Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page

Race report

I finished a road race!  Yes, this is the first time I’ve actually finished a road race (as opposed to a criterium, of which I’ve finished plenty), and by “finished” I mean stayed with the pack the entire way.  I’ve ridden all the miles of a number of road races (largely because the courses are long enough the racers do only a lap or two, so I have no choice but to finish all the miles just to get back to my car), but I’ve always gotten dropped on the hills.  As you can probably guess, today’s course wasn’t terribly hilly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  My race report should really begin last night with my book club meeting (about which more in a later post), which was absolutely wonderful, but which kept me up until 11:45 p.m. or so, which made this morning’s 4:30 alarm highly unwelcome.  As I’ve surely mentioned before, I don’t do well with little sleep. I tossed around the idea of staying in bed and skipping the race (thinking that it’s thrillingly self-indulgent to sign up for a race and then to spend all day purposely not riding in it), but I’ve already skipped one race this year because of lack of sleep and didn’t want to do it again.  So I spent the whole 2 hour drive up to Warren, Massachusetts, dozing and feeling miserable.  Watching it begin to sprinkle shortly after arrival made things that much worse.

But the rain stopped by the time the race went off and I was feeling more alert.  The race was to be two laps of 20 miles each; I’d never done the course before, but I’d heard it wasn’t hilly, so I was hoping not to be surprised.  I settled into the race pretty quickly, spending a lot of time in the middle or towards the front of a pack of 30 or so racers.  A couple times someone launched an attack, but no one ever managed to get far in front of the pack.  I spent the first 20 miles watching the course carefully and hoping not to be surprised by a steep hill or an attack I couldn’t follow.

I also spent the first 20 miles wondering why the pack seemed so relaxed.  The pace was almost leisurely at times and lots of people were talking and laughing instead of focusing on their riding.  It sometimes felt like a group ride rather than a race.  One person said she thought this was because many riders had raced in a local race yesterday and so were tired, an explanation which made sense.  So I decided I could relax a bit and enjoy the ride.  There were no bad hills — the one long one had some breaks in it that made it easier — and knowing that made the last 20 miles more fun.  I knew there was nothing scary out on the course, and I was pretty sure the pack wasn’t going to get away from me.

This left the final sprint, though, and I discovered that it’s an uphill finish — a very gradual uphill, but still, a hill.  As I started to climb, I saw my heart rate go up into the 180s, and I could feel my legs protesting. I stood up for the last little bit, my heart rate hitting 187, and finished behind a front line of racers but still somewhere in the middle of the pack.  I’m guessing I got something like 12th or 15th place; I will be able to find out for sure in a few days.  Our pace was 19.4 mph, and my average HR was 161.

So, I’m happy with how it went.  I would have liked to finish stronger, but the fact that I finished at all is enough to make me happy.

BUT, the race report is not over.  I stayed at the finish line to watch Hobgoblin’s race and was horrified to see a bunch of crashes as the crowd of racers sprinted to the end.  I couldn’t see Hobgoblin anywhere.  I watched the people who crashed get up off the road and was relieved not to see him there, but I still had no idea where he was.

And this began a long search that seems farcical from the outside, but was frightening as I experienced it.  The problem is that there were two locations Hobgoblin could possibly be — at the High School where we parked or at the Elementary School where the afternoon races began.  We hadn’t made plans where to meet.  I first went to one school and didn’t see Hobgoblin, so I rode the five miles or so to the other school and still didn’t see Hobgoblin or the car, so I waited a while and then rode back to the first school, and still didn’t see him.  I talked to a bunch of people who promised to help me find him, and then I watched the afternoon races begin, because there wasn’t much else I could do.  Then a group of women very kindly told me Hobgoblin was waiting at the other school, and one of them offered to give me a ride.  He wasn’t there, though, and so we drove back, finally passing his car when we’d almost arrived.

It turns out Hobgoblin had done much the same thing I’d done — he’d looked for me at the finish line and didn’t see me, looked for me at one school and didn’t see me, then he got lost trying to find the other school, and then he drove back and forth a couple times more, never seeing me.

Everything was fine in the end, but all that wandering around and searching was no fun for either of us.  We clearly need to plan where we will meet next time; this time around it simply didn’t occur to us that a plan would be necessary.  Hobgoblin is fine, by the way — no crashes or trips to the hospital.

So, all’s well that ends well, I suppose.

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Running in the family

My younger brother ran in the Boston marathon and finished over two minutes ahead of Lance Armstrong, running it in 2:48:16.  Yay for him!  I’m proud, but also a bit envious — he inherited a skinny runner’s build from my mother’s side of the family, and I got the big-muscled, chunky build from my father’s.  Ah, well.

Recovery week

This is a nice slow week, which I needed. I did nothing on Monday, rode for an easy hour on Tuesday, did 45 minutes of yoga yesterday, and am heading out soon for a 1:15 or so ride this morning. Tomorrow I may take another short ride, and that will be it until my race on Sunday. I am terrible at road races, but perhaps I’ll do better than usual because I’ll be pretty well rested.

Weekend riding

I had a marvelous 50-mile ride yesterday and got badly sunburnt. It takes a while to remember that warm weather means my limbs are no longer covered, which means I must apply sunscreen. But I had a great ride, over a very hilly route — in fact I did a lap of a course I will race on in June, the dreaded (by me) Housatonic Hills race. Every time I climb those hills I think about how awful it is to race over them and I wonder why I do it. But I wouldn’t want to miss the race either …

Today I did an easy hour, and could feel every hill I climbed yesterday in my legs. Now I’m headed into a recovery week, as I’ve worked pretty hard the last three weeks and need a break. I hope to be all recovered by Sunday, when I’ll be doing my Massachusetts road race — 40 miles! Ouch.

Wednesday, Thursday riding

An easy 1:15 ride yesterday, trying to recover from Tuesday’s intervals, and a hard hill ride today, another 1:15.  I sprinted up the top of the last hill, and it felt great — there’s nothing better than being strong enough to work really, really hard …

Tuesday ride

I rode hard this morning, doing intervals (5 x 8 minutes with 2 minutes rest, HR around 160 during each interval).  I struggled a bit with this, as I’m not fully recovered from Sunday’s race, even though I didn’t ride at all yesterday.  But I suppose it’s good training to work hard while still a bit fatigued.  It was 34 degrees when I left and 48 when I returned.

Pass/Fail

I love this post by Bike Snob NYC — I most definitely am a pass/fail racer.

Race report

My races the last two weeks have been unspectacular, but I did at least finish both of them, making it up to the finish line with the pack, albeit at the very back. Today’s race was the hardest of the three I finished; we were a little faster than the previous races, at 21.2 mph, and there were many attacks, lots of chases, and several near disasters as I fell a little bit behind and had to work as hard as I could to catch up, or, if I was lucky, had to stay on someone’s wheel and trust that she could pull me up to the pack. A racer whom I’ve talked to a few times at various races had fallen behind and gotten lapped but after getting lapped joined the pack again — she was riding along with me at the back on the last lap, and when we were in danger of falling behind she made a superhuman effort to bridge the gap up to the pack and I followed gratefully on her wheel. I thanked her for the pull and she laughed and said no problem. It’s fun to help each other out; I may not have been able to help this particular racer, but I know pulled along a rider or two, at least for a little while.

So now this race series is over, but I have another race at a different location (Massachusetts) in two weeks and a week and a half after that the Tuesday night series starts. There’ll be lots of racing coming up — lots of chances to suffer and sweat and try to get stronger.

And oh, my, is there suffering involved. It’s not just the cramp in my side as I ride or the fatigue in my muscles as I climb that goddamn hill for the 22nd time or the splitting headache I develop at the end of the race; this afternoon as I was sitting in my chair grading papers, I could feel a deep ache settle into my muscles that’s with me right now. I’m waiting for the Advil to kick in. Oh, yes, racing is fun.

Saturday ride

It would have been a crime not to ride today, as it was 70 degrees and partly sunny.  I went out — get this — without arm warmers or knee warmers, just shorts, a tank top and a jersey, and I could have done without the tank top.  Spring is here!  I rode for an easy hour.  Tomorrow is a race; unfortunately it will be something like 20 degrees cooler tomorrow.

Wednesday, Thursday rides

I rode for 1:15 yesterday, easy, and then 1:15 today, up as many local hills as I could find.  I’ve been annoyed at all the beautiful weather I’ve been missing since I can only ride in the early mornings before it warms up, but this morning temps were in the 50s when I left, and it felt great.  I was almost overheated in my arm and knee warmers.  Tomorrow will most likely be a day off; I’m not sure about Saturday because of the rain, and then Sunday is the last race in the series I’ve been riding in.  After that I get a weekend break before another race comes up.  I’m hoping for dry on Sunday but it’s not looking good right now.

My foot is improving with the inserts I got from the podiatrist, but it’s not quite back to normal yet.  I keep thinking maybe just one more week, and it turns into another and another.  It’s unbelievably slow.