In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned that for me to be in racing shape, I should put in around 750 to 800 miles per month. This is a fact, proven. Now, I can get away with less miles, if they are "quality" training, for short time-trials because 1) They are short duration and 2) They don't require (usually) all of your leg muscles.
Even placing second in the State Time Trials and feeling strong in doing so, was only ground-work for actual racing. Unfortunately, we had a vacation followed by a hurricane, and my mileage went south. The upshot of this is I have put in about half the necessary mileage leading up to yesterday's race. Knowing this, I moved into fantasy-mode.
The race course, I thought, was extremely fair, if tough. There are around ten climbs in 30 miles, with about a two mile incline to the finish. The first 16 miles have two tough climbs and several lesser ones. When I practiced the course several weeks ago, there was a moderate north wind and it took 1:59 to complete. The wind was in my face for the first 16 miles.
I knew I was in trouble even as I drove to Ft. Hood. There was no energy, no spark. I knew I was in deep doo-doo when I opened the car door and the wind almost whipped the door out of my hand. My warm-up went well and I arrived at the start line ready to go. The wind would be from behind for the first part.
One of the tactics in racing is to lead out strong to put those who didn't train well under stress as soon as possible. I didn't think I was stressed, as I moved into the big ring and easily kept within the 20 man group. The first four miles are more or less downhill, with the wind from the right rear. We cruised around 36mph, hitting over 40 once. The first climb came and I didn't think I had a problem until everybody moved away from me toward the top. Oops. It took about a mile to catch back on, and once again cruising comfortably. A few miles later and the steep hill took its toll on me. I had no oomph.
I managed to keep them in sight until just before the turn. When that came, the wind was in my face and without anyone to help block it, my speed dropped a bunch. I had 13 miles and several 12% grades to get over before the 3 miles with the wind at my back at the end. The group that started 15 minutes behind us passed me at around the 20 mile mark, and stragglers from that group continued to pass as I labored on. I managed to make the turn, get the wind at my back, and even uphill, held around 20mph to the finish. My racing time was about 40 seconds slower than when I was practicing.
Another interesting fact: on the practice run, where I was just cruising and previewing the course, my heart rate was 137, but race day 147. All that time in zone 4 and 5 did nothing to improve my time. Of course, the wind was a contributing factor.
I really didn't think I would come in last of 20. Actually, I could have raced to not be last, in that one other person in our group was with me for the last couple miles. However, I refuse to race just to be second from last. He beat me by three seconds.