Taking 1st in the Pro/Cat 1 H2H race in NJ
Mid-week fatigue, burning quads, extreme heat? must be July!!
Now that I have lived in the US for a few years, I can safely say that every July I start to feel fatigued. My power goes down a little, I am struggling to hang on at speed rides, and seeing stars only a few minutes into a hard workout.
It's a tricky spot to be in. It's mid-season, there are a lot of races, thus finding the fine balance between maintaining race pace fitness or over-doing it can be difficult.
Take last year for instance, this past weekend a year ago (2 weeks before Wilderness 101) I did 6 Hours of Power in NY. I thought it would be perfect to do just before W101: long race but enough time to recover and reap the benefits. But at the start of W10 I felt done in. I hadn't recovered from 6HOP, my body was sore in odd places, and I solidly regretted having done such a long race 2 weeks before an important race.
So this year I am trying a different strategy. I put in some longer aerobic miles 2 weeks ago, and since then my rides have either been short and intense (speed ride) or easy. This has allowed me to be fresh enough (just) to race cross country at the weekends.
Sunday I headed to NJ to race. I was on my own so it meant I could cruise the whole way listening to my own cheesy British music without Rich RAPIDLY turning it off!
It was a hot hot day. I arrived in plenty of time so rode a full lap of the 7 mile course (we were to race a total of 3). I loved the course: it was technical, but fast technical. Towards the end of the lap there were at least 3 steepish single track climbs (one I admit slipping into the granny gear on my last race lap!). I had nobody to feed me, and no cooler, so I left a bottle near the feed zone for self collection, and had two bottles on me: one with water and the other with carbo+electrolytes. I also carried some gels.
The race went off around 1 (mid-day extreme heat). We started in a open field and had to sprint to the single track for 400m or so. I took the hole shot immediately. There was one other lady who pressed me for a bit, but I managed to lose her as soon as we hit some more technical sections. I finished my bottles pretty quickly. I felt like my head was going to explode, and often thought how the hell road racers survive on the open road in this heat!!
Thankfully one of the other racer's (Cati) husband had some spare water in the feed zone and helped me out. Thank you so much! Towards the end of the last lap I was really starting to tire. The aim of my race was to push myself as hard as possible to get the best training out of it. I new I had attained my goals when my arms started really hurting (not just the usual legs!). I could see 2nd place on one of the out and backs and she looked strong, perhaps only a couple of minutes back. I beetled as fast as I could to the finish and took 1st place.
I was so happy the race was near a lake. It was just a small one so wasn't that cold, but good enough to freshen me up!
The race was a different scene to the Mid-Atlantic races, and it was great to see some of the100 mile racers there. They were a friendly bunch! After the awards, as I stood chatting, I began to feel really nauseus. I realized I really needed to get a recovery drink in me and get into the shade. I honestly thought I was going to start puking as I put my bike on the roof. Thankfully a guy stopped to chat to me in his car and offered me some watermelon.....life saver!
It took me a while to recover on the car driving home. I just made sure to sip some recoverite and to keep the air con on. Eventually I came round, ate a PB + jam sandwich, switched on my cheesy music again and blissfully drove back to State College.
Other exciting news, after Stan came to watch me race at Windham he sent me some Race Gold wheels for the rest of the season (with awesome pink stickers!). Thanks NoTubes!