more than just another bike blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Dunlap Memorial Time Trial (Winters, CA) – The Race of (Intestinal) Truth

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Weather: Warm (not hot), clear, slight wind

Course: 35k loop with 11 turns (2 left-hand turns). 21.7 miles? My computer said 21.09 and I’ve seen 21.2 elsewhere. Hmmm. Mostly flat with a couple of rollers. Anyways, I’d analyzed the map and Dawn had given us the low-down on landmarks, wind condition, and road condition based on her pre-ride.

Teammates: Elissa (Jr Girls 10-12), Dawn Neisser, Pat Lakner, Angela Lam (all CAT4)

Morning Weight: 166 (my morning weight on Friday was 168 – my morning weight on Sunday was 161 – Today, 4 days later, I’m still only at 164)

Morning HR: 59 (typically anywhere from 36-42)

Dinner (Friday):
Filet Mignon, Crinkle Fries (because Cox says they’re better than baked potatoes), mushrooms, skim milk, and lots of healthy nibbling throughout the day.

Iced Coffee with Soy Milk, Banana, Whole Wheat Pasta with Olive Oil, Chicken Breast (don’t go “ew” – it works for me). One bottle of GU2O to counter the coffee. I think I also had a Clif Bar in there somewhere but I can’t remember.

Pre-Race Food:
Water (1 bottle), Orange GU20 (1 bottle), 2 Vanilla GUs. Since I didn’t plan to eat or drink during the race, I had one bottle and the GUs at the line in the ten minutes or so preceding the race.

Pre-race Physical Condition: I’d had a slight pain in my right lower abdomen since Wednesday and knew I was slightly dehydrated. My hypochondriac self had decided I either had appendicitis, a kidney stone, constipation, or something wrong with an ovary. I was feeling off on Saturday morning. Not able to keep food or drink down comfortably. During the warm-up, I had some severe abdominal pain, made several trips to the porta-potty and was burping up a storm. Considered not racing.

Pre-race Mental Condition: My training has been going pretty well lately, but I just wasn’t feeling good about this race. Kept planning to get on my TT bike once a week or so after Kern, but I just didn’t do it. Having only done one previous TT, I haven’t been 100% confident that my fit is the best for me (combination of power and aerodynamics), so Friday night I did some tweaking to put my position more like my road bike. Had planned to do this on the CompuTrainer so I could analyze watts, but didn’t do it. Found a position that seemed to work, although I was still fiddling with saddle height a bit on Saturday morning. But, I like time trials, need an excuse to use my new TT bike, and had persuaded Angela to do this race, so I was committed.

Narrative: I like time trials. There’s something very real about this form of racing and it appeals a lot to a control freak like me. I like time trial bikes. There’s a complete sense of connectedness, of commitment, to being clipped in and down in my TT bars. I remember when I first got clipless pedals and thought that was connected. And I used to do centuries with aerobars. But the TT bike (shifters on the TT bars and brakes on the cowhorn bars) is completely different. And for a commitment-phobe like me, it’s surprising that I like riding my TT bike so much. But I do.

Mentally, a TT is very different for me than a mass-start race like a crit or a road race. No matter what your fitness or skill level, in a TT, you’re out there racing yourself and your own demons. Yes, in the end, it matters how you stack up against other racers. But in the moment, you can feel powerful, strong, and accomplished.

I approached this race with a little bit of methodology. I’d done some reading about TTs and done the TT at Kern (which I now realize I didn’t race hard enough). Pacing is an interesting question in a time trial. Go all out? Start strong and finish not as strong? Start slower and build as you go? Being methodical, I decided to set my goal at one hour. Who knows why, but last year’s best time was 57:38 and most of the times were 1:00:00 plus, so what the heck! Of course, I had no idea about wind conditions last year, but a girl needs a goal, right. Yeah, it meant I had to average over 21mph. But I’d done a 50-minute TT on Wednesday and was able to average 19.7 (at Pacific Shores Center where you lose time with corners & such). So, from there, I estimated my splits. Now, of course, the completely scientific way to set goals is to use power, but since my PowerTap is Campy and my TT bike is Shimano, that wasn’t going to work. But I could use perceived exertion to try to simulate how I felt during my Wednesday effort. And, of course, I kept an eye on my pace. Just kept trying to push it over 22mph. Sometimes it would drop down below 20mph and I just couldn’t get it any higher. But for the most part, I was pretty darn consistent.

Unlike Dawn, I can’t give you a turn-by-turn narrative. I will say that my start was good. I knew what gear to be in and had practiced some almost standing starts (track stands, basically) on Friday, so I felt good about which leg felt more powerful and exactly where to position my legs. I breathed in on “5” and released the brakes and started pushing at “1.” Yeah, Lorri!

I think I started just a bit slower than I should have. At the beginning of the course, the road is winding enough that I couldn’t see my 30-second man, so I didn’t have a sense of how I was doing. And it’s very strange time-trialing with multiple categories, because the men are flying and I kept looking for women (not many out there). At 15 minutes, I passed some guy and Pat Lakner, who had started a minute before me. I rolled through a turn behind another guy who slowed, got out of his TT bars, and then stood to accelerate through the corner. I stayed in my TT bars, nailed the corner, and then passed him. I got passed by a couple of super-fast guys (but they were cute to look at), with trick bikes, disc wheels, and super-tight skinsuits, and watched them play this game of cat & mouse for a while.

Cornering is an interesting question with the TT bike. Stay in the TT bars? Get into the cowhorns and counter-steer? Stand? Don’t stand? I decided it would be best to stay in my TT bars. I was able to do this for all but two of the corners. My left-hand cornering is weaker, and surprisingly enough, my left-hand corners were much better than my right with the TT bike. But this might have something to do with the fact that I’ve got some right shoulder issues right now (and this shoulder was screaming at me about half way into the race). Anyways, I digress. I think I may have lost some time in my corners staying in the TT bars, but mentally, I wanted to commit to it, and I did.

The rest of the race is a blur. It was damn hard. I baby-puked three times. I spit on myself too many times to count. The sweat was just rolling down my face under the TT helmet. Snot was running out of my nose. I definitely understood the concept of snool that Liz Beneshin had described to us at our time trial training last fall.

There were definitely times when I though I would never finish. But then, at about 40 minutes, I fell into this rhythm. Call it a zone. Whatever. It was almost like being numb. The shoulder pain, the saddle discomfort, everything else just went away. I felt like a very powerful, efficient machine. I quit looking around and just became one with the bike. I remember checking my split at the 30K sign (51 minutes) and thinking “thank god, only about 3 miles to go” and trying to do the math in my head to calculate time but failing miserably. I remember seeing Kim Weins and her husband on the side of the road cheering (thank you Kim and Randy). I remember seeing the last turn and not knowing which way to go (I picked the right direction, thank goodness). And from there I just ramped it up and gave a little more even though I didn’t have much left to give. I remember crossing the line and pulling out my computer to save my stats and then rolling around to cool down, heading back to the line to cheer in Dawn and Angela and Pat and Ted (Dawn’s husband) who would all finish after me.

Race Stats: 21.09 miles – 59:45 – 21.2mph avg -- 27.0mph max -- AVG HR = 167 (zone 5a) – MAX HR = 179 (off the charts). Guess I need to re-test my HR zones. My other thought is that my HR might have been elevated due to the intestinal stress. Oh, and I got 7th place (field size 14).

10K – 17 minutes; 20K – 34 minutes; 30K – 51 minutes (damn, I’m consistent if nothing else)

Post-Race Narrative: As soon as my heart rate lowered, the abdominal pain began. I felt like I was going to vomit and lose my bowels all at the same time. I questioned whether or not I’d be able to ride back to where we’d parked our cars. I spent about 30 minutes sitting in the hot porta-potty creating a new liquid form of excrement. Finally, got up, walked about 20 feet across the parking lot, and had to return to my bright blue dungeon. This happened four times before I was confident enough to get in the car to drive home (thank you for driving, Angela). I slept almost non-stop from 5:00pm on Saturday until about 7:00am on Monday. Couldn’t eat or drink anything. Not sure what caused it, but I assume it was some form of food poisoning (I really like rare steak).

Post-race Analysis (Lessons Learned):

If I can maintain 21.2mph for an hour, there is no physical reason why I should fall off the pack in a crit. I’ve definitely got to work on my mental game (or maybe just my intervals).

Time Trialing is extremely empowering. Hopefully, I can carry the confidence gained in this race into the rest of my season.

Nutrition and hydration is serious business. This is an important one, so I hope I didn’t lose everyone earlier in the report. Four days later, I’m still four pounds lighter than I should be. This means my glycogen stores are still depleted and I’m not retaining water (glycogen stockpiles water in your muscles). I have very little energy, my HR is still very elevated (at rest and while riding), and my stomach is still very upset every time I try to eat or drink. But, besides the fatigue, my legs feel good, which makes sense since I’m in a pretty good state of recovery. I went out for an hour on the bike today and even though I feel weak, I was climbing very, very fast. However, at the end of my hour, I felt like I’d been rolled over by a truck.


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