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2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship - Cycle

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Hempstead, Texas
United States
86F / 30C
Total Time = 1h 02m 1s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = Cat 4 Female
Age Group Rank = 2/15
Pre-race routine:

Man, what a difference a year makes!!! I DNF'ed this race last year. I was coming off a period of excess personal stress, so my body was not absorbing the training stress well and I had a really bad race. Physically, I wasn't as strong as I was the year before (or am this year)....mentally, I was not willing to hurt as bad as I need to in order to race a 40k TT well. Thankfully (hah!), I flatted and didn't have a flat kit on me, so I got picked up by SAG and DNF'ed the race. That was the point at which I realized things really weren't working for me and I needed a change. It was very shortly after that that I started working with Marc and have made some HUGE gains, both physically and mentally.

Unfortunately, the weekend before the race, I was doing some aero testing, with six three-mile intervals planned at threshold power. I made it through only four of them (so 12 broken miles of threshold power) and completely blew up to the point where I couldn't even hold HIM power. It was so hot and humid, and I couldn't keep myself cool. My confidence was shattered and I texted Marc to let him know that I was really second guessing my desire to treat this as an "A" race and basically begged him to keep my running intensity and volume up since racing a 40k TT in Houston in the summer is stupid! He wisely ignored my pleas and kept to the original plan. In the week leading up, I had a 4x8' threshold trainer ride, a 4x6' threshold trainer ride, and a mostly easy spin with some 20" pick-ups. I felt so good in both of the threshold rides and was still trying to convince Marc that I should just do a 20' test in my air conditioned house, rather than a 40k TT in the brutal heat and humidity of Houston! He (wisely) stayed the course and promised I could do a 20' test in a couple weeks if I wanted....haha, funny guy :)

Marc and I discussed various options and HR / power combos, and came up with a race plan -- first half should be ~190W (estimated CP from old 20'/5' indoor tests) with a hard cap of HR 165, and then push the second half with what I had left; plan for a negative split -- very important, per Marc!

Slept pretty well the night before, alarm went off at 5:30 and I got up, finished packing the car, ate a bagel with peanut butter, and was on the road just after 6:15 for the 90 minute drive up to Hempstead. Drank most of a bottle of water on the drive in to prepare for the fact that I would be sweating profusely during warm-up and while racing!

When I got to the race site, I went in to pick up my bib and timing chip and found that it was gone and they had to give me a whole new set of stuff (I knew it would all work out in the end, but I was a bit concerned that the results would be wonky). Turns out, they had given my stuff to another girl in my category, so then I was certain that the results were going to be wonky! We got everything straightened out in the minutes before the start.

Event warmup:

Set the bike up on the trainer (with the trainer wheel) and rode 15' easy while pinning my bib onto my top, 8x20" @ 110% on 40" easy, followed by another 15' easy. After finishing the warm-up, I swapped to the race wheel and headed over to race start, where there was an oversized load that was attempting to make a turn onto the race course. They allowed the truck to go and delayed all of us for 10 minutes, which ended up in some confusion at the end when they were trying to get the official times, but no big deal.

  • 1h 02m 1s
  • 40 kms
  • 38.70 km/hr

As I was waiting for my turn to start, I kept repeating in my head "get comfortable being uncomfortable"....I knew this was going to hurt, and for a long time, but also knew that I could do it, so I needed to be comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable and ignore any thoughts of letting up. When it was finally my turn to go, the volunteer held me up and I clipped into my pedals. They counted down the last few seconds and then I rode down the ramp, got into aero position, and settled into my power.

I started out in the high-180's and was feeling good. I was working the power up to the low-190's and was surprised at how good I was feeling. I'd literally been freaking out about this all week based on last weekend's disaster of a ride! My HR was well in check and I started mentally ticking off landmarks -- the only intersection on the course, a SAG tent set up at 10k (the 20k turn around point -- aka, the 25% and 75% points on the course), some shaded areas, etc. I also started passing people who had started in front of me. I think by the turn around, I'd passed five people, and would pass two more on the return leg.

There were a few points on the course where we got some shade from trees lining the road. I tried to enjoy these brief moments as much as I could because it was HOT otherwise. Heat index was 105F when I checked at the end of the race!

This course is mostly flat with some false flat (or minor change in elevation) sections. On the way out, while I was still feeling good, I pushed the power up a few watts on these "uphill" sections, knowing that the fastest time would come from increased power output on both uphill and headwind sections (the outbound leg was more headwind than tailwind, but nothing outrageous).

As I was nearing the turn around, my average power was 191W -- I hit the lap button, sat up, shifted into an easier gear, made a slow, sloppy u-turn (I really need to work on this if I want to shave off a few seconds!), and worked my way back up to speed and dropped back down into aero, hitting the lap button once again. I caught sight of the one girl who had started behind me....I saw that she had closed the gap between us a good bit, but was not yet in danger of passing me. I wanted to hold at least 192W on the way back in and keep the girl behind me from passing me; things were off to a good start for the first five or so minutes, but then it started getting hard.

Mentally, I was still in a good place. I was really happy with how I'd done for the first half of the race (ecstatic, really!) and I knew that it was just a matter of pushing through and finishing strong. The half way to three-quarters mark is generally the hardest for me -- you're no longer fresh, but you're also not "almost there"....there's still a lot of suffering left to do! But I stayed in a good place mentally. I knew my power was slipping a little and I was definitely feeling fatigued, but I wanted to make myself proud of the effort I put in and avoid getting passed! I started ticking off landmarks, giving myself pep talks ("it'll all get better when you turn north and get the tail wind!" or "if you continue to do well, you can buy that Coravin you've been eyeing"), and mentally counting down how much longer I had to go ("five miles -- that's well under 15 minutes at this speed" or "5k -- less than 10've got this!").

So the first five minutes of the return leg had my power where I wanted it, but then it started slipping. I saw it drop down to 191....and eventually down below sat at 188 for a while and I tried to get it back up over 190, but my legs (or mind) didn't quite have it in me. Those little false flat sections were feeling more like actual hills....and I wasn't able to push the power like I was on the way out. With the tailwind, I was in the biggest gear my bike has and could not get my legs to turn over any faster. Cadence was in the high-70's to low-80's, and even though I know I can push "comfortably" in the mid-80's to low-90's, they didn't want to do it after having already spent 35+ minutes at threshold! It was one of the few times I've wished for non-compact cranks....maybe if I'd had a bigger gear, I could have continued grinding at threshold power. If I'm being honest, though, I don't think it would have helped....I think the fatigue was setting in and the heat was starting to get to me. Though the tailwind made me faster on the return leg, I think it also hurt what little ability I had to keep cool in those hot, humid conditions. I was pouring out sweat (could barely see through my sunglasses with all the sweat dripping down them!), but not keeping very cool. I drank an entire bottle of water (I think I had one or two sips on the outbound leg and the rest of it on the way back in). Toward the end, I actually started to get goosebumps a little bit, which is a sign that I'm getting dehydrated....certainly not that I was cold!

Right as I was coming up on a sign that said "1k to go", I heard the girl behind me shift gears and came up to make the pass. Damn! She passed me convincingly and pulled a few bike lengths up on me. I was pushing near 200W again before she passed me and continued pushing big power to the end. I wanted to give everything I had left in me for the finish. Even though the power sagged a bit through the return leg, I wanted to know that I had really left it out there. I finished feeling completely spent and really proud of myself. It wasn't perfect execution, but it was pretty damn good!

Outbound leg was 191W at 23.9 mph; return leg was 185W at 24.3 mph. Overall, it was 188/187 NP/AP for 24.0 mph. In more favorable conditions, I know I could have negative split the power, and I also think I could have been up near 200W overall. Now I need to find a 40k TT in October or November....or in some non-Texas location to prove this!

What would you do differently?:

This was a really good learning experience for me. It validated that my threshold is pretty close to where I've estimated it. This will give me the confidence to know I can, indeed, hold this kind of power for an hour, which is really important for pacing a race like this -- you need to know where that line is so that you can be right up on the edge, without going over and imploding spectacularly!

I have room for improvement on execution. I think having the confidence in this number would allow for me to push through and keep my power up when it started sagging a bit. I also have HUGE room for improvement in being mentally willing to really lay it all out there. You have to have a certain amount of willingness to go deep in the pain cave and allow yourself to feel really shitty....I haven't quite made it there yet, but I now have a goal to break an hour in a 40k TT, so I know I'm going to have to find that willingness. Get comfortable being uncomfortable :)

Post race
Warm down:

Really easy spinning for about five minutes while heading back to my car, then downed a couple more bottles of water and literally stood at my car knowing exactly what I needed to do (put my trainer away, put my bike on the rack, put my wheels in the car, get changed into some non-sweaty clothing) but unable to actually get myself to do it. I think I stood around my car for 30 minutes before I actually got everything taken care of! I couldn't think straight! That, and I was still pouring out sweat....jeez! It may have been worse at this point because I was getting no cooling from the wind and was just baking under the sun!

Even after all that, when I finally did go to where they were posting results, our results hadn't been posted. Turns out, because of the delay, they were having to manually adjust times and it was taking longer than expected. I was feeling a little irritable because it was taking so long and I was hungry, but I figured I'd done well and didn't want to leave without knowing if I'd found my way onto the podium. Once the results were ready, I saw that I was officially in last place with a 1:33:XX time and before they were even taped up on the wall, I asked what i needed to do to protest my time (they give you 30 minutes after results are posted to protest, if needed). I saw that my 1:02 (Garmin) time would have put me in 2nd, so I wanted to get it all squared away. They brought me over to the race finish, where they were recording all the times and they were able to get everything squared away, with a now-official time of 1:02:01, good for 2nd place Cat 4. I did feel a little bad about the girl who was now in 4th place because she thought she had made it onto the podium and was visibly disappointed to find that she no longer was.

Turns out, all three podium spots in the Cat racing earned cash prizes. I'm like a pro now or something ;) But even better than that, podium spots also got these delicious handmade caramels -- omg, they are sooooooo good!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Confidence in my estimated CP, willingness to go deep into the pain cave, ability to keep cool in the heat/humidity, and sucky u-turning skills :P

Event comments:

The delay in start and resultant delay in posting results were a minor annoyance, but understandable given the conditions. I was very pleased with their response to my result protest. They were very disorganized in 2014, but have clearly learned from that disaster and made big improvements. I hope they continue to host the race in Hempstead -- it's a good course and convenient location for me.

Last updated: 2016-06-18 12:00 AM
01:02:01 | 40 kms | 38.70 km/hr
Age Group: 2/15
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back with u-turn at 20k; course heads generally south on the way out and hangs east about mile 10, so return course is west for a couple miles and then mostly north for the rest
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Below average Cornering:
Gear changes: Below average Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2016-06-19 2:05 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship

2016-06-19 2:58 PM
in reply to: #5187633

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship

Awesome!  I've never done a 40k TT and I can only imagine how much it would hurt, congrats on a great result!

2016-06-20 5:07 AM
in reply to: 0

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship
Perfect execution.

All those hours on the trainer and aero testing paid off.

FYI, I listened to a podcast. The women's 1hour world record for 35yo is 42km. That's only 2mph faster and you have a few years to get there :-)


Edited by marcag 2016-06-20 5:07 AM
2016-06-20 4:59 PM
in reply to: #5187633

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Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship
Great report. So were the threshold repeats worth it?
2016-06-20 5:27 PM
in reply to: #5187633

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Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship

Great race Nicole - fantastic time.

2016-06-20 7:22 PM
in reply to: marcag

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship

Originally posted by marcag Perfect execution. All those hours on the trainer and aero testing paid off. FYI, I listened to a podcast. The women's 1hour world record for 35yo is 42km. That's only 2mph faster and you have a few years to get there :-) Congratulations

Hah, don't give me any ideas -- I might just quit this triathlon silliness and do the one sport I'm good at

2016-06-20 7:24 PM
in reply to: StevenC

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship

Originally posted by StevenC Great report. So were the threshold repeats worth it?

It is all worth it when a plan comes together like this one did!

2016-06-21 1:09 PM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: 2016 Texas State Time Trial Championship
congratulations Nicole!
That is a fabulous time. You are still a beast on the bike.
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