What’s going on?
From no bike racing in years to three races in two weeks (and two this week).
I’ve been bitten by the bug… bitten hard.
I’m doing my second SMACK series race tonight. I’m told that the course is technical with a 180 degree turn, a narrow bike path and a steep short climb.
Last time I had modest realistic goals. Tonight I’m going to stretch the goals somewhat:
I want to finish in the main pack.
What the main pack is will depend on who turns up to the race.
There could be 100 people.
If there is, there will be a group of elites (10-20)
A main group (of 30-60)
The splintered groups off the back that will be lapped.
Perhaps the name ‘main group’ is incorrect – but I’ve made clear my definition and expectations.
What can go wrong?
Is my goal unreasonable?
Maybe. I’m only basing it on the fact that I was comfortable last race after 22 minutes – when I punctured… I really don’t know that I would have lasted the distance. Saturday’s MTB race gave me more confidence. We were going HARD up every hill (1000m ascent in 2:39) and I felt good in all hills for over two hours.
The legs are good.
I surprised myself today. Lidingö MTB race went pretty well and once again I outperformed my training performances by quite a margin.
Having visited the course three times in the weeks leading up to the race, riding around the course mod-hard @ 18,1km/h average speed, I firmly believed that I would not be able to go under three hours for the race. This belief was accompanied by the HOPE that I would go under three hours. Knowing the difference between belief and hope I was pretty unmotivated and not at all nervous on the start line. The gun went and off I rode. The first section 1,5km on the main road up a minor incline before turning off the road and onto the gravel paths – that’s when the rolling hills started. I was with the front group of about 10 riders after the turn-off and held with them for a few kilometers. I honestly can’t say if I was dropped or if I just dropped off; I do know that I internalized the fact that I was going way too deep on the climbs and that the pace would be unsustainable… I just don’t know if I made a decision based on that or if my legs decided for me. Adrenalin was flowing and what happened happened.
I was all alone for quite some time before a small group of four riders caught me… this became my group for the remainder of the race. We grew and shrank in size as the race progressed but there were five of us there the whole time. Until I did something by accident.
Hills came and went and my fear of loosing my legs never materialized. Each climb I started mid-pack and finished at the front, I was climbing well and feeling good. Finally having confidence I decided that the group was going a little too slow on a flat section and I took a pull on the front. I increased the pace a little and the group happily sat on my back wheel. We then turned off the path and began a climb of about 30m from the coast back up to a main trail. I thought I hit this as hard as the other climbs but I also remember being afraid of being passed and dropped after doing my pull on the front before the hill. This may have made me go harder than usual. When I got to the top of the climb and moved aside to let someone else through I discovered that there was nobody to let through, I’d dropped them all. Very shortly after this I started to feel dead on the climbs and, with 10km to go, I believed that my legs had died. I battled on, kept turning the pedals and headed to the finish line waiting for the masses to pass me by.
I did make the finish but the strange thing is that I never saw that group again – nobody passed me. Either they died a worse death than me or my feelings did not match my actual performance.
Happy with the result: 2:39 and some seconds.
I’ve been doing well lately – got two ‘big weeks’ in a row. Over eight and seven hours respectively… not big for most, but nearly double my yearly average.
Tonight I’m doing something stupid; I’m climbing aboard my racer for the first time in two years… as if that wasn’t stupid enough, I’m going to put the bike and myself on the start line of a crit. 40 minutes + 1 lap of an approximately 1km circuit.
Goal #1 – don’t crash.
Goal #2 – last one lap with the bunch
Goal #3 – last five laps with the bunch
Goal #4 – last 20 minutes with the bunch
I don’t feel the need to type any more goals – I’m already deep into fantasy land!
I thought I should do an update on my goals for the bike race…
Goal #1 – yep!
Goal #2 – did it!
Goal #3 – kind of… there was a split in the bunch. There ended up being two groups of about 25 riders each about 20 seconds apart. I was in the second one.
Goal #4 – yes.
I was 22 minutes in, my Garmin showed we were averaging 40,5km/h so far and coming out of the most dangerous corner on the course I hit a stone punctured. Pretty dramatic puncture – all air was out of the tire in 2-3 seconds.
I’ll never know if I could have stayed with the group… I’ll never now.
All I know is that I was feeling well at the time of the puncture.
I backed up the race with two hours on the MTB the following morning and a 35 minute run that night.
I’m aiming to keep the training at over seven hours per week for the next few weeks… so far so good.
It’s now 44 hours after I crossed the finish line and I sit here with considerable pain in most leg muscles and my right foot is somewhat strained too. The training build for the race was too short in duration and the long runs were also too short in time and distance. On the morning of the race I had resigned myself to the fact that there would be no silver medal (Sub-2:15 time) so I decided to enjoy the race for as long as possible, dig deep when the time came and leave nothing out there.
The race started and the first surprise came early; after running at sub-4:00 pace for the opening section of the race, it still took five minutes to cross the 29km to go marker which meant I was 30 seconds off sub 2:15 pace already. I later found out that the race was actually 30.25km long and the first marker comes after 1.25km… Once I realized that I was behind I then decided to leave the watch alone and just run on feel. Even though I was feeling pretty good I guessed that I was running as close to threshold as was possible – which was the plan.
The next time I looked at my watch was at the 15km to go marker; I crossed this in just under 1:05:00 which was a great surprise to me, it made me feel both good and bad. Good in the sense that I was on for sub-2:15, bad in the sense that I now had a pace determined for me. I knew that the next 4 kilometers was the most difficult section of the course so I decided to run the next 5km without looking at the watch and then assess the potential workload for the remaining 10km.
The 10km to go point came just after 1:27:00 of running – that left me 48 minutes to cover the last 10km. I was fairly sure I was going to go under 2:15 at this point but still unsure how Grönstabcken, Abborrbacken and Karinsbacken would effect me. It took me 46:22 to run the last 10km putting me well under the time needed to get the silver medal: 2:13:40 – almost exactly six minutes faster than my previous PB.
My season is over – time to get back into the gym and put a little muscle on my little frame.
I also have to decide what I want to be next year…
My plan was to try to run the first 2km in 7 minutes and then try to manage the decline in pace from there. It was extraordinarily difficult from the 4th kilometer onward and by the 6th kilometer an unending wave of nausea hovered over the already near unbearable pain.
The time was 39:17 and most probably the most uncomfortable race of my life. Racing untrained is not cool.
I have been on holidays and have had a 100% media blackout during that time. No TV, Web, newspapers … nothing.
Just before holidays I did XTERRA Sweden. I had no goals going in to the race – in fact the race was an experiment of sorts. I wanted to put myself on a start line when I knew I was not ready; usually I don’t start so I though that if I enter a race that I don’t usually enter then there would be no pressure to perform and thus no need to be prepared.
I stood on the start line feeling relaxed, predicting a sub three hour finish time.
Swam easy – well within myself and came out of the water after about 23 minutes. Not too bad.
Transition was probably the longest transition that took place anywhere in the entire world in 2014. I put on socks and gloves and fumbled every step of the way – not slick at all.
The MTB course was what I was really looking forward to – I started a little too hard but soon settled into a nice rhythm. There was a nice mix of trail, gravel paths, loose rocks and technical sections – really enjoyed it and my confidence increased with every pedal stroke. Lap two the technical sections were easier (why didn’t I learn the course?!).
T2 was quick.
Hit the run with 2:03 on the clock. Sub three was in the bag… I thought. The run course was two 5km laps of which 3,5km was scrambling. Absolutely impossible (for me) to run. I think the run took 59 minutes…
Finished with just over three hours on the clock. Had a great day though.
The result was ok, but that does not tell much.
Suffering on the bike was the main theme of the day’s race. I suppose there could be many small reasons but the main reason is that I do not have a deep cycling fitness. I had trained equally infrequently for swimming and running but those two results were pretty good; I was actually pleased with my swim. For the bike though, I was displeased to say the least.
Holding 200w hurt. For the first lap I didn’t bother looking at the computer but after a while it seemed that people were passing me on the bike at a faster rate than normal. I then thought -and hoped- that my brakes were rubbing or there was something wrong with the bike. The after-race inspection revealed no such problems – the bike was in as good a shape as ever.
I’m not going to over analyse it because despite all the small reasons for under performance, the fact is that it was not really an ‘under performance’. I performed to my fitness.
My numbers for this year are:
9,175m Elevation gain
28.1km/h average speed
194w average power
I’ve been trying to get organised since I returned to work after over five weeks holidays; It’s proving more difficult than I expected.
Training, Working, Family life and updating this site are far from integrated into my daily life. Must try harder!
Sunday is my last real race of the season and I don’t feel prepared.
I feel ok for the swim and the run but my bike power was pretty low during my test spin two days ago. Holding power above 200w on the flat took considerable effort whereas during my first race of the season I had to hold back to keep the power at 210w.
I think I’ll still stick to the following plan:
Try to hold 210w for the bike leg – keep it below 250w on the hills.
Run, run as fast as I can.
Stockholm Aquathlon is done – I am surprised how much I enjoyed it. I had my doubts about my ability to run after a 5km swim but they were well and truly laid to rest today. My swim fithess was not great but it was good enough to swim at a moderate pace for 5km. In fact, I could have kept swimming for quite some time, I felt so good in the water. Unfortunately my start was pretty bad and I lost the lead group pretty early. I still can’t decide if I let them go because I was afraid of the distance or if they just got away and there wasn’t a damn thing I could have done about it. The good thing is that I felt comfortable in the water – something I hadn’t done since I went into semi-retirement in 2007. In some way I can say “I’m back!”.
My pre-race plan was to take 5km to digest some calories and then hammer the last 16km. Wetsuit off, number clipped oo, socks and runners on and out I went and grabbed a drink. I felt so good that I thought that I’d just go for it. The way the race felt it seemed that the second lap was the best; my rhythm was good and I just felt fast. It seemed that I held this until 4km to go when it seemed that a switch had been flicked and the purpose of that switch was to make me suffer. It took some pretty creative mind games to keep going full bore because there was actually no reason to do so: there was nobody immediately behind and nobody ahead to catch. I convinced myself that I needed this pain for my next race and kept the pressure on until the finish.
Despite how that run felt the data showed a slow and constant fade throughout the 21km.
1st 7km @ 4:05/km
2nd 7km @ 4:09/km
3rd 7km @ 4:13/km
I guess feelings don’t always tell the truth.
Anyway, I’m pretty pleased with myself just now and about to hit the hay.
Just 43 hours to the aquathlon.
I have been feeling very tired all week – as though I am coming down with something. I can only hope that it is noting that will prevent me from reaching the start line and carry on as planned.
My goals -apart from reaching the start line- are as follows:
Swim Under 1:20 (1:36/100m) – 1:15(1:30/100m) is my rather unrealistic wish.
Run: Under 1:30 (4:14/km)
The run will be very difficult but the right mindset can help here.
Think of it as the second part of a marathon, not the start of a half-marathon.
I know that I can take pretty severe pain for 70 minutes so I have to get some calories in for the first 10 minutes and then it’s hammer time.
There are some good swimmers in the start list so this should help me in the running; picking them off will increase motivation. Pass someone, focus on the next person in front and repeat.
Cruise the swim.
Hammer the run.
Prepare for suffering.