Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 14 Hammerfest Report

For years I have gone out on the days of the time trial stages of such world class events as the Tour de France to test myself against the clock. I ride a bike for many reasons, but going fast easily surpasses all of my other excuses to hop on the bike. I am an adrenaline junkie, a speed freak. I have a Ricky Bobby complex: I wanna go FAST!

You can imagine my excitement, then, when the productive people of the Southern Indiana Triathlon Team (Jeff, Anna, et al - THANKS!) decided to stage a series of time trial races last year. I participated in two of the five events, the first and the last. In between I morphed into an ultra runner mountain goat - or at least I attempted to. This year looks to be the same for me. I participated in the May Hammerfest and will likely not have another go at it until the September edition due to galavanting through the Rocky Mountain states. (Sure, gas prices are up, but I intend to spend a little more time hunting and gathering . . .)

Given my recent return to good cycling form in which my power was high enough to sustain high (for me!) speeds while training, I looked forward to this week's race. However, with the clock quickly moving toward the Bighorn 100, I also needed to log a long run this past weekend. On Saturday morning I ran more than 28 miles at an ave HR of 140 (73%). I turned my ankle during that run, apparently to stay with the trend of doing such a thing early in my summer trail ultra preparation. Though I felt reasonably strong at the end of that run, experience has taught me that running more in one run than I have averaged per week over the previous several months had certainly caused significant damage to my legs. Looking back, the yearly inversion of the right ankle was a perfect fit for the drama moment, but it likely had little affect on my cycling performance.

The now blackened ankle just after the run.
Needless to say, I showed up at the Hammer with weakened legs. Honestly, though, thought that I was stronger than my showing suggested. The event started out poorly when the lady (owner/manager/clerk???) at the market near the start line stopped letting people use the restroom. I was going to buy some Gatorade, out of desperation(!!), but she claimed the toilet was broken. Arrgh! I am NOT the type to soil myself in order to go fast or even to finish an event. Nor would I consider doing something disrespectful to lovely Kristy! Yuck!

The ride itself was great - for about four minutes. I powered into the light wind at just as I have in practice lately, but I soon found my pace dropping as my legs refused to sustain the power. Bummer. I watched as my average pace slipped for several miles before the course turned and a tailwind leveled the pace out. It should have increased my speed, but my legs just weren't up to it. I pushed hard enough to get the burn, but the push had no authority or demand. My mind was giving those pedals hell, but my legs seemed to kindly nudge them into motion. I simply wanted to get back to the start/finish line. The data file below shows most of the ride. I failed to start the watch until I was about 20 seconds in. My time of 28:07 (25.7 mph) was my slowest in three tries.

The Polar RCX5 data file for most of the 12-mile ride.
After crossing the line I reset the Polar RCX5 and started a cool down. About a mile into this I returned to the start/finish area and decided to take another loop. Within minutes of starting that, out of frustration, I started pushing hard enough to increase my HR to just below my tempo rate. I held it there throughout the loop. This effort, not tapping so deeply into the muscle fibers recovering from that long run, proved to be easily sustainable - and enjoyable! My time of 30:25 (23.7 mph) was much more typical of this type of effort than the first lap in which the muscles were not able to produce maximum power at a higher effort.

The Polar RCX5 overview of the "cool down" lap.
As usual, I enjoyed the race and the people who attended. What a great group of like-minded people to hang out with! It is especially nice to talk to and kid around with people who care about their health and are not overly competitive to the point of being repulsive. I do this stuff for fun and the fun factor is increased significantly when the experiences are shared with competitive yet affable people.  This year's hammer turned out to be a big rubber mallet. And that was good, because I have been in need of one since I splintered mine last year.

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