thankfully, the MAC was open for normal hours this week.  There were no marginal collegiate swim teams meeting and taking up most of the facility so I was able to get in some consistent swimming this week.  Nothing really special or worth mentioning, although I guess I can't say that since that would make this whole "blog" thing seem not worth mentioning, but I digress . . .

My saddle time was good again this week; at first glance it may look like I missed out on some hours in the saddle (which technically, I guess I did considering my last 4ish weeks have had more miles) but with the extra intensity provided by the bike race on Sunday my cycling was certainly up to par.  My schedule on the bike was the same as usual M-Saturday (with a very, very slightly increased volume) leading up to the race on Sunday.  I was feeling pretty flat and sluggish on the bike Thursday-Saturday and on Saturday limited myself to 55 miles as opposed to my "normal" 60 miles with a small group.

Running was actually a slightly higher volume but I ran a bit slower on about half of my runs (most notably Sunday evening's 60 minute recovery run at 8:30 pace) so the mileage dropped a bit.  I had a super awesome long run on Wednesday (that has now gotten up to 95 minutes w/ tempo in the middle) but the rest of the week was either normal or sub-par (I've probably said this before, but that expression makes no sense and I'm only using it out of spite).

Race Report:

Donaldson Center RR, Cat 4, 36 miles (5 laps)

At the start line I positioned myself appropriately: dead last.  I get annoyed with cyclists at road races (crits are a different story altogether) because they are so intent on getting in the front when the race is long enough to make something like that irrelevant (unless of course you're in the Masters 35+ race and two guys go off the front in the FIRST corner and hold it for the next 6 laps...ridiculous) in the races I've done.  The start finish line led quickly to a downhill with a 90 degree right hand turn followed by a short, steep uphill with a 90 degree left hand turn.  With a tail wind (it was ridiculously windy out on the course and the last mile and first 2-3 miles of each lap had a tailwind, the rest of the way was head/cross wind) the pace was high and the group was stretched out quite a bit.  The "peloton" accordioned quite a bit, which is pretty typical for races at this level.  There were a couple of attempts at attacks but as we hit the headwind section they were proven to be overly ambitious.  I was still situated in the back but began to move up as the head/cross wind wreaked havoc on the field.  It was mildly amusing to watch people drop off on slight inclines (into the wind) at mile 5 of a race.  Towards the end of the first lap the "pack" was becoming less and less of a reality and it seemed like some strong guys were pushing the pace on the front so I closed down a gap to a group of about 6 and nobody came with me so this small group worked to the end of the first lap.

As we got through the tail wind section and up some rollers the group had whittled it's way down to three: myself and two other young guys (I was the oldest, weird!).  It was hard to tell at this point whether this was a smart move or not but I was feeling strong and optimistic so I tried to get the other two guys to work with me and actually work together to put some time on the "pack."  One of the guys seemed to get it but the other had obviously done relatively little racing as he didn't seem to understand the concept of a rotating pace-line.  By the end of the first lap the pack was, for the most part, out of sight and so we came through the start/finish area and started our third lap.

At this point, it was fairly obvious that I was the strongest in the group.  Note: I'm not bragging, it's just a fact. When you know, you'll know too.  One of the other guys definitely seemed to be having a little more trouble; his pulls were very short and I could tell with both of them that their breathing was a little ragged.  Since at this point I was still unsure whether I break was going to succeed or not I was a tad bit worried.  The tailwind sections of the course were obviously very easy (relatively speaking) and when getting to the head/cross wind sections I tried to get the other two to do a quick, constantly rotating pace-line.  As I said before, one guy got it, the other didn't.  There aren't many things more frustrating than being in a group with 2 other people and only 1 of them knows how to race properly.  Luckily, in the end it didn't end up mattering.  As we came through the third loop I was on the front through the finishing straight (again, but I only did this for the pictures!) and we started our fourth loop.

The first part of the loop was, again, relatively easy and then we made it to the tough section for the second to last time.  A moto official came up beside us (he had come to us twice previously to give us the time back to the "group") and told us that a breakaway in the Pro 1/2 race was catching us and we'd need to stay over to the far right, as well as telling us that we had 2 minutes on the "chase."  The Pro 1/2's had started about 5-7 minutes before us (maybe a bit more) and the breakaway group was lapping us.  It's cool to say that I've been passed by George Hincapie (his company puts on this training series of races).  After the break passed I knew that our group had this race won - as long as any of us didn't do anything stupid - since the 2 minute gap was twice as big as it had been previously.  We came through the end of the lap and the bell rang for our final go-round.

This lap was pretty much the same as all others, just a little bit slower.  I knew that I could probbbably drop the other two and forge ahead on my own but I wasn't sure enough to take that risk.  So we continued on with our normal schedule of pulling.  I would say, in all honesty, that I was pulling roughly 70% of the time.  I was also pulling the strongest.  Note that this wasn't necessarily just based on "feel" but also on miles per hour.  I like to be as objective as possible.  So with 1k to go I found myself on the front "leading out" but I wasn't going hard as I wanted to be sure that I could take these guys in the sprint.  The guy behind me asked if I "wanted to just take it" (he was being nice since he knew that I had done the majority of the work in the break) but I said go for it if you want to since I was fairly sure neither of them would be out-sprinting me.  Luckily, I was not wrong and was able to come away with the victory.

All in all, I was quite pleased with how this race finished.  I can't lie, I went in with the expectations of winning and was glad to see that I had the fitness and desire to take the win.  I was also happy that I had worked out for 5 hours the day before and was still able to drop the hammer when necessary.  Do you hear that?  It's my bike fitness coming up fast!  I have to thank Steve Watkins for that quote.

Next week brings more of the same, including the same bike race again on Sunday.  I will go in expecting to win again, but only need a top 5 placing to get enough upgrade points to submit my Cat 3 request.  We shall see.

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