Sunday, June 22, 2008

08 State TT, Some Gold, Great day!!

Things got started in a strange way on Saturday. Matt Weeks and i got to the rec center to ride the last 6 or so miles of the course. It was sunny, hot and humid when we rolled out and about 40 minutes later it was like a scene out of that Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds. We started to high tail it back to the van when lightning started to hit too close for comfort and what was reported to be 50 mph winds were kicking across the road we were on. I had my Powertap with disc covers and I was holding onto my base bar for dear life counter steering. I thought I was going to get blown into head on traffic and get smashed. Long story short we hid at a golf course and then rode back to the car an hour later getting our bikes and shoes nice and wet.

Our next adventure was our hotel with the loudest air conditioner and the room would go from hot to ice box every 15 minutes. Suffice it to say I slept maybe 2 hours solid. I wasnt worried because I slept great on Friday night. The night that matters.

Sunday morning and alls well. Gorgeous blue skies, mid 70's and getting warmer by the minute. I got a solid warm-up in and headed for the start. IT was a funny start because when he said 3,2,1, Go the guy let go of me, but I didnt feel it and I was suspended in a perfect track stand for what felt like forever, then realized he wasnt holding on anymore and I finally took off. Felt like a long time, but I am sure it was like 0.XX seconds.

FINALLY after a year of waiting for this day I go and I decided pre-race that I would go 5 full minutes and not go threshold quite yet. My HR went right up to 168 and the speed was alright. My legs didnt feel great, they didnt feel bad either. but what I knew was that I did 26.5mph last year for ave speed and I didnt want to see anything less than 27.5 today.

But the first 20 minutes of the course I was actually spending a lot of time in the low to mid 20's. My first marker was to wait till I hit 26 minutes in and see how far I'd gone. I wanted to see more than 11.75 miles. I got a bit of a shock when I was only at 11.66 miles with what I deemed the slow rollers coming up.

I was playing that game the whole first half of the race of pushing for that next mph, but not wanting to push too hard. I knew we had a fast last 5 miles (or so I thought due to a course deviation that wasnt explained pre-race) and the rollers preceding it. They seemd to go on forever when we drove them Saturday night in the rain. My plan was to be fast the first 11 miles, survive the rollers and hammer the last 5 at what I hoped wold be 32 mph.

I was fortunate to be catching guys and gals all through the race. I passed some nice equipment too which is always fun. but I didnt have a rabbit in front or someone to push me form behind either. Thats always helpful.

So the first 11.7 miles went by at a 26.2mph pace. I didnt know it at the time, but I wish maybe I had pushed a bit harder, but maybe it was for the best.

But I was very motivated anyways and when I hit the rollers I found that I could hit 30+ on the downs and carry 27 to 29 almost every where. and when i fell to 24 or 25 and the downside of the roller was shallow I would put in a quick sprint that didnt even register on my HR and go form 24 to 28 and then i could hold it. I was flying, I felt awesome with just a few moments of "oh my, I cannot hold this anymore" that quickly vanished. Coach Sean had told me that I could ride the rollers this way and so i did. I only wish I had more confidence and did it more often.

Only a few times near the end did my calfs give a moment of cramping, but luckily they never fully cramped. Outside of that my legs were good.

so again it was go 27 and push, push, push to see 28. and then when I saw 28 I pushed for 28.5 and so on. I normally dont look at time, but this time I kept time, HR and speed on the screen. And the race was going by so quickly this year that I was into the 40 minutes so quickly that it made pushing hard maybe a tad easier.

I kept motivation going as well when I was in the rollers and going say 28mph I would tell myself that this is where Rudy and Matt are flying, there not happy with 28 so I'd try and go 29. And it seemed every time I pushed for more speed I got it.

Then before i knew it we werent on the course described on the flyer, we were on the 2007 course and I was being turned onto Hayes. I checked time and I was now running about 46 minutes and new I had only a short way to go. I started giving all I could, but then realized I was now pretty hammered. I made the left onto Richardson and figured I had at most 2 miles to go and I was now at 49 minutes.

I got a bit down when my speed dropped to 24mph and really struggled to get it back up. I could only manage to stay in the 28 to 29mph range. I saw the pink spray paint on the road with 1 mile to go, checked my timer and it was 49:5x something and knowing I was doing about 2 minute miles I realized I was going to be real close to a slow 51 minute lap. I'll be honest at that moment I wasnt too happy about that. I really felt with the weather conditions and vague numbers I had in my head from 2007 that I wasnt likely to be top 5 this year. I just didnt go hard enough in the beginning. It was a quick thought, but still there. I felt like a fast 51 and definately any 50 minute run would be what it would take.

I pushed like mad, but was only maintaining speed. By contrast Eric Hodos form PA said (and I saw him flying too) that he was doing 36mph at the end. I kept on telling myself to push past the pain, ignore it and just go, think about ONLY one pedal stroke at a time, one stroke as hard as you can push with the right leg, now one push as hard as you can with the left leg and in two minutes the pain will be over. To gain any speed I had to sprint it out with 500m to go and then sit down and dig for 30mph to cross the line. I would say I left it all on the rollers and it paid off. The first half was 26.2mph and the last half of the race was 28.5mph average. I averaged 29.9mph for the last mile and 27.3mph average for the 23.7 miles.

This may be a bit off topic, but I averaged 28.5mph for the last 12.5 miles (the distance of Presque Isle). I have never averaged anywhere close to that speed for that distance (much less shorter distances) and that speed would give me a 26:16 at PI. Just amazing and Sunday wasnt pancake flat like PI, it was rolling. OK, back on topic-but wasnt that neat or sick or just wow?!?!? It is to me!!

The result was 1st in the 40-44 age group as I had hoped (and no I did not resort to arm saving!!). That was one of the goals for 2008 achieved. My bigger goal of being top 5 was not achieved, but it was close. I was 8th out of 99 this year and missed the top 5 by 9 seconds.

It went Paul Martin with a new course record of 49:39, Jon Card at 50:24, Brian Batke with 50:41, Eric Hodos (from PA) 51:35, Matt Weeks 51:47, Rudy Sroka and Glenn Snyder (also from PA-called "the lung" by the locals) at 51:54 and little old me at 51:56!!!

A minute and 3 seconds improvement over last year. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of in an almost 40k and will take that confidence to Nationals next week. I am very happy with the results now and dont have a problem missing the top 5. Mainly because I went as hard as I thought I could, especially the last half and made up massive amounts of time. Yes of course I think maybe I could have gone 10 seconds quicker by going harder the first half of the race. Pushing a bit more through the pain and doubt in those early slow sections, but I am NOT beating myself up over it. Not this time anyways. Its all fuel for next Monday!!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to improve since last year. I couldn't do it without you all helping me.


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

GREAT JOB RAY!!! Keep up the good work and great training! Good luck at Natz!!

Anonymous said...

Great ride. "In the money" for the overall is an awesome result ... and really, just a few seconds out of top 5.

After a TT I always think I could have gone faster. It seems easier to say that after you've forgotten the suffering :-)