Pain and Racing Speed

The First Rule of Time Trialing or District Championships 2012

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In the words of Tyler Durden:

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about fight club. The second rule is: you DO NOT talk about fight club.

When it comes to time trialling things are roughly the same.
1. You don’t start too hard.
2. You DO NOT start too hard.
3. Look at 1 and 2 again.

Last Wednesday was the District Championship for Time Trialling. For those with Dutch passports this was a qualifier for the National Championship race in the end of June. Everybody brought their A-game and their pristine race equipment.

No encouraging news about my time trial bike so I scrambled an adjustable stem and could get my handlebars 5cm lower so at least I had a more aerodynamic position that I could practice for a week.

I knew the course very well from the Club Championships last week and I had a very good idea how I should pace the race. Unlike last race the start was in the middle of the course so you went in one direction, turned around, race double the distance heading the opposite way and after another switch in direction, straight back towards the finish.

The wind was coming across the road, with a more head direction in the first and last segment, and a very nice cross tailwind on the long straightaway between the two turning points.

I started aggressively and tried to ease up into the headwind. It took a while until I got settled down and my pedaling felt jagged. The turnaround came quick and before I knew it I was powering down the course at 350+W average. The tailwind made it seem effortless. From my previous longer time trials I knew I could hold 345W in the first half so 350-355W for an 18.6kms should be fine. I could see the turnaround ahead and all of a sudden all the red lights started lighting up. I was running on fumes… My diaphragm was cramping and I was gearing down and down..

I swayed dangerously as I made the switchback and the wind hit me mercilessly head on, putting an end to my effort to accelerate. I was empty. From there on I limped to the finish barely maintaining 335W. I got passed by one rider as well. I finished with a time of 27:56, 3:20 from the podium.

I had all data (power, heartrate, speed, cadence) so by examining the file I could see where things have gone wrong. This information is worth gold, so take my advice and try to record as much as possible especially for races. When things do not play as planned you could trace why.

So by reviewing the graph I could see my heart rate (blue line) had a ‘hump’ at the beginning. Usually it is in the 180-189beats per minute range for 95% of the race. This time I was running at 195 bpm for quite some time. I did start too hard, so I burned through all my reserves before I needed them.

In addition, last week I put in a solid 7-8hours of  training (6hrs total “sweet spot”endurance rides) culminating in my 5x5min interval session on Sunday.  I was very fatigued and I could barely hold 350-355W for all intervals except the first one (my goal was 375W). I had one full day of recovery and due to some other commitments I did not commute to work on my bike  (30min each way) both days before the race, so I do not think I had leftover fatigue in my legs.

My time was 6seconds slower and 5 watts lower average power as compared to last week. HOWEVER, this course featured an additional turnaround, which I think adds roughly 20seconds, therefore on a slightly positive note I think my new position is definitely faster.

This was my last race before my first main goal – the national Time Trial Championships in Bulgaria. I will be trying to arrange my participation and hopefully all the documents and other formalities work out fine. In the next 3 weeks I will be increasing the intensity and shortening the duration of my interval workouts. I will do a 2 week taper afterward so I am at a peak at the last week of June.

Since I will not be racing I will be posting more equipment reviews and articles on training principles and making a training plan. So stay tuned!

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