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Texas State Time Trial Championship - Cycle

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Hempstead, Texas
United States
86F / 30C
Total Time = 1h 03m 26s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = F Cat 4
Age Group Rank = 3/11
Pre-race routine:

Didn't have a great week leading up to the race. For whatever reason, none of my riding was feeling good and I was feeling less than confident. I kept trying to convince myself that my training had been fine and that I was ready for this race....I always feel like I'm not going to be as strong as I want and generally manage to get my shit together and surprise myself.

Training was a little reduced leading into the race -- the day before the race, I did a short swim in the morning and a short ride with some 20" pick-ups in the afternoon. I ate dinner and drank a beer (Brett DIPA dry hopped with galaxy hops) early in the evening and had a decent night of sleep.

Got up in the morning and headed out to the race site (about five minutes from my house, I realized I forgot my HR strap and turned around to get it). When I checked in, I was apparently the first in my category to check in, but I wanted to give myself enough time to get warmed up, put my race wheel on, and make it over to the start line without missing my start time (like I did in my TT back in March...).

Event warmup:

Plan was to do a 45 minute warm up on the trainer with 10x20" @ 105-110% on 40" recovery in the middle of some easy spinning. I started a few minutes late, so I cut it a few minutes short. I drank an entire bottle of Skratch while on the trainer (and had drank another bottle and a half of water in the time between getting up and starting the race). It was hot and humid, but it was cloudy and a bit breezy, so I was hopeful that it wouldn't feel too bad when actually riding. My legs didn't feel great for the warm up, but I was still trying to convince myself it was just the silly doubts creeping in and that I needed to be confident.

Took the trainer wheel off and put the race wheel on, and then headed over to the start line. The entire Cat 4 and Cat 3 women were all lined up with plenty of time to spare, so no missed start for me this time around!

The girl who beat me last year was lined up to start 30 seconds behind me again this year. We talked about her catching me with 1k left to go last year and I joked that I'd see her in 39 kilometers....

  • 1h 03m 26s
  • 40 kms
  • 37.83 km/hr

I have a long-standing goal of holding 200W for an entire 40k TT and also to break an hour (I assume the 200W would come first and breaking an hour will require more power), but I knew I wasn't quite there yet. I did think 1:01:xx was a realistic goal. The plan for the race was to start in the mid-190 watts range and hopefully be able to pick it up a little bit on the way back in. Part of me wanted to go for broke and try to hold 200W, but the smart part of me was pretty sure that was way too aggressive and would result in me blowing up.

A volunteer held me up so I could pre-clip in on the ramp. Once I started, I settled into my power, holding right at 194W and feeling alright (not great, but alright) for the first 12 minutes. At that point, the girl who started behind me passed me -- wtf, 12 minutes in?!?! It took 39k last year, and this time only 7.5k?? When she pulled in front of me, she didn't pull away quickly (like I would have expected for her making up 30 seconds on me in 12 minutes) and my power started to fall off from soft pedaling to get out of her draft. I decided I didn't want to soft pedal....and admittedly, I wasn't happy about having been passed so I moved to the left and settled back into my power, except it was slightly higher than the power that I'd been holding previously....and now I'd committed to making the pass, so I pushed it a little more and ended up holding 217W for about a minute. Once I made the pass, I settled back into my power and told myself that if she passed again, I had to just let her go. There's no shame in being passed by her....she works in the triathlon industry, trains under a coach who coaches professional athletes, won the female amateur 70.3 the weekend before, and is generally a no shame in being passed by her.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that she did pass me again, and I did let her go. And then my race went to shit. My power started to drop off, I had goosebumps (not because it was cold, but likely because I was dehydrated), and my mouth was super dry....I was having to ration water so I didn't run out.

Nearing the u-turn, my power had dropped down from mid-190's to mid-180's. I started seeing the girls who started in front of me and wanted to get a gauge on how much time I'd either lost or made up on them, but honestly didn't know how far ahead of me they started. As I got right up to the u-turn, I hit the lap button on my computer, made the u-turn (still suck at these, especially with the new bike....), got back up to speed, and then hit the lap button again with a "renewed" desire to hit and hold good power since it was basically a fresh start.

But things just got worse and worse. I couldn't keep my core temperature down, I couldn't keep my mind in a good place (I wanted to flat so I had an excuse to stop....I wanted to soft pedal.....I wondered if my stupid surge burned too many matches even though I know it didn't....I wanted to do anything that wasn't this). At this point, even holding HIM power (which I can do for 2.5+ hours!) hurt. I had a brief thought that my power meter was lying to me, but I looked down at my HR and saw that it had dropped from 165 (which I'd held from my stupid surge through the u-turn) down to 159, and I knew it wasn't a PM issue, but that I really wasn't performing as I should.

I had goosebumps and my mind was wandering all over the place. I definitely shifted the wrong way more than once (three months of riding with electronic shifting and I still get it wrong quite often!). I was wondering what place I was in and hoping that I was off the podium, because with a performance like this, I didn't deserve to be on the podium.

We finally got back near the start and I managed to pull it together to finish relatively strong over the last couple minutes (but not even as strong as I'd started....). Crossed the finish line and all I could feel was disappointment in myself. At this point, I considered this one of the biggest mental failures I'd experienced in my life -- I was unable to keep my mind in check and convince my body to do what I know it can do. Over the next several days, I pieced together some clues as to why this race went poorly, and I no longer believe it was all mental -- I'm confident that there was some component of mental failure that contributed to this, but I'm pretty confident that there were some physical components too. This makes it okay....because I'm learning from it. Obviously I'd love to have great races every time, but that's just not I'll take a bad race as long as I learn from it.

What would you do differently?:

So much! Can I have a do-over?

Seriously, I seem to have a pattern....years 1 and 3 were good, while 2 and 4 were bad. I suppose that means next year (year 5) should be good -- maybe I'll hold over 200W and break an hour ;)
Post race
Warm down:

Easy riding for a couple miles to get back to my car and a lot of beating myself up....heh

Downed a bottle of chocolate milk, realized I was on the podium (and felt really bad about it), went to awards, booked it as soon as I could, and then proceeded to go to one of our local brewery's third anniversary party and have some beers with friends to make it (a little) better

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Some days, the body and the mind simply do not cooperate. This was one of those days. I'm confident that my fitness was (is) there. My training may not have been perfect given the relatively short window between Galveston 70.3 and this race, especially since I spent a week in Big Bend National Park right in the middle (though I did do a lot of riding while there). But I achieved a huge goal of going sub-5 at Galveston and had an amazing trip out to Big Bend, so I wouldn't change it.

This year, they moved the 40k TT up by a month. I was hoping the weather might be slightly cooler than in previous years, but it wasn' fact, it was one of the few rides I've had to do in the heat/humidity so far this year, as I'd been "lucky" enough to ride on cool days leading up to this I hadn't really acclimated to it at all.

One of the biggest things, though, is that I learned that women truly are not small men (read "Roar" by Stacy Sims if you're a female looking to maximize your athletic performance). In the high hormone phase of women's cycles, we cannot regulate body temperature or maintain adequate hydration. I didn't even think about it until my trainer ride a couple days later when I was no longer in my high hormone phase and I had a great ride -- held better power for that hour long trainer ride than I did for this TT.

So, like I said, I think my fitness is there, but it was just a day that my mind and body didn't want to cooperate. This was a tough one for me to brush off.....I had wanted to treat this as an "A" race, so when I botched it so badly, it was a tough pill to swallow. Marc pointed out that I race so infrequently that each race "feels important" I'm taking that to heart and planning to race some shorter races so I can do it more often -- starting this coming weekend!

It sucks to have a bad really sucks to have a bad day on an important race.....but as long as I can learn from it, I will accept it, use it as motivation to do better next time, and move on.

Event comments:

The race is fine.....kind of a no frills type race, which is perfectly fine for me. There aren't a lot of TT options in Texas, so I will continue to come back, but it's not something I would travel for.

Last updated: 2017-05-25 12:00 AM
01:03:26 | 40 kms | 37.83 km/hr
Age Group: 3/11
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Below average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills:
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2017-05-26 1:25 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Texas State Time Trial Championship

2017-05-27 7:23 AM
in reply to: #5221229

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: Texas State Time Trial Championship
Still a solid day of work was put in...and a podium spot! Congrats, Nicole. You know you have more fitness in you than that and as you say, sometimes the mind and body don't cooperate.

Your training/improvement trajectory continues upward and you have not reached your potential. Even as you improve, it may or may not be proven by the clock until the time is right. Peaks and plateaus. Your peak is still out there.

Keep working and I wish you well in your upcoming races this year.
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