The Race -
I used the start of the race for my warm up. Unless I need to be super fast at the beginning, I typically don’t warm up for gravel races. Just ride around a little to ensure the bike is in order, and then line up.
At the “go” I set off at a decent pace with a teammate. I figured I would hold SS or around there, but it was so hard to not go into above threshold. The first few miles were all wide gravel roads. I kept going north of 300 watts. I could tell my teammate was suffering, and we were working together taking pulls. I look back and we had already left everyone else. 300 watts seemed stupid, but also was so easy! But I still kept it sane… I knew we had some singletrack coming up. After a couple miles I look back for my teammate but I had dropped him on some downhill so I just continued on by myself.
Held myself in check for the flats and climbs, tried to not burn unnecessary matches, and continue fueling. Had a moment 3/4 through the race where I felt weak (plus I had some serious back pain… three surgeries will do that), but I rallied and finished strong, even setting a PR on the last climb without feeling like I was pushing at max.
I have been training pretty hard for awhile. My power, repeatability, and stamina has gone up, but this entire training block I have been carrying a decent amount of fatigue. I hadn’t made any specific efforts, just been doing the Mid volume AT training for this “A” race (I say “A” in quote because this race isn’t the most important in the world, just my last planned one on the calendar so I figured why not?). I have noticed that what I consider easy/moderate pace is starting to be at the sharp end of local strava segments. My overall pace for a ride is quicker, but I don’t try to crush any specific areas. Still though, I don’t know what I am capable of yet and part of me doubts the FTP numbers given by TR.
But this race finally gave me a reason to taper and so thats what I did. I didn’t follow the taper exactly as I said before, but that was mostly since I wasn’t following the training plan. My last two weeks before starting the taper were both over 1000 TSS, basically double my plan TSS, so I didn’t to taper too extremely and go flat. So the first taper week was 749 TSS (150 of that was an impromptu mtb ride I was invited on… I took it easy but I figured why not? We ride for fun! I’m not getting paid for this so why pass up a fun ride?). This last Second week I really tapered (I’ll finish the week with 383 TSS including the race) but kept up the intensity as standard.
Did Truuli as an opener (I love this workout) on Friday morning.
I typically get about 2 g/kg protein a day. For this race I decided to carb load, so on the last two days I cut that back and went carb heavy. I ate about 500 calories surplus a day on these last two days, mostly all carbs (rice, pasta, bananas, apples). Oh and a couple beers.
The morning of the race I ate my protein pancakes (Kodiak Power Cakes - still mostly carbs but they have a bit of protein too) with maple syrup. 30 minutes before the start I began my sugar load… I take a packet of E-gel at 30, and eat some skratch chews. At 20 I take a gu roctane (probably all in my head but I feel like the gu roctane packets “hit” quicker than the E-gel). About 5 minutes before start I take another E-gel (my point to all of these gels is to get my belly working with all of these carbs right at the beginning of the race. Why start that 100g an hour empty?). On my bike I have three taped gels. They are taped so that I can snatch one off, the top stays taped to the bike so I dont have to mess around with opening it or not littering.
On my back in a hydration pack I have my hypertonic mix. This mix really is strong. 300g carbs in 1200ml. 2 to 1 mix of maltodextrin and fructose. I add a flavored electrolite powder for taste. Now, this is where I think I may have messed up. Midway through the first big climb I started to feel a little queasy. Just the slightest bit, nothing big to worry about but enough to make me back off eating more. I still had to drink though, and was able to do it without getting worse. I have my computer beep at me to eat every 20 mins, but I ignored it once because of that feeling. On the second climb, it was shorter so I did more power, but I started to feel a decent amount of fatigue settling in. And on the climb I was starting to wish I had plain water on me (I carry an empty bottle on my bike so if I truly NEED water from an aid station I can stop). I did not, and I thought I could feel a drop in performance because of it. I had been reading the thread Are Isotonic (6%) Drink Mixes Hydrating? - #10 by Singingdog and was thinking that I messed up and was dehydrating myself. I suppose me wishing for an aid station with plain water was a good indicator that I hadn’t gotten that part right. How much that slowed me down for the remainder of the race? Who knows?
In any case, I continue drinking and finish the race strong. When I got to the finish, as soon as I put my left leg down it locked up. I changed positions, and it went away. When I sat down. I was watching my legs and the muscles were slowly pulsating weirdly, in both legs. Interesting.
Sorry for the long post but I wanted to explain everything as best I could.
Thanks for reading, and please tell me your thoughts about things I can improve, stuff I haven’t thought of, etc.