Monday, March 2, 2009

I Can't Be Bothered To Think of a Catchy Title: Banana Belt #1 Race Report

Its 9am and I'm currently sitting in my office drinking my third cup of coffee, my left hand alternating between typing and holding my head upright. I've done my morning blog rounds and am trying to find the energy to motivate myself to review and revise the stack of contracts on my floor. My inclination is to just light a match and let chemistry and physics take care of the rest.

Instead of lighting my office on fire, a race weekend report:

Friday: New kits!!! Beer at 5Q!!! Friday Night ANTM marathon!!! You can see what the kits look like by checking Anna, Sallyanne and I out in the picture on top of Heidi's race report.

Saturday: The Hammer Velo ladies sat down with Jeff as a team after our Saturday morning ride to talk about racing as a team. Between the four of us present, we had raced two total races, so we have a lot to learn. Jeff made it simple for Banana Belt #1: stay up front, stay upright and drive the pace if we could. Junior Varsity stuff.

I went out with Mo on Saturday evening and wisely cut myself off from the free beer at the PACE party at 8. I still had a wet kit in the washing machine and three tons of gear to pack. My five years of triathlon out at Hagg Lake has cruelly taught me to prepare for any and all weather patterns, including toads falling out of the sky.

After doing some research Friday on strategies to help with persistent achy legs, I bought compression tights on Saturday morning. Wore them while doing housework during the day and slept in them Saturday night. Interesting, but I could get used to sleeping in them.

Sunday: My first thought when the alarm went off at 5:45am was that that my condo was on fire. Or that Portland was being attacked by the Germans. My second thought was that my legs felt a lot better than they had the night before. My third thought involved a prayer that someone would text me and tell me that it was snowing or raining toads out at Hagg Lake and the race was cancelled. I waited for an answer for about ten minutes, then reluctantly got up and made coffee.

Carpooled out to the race with my teammate Christy. Did anyone else notice the buffalo on Hwy 47 hanging out under the "buffalo burgers for sale" sign?-poor suckers and their inability to understand irony.

Lap 1: Staged in the front and nervously twitched around for ten-fifteen minutes while my stomach churned and flip-flopped. I'm hoping that as I race more, that the nerves will gradually wear off. I'm getting really tired of having to pee every 5 minutes for the half hour before race time.(Looking Way Too Serious. Credit Brujo Sandoval)

Spent most of the first lap trying to establish a good position up front. Which meant that I ended up doing a lot of work setting the pace. Not the best strategy if the goal is to win, but that wasn't the goal. Rather: stay up front and push the pace. That was all I was aiming for. Those savvy Ironclad gals would send someone off of the front every once in a while for most of the race. I chased down most of these at first, then got more selective as the miles ticked off.
(Credit: Brujo Sandoval)

The only real mistake I made (at least the only one that I'm aware of) during the race was before the big corner on the first lap. I was focused too much on holding a wheel and not enough on the course and starting slowing and lining up for the corner too soon as I had mistaken another turnoff for our turn. If you were in the race and read this...sorry! Totally my dumbass inexperienced fault.

Lap 2: We were neutralized a couple of times, mostly with no apparent reason. The pack would slow, crashes were narrowly averted, and then we'd roll along and wait...and nothing would happen. During one neutralization, someone rubbed my back wheel and went down just as the pace started to pick up again. I didn't dare look behind, but I'm hoping that whomever went down is ok.

Lap 3: I think our pack broke up for good on the last long climb on the third lap...I hadn't dared drop further than 10 people back the whole race and had no idea how the race was developing behind us. I knew Anna was up in the front, as we were in communication frequently and she went off of the front a few times in the second lap to shake things up a bit.
(Credit: Brujo Sandoval)

Our pace picked up dramatically in the last 7-8 miles and I was really pleased with my climbing Even when I felt like I was getting close to red-lining on the climbs, I was still able to push the pace and recover on the downhill sections. This is where all of the puke-fest interval training pays off...I could feel throughout the entire race that my body was recovering quickly from the hard efforts.

The last time around the "big corner" was the only "oh, shit" moment of the race. Two gals to my left both wanted the line on the center yellow line and there was some swerving and slowing and then some kvetching as that played itself out over the dam. The latter was sort of annoying, but it did slow the group down for a minute or two a nd allowed me to catch back up (I had slowed considerably to avoid being taken out) and communicate with Anna before the final 5K.

And then things started moving faster. And faster. And faster. And I was still holding on.

The finish was on a downhill stretch and I wanted to make sure that I wasn't boxed in when everyone started to accelerate in the last 1K. But it really didn't play out that way. My good spot ended up not being so good as the pack shifted to the right in the last 500 meters and I had to work my way left to find room to accelerate. When the sprint started, I was about 10th or 11th back. I buried myself as much as I could (my sprinting legs were at about 75% after 33 miles of pace setting) and got back up to 6th by the finish line.
(Credit: Oregon Cycling Action)

Anna came in 10th-and my guess is that she won't place much lower than this for the rest of the season--she's ridiculously talented.

Five HV ladies started, and five finished. Christy unfortunately dropped a chain 2 miles into her first ever race and ended up racing alone, but with a smile on her face (or so I heard). Everyone worked hard, stayed upright and was really positive at the finish. Lots of hugs and smiles, no matter the placing.

Overall Grade: B+. Did what Jeff told us to do, and it worked. I did more work for the lead group than I probably should have--if the goal had been to conserve energy for the last lap. But since it wasn't, I am pretty pleased with being able to stay in the mix and push the pace for most of the race.

Bucket list of things to work on:

1. Again with the hydration. This was a shorter, faster race, but I only went through 1/2 of a water bottle. I didn't maximize the time spent in neutral to hydrate, as I was pretty focused on staying upright. I didn't feel thirsty or calorie depleted during the race, but not fueling is probably effecting my ability to recover today. I feel a little crummy.

2. I got myself stuck out of the line by myself a few to many times. Mostly from losing focus as the pack was shifting on the downhills. More wasted energy.

3. Remembering to get in the drops to sprint.

4. Bring beer for post race refreshment.


Heidi Swift said...

Neutral was nuts in that race. Good report - and great race! I love the picture of me sucking your wheel! :)

Lindsay said...

You can suck my wheel anytime, baby.