It would seem lately, mostly over the last two weeks, the words "I think I can, I think I can" seem to be translating more into "Dammit, I can't". The letters DNF seems to be following me around as I blown up in a rash of races lately.
I have to keep reminding myself that the the point of racing up, doing racing harder than perhaps I should, was to work on putting myself in positions that would force to me to push myself beyond what I would have done in the past. It's be a hard go lately as the races get tougher because the guys have gotten fitter, and where I was holding it in the middle of the pack, I'm not struggling to hold onto the back of the pack.
The Buffalo Crit was case in point. For the first time in the two years going there, I blew up. I struggle as to why. The best I can say, is a rest week is required. But, the same problem happened in Ottawa last weekend: I'm not used to racing where there is sprint after sprint after sprint - basically, the way a crit is supposed to be raced. The guys last night were on the attack more so that normal. Pace was either 30km/h or 50km/h. I lasted 30mins. Two weeks ago, I raced there and finished a 75min race midpack without much issue. The guys last time were really more animated than usual looking to chase down any break that got away. Normally, they sit up and ride around. I take some solice in the fact that Dan, the guy I went with from Midweek, was struggling to hang on, and two weeks ago he finished 11th with out much issue. So, the race was much harder, faster last night.
On the drive home, I had some time to reflect on the experience. So, on the positive side, this season:
- I've upgraded to M2 in Ontario and raced Springback and Calibogie and finished with the pack
- I've raced in Buffalo and completed a CAT1/2/3 75min crit - something I would have never thought possible last season
- I did my first 40km TT ever and finished 2 secs short of a hour and finished 3rd of the 11 guys present
- I've raced every Midweek Crit race as a "second racer" (longer harder race) and never stuggled to complete that race, and started moving from sitting in the bunch to attacking
However, the rash of bad results I have to look at as an opporitunity to learn. I take away the following:
- I seem to explode after 25-30mins of sprint efforts. I need to last at least 60 mins. I am thinking that the Sufferfest Violator video will be a prime workout this winter. 64 sprints in a hour. Just like a crit race. The Midweek Crit weekly series I think I will turn into a training session even if I have to race in a non-midweek jersey. The workout: Five massive attacks in the race (or more), and finishing the race is optional (but recommended). The idea is to push myself to the edge before the race is over, and force myself to keep going. I need to be completely spent, yet still be able to sprint to the line.
- I've video'd most of my races, even though I have not all of published them. Why video them all? In reading, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, I learned that race car drivers tape their races and sometimes go back and watch the videos to learn what happened in the race. I think I'll be doing at lot of that shortly. The idea being to re-live the pain first hand to work on being able to see the race play out as I am racing, rather than what I do now, react. I will also make up video workouts to redo the same races I failed at to make sure it doesn't happen again: 30 mins of sprint efforts out of every corner with little warmup.
- I need to do motorpacing. I need to be able to ride on the edge of exploding and be able to keep going.
- More training. I've been racing so much, training, sprint training especially, has been all but non-existant. Can't learn to sprint sitting in the bunch. I need to do more 2-5min TT efforts that start and end with a sprint. Can't hand onto the wheel in an attack situation if you can't hold 43km/h following a wheel.
- Find a training partner or three. I would like to get people interested Stuctured Quality Training on Friday nights or on weekends. Things to work on: TTT efforts for breakaway training, sprints against others which means learning when to jump, etc.. If you are interested in such, please connect with me. We have done these a couple of times already.
I race tonight in Kitchener. I have no idea what will happen.