Sunday, May 10, 2009

Humble Pie

[Pre-race posing - after trying on 14 different clothing combinations to get just the right mix of warmth and breathability . . .]

[Phil unloading my bike - he is awfully good to me!]

We completely lucked out with the weather on Saturday for the Front Range 50. On Friday the weather forecast indicated a high in the mid-50s, with a pretty good chance of rain. Saturday actually ended up being perfect weather for a bike race – sunny, dry, with a high in the low-60s. [Today, however, our plan to sneak in 9 holes of golf got derailed by foggy, drizzly conditions. I won’t complain, though, given yesterday’s bonus.]

Many other things worked in our favor yesterday: there were no problems with parking or registration before the race; neither of us had any mechanical difficulties or flat tires (Stan’s sealant foiled the goatheads! ); I had no spills, and even though Phil went down a couple of times, he came up unscathed; the course itself was perfect for us – swoopy fun singletrack with three hard, short climbs and no technical sections; and my hydration and nutrition plan worked perfectly.

That said, doing a “real” race, with “real racers” is both unnerving and abundantly humbling.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the Front Range 50 was the fact that there were multiple events going on at the same time on the same course. So, there were Pro & Elite level racers coming up and around me on the singletrack throughout the whole event.
The only other mountain bike races we’ve done, Leadville and the Laramie Enduro, are not loop courses, so that isn’t an issue in those events. As I noted before, I didn’t want to mess up anyone else’s race by blocking them on the singletrack, so there were some nerve-wracking sections in yesterday’s event. One guy took a big digger behind me, but it wasn’t my fault. Other than that, I don’t think I impeded anyone.

I did end up DFL in my age group (40 - 49), but finished ahead of a couple of gals in the 30 – 39 age bracket, and a couple of guys, so I wasn’t last dead last overall – whew.
My game plan was to go hard (just under my lactate threshold), but not to go at full-on race pace. I wanted to get a good hard training ride, but didn’t want to blow up. I think I did just that. My first lap was little faster than it should have been due to adrenaline, and not knowing what the course had to offer. The second lap my legs were feeling crampy from the effort I put in on lap one. But by lap three, I hit my groove and then felt really good for the rest of the race.

It was hard to go out on my final lap, because so many racers were already done. I had to play a few mental games to make myself keep going – I physically had another lap in me (maybe even 2 more, to be honest), but mentally I wasn’t very interested . . . That is the hardest part of endurance events. Your body can keep going for hours and hours, but the mind starts to be a liability. As a friend of ours said about the Leadville Trail 100 mile run “after 15 hours it’s just a mental problem.” Um hmm; it is definitely a “mental problem”!

Phil had a really good ride, and ended up finishing almost half an hour ahead of me. He went hard and really challenged himself. Good work, Phil!

So, here is the humble pie: the overall winner finished the 50 miles in 3 hours and 3 minutes – frankly unbelievable! Our buddy Yuki was 4th overall – 5 minutes faster than his time last year, when he won the event. That has to be hard to swallow – your time improves, but your placing doesn’t. Our friend Junko took tons of pictures of Yuki, Phil and me and posted the photos and mini-videos. Thanks, Junko!

Matt Helton, our exceptionally cool and encouraging bike mechanic finished over an hour ahead of me. His wife, Anna, was out on the course cheering – it was really nice to see an encouraging face – thanks, Anna!

And Chris Castilian, who helped Phil and me get into Leadville our first year, also had a great ride, improving his time by almost 15 minutes over last year.

SAITO Yuki 3:06:37.5
HELTON Matt 3:41:11.3
CASTILIAN Chris 4:01:54.1
KRIZ Phil 4:23:33.6
MORROW Joanne 4:51:29.8

Overall – it was a great experience and a great gauge of my fitness. I’m definitely on track for the season ahead, and will just continue to work on my endurance, sustained climbing at altitude and speed (mostly interval work to dial in hard efforts and recovery time). It's time to bear down . . .

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