Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trust Me, It's Supposed to Hurt That Much

So, I survived our home race. Hosting a race is a lot of work - I came out of the weekend severely behind on my sleep. It's astonishing how much sleep deprivation impacts athletic performance.

The short version is I did okay in both the RR and the Crit - 14th in both, which was solidly middle of the pack. Both races were definitely educational!

What did I learn from the RR? The dynamics of riding in a large group (30+ riders) in a limited amount of space (yellow line rule) are totally different than anything I am used to. The amount of time end effort, both physical and mental, that you had to put into getting to the front of the pack were really surprising to me. Getting stuck at the back of the pack meant you were there for quite a while. If you were lucky, there was a turn that allowed you to move up as the group went around it. I spent most of my time near the middle or back of the pack - definitely not where I wanted to be.

In summary, the RR taught me that you really have to fight tooth and nail to stay at the front, and getting filtered back means there's no guarantee you'll ever see the front again. I need to work on my pack handling skills - I'm safe enough, but too conservative in seeing and grabbing spots.

The Criterium. Hoo boy. I did fine for most of the race - I was hurting, but sticking with the lead group until about 7 laps to go. At this point, I just ran out of aerobic gas and could not match the accelerations out of every corner. I eventually got spit off the back of the lead group (second time that's happened to me, ever) and finished with the second group of riders. Five minutes after the race, I was feeling fine and ready for more.

Lesson learned here is really simple: I have plenty of base, but not enough top end aerobic. Since I hate getting my ass kicked, I'm working on correcting this.

Today I did about 45 minutes on the trainer attempting to correct my high-end aerobic deficiencies. My main problem is I cannot recover from extremely high efforts (max. power) while still going hard (z4 = 170+ BPM). I did 1 minute at high power (170-180 BPM), then 1 minute at around 160 BPM, then repeated. I did one set of 4 or 5 reps, then recovered for 5 minutes, then did three more. My god do these little bastards hurt!

Since heart rate takes a while to come up to match the real effort level, I judged these intervals by the gearing I was using. For the "on" minute, I was in 53x14, and for the "off" minute, 53x19 (I think).

Anyway, we'll see how much of an improvement I get from these intervals. I will do them a couple more times before next weekend. Oh, and I'm also staying off the fixed gear - it's really hard on my legs when I'm trying to recover.

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