Yet another hour long drive to the start of the race was in for me to get to the event’s road race. Leaving at 6:00 AM to be ready to race at 8:05 AM didn’t help my attitude much either. Warm up was much more limited due to the fact that we had a very closed piece of road that we could warm up on and I hate the trainer, but this didn’t prove to be much of a problem for me. I’m used to getting a fast warm up because of limited light in Colorado.
I didn’t have good position in the beginning of the race, I was probably 90 or so riders back when the whistle was blown, but found it quite easy to move up within the peloton. Everyone was a little nervous to ride in such tight quarters at the start that created a lot of room to move around. Pace was fairly lackadaisical at the beginning until we reached the first of 3 KOMs (King of the Mountains). At that point, one of the lead teams decided it would be a lot of fun to shred the peloton in pieces. The pace was insane, a hill that really suited a power climber more so than 139 lb featherweights. Either way, I made it over just fine and proceeded to barrel down the back side of the climb with the rest of the selection. My knee started to ache a bit at this point.
Once we hit the second KOM, I sprinted for the time bonus and then I felt it. I felt a pop in my right knee and from that point on; I knew my race was over. I was thrown out the back and kept being passed by riders until I finally hooked up with the Gruppetto and finished far from the front of the peloton and far from what I had hoped for.
After the race, I spent some time working my knee and, at this time (4 hours after), I feel ok to start tomorrow’s criterium, but I will be watching how I feel and will pull out at the first sign of trouble.
In the end, the race was fantastic training, but didn’t go the way that I wanted. This stage race was really meant as training, hoping for a few results, so I’m not disappointed either way.
I rolled into Buckeye, AZ at around 10:30 feeling refreshed and ready to go for the time trial. I spent most of my warm up cruising down the strip of road leading to the start house doing a mixture of tempo, LT, and endurance intervals. I also managed to get in some turnaround practice as well.
The actually time trial went relatively well given that this was the first time trial that I’ve done. The biggest problem that I encountered was actually related to the course. It was pancake flat, which lent it self to bigger riders. In other words, inertia was not my friend, but it served others well. Other than that, I had some issues really getting moving, even though my pacing was fantastic, I just had problems really opening up after the turnaround (My strategy was to ride high tempo until I hit the turnaround and then push toward my threshold). Mental fitness as good as well, at no time was I having issues with my “inner talk”.
Things that went well:
– Mental Training
– Fast start and turnaround
– Getting into my power zone after the initial sprint
Things to work on:
– Comfort in the time trial position
– Power in the position
It’s two days before I leave for the Valley of the Sun Stage Race and I can safely say that I am nervously excited. I just spent the last ten minutes cleaning out my car for the long drive to Phoenix on Wednesday; it feels like a metaphor for my life at the moment. Clean car, clean life. I’m ready to rock.
I did have a minor setback though, I hurt my knee again on Friday while doing some sprint work. Actually, it’s the worst my knee has felt since the pain started several weeks ago, but I think I have things under control now. Tylenol and a knee brace are my best friends and even though I wasn’t able to ride this weekend for fear of aggravating my injury, it didn’t mean that I can’t still train my mind. I’ve been working my way through the book “Mind Gym”. It’s not one of those books you read through quickly though. You need to to take your time and think about what it is that holding you back and what you need to focus on. It’s actually hard to put into practice then it sounds.
So far, here are some of the things I’ve come up:
– During the Time Trial, count in fives all the way up as high as I can. This occupies my mind so I can’t think negative thoughts. Your brain only has so many “channels” which it can tune in to at once and doing this eats up one of those.
– Allow myself to get a little jittery before each race. Something I became very good at as a musician was hiding all of the nervousness that comes with performance. As an athlete, these nerves are actually a good thing that will drive me through each stage.
– Before each stage, before bed the night before for example, imagine what it’s going to feel like. See the course, the competitors. Feel the wind and smell the surroundings and see myself doing well. Try to hold on to this feeling and bring the same excitement/energy to the race.
– Fight like hell.
I’m a freight train that can’t be stopped. My training is where it needs to be and so it my mind. I’ll report again after the race next Monday.