I know most people have this repetition in their lives and I'll be honest I really like that things are predictable for the most part. Plus there's always time during the weekends to do all the things that don't fit into the weekdays. I like the fact that my workout schedule is usually pretty well laid out too and I go into every workout with a plan and a specific course I'll be riding. I know that without a plan I'd be a bit lost and wind up aimlessly circling roads.
My perfect idea of a post race week is shown above but in actuality since riding outside means contending with weather everything planned probably won't happen. Wednesday and Thursday have the potential of being a washout thanks to a rain system coming towards the area.
But did you notice I mentioned that it's post race week? I had my second race last Sunday and even managed to surprise myself with my performance. Actually I shouldn't be surprised by my performance because I've been working incredibly hard to get into shape for race season. I religiously rode my trainer all winter and aside from a week in April with the flu I've been riding hard outdoors and really training for hills.
Usually on rides I don't eat or drink while on my bike unless I have my CamelBak on. Of course most people at races don't race with a Camelbak and I was pretty determined not to either. So I had half a pack of Shot Bloks in my jersey (pre-opened is key) and a water bottle full of Nuun as well. I ate half of the Shot Bloks before the race and figured I would have the rest and eat them about half way through the race. I knew that fueling would be important because I wanted to keep up the intensity the whole ride and not fizzle out during any of the hills.
I've decided the best way to learn how to eat and drink on the bike if you're like me and terrified that you'll fall over is to put yourself in a situation that you really don't want to fall over. When I'm just riding with the boy or by myself I'm not too worried about falling over. The boy has seen me fall over in the driveway on my bike so that's about embarrassing as it gets in front of him. [PSA: Don't wear flipflops and attempted to show off by standing ontop of your clip-in pedals. It hurts you and your pride.] Basically for me I'd rather not fall over around other cyclists, especially at a race. So as we rode out to the first hill I figured it was a perfect time to grab a few sips of water as practice. I was riding about middle of the pack in a line formation and was able to successfully get water after a few tries. My first try was hilarious and consisted of me spraying water all over my face. Obviously there is a learning curve to all of this and at my current rate I should be able to drink from a bottle successfully in a few years. In all seriousness by the end of the race I could successfully drink and managed not to be a dehydrated mess at the finish.
The first hill split the pack completely and the race leaders took off. I was riding in 5th up the hill with no one behind me since everyone who had been behind me dropped quickly. I managed to pass the 4th place rider on the climb and never saw her again. Of course knowing that someone was behind gave me enough motivation to really push on the downhills. Halfway down from the first climb I met up with the wheelman (each category had their own pace car that lead the leader and wheelman car (basically the car with a man/woman with extra wheels in case of flats) that rode behind the group and eventually followed the the third place rider from what I could tell). As I passed the wheelman he mentioned that I was not far behind and could catch up which obviously motivated me to push harder. Shortly after that I was able to pass the third place rider and just kept pushing.
Around mile 10 I attempted to eat my first Shot Blok and the experience was pretty awful. I was able to snag one out of the pack and shove it in my mouth and that's when I realized that the idea of chewing something so hot and thick was disgusting. It took a considerable amount of effort to keep it in my mouth and force myself to actually chew it. At one point I was so desperate just to get it out of my mouth I had to hold myself back from gagging. Maybe this is why people test this stuff before they are actually in a race scenario. I forced myself to suck it up and chew quickly and was able to force myself to eat a second blok a few minutes later. Since that spectacular performance I've decided that gels would probably be easier to consume since chewing wouldn't be a factor.
As I made my way up the hill around mile 16 or so I was really grinding it out. There was a turn off before the steepest part of the climb and volunteers were blocking off the roads to traffic as well as directing people where to go. The guy directing had a little girl who also had a flag and pointed it to the turn down the hill but unfortunately for me the guy made sure to redirect her flag up the hill. As I passed him I yelled that I was really wishing he would just point down the hill. I spent the rest of the race riding alone with the exception of the wheelman and a few guys from the masters categories that I passed.
Finally I made my way towards the finish and was greeted with a very steep climb. We're talking 10+ percent incline which is just cruel at the end of a race. As I climbed up a guy on the sidelines was yelling that I was #3 in my category and that I podiumed (I don't think this is a real word??) but I was barely moving up. The guy in front of me was zigzagging his way up the hill but I knew if I started zigzagging I would surely end up on the ground so I continued grinding and finally crossed the line. I was so happy that the boy was at the top of the hill and waiting for me because as soon as I crossed I was about ready to tip right over. You know you've given it your all when you can barely unclip your bike without going down after a race. Luckily the boy was nice enough to made sure I didn't tip over and was able to steady me and my bike. I stood over my bike just sucking in air and eventually made my way to the side of the road to watch for my teammates to come in. [I was invited to join a sponsored team after my first race...so OK maybe I do have things I could write about.]
Pre-race I mentioned to Erik that if I finished under a hour and a half I would be happy. I had my usual pre-race nerves that included a freak out after my new teammates were discussing the fact that I was "fast." As we unloaded the car I queitly told Erik that I was certain that this team asked the wrong person and maybe got me mixed up with someone else who was indeed "fast." I ended up finishing in a hour and 16 minutes so apparently I need to just have faith that I've worked hard and that I am becoming a strong rider.
All in all it was a great day for a race and oh, there were cookies the size of my face at the end so obviously it was well worth it.