March 01, 2020 - First race of the year, came in 8th place (out of 17). Perfomed better than I thought given a sluggish February. I have a lot to improve upon but it's good to have a race under my belt after crashing last year October.
The past 6 weeks of trainig hasn't gone as expected. The focus has been on improving lactate tolerance with a lot of Tempo rides and working to build FTP. This week marked the beginning 6-week period where I work more on V02Max efforts. Also I just finished battling a 3-week chest cold that impacted my breathing and limited my ability to complete all of my workouts. That being said, I did not have high expectations on placement in my first race - my goal was to start getting used to race-pace and hadling the mountain bike on a challenging course. So basically my goals were to finish the race and not finish last. Also this is my first race after crashing in October of last year, so I am mentally hesitant to go all out (the last thing I want is to crash again). Driving into the parking area I saw a rider walking with his bike - he had blood on his head and looked pretty beat up. Great, just what I needed to see as I look to start my first race of the year....
I did not get a good opportunity to warm up as I needed - the race started much later than usual (1:45 PM start, these races usually start around 10 AM), so the course was closed for pre-riding due to other races that were going on throughout the day. Anticipating this I brought my road bike and trainer. I warmed up for about 20 minutes but was only able to push my hart rate up into threshhold (usually I want to hit V02Max zone). At the staging area I usually try to line up at the front, but thinkng that my performance wasn't going to be as strong, I deferred to the middle of the pack at the start. Mentally I was defnitrly not as prepared or "dialed in" as I had been in years past - this is something I plan to work on as I complete more races and increase my fitness.
I rode the first lap a bit cautiously to get used to the course, especially on the downhill parts. I was able to be more aggressive on the second and third lap. I felt more confident on the 2nd and 3rd lap and started to recapture the fun of racing that I experienced when I raced a couple years ago.
When analyzing my race data, I was surprised (disappointed?) that my heart rate spent very little time in V02Max zone (>163 BPM) - could I have pushed myself harder? When it comes to Power, I did spend 35 minutes in VO2Max or above, which lines up OK with the amount of climbing in the race. So it looks like my body is indeed still getting used to race-pace efforts. Overall I am happy with my placement. I was in 11th position at the end of my second lap but passed a couple folks on the third lap to finish 8th overall.
My next race will be in 2 weeks (same location). I will have more V02Max efforts under my belt so my body will be starting to adapt somewhat. I plan to work more on my mental preparation - I'll line up at the front at the beginning of the race and, since the race starts earlier, I'll have time to pre-ride the course and get a decent warm-up. Now that I have a race out of the way I can focus more on riding harder and more aggressively. I also need to improve my nutrition - it was good in January but slipped a bit in February. With the cest cold and such, I also wasn't able to do stretching, foam rolling and PiYo (pilates/yoga) and I noticed that my body is noticably sore - I will get back on this in March as I look to bounce back from a sluggish February.