That day it all goes wrong....what you learn

So yesterday was my “A” race…really my only race for the year. My father hosts a hill climb time trial to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Clearfield Co. PA and I do it to support him and as a personal challenge.

So for the last 15 months I’ve been on a weight loss and fitness journey. Had been into cycling but a divorce sent me into depression and that lead to drinking and sitting around self loathing and gaining weight. July 2017 I got off my butt at 5’9.5" and 262 lbs at age 44. Dragged my girlfriend along with me too…we did my dad’s race in 2017 and it was about finishing not setting any records. We barely beat anyone…but we did finish and set a goal to get in shape and crush our time this year. 2017 numbers looked like this(yeah I’m not posting hers…do you think I’m crazy?):

72 John Farr, 44 41:11 7.29

We found Zwift and rode all winter, piling on literally thousands of virtual miles. Spring broke and we rode outside when we could be it was the rainiest summer on record in our area this year. We dieted, we lifted a little (not enough) and I’m down to 213 lbs. We got power meters and went to Best Bike Split and got a race plan. I pre-rode the course in Sept and crushing my previous 41:11 time up this climb with a 31:30 effort. Trained more and thought I was ready for race day.

Then it all went sideways. In Sept when I rode the route using the BBS ConnectIQ app on my Garmin everything went fine but yesterday it loaded differently, loaded as a race and not just a ride (I think I choose that). I was unaware that in my Edge520 when I called a ride a race it brings up different screens. It also doesn’t auto pause. So When I loaded the course waiting for my start time it started the timer and it was running. On top of that the screens I had available during the race didn’t have my power…or HR. I had done all this work to be able to pace appropriately but I relied on those numbers (specifically the power) to be there to watch. My 520 was giving me a power target but I had no what to know what I was doing. Well I freaked. For the first 1.5 miles (5 mile climb) I pedaled and tired to get my Edge to show me power. I finally stopped the ride on my Edge (not actually stopping), saved the ride and started another one just as a ride. Took me about half a mile to pull that off. Finally I had power data but I had already blown by going too hard and I was mentally blown too. I was no longer being sent power targets but I knew where I should be and I couldn’t get within 30 watts of them. So now I’m riding below my targets and didn’t know how long I had been on course or how far I had left. Add in unseasonably high temps (85 deg and bring sunshine) and it was a sufferfest.

At the end I had given it everything I had but was super frustrated with myself. I should have been prepared regarding the Garmin. I feel like I should have been able to judge my effort better without the Garmin. But I did beat my time from last year by 8 min, I actually beat people of similar age to myself and I didn’t die.

55 John Farr, 45 33:48 8.88

So…as discussed in the last podcast you learn something EVERY time you line up to race. For 2018/2019 I’ve signed up for TR and Sweet Spot Base starts tomorrow. It’s a long way off but I can’t wait to see the what I can achieve with a year of proper training under my belt.

What did YOU learn from your race this weekend?


I call this a Triple Win.
You win for all the training you did and making yourself a better, healthier person.
You win for completing your goal of beating last years time.
You win for not letting some failed logistics totally ruin the race.

The forth win is learning and getting TR, and setting goals for next year! Well done!


8 minute PR! Fantastic.

You won’t make that mistake with the Garmin again either. Try to find another race you can enter soon to build on all the training.

I had this exact experience earlier this year. I keep meaning to go back and figure out how to show the right screen on my 520 when I pick ‘race,’ but I’ve had enough little snafu’s with that bike computer it hasn’t mattered (for example, at the half Ironman I did last week, my bike computer slipped into my running shoes when I was packing my transition bag… so I did the bike leg without it and found the Edge when I transitioned into the run).

Here’s what I learned from my race: it’s really easy for me to underestimate how much I sweat, and how much electrolyte I need to replenish, so try to be prepared for what ‘should’ be an unreasonably high amount. I don’t need to take it all, just have it ready. It’s easier to not use what you do have than use what you don’t have.

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See I’m not seasoned enough with TT efforts to be able to pull that off, and this particular route requires you to go out fairly easy for the first third. But I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that’s had this issue. I assume it’s possible to set up the screens on the 520 for races that will give me the data I want/need. I need to spend some time fiddling with it to figure it all out.

Now we’ve got it. The point of my post was not to get a bunch of people to say “but you did so well congratulations!” I mean that feels great and thank you, but the real intent of the post was to form a place where we can all share those hard lessons (and some easy ones) learned while racing. Thanks for sharing.